A Sparkling Day

Camp girls arrival day

When the weather is this perfect, like it was today, it makes everything more pleasant at camp, and even inspires us to change our plans to enjoy being outside a little more.  You can always check our Rockbrook weather station for the details, but the cool, dry air moving through our area right now, and the bright, sunny skies that result, have been spectacular. The afternoon high temperatures have been in the low 80s and the lows at night have been near 60 (even in the 50s!).

In this weather, and also because so many smiling excited faces were arriving, the opening of our second July mini session really sparkled today. The check-in process unfolded smoothly, and by about 11:45 the whole camp was assembled and ready to go. Today was also (the camp dog) Felix’s first birthday, so as Sarah introduced him to the campers, they enjoyed singing “Happy Birthday” and laughing when they clapped once to mark his age. The “mop” awards recognized one cabin from each line as especially clean, and several girls were thanked for showing exemplary “Rockbrook Spirit” when they helped someone recently.

Rick’s signature opening day lunch of homemade mac-n-cheese, fruit and salad refueled us before setting out on camp tours, cabin meetings and swimming demonstrations for the new campers.

bucket water dumping gamekid limbo gameluau party camp girlsThe main event of the day, a Polynesian Luau lake party, also took advantage of the gorgeous weather, with games, crafts, snacks, music and dancing. The Hi-Ups (our 10th graders) and many of the full session senior girls helped staff different stations where the younger campers could enjoy an activity.

Of course, we included dressing up for this party— Hawaiian shirts, plenty of lei necklaces and grass skirts, flower face painting, and colorful swimsuits all around.

There were games where coconuts were bowled toward empty cans, bean bags tossed toward corn holes, hoops hula danced, and backs bent to slide under a limbo bar —all to win fun RBC prizes like sunglasses, jump ropes and stickers.

The largest consistent crowd huddled around the “bucket dunk” near the lake. This is a funny contraption designed simply to dump the contents of a bucket (in this case water scooped from the lake) onto the head of someone sitting below when a string is pulled. That’s it! Girls took turns volunteering to be “dunked,” as contestants aimed bean bags at a corn hole board.  If someone tossed her beanbag into the hole, she won a chance to pull the string. Naturally, this whole scene drew a crowd of spectators as the buckets of water splashed down. Splash, cheer. Splash, cheer.

There were chances to be crafty too. The girls could make a “grass” skirt from colorful streamers tucked into a string belt, or use tissue paper to make a flower bracelet.

For snacks, loads of fresh fruit kabobs (strawberries, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe), cups of red punch and unlimited tropical fruit flavored snow cones were all popular. All afternoon beach-themed music added to the festivities, inspiring dance breaks in the games.

I’ve seen a lot of these opening day, all-camp special events, and ordinarily there are pockets where jitters can dominate the mood for a few of the girls. All the people, the craziness of the action, and the sheer novelty can sometimes be foreign and overwhelming. Walking around today, however, I was impressed how happily the girls were participating in the different activities, breezily trying different things, and playing together in groups. These girls are clearly ready for camp. So ready!

teen summer camp girls

Phenomenal First-Day Vibe

girls campersSometimes writing these blog posts about Rockbrook, I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, like most of the folks reading already believe. They already know there’s something special that happens at camp, that girls love it for all kinds of reasons, and that the social-emotional learning embedded in camp life is priceless for growing children.  But still, for the sake of those unfamiliar, let me preach a minute.

