An Awesome Afternoon

Welcome to camp! This morning we were extremely excited to open our second July Mini Session and welcome 96 girls to Rockbrook. About 60 of these are girls returning to camp from a previous year, and for them this was an especially exciting day because they would be finally seeing their old camp friends. There may have been some butterflies mixed with the excitement, but that’s completely normal. For the new girls seeing Rockbrook for the first time, their wait was finally over. Dressed in their blue RBC t-shirts, most of them, they knew this was the start of something good. The cheering and enthusiasm of the counselors set the tone right away.

Camp Chapel Program
Summer Chapel Camper

Meanwhile, since it was Sunday, the Full Session campers held their “Chapel” program, this time on the theme of “Friendship.” What a perfect camp theme! After all, making friends, being a good friend, and gaining the self-confidence to do this well is a major part of camp life. We do so many things together and share so much experience, it’s almost inevitable that you will find girls both older and younger than you to be friends with.  The Chapel program allowed some of the girls to talk about what it meant to be friends with someone, and many of the comments suggested things like being “nice,” a “good listener,” and “being supportive.”  All great ideas!

During the assembly on the hill today, we took this great photo of every camper and counselor in camp. A few staff members were absent because it was their scheduled day off, but this photo gives you a sense of how many people are here at Rockbrook. If you click the photo a larger version is available.

Whole camp second session 2014

After Rest Hour, our grassy sports field was the scene of an fun all-camp special event that, like so many others at Rockbrook, involved costumes, special snacks, music dancing, games and prizes, all based on a theme, in this case, a Pirate theme. Dressed in their best Pirate attire, the girls found a variety of games to play like a ring toss, corn hole with bean bags, bobbing for apples, a water pistol squirting a ping pong ball, and finding a piece of gun in a bowl of flour. One station was painting faces with colorful designs or just a skull and cross bones. At another a pair of “Gypsies” were reading palms and telling fortunes. The girls could decorate eye patches, or try to make a giant bubble with a hula hoop. One activity allowed girls to toss a cup of “slime” (a green, thick solution of jello powder, flour, water and food coloring) at someone, or vice versa, to be “slimed” by someone else. The snacks included cotton candy, snow cones (which were great in the hot, sunny weather), and soft pretzels. We also had two inflatable challenges to try: an obstacle course and a jousting competition. There was plenty to keep everyone busy and entertained as the girls tried each of the options. It was an awesome afternoon and a great way to kick off the session.

Carnival Obstacle Course
Camp Carinival Ball Game
Camp Water Pistol Game
Pirate Eye Patch Girls

Jittery Excitement

Moving trunk into camp“Welcome back to camp!” and “Welcome to Rockbrook!” were the phrases of the day as we opened our main session of camp today and a record setting 227 campers arrived (a bit above capacity because our 16-year-olds make a huge group this session). Beyond the phrase, the feeling of the day was jittery excitement as campers arrived and were greeted by Sarah, the other directors and their cabin counselors. Everyone was fired up and ready to get started. All this positive energy buoyed most everyone’s spirits as the line to check in moved entirely too slowly. Interestingly, also today, we had only about 8 girls flying into the airport, as opposed to what’s ordinarily 30 or so. I suppose air travel is becoming more burdensome for everyone! The whole morning had staff members hustling to help campers settle into their bunks while campers took short hikes, made bracelets, decorated name tags, and played their first game of ga-ga. We had a picnic lunch on the hill, and cabin meetings all before beginning the many tours of camp and the activity areas. With this much excitement bubbling up around here, the whole morning was a lot of fun.

Passing the swim test and receiving a braceletBefore we allow anyone to use the Rockbrook lake (or participate in any of the “water trips” like whitewater rafting or kayaking), we want to make sure, for obvious safety reasons and as part of our American Camp Association accreditation, they can swim well and be comfortable in the water. For this reason, we asked everyone to demonstrate their swimming ability this afternoon by jumping in the lake, swimming out 50 feet, back another 50 feet using a back stroke, and treading water for 1 full minute. Our lake is fed directly by a mountain stream, so it is notoriously “refreshing,” or “shockingly cold,” as one camper put it. Fortunately, it was hot and sunny during the demonstrations today, and the waterfront staff saw very few girls struggle to complete the test. Everyone who passes receives both a swim tag labeled with their name and a bright green bracelet that serves as a way for the lifeguards to identify who is eligible to swim in the deep area of the lake. Girls who need to retake the swim test receive a different colored swim tag and can still enjoy the lake, but we require that they wear a life vest and stay in the shallow area. When the lifeguards call for a “Tag Check,” the girls in the deep area (who should have bracelets) hold up their arms, and it quickly becomes clear how many swimmers are in each area of the lake and that the total number matches the arrangement of tags on the tag board. It’s an elaborate system, but it is an essential and effective safety check for our waterfront.

