Going Old-School

The Winners!On Sunday, our campers took part in a longtime Rockbrook tradition: Miss RBC. Judging by its name alone, you might think that Miss RBC is just a regular, run-of-the-mill beauty pageant. You might also wonder, then, why it has any place at a summer camp that doesn’t tend to glorify those things that are glorified in typical beauty pageants.

Not to worry, though—our Miss RBC is a glorification only of the most Rockbrook-y values: silliness, fun, crazy costumes, and teamwork. The “contestants” (one from each cabin) put on their craziest costumes, parade around the gym doing their funniest beauty-pageant walk, and answer questions such as “Would you rather get to school every day riding an elephant, a dragon, or a witch’s broom?” (The answer that was given to this question, incidentally, was “elephant,” though I myself would have chosen the broomstick—the relative discomfort is outweighed by the fact that it can neither step on you, nor set you on fire).

A CappellaQuestion-and-AnswerGirls that, at school, might only be praised for their looks or their popularity, are celebrated here for the size of their sombrero, or for the fact that they knew that the only logical response to the question “What is something that should never be vacuumed,” was, “The fur of a medium-sized squirrel.”

Why was that the answer? Who knows. But the response was hilarious, and the whole gym applauded hard and loud for that contestant.

Still, the contestants’ question-and-answer portion is only one part of the Miss RBC process. The part that the campers (and staff) look forward to the most is definitely the talent portion. In the talent portion, entire cabins take the stage to perform something together—sometimes it is a dance, or an original song, or a skit, or anything else that they can think of. In recent years, the campers have tended to focus on elaborate dances, set to their favorite songs, which we play over the loudspeaker.

The Cup Song CA's Talent

This session, however, we decided to throw a twist into these usual proceedings: no pre-recorded music. That’s right, we went old-school. We were a bit nervous, when we made this announcement, that it might throw the girls off and make for a less exciting talent show; as usual, however, we shouldn’t have doubted that our campers would rise to the occasion.

What unfolded Sunday afternoon, was absolutely the best Miss RBC I’ve ever seen. Cabins wrote and performed songs, sang in a cappella, performed beautiful dances while one cabinmate sang a pop song into the microphone, and one cabin even brought out pots and pans from the kitchen and performed a percussion piece. The talents were imaginative and daring, and all were incredibly impressive. We were so proud to see our campers rise to this new challenge and put on such a great show!

Guiding Principles

Camp badminton game

One of the questions we ask parents in our post-camp survey is to identify the most important factor that led them to choose Rockbrook as their daughter’s camp. There are more than 28 residential summer camps in this area of North Carolina each with different strengths, program opportunities, and traditions. With all these options, it’s interesting to learn what parents see as distinctive about Rockbrook, and to think about why that distinction matters.

The last few years of results show a trend. The top reason people have selected Rockbrook, according to the survey, is that they received a trusted recommendation about the quality of the camp; a friend or family member loved Rockbrook and highly recommended it. That’s good to know that we have “happy campers” heading home after camp, and that their parents find Rockbrook remarkable enough to tell others about it (though I’ve also heard parents say they wish they could keep RBC a secret!), but that’s somewhat predictable. It’s easy to imagine that parents would select a camp after receiving a “word of mouth” endorsement that reflects the camp’s positive reputation.

The next reason is more surprising. Parents said they selected Rockbrook because they valued the camp philosophy, much more, in fact, than the camp’s program opportunities. So parents aren’t choosing Rockbrook only because we offer amazing outdoor adventure trips, excellent horseback riding instruction, or an array of really cool craft activities (though we clearly do). They aren’t drawn, at least most importantly, to Rockbrook’s vintage camp setting with its log cabins, stone lodges, dense forests with rock outcroppings and waterfalls (though the natural beauty of RBC is very special). It’s not the staff members, the food, or even the directors that make Rockbrook their choice. Overall, it has less to do with the “amenities” of camp than you might expect.

Painting Camp Girl with paint
Weaving camp girls with loom
Ceramics Camp girl with clay

Instead, according to our survey, parents appreciate the ideals and values that guide the Rockbrook community. The “Spirit of Rockbrook” and how it affects their girls is important to them. It can be difficult to describe this philosophy— I’ve tried many times writing this blog —but the feeling of camp, Rockbrook’s culture that emphasizes kindness and generosity, mutual respect, and inclusion, is what makes this place stand out. Here too, I’m glad that our parents seem to be making this subtle distinction. They seem to understand how our camp philosophy matters when comes to insuring that Rockbrook girls gain many of the benefits of a summer camp experience. To their credit, many of our parents appreciate all the excellent outward features of Rockbrook, but value even further many of the principles guiding it along the way. Thank you parents!