Today, as we opened our second session of camp, it was clear that this group of girls was already on their way to having a great time. There was certainly plenty of excitement and bubbling anticipation for their camp session to finally begin, but there was also a surprisingly immediate comfort, even contentment apparent when the cabin groups found each other. Maybe the amazing weather had something to do with it— sunny, breezy and warm —or perhaps the easy, relaxed pace of the opening day process, but right away everyone seemed to have a set of friends to run off with.  They were off for a quick tetherball game, the scavenger hunt around camp, adding beads to their name tags, and exploring the creek by Curosty. The cabin groupings, which are carefully assigned by Sarah, encourage that too, making sure new and returning campers alike felt included and welcomed by the grouping. Everyone will tell you that camp is mostly about the people, the friendships and positive relationships fostered between everyone here, so it was very gratifying to see how quickly the campers were bonding.

girl camp kidsThe first all-camp event provided more opportunities for this. Just before lunch, we gathered under the big walnut tree on the hill (which provides a beautiful, long-distance view of the Blue Ridge Mountains) to meet some of the key people at camp, to learn and sing a few camp songs, and to be welcomed to Rockbrook by Sarah. The girls sat in their Crazy Creek chairs, sometimes laying them flat to share the seat, while the Hi-Ups led songs. One celebrity made his first appearance too, Felix the camp dog. You’re bound to see photos of him in the online gallery now and then, but he’s an abstract caramel/cream colored, one-year-old Australian Labradoodle with a very sweet disposition. He’s always happy to have a quick scratch on the back, even by six or eight hands at the same time!

The swimming demonstrations where the lifeguards assigned swim tags to everyone, the camp tours where the girls found the location of each activity (for example, the Alpine Climbing Tower and the Nature Nook, which are both hidden in the woods on opposite sides of camp), the activity skits where the instructors staged silly “commercials” about their plans for the session, the cabin meetings where the girls learned a few important safety rules for camp, and the evening program of name games and signing up for activities —filled the remainder of our day, all contributing to that phenomenal first-day vibe.

Tomorrow we’ll launch into all the activities, get out of camp for some adventure trips, clap and sing over some fantastic scratch-made meals, and continue banking experiences that define this unique community.  It really is true; “There’s no place like camp.”  We’re all excited to dig in, and show what that means!

teen campers

Limbo at the Lake

girls at rockbrook camp

It was a joy today to welcome our June Mini session campers to Rockbrook. As the girls arrived throughout the morning, it seemed like everyone was excited: the wide-eyed anticipation of the new campers, the enthusiasm of returning campers to see their friends, and the welcoming spirit of the full-session girls already here. With the jumping mob of counselors dressing in their red staff uniform shirts and the bright sunshine of the morning, the whole scene was festive and fun. We jumped right into our swim demonstrations for the arriving girls while the current campers rotated through a few choice activities.

During the all-camp assembly on the hill, it became clear how welcoming and community-minded these Rockbrook girls are. In minutes, the whole camp was singing the line songs, laughing at the counselor skits, and cheering for cabins that won the “mop awards.” New and returning, full- and mini-session, young and old, everyone was happily contributing to the Rockbrook Spirit. These are really great girls, friendly and encouraging. They’re definitely going to have a lot of fun together this session.

water bucket dunking machinegirl holding watermelon near the lakecamp girl doing limboThe big event of the day brought everyone together for a Polynesian Luau, a dress-up lake party, for games, snacks, crafts, music and dancing.

Chase, our Program Director, planned more than a dozen different activities for the girls, and enlisted the Hi-Ups and senior girls to help with each station. This was a brilliant way for the older girls to have fun at the event, take on a little responsibility, and interact with the younger campers. They all had on great costumes too— grass hula skirts, Hawaiian shirts, lei necklaces, face painting and hats.

The games included a version of bowling were the girls rolled real coconuts toward a set of empty tin cans. There was a beanbag tossing game akin to skee-ball that won a prize for anyone who racked up enough points. The youngest girls could “fish” for prizes using a clothespin on the end of string and pole. The prizes for these games were small lollypops, and some RBC sunglasses, stickers, and jump ropes.

The funniest event was the “bucket dunk” set up at the edge of the lake.  Combined with a corn hole game, the girls took turns tossing a beanbag toward the corn hole for a chance to pull the dunking string. If they made it, they got to soak someone sitting below the bucket of water. There was no shortage of volunteers to sit in the chair, and plenty of girls to play the game as bucket after bucket was dumped to the cheers of everyone watching.