Camp Potter staff perform skitBefore the girls sign up for activities, which as you know is something done twice per week here at Rockbrook rather than in advance at home, it’s helpful for them to learn more about what each option entails. Likewise, it’s fun to see which counselors and staff members will be the instructors for each of the 28 different offerings. With these two goals in mind, we spent time late this afternoon assembled in the gym as the activity instructors performed short skits to introduce what they have planned for this session. Like all good Rockbrook skits, these were a little silly, involved costumes, props, a little dancing, but also singing. Some of the skits, for example those by the climbing and paddling staff, included plenty of cool looking equipment… Ropes, paddles, helmets, and so forth. Many of the crafts areas presented finished examples of their upcoming projects… weaving, jewelry, and a “bunny pillow,” for example. The five ceramics instructors, dressed simply as different “pots” sang a song set to the tune “Be Our Guest” from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. “We can coil, we can pinch, after all miss this is camp! Make a handle, take a spot, and you’ll surely make a pot. Make a pot, make a pot, make a pot.” After each skit, it was all cheers for the animated enthusiasm demonstrated by the staff, and plenty of chatter among the girls about which activities they would be trying first.

We’re off to a great start, with all the girls settling down… jitters subsiding… getting to know one and other, and now even more excited for tomorrow’s first day of regular activities. Seeing that energy, I can already tell we’ve got all the ingredients for a great camp session. Stay tuned!

Camp Friends Ready to Swim

A Perfect Pirate Carnival

Camp girl gets swim tag after testToday we opened our June mini session and welcomed 85 campers to Rockbrook to begin their 2-week session. It was an exciting morning for everyone, certainly for the girls arriving because they were finally starting their time at camp, but also for the current full session campers and staff already here because they now had a new group of friends to meet and play with while at camp. About half of the girls arriving today were brand new to camp, so for them this morning, and later during their camp tours, as they discovered each activity area or feature of Rockbrook— the huge rock face for climbing above the camp (Castle Rock), the water slide at the lake (“Big Samantha”), the zipline, horseback riding rings (and the tunnel under the road that leads to the riding area), all the tabletop and floor weaving looms in Curosty, and the crazy intensity of the dininghall, for example —ratcheted up their eagerness to get started. A quick assembly of the whole camp on the grassy hill got everyone singing a few camp songs, and gave each Director, Line Head, and the Hi-Ups a chance to introduce themselves.

For Lunch, Rick and his fantastic kitchen crew prepared a camp classic: tacos. With bowls of homemade guacamole, salsa, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, refried black beans, and ground beef, as well as stacks of crunchy taco shells on each cabin’s table, the girls broke records making their own tacos.  One small Junior camper bragged that she ate 5 tacos in all!

The mini session Seniors and Middlers spent their rest hour at lake hearing about how our “Tag System” works and demonstrating their swimming ability for the waterfront staff. Every girl who chooses to do water-related activities at camp (swim at lake, a rafting, kayaking, or canoeing trip, for example) must feel confident in the water, be able to swim comfortably for about 150 feet and tread water, unassisted, for one minute. We ask each camper to demonstrate this ability, and if successful, will receive a round plastic tag, identified with her name, to be placed on the tag board. The tags help the lifeguards know who is swimming when they are moved to different sections of the tag board. It’s a great system that’s been well established at Rockbrook for years.

Pirate Dance Camp EventThe main event of the day, which began around 3:30, we held down at our grassy sports field. And like all great Rockbrook events, it combined costumes, special snacks and food, games, prizes, music, and dancing, all revolving around a theme. It this case, it was a “Pirate Carnival.” Chase, our Program Director, planned and organized the event with about 30 other staff members helping with each game. With beautiful sunny, warm weather, the girls arrived to find a variety of games—tossing a ball through a hoop, finding a piece of gum in a bowl of flour, a ring toss, bobbing for apples, a water gun and ping-pong ball challenge… all with fun pirate prizes like a gold earring or tattoo. Also, they could go and have a facepaint design, toss a cup of “slime” (think green, oozy water made from jello powder, flour, water and food coloring) at someone, have their fortune told, or decorate an eye patch. We also had two inflatable games, an obstacle course that seemed entirely too bouncy, and an elastic, running game where a strong bungee cord pulls you back when you run a short track. Two stations making cotton candy and another passing out snow cones kept everyone energized throughout the afternoon.