Clint Roberts NC musician

Tonight we enjoyed an outdoor concert by Clint Roberts, a local singer, songwriter and musician. Clint writes and plays Americana music both as a solo act and with his band, The Foxfire. Recently, he released an EP entitled “Where the Heart is.” Starting at dinner time and playing into the “Twilight” period, Clint entertained the whole camp with his original compositions as well as several covers of songs by Lyle Lovett, Ryan Adams, and the Tallest Man on Earth. With Clint playing, the girls enjoyed a picnic of grilled hamburgers, potato chips, lemonade and watermelon with key lime pie for dessert. Sitting in their crazy creek chairs while they ate and listened, the girls had a great time chatting quietly, working on friendship bracelets, or just lounging with their friends in the evening shade. The whole event was delightfully relaxing… a memorable, special event together at camp.

Happy Teen Camp Girls

Rockbrook Shake Revisted

If you spent any time watching YouTube in the early Spring of 2013, you probably saw several examples of groups doing the “Harlem Shake.” But, you may not know that the second session girls at Rockbrook made their own version of the video.

You can see the video embedded in this blog post, but here is a photo of the event that is great fun.

Click the photo to expand it, and check out all those amazing costumes!

See anyone you recognize?

Rockbrook Camp Shake Dance Photo
Rockbrook Harlem Shake

Stop Motion Video by Campers

The girls in our photography class this summer had fun making short stop motion videos.  They would build something out of play-doh and take a series of photographs slightly moving each object in their scene.  Stringing these still photographs together creates the illusion of motion.  Add a little background music and you have a pretty cool video.  Here is a series of final productions from first session.  Take a look!

Twilight with Elsa and Jo

Super alumnae Elsa Claverie and Jo Littleton visited us at camp tonight and brought their ukulele and banjo. They held a special “twilight” activity for campers and counselors who wanted to learn a few traditional songs, and just enjoy singing together. It was a wonderful hour of song, laughter and smiles. Here’s a short video of a round we sang. Enjoy!

Generations of Rockbrook girls singing together… “quite merrily…”

Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Camp

Lisa Loeb Camp CD CoverLisa Loeb, singer and songwriter best known for her hit song “Stay,” has released a new CD of songs inspired by her time as a kid at summer camp. It’s a fun collection of original compositions and traditional songs all about going away to camp, the friends, the food, the fun, of just being at summer camp. She explains,

“The inspiration was the actual songs based in camp songs. In camp, we have gross-out songs, and ones like the peanut butter and jelly song. One of the things I loved most about camp is that you’re singing all the time. You did sports, and arts and crafts, ate a lot of fun food — you were singing everywhere.”

The CD has some cool guest artists helping out too, people like Steve Martin (who plays banjo) and Jill Sobule. We also like a lot of the great camp lyrics on songs like, “Are You Ready for the Summer?” “It’s not Goodbye,” and “Best Friend.”  If you’ve been to camp, you’ll really enjoy this CD.

You can hear the song “Best Friend” over at Lisa’s website.

Weisstronauts: Live at Rockbrook !!

Weisstronauts CD Instro-tainmentWe’ve been meaning to post something about this all summer, but only just now sat down to do it.  Back in June we had the awesome instrumental rock band The Weisstronauts play a show at camp.  Pete Weiss, who fronts the band, and who knew Jeff from his Chicago days (the early 1990s!), had an open tour date, and everything worked out for the Rockbrook girls to have a rockin’ dance party.  Dance contests, limbo competitions, conga lines — it was non-stop action!

The band’s music is a little hard to describe, but you take 3 electric guitars, bass, drums and the occasional “accent” instrument and roll out surf, country, spy, psychedelia and rock styles.  Very danceable, very up-tempo, tight playing, and fun through and through.

Head on over to the Weisstronauts’ Site and you can hear the leading track, “Fisticuffs,” from their new CD Instro-tainment.  You’ll enjoy it.  Promise.

And here’s one more treat.  During the show at Rockbrook, the band recorded some video, and now Pete has put together a music video that uses some of that footage.  Take a look and you’ll see RBC!  The song is “Seven-X’s,” also from the new CD, and the old-looking footage in the video is from the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.  Very Cool.

 

RBC and the Brevard Music Center

Nancy Barnum Clark Carrier

Here’s a cool bit of Rockbrook Camp history for you. Nancy Barnum Clarke Carrier, the founder of Rockbrook (and who by the way is the great grandaughter of P.T. Barnum), is also one of the founders of the Brevard Music Center. The Music Center is a summer camp in Brevard for teenage musicians who come to collaborate with professional musicians, practice, perform, and just enjoy the wonderful mountain setting of Brevard. It was originally founded in 1936 at Davidson College and later moved to Brevard in 1945, only a few years after Rockbrook was established in 1921. Mrs. Carrier was also the Music Center’s first president and a director of its board until her death in 1977. Here she is in this great old photo.