In the lake, teams of four girls challenged other teams to swim a greased watermelon back and forth between two points. There was cheering from all sides as each swimmer pushed their fruit along, briefly losing it under water until it floated up for another slippery nudge. Nearby, a long line of girls looped around under a horizontal bar doing the limbo. As the bar was lowered and it became more difficult to slide under with their backs toward the ground, only a few girls remained.

The more crafty girls gravitated to the “grass” skirts being made from colorful ribbons, and the table where they were decorating headbands with flowers they made from tissue paper and string.

Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed playing with the many beach balls and hula hoops, as they snacked on fresh fruit kabobs (pineapple, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe) and unlimited snow cones. The Luau and beach-themed music kept everyone dancing in the warm afternoon sun.

Our camp photographs Karin, Abby and Hannah captured most of the event, so be sure to visit the online photo gallery too see more.  You’ll get a sense of how much the girls really had a blast with each other.

campers first day at rockbrook

Like We Never Left Off

Summer Camp Girls Arrive

Maybe it’s a sign of anticipation, or something related to being busy with preparations, or perhaps simply our craving for camp life, but as we opened Rockbrook today for the 2018 season, we all couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement and enthusiasm. There have been plenty of camp-related projects occupying our time over the past year— facility improvements (new bathhouse for the lower line, for example), program development, new camp puppy training, and hard work assembling a fantastic camp staff for the summer. But there’s nothing like having camp filled with people again. It felt absolutely great to finally have campers and their families join us creating the community of camp.

So welcome everyone to Rockbrook! And such a wonderful opening day it was. The cars arrived at a steady pace throughout the morning to the cheers of the eager counselors on the hill. The lush gardens and colorful containers glistened in the sun from the recent rains. The check-in sequence in the dining hall seemed smooth and relaxed, everyone happy and at ease all morning long. Returning campers reunited with camp friends as new girls slipped right into cabin groups. Soon there were groups for girls just walking about, immersing themselves in camp, visiting the lodges, marveling at the rushing creeks, and likewise beaming with excitement.

first summer camp assemblyBy about noon, all but a few campers had arrived and we were ready for our first assembly on the hill under the walnut tree that looks out across the mountains. The weather was still beautiful and sunny with a light occasional breeze, making the camp songs we sung seem even more lively. Sarah introduced the directors, line heads and other special staff members, and the Hi-Up campers said hello by teaching everyone a new song. A fun highlight was when Felix made his appearance. Felix is our 10-month old Australian Labradoodle who has the enviable job of being the camp dog. We’ve been training him since he was 8 weeks old, and while he’s still getting used to camp, he’s already enjoying all the attention he’s getting from the girls. I’m sure you’ll see photos of him throughout the summer.

Everyday, in fact, you’ll find newly posted photos in our online photo gallery. You have to login to your parent account to view them, but you can send a login invitation to friends and family members once logged in. You should check the gallery often because I think you’ll really enjoy seeing what we’re up to at camp.

It’s become a popular Rockbrook tradition to serve Rick’s homemade Mac-n-Cheese for the first lunch. Today we continued that tradition with hot trays of bubbling cheeses with a crunchy breadcrumb topping, peas and watermelon plus our super-stocked salad bars that included other fruits and vegetables. The gluten-free and vegan version seemed popular too. Delicious comfort food for everyone.

The lake became our focus after lunch as we invited all the campers to demonstrate their swimming ability and receive a swim bracelet and buddy tag that qualifies them to sign up of paddling trips (whitewater rafting!) and enjoy free swim times each day. It’s a simple test that assures the lifeguards that girls can be comfortable in the water and can tread water for a minute without struggling. We paused the demonstrations for a passing thunderstorm between the Middler and Senior groups, but easily finished up everyone, and now the tag board if full of colorful plastic discs.

Activity skits in the gym introduced everyone to the activity instructors we have this summer, and announced several of the new craft projects available. Set to pretty silly songs, and at times with dance moves and plenty of costumes, we all enjoyed a fun variety show for about an hour.

It’s been a marvelous opening day, full of songs, laughter and girls already relaxing into the spirit of camp. It’s like we never left off from last summer. The fun and friendship has started right back up. Amazing!

camp swim buddies

Active Right Away

Assembly Fun kidsWelcome friends! Welcome to the group of campers who arrived this morning to begin their session at Rockbrook. We’re all very happy to have you arrive, and are just as excited as you are to get started. Finally, the agonizing wait… all summer! …is over and you can meet all the great people here and begin exploring the many different things available to do at camp. The beautiful weather this morning added to the enthusiastic mood, and I suspect made the arrival and check-in process run even more smoothly. All 84 of the girls arriving were quickly settled in the cabins and happily touring the camp with their bunkmates before noon— checking out the different activity areas, trying things out a little (making a simple friendship bracelet, for example), and having their questions answered by staff members. Part of this tour involved a scavenger hunt where the new girls collected different colored bracelets hidden at different landmarks around the camp, like the gym, the flagpole, and the infirmary. It was a fun way to get to know each other, learn more about Rockbrook, and be active right away after arriving.

Let me mention the Chapel gathering that also happened this morning for the full session girls. At Rockbrook, these Sunday morning events are intended to provide an opportunity to slow down and reflect on some of the principles and values that help shape our camp community. Camp is mostly about big fun, but it’s also about so many other important things, it’s good to pause and discuss what we’re learning along the way. These Chapel gatherings are not religious services, though, and they do not refer explicitly to any religious texts or doctrines. Instead, the events focus on broader themes that can be understood and appreciated by any religious tradition. The campers themselves plan and present the songs and poems they think illustrate the theme, and Sarah always reads a short children’s book she thinks is relevant.

So today’s chapel theme was, “We’re all in this together,” a recognition of community and the importance of including each other. Sarah read the book Odd Velvet by Mary E. Whitcomb to show how someone (or something) who first appears strange, can turn out to be wonderful, interesting and make all our experience more rewarding and fun. Whether considering new foods, activities, or even new campers arriving today, our community impulse to be accepting and curious is something we value here at Rockbrook. As we begin with kindness, compassion, and generosity, we foster the sort of positive relationships that cement our camp community. Including those different from ourselves is a simple extension of those values.

Camp Swimming testWe took time after lunch to orient all of the newly arrived campers to the waterfront, and to allow the lifeguards to evaluate everyone’s swimming ability. The cold mountain water of our lake, its different depths and diversions— the water slide and diving board for example —can be challenging for certain swimmers, so we ask all the girls to show us they can swim and tread water comfortably before letting them take full advantage of the waterfront.  The girls earn one of three colored “swim necklaces” to indicate their swimming ability and corresponding lake activity. The weakest swimmers can still come down and cool off in the lake, but we require them to remain in the shallow area where they can stand up, and to wear a life jacket while in the water. With everyone’s buddy tags labeled with their name and proudly hung on the tag board, it was next time for the big all-camp afternoon event.

Jedi Training Academy! Tapping into all things Star Wars related, we held a carnival combining costumes (of course!), music, dancing, surprising challenge games with prizes, and an unlimited supply of snow cones grinding out of our snow cone machine. We also arranged for two huge inflatables: an obstacle course called “Leaps and Bounds” that reminded everyone of “American Ninja Warrior,” and a 25-foot tall water slide that let two girls slide at the same time racing.

Make a light saber camp project Archery with paint blob tip inflatable challenge girl

The senior campers, with some help from their counselors, helped run the event, teaching and explaining the 10 different stations like “Pin the saber on Yoda,” “Death Star Destruction,” “Defeat Darth” with an arrow dipped in paint, a “Mars Matching” game, face painting (“The Face is with You”), a light saber duel that involved balancing on a slippery beam, and a way to make a light saber using a rod of foam and different colored tape. With snow cone in hand, the girls had a great time zipping between activity stations, cooling off on the water slide, and dancing and posing for photos in their costumes. Of course, Princess Leia (actually several of them) made an appearance, along with Darth Vader, Rey, Chewbacca, and a couple of storm troopers. Many girls wore a Star Wars t-shirt too. Two hours seemed to fly by, every minute filled by smiling energized girls. An active Sunday afternoon, just how we like it.

Rockbrook Summer Camp Girls

This Extraordinary Effect

Happy Camp KidsThis morning we opened a new session of camp and welcomed 134 girls and their parents to Rockbrook. For both the girls returning to camp after one or more previous summers, and the girls attending Rockbrook for the very first time, the day began with an unusual feeling of both excitement and nervousness. Like waiting in line for the most thrilling roller coaster imaginable, there was both eager anticipation of what is sure to be fun, but also some anxiety about how it will turn out. Even the counselors felt this to an extent today, this odd combination of enthusiasm and trepidation, because like the girls, this is when they meet their campers for the first time and imagine the cabin life ahead. Let’s add the parents too; they also are delighted for the many opportunities camp will surely provide their daughters, and at the same time, perhaps a little hesitant to step back and allow the experience to unfold without their oversight or orchestration.

This feeling is most intense the last few minutes in the car before arriving. It can last into the check in process (which thankfully was nice and quick this morning) and even bubble up as the girls are saying goodbye to their parents. It didn’t take long, however, for the jitters to fade. In fact, by the time we assembled on the hill before lunch to sing a few songs, I saw more cheering and enthusiasm than anything else. The collective energy of camp had already carried the mood, and the girls were relaxing and chatting with each other like easy friends. Simply getting together in this beautiful setting, in this case on the hill overlooking the mountains, has this extraordinary effect of calming everyone’s initial nervousness while ramping up their excitement. The assembly already proved this is going to be a great session.

Cheering Camp KidsRick’s famous homemade mac-n-cheese recharged everyone for lunch. There was a gluten free version and a separate vegan version for those campers and staff who preferred them. Of course, our super stocked salad bars and bowls of mixed fruit balanced out the plates. Around here, the dining hall is more than just a place to eat and chat; it’s also a place to sing! And even during this first meal, the girls didn’t hold back. They were belting out the songs as if they’d been waiting all this time to experience the roar of “An Austrian Went Yodeling” and the “Coconut Song.” In this session, 85% of the campers are returners, so most everyone in the dining hall knew the words to sing along. Incredible! Eating together, signing together, laughing and talking together helped further pave the way for the girls to settle into camp.

Camp Counselor SkitAfter lunch, each cabin group was off and running— walking tours of the camp and all the activity areas, cabin meetings on the lines, and a stop at the lake for an introduction to the waterfront, the swim tag system, and a swimming demonstration. Ordinarily, our mountain stream-fed lake feels surprisingly chilly. That may have been true today too, but the hot afternoon sun made it more refreshing. After demonstrating their swimming ability, every camper earned a “swim necklace,” color coded based on her ability.  The different necklaces alert our lifeguards where in our lake (the shallow vs. the deep end, for example) campers can safely swim.  Spending time at the lake is very popular, so it’s important for everyone at camp to have a chance to cool off there.

The last bit of orientation came in a series of hilarious skits performed by the different activity instructors. Using the stage at the gym, each group of counselors assigned to an activity presented something to describe what they do and to entice the campers to select that activity later tonight when everyone’s first rotation is chosen. For example, the three drama teachers performed a silly improvised song, the climbers demonstrated their belaying, and the weavers presented example projects that the girls can make in Curosty (the fiber arts cabin). There are always more activities and trip options available each day than there is time to do them all, so the girls have to makes choices about what they’d like to do at camp, and these skits help them decide.

Kayak Camp Girls French Broad Section NineKayak Camp update! This weekend we also began our second specialty session devoted entirely to whitewater kayaking, the “Rockbrook Rapids.” We added these intensive trip sessions in response to a growing interest in Kayaking at Rockbrook. Over the years our lead kayaking instructor, Leland Davis, and his staff have really inspired the girls at camp, and now we have some amazing paddlers eager for more action on the river. The girls arrived on Friday, and after a short roll clinic in the lake and getting their gear organized, they were off to run their first river, the Tuckasegee. The next day, they paddled the Nantahala, and then today, section IX of the French Broad all the way down to Frank Bell’s Rapid, a famous class IV drop. Three rivers in three days! Leland reports that, “the level of paddling going on out there is off the charts with these girls!” We’re posting plenty of photos in the online gallery, so you can follow along.

Happy camp, everyone!  We’re nothing but excited now!

Smiling Camp Kids

Happily Leaping

Girl Campers Outside
Girl Campers arriving

The first sign is the red and white balloons floating at the entrance, and the second is the smiling Hi-Up campers greeting you partway up the driveway. Then at the top the hill, when you see the mob of cheering counselors dressed in their staff uniforms, it’s clear something special is happening, something VERY exciting. It’s the opening day of camp! …in this case, for the mini session campers arriving to join the full session girls who have been at Rockbrook for two weeks now. For everyone— new and returning campers, and all of us already at camp —this is an exciting day. It means camp can finally begin for these girls arriving, reuniting with camp friends from last summer, and equally, it means we all have a renewed chance to make new friends in this active outdoor environment.

It was particularly cool and foggy first thing this morning, with the Dew Point (62 degrees) almost equal to the temperature (62.5), and, according to our camp weather station, with 99% humidity, the fog was really thick.  It was the perfect morning to wear long sleeves, or, as one camper decided, to wrap yourself in a blanket at breakfast. When the sun popped over the hill, miraculously burning off the fog, we were treated to a perfectly warm, bright summer day ideal for exploring the camp, meeting all these new people, and then enjoying sample activities like a hike through the woods to Rockbrook Falls, jewelry making in the shade of the hillside lodge porch, archery, and gaga ball.

We held a quick assembly on the hill right before lunch to introduce everyone arriving to the directors and program staff, to recognize the cabins with the best inspection scores (awarding them the mop trophies), to learn about our lightning protocol (in response to our Thorguardian system) and the boundaries of the camp, and just to enjoy singing a few songs together, charging up our camp spirit.

An orientation to our waterfront area was also an important part of the day. We want to make sure everyone at camp understands our tag system and feels comfortable swimming in the lake. The new girls zipped right through their “swim demos,” happily leaping in the water to earn their blue, green or yellow swim necklaces (Notice them being worn by the four girls below). These soft elastic necklaces indicate to the waterfront staff a camper’s swimming ability and thereby where she can safely swim in the lake, in the deep areas, or perhaps restricted to the shallow section, for example. We make it possible for everyone at camp to enjoy the lake in some capacity, and the lifeguards are always willing to help a girl improve her swimming skills if she’s interested.

girls waterslide
agility course girl
girl leaping obstacle
hommade light sabre
Dizzy bat race

We always plan something big for Sunday afternoons, some kind of all-camp event that integrates many of the components that make a great party—music and dancing, costumes that revolve around a theme, snacks, activities, games and challenges with prizes to win. What better way to launch our new camp session too? So with the help of the full-session Senior campers and counselors, we held a Star Wars themed carnival, or more precisely, a “Jedi Knight Training Academy” down on our landsports field today. There were a dozen different activity stations, each related to Star Wars: “Jedi Agility Training” that included a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader, a “Death Star Destruction” shooting game that used Nerf pistols, and an archery game where the girls had to hit a Sith solder with a paint-dipped arrow, for example. The girls made their own lightsabers using a foam pool noodle and different types of tape. They solved a matching game puzzle, and got their faces painted (“The Face is with You”), one girl turning her whole face into Yoda’s! We had girls dressed as the character Rey, several Jedi Knights, Yoda, and of course many with the hairstyle of Princess Leia.

One highlight of the event were two huge inflatable games: a 25-foot tall, dual water slide, and a challenging obstacle course called “Leaps and Bounds.” The girls lined up for multiple slides and leaps on each. Meanwhile, our snow cone machine ground ice for snow cones all afternoon, helping keep us cool in the sun.  Group dances to favorite songs, racing about with water pistols, activity in all directions, we had an excellent camp party going on!

We’ll be ready for our first full day of camp activities tomorrow, the girls scattering and eager to give everything a try. Stay tuned; it’s going to be great!

quick camp friends

Explosive Results

girl camp rockbookToday we opened our second camp session of the summer welcoming a little more than 200 girls to Rockbrook with what can easily be described as explosive results. Starting with the very first camper arriving, you could feel a special energy that rapidly expanded all morning, reaching its height around 10am. In what seemed like no time, we had more than a hundred girls through the check-in process and happily filling the camp with their enthusiasm and excitement. Each arriving camper added to the emotion of the day— anticipation realized, joyful reunion, simple affability, immersive natural beauty, immediate belonging —amplifying everyone’s experience and making even the first few minutes at camp fun. Most of the girls were wearing their new RBC t-shirt, so as the morning unfolded, we saw more and more red and blue on the grassy hill. An opening day like today is always a wonderful mix of meeting new campers who are attending Rockbrook for the first time, and seeing former campers returning to camp. With this much power, these girls are going to have a great session.

Naturally, we didn’t idle while everyone was arriving. Once parents said goodbye, groups of campers formed for friendship bracelet making, a hike out to Rockbrook falls (the largest of the waterfalls on the camp property), a game of tetherball or gagaball, or just playing in the creek that feeds the lake. Other groups took tours of the camp, exploring the different activity areas, even heading down through the tunnel to go see our new covered horseback riding arena.

Teen girl camp assemblyAround noon or so the whole camp gathered under the walnut tree on the hill for a quick program of introductions and songs. Led by Sarah, this was a chance for the girls to show their camp spirit by singing their line songs and for everyone to meet the line heads, Hi-Ups and a few special activity instructors. Sitting together like this, standing to cheer now and then —all with a gorgeous mountain view in the background— it seemed like the magic of camp was already at work. The girls were relaxing and opening up, lounging together, and chattering easily. It seemed to me camp had already (this fast!) become a haven for the girls, a special place of welcome relief ready to provide— daily experience with close friends away from technology and the pressures of school, kindness offered in a caring community, and time to explore the wonders of nature and engage new activities. Even though we haven’t yet experienced all of these, there’s already a feeling this is special.

Later in the afternoon, the campers received an orientation to the lake and demonstrated for the lifeguards their swimming ability. We ask every camper and counselor to do this “swim demo,” and based on the results, to wear a color-coded, elastic necklace whenever they wish to swim in the lake or participate in any of the water-related trips offered. With fun music playing and hot chocolate and lemonade waiting for after the swim, the girls enjoyed trying out the lake and knowing they are set for more “refreshing” during free swims each day.

camp climbing skittennis camp skitRight before dinner, the counselors and activity instructors presented a series of skits to highlight what to expect in the different activities offered this session. From tennis, to archery, to rock climbing, the skits kept us laughing. For example, the Climbing instructors formed a “rock” that one climbed using a harness, rope and helmet. The Tennis instructors dressed like tennis balls and told a few jokes while being hit in an imaginary tennis match. The Paddling staff used a kayak and all the basic paddling gear (helmets, skirts, PFDs, etc.) to simulate kayaking through a whitewater rapid.  The skits provided an introduction to each activity while showcasing the creativity and personality of the staff. After dinner, the girls will sign up for their first rotation of activity selections, so these introductions will help them decide what to take.

It’s been a wonderful first day for both the campers and staff members. We’re now more oriented to the camp and to the activities offered. We’ve gotten to know each other better, and now we’re even more ready to dive into the action in the morning.

New Camp Friends