Girl Dressed as a Pirate Pirate Girls friends at camp Camp kid dressed as a pirate

As you can see from these three examples (click the photos to see a larger version), costumes were also a big part of the fun. I’d say the majority of the girls chose to sport some kind of pirate gear like a bandana, eye patch, face-painted mustache, or golden earring. If not, then a bathing suit felt just right. This really was a perfect event, with every camper running from game to game, maybe stopping to toss the corn hole bean bags, or swivel a hula hoop for a minute. We sang along to the music, danced together, and laughed a lot having a blast for, gosh almost 2 hours! It was the kind of big camp fun we love around here, and we’re just getting started!

Camp Girls dressed as pirates

Ready to Go for 2014

Rockbrook GirlsWelcome everyone to Rockbrook Camp for its 2014 summer sessions! This is perhaps the most exciting day of the year for all of us at camp because it’s when camp finally comes back to life, when the enthusiasm of campers, the energetic anticipation of staff members, and the many months of careful planning by Rockbrook’s directors join forces again to create this wonderful place. Everyone looks forward to the opening day of first session, especially those of us that think about camp all year long… campers, counselors and directors alike. So welcome! This is going to be a great summer.

In these blog posts, we will report bits and pieces of camp life. In addition to the photo gallery (which you access only after logging into your parent account), these daily posts will provide a little detail about what’s going on at Rockbrook. They won’t be a “full report,” so to speak, but instead something that comes to mind as I recall the day, or feel compelled to comment on a photo or idea drawn from the people and events of camp. I hope you enjoy reading.

Camp bunk all set up“A few butterflies” is how one mom described her daughter’s feeling this morning as the campers were checking in. Even when this might be a girl’s 3rd or 4th year coming to camp, those first moments driving up, meeting your counselor and experiencing the buzz of opening day— it can jangle the nerves. At the same time, it’s a happy feeling because there are smiles everywhere… So many examples of “run-scream-hug your camp friend from last summer” kinds of moments, friendly introductions, and excitement. There might be some jitters at the beginning, but with something this big and enthusiastic that’s pretty normal.

And of course it takes very little time for jitters to soften into a new smile and feelings of belonging. The feeling of camp is just infectious that way.

Passing the camp swim testA little rain overnight made the ground this morning a little soft when we opened (especially our sports field parking area!), but as the morning progressed, the sun held brightly the rest of the day. The girls settled into their cabins, set up their bunks and began to explore Rockbrook. One new find was the Gaga pit. I’ll explain that more later, but think of it as an arena to play a special version of dodgeball. It addition, the campers staying on the lower line of cabins were surprised to find the newly renovated bathroom we call the “Be-Bop.” The “Half-Pint” cabin likewise was rebuilt last fall, making it the newest of our 25 cabins at camp.

The sunny weather made everyone’s “swim demonstrations” pleasant and fun. Our chilly lake, which is kept “mountain stream cool” by the creek that feeds it, can be a little shocking at first, but the encouragement from all of the lifeguards and the directors, as well as the vigor of the swimming itself, make it all a thrill. Bright warm sunshine made it all the better. The results? Everyone who tried, passed and received a green swim tag.

Climbing staff camp skitFollowing the afternoon swims, camp tours, games in the lodges and cabin meetings, as well as a brief assembly on the hill to learn songs and meet this session’s Hi-Ups, we all gathered in the gym to watch the activity instructors and counselors perform short skits and songs to introduce all of the options available to the campers during the activity periods. This included costumes that integrated special gear, like the climbing instructors in this photo, music, props and even a few dance steps from some. These skits are also a neat way for the campers to see that their counselors, just like them, are having fun by acting silly, laughing and being supportive all the while. I did notice about 4 different references to the recent Disney movie Frozen… It’s just a hunch, but that might be a major theme all summer long!

It’s been a perfect opening day of camp. We’re all excited and ready to go.

View from Summer Camp

Amplified Energy

Cheering girls at camp assembly

We amplified the energy of camp today by opening our August mini session and welcoming 60 campers to Rockbrook. About a third of these are brand new to RBC, so for them this was an especially exciting time— driving in the main gate for the first time, rounding the lake with a glimpse of the water slide (aka “Big Samantha” —for no real reason, other than a junior camper suggested it), meeting Sarah at the top of the hill, and hopping out of the car to the cheers and whoops of the counselors. For the returning campers too, it’s a great feeling to arrive back at camp after waiting all year (and lately all summer!) and to take a deep breath of mountain forest air, only to need another after shrieking with joy at the sight of an old camp friend. This kind of enthusiasm mixed with all that anticipation can be almost explosive when it’s finally released, but that’s the kind of energy we love around here. It’s our day-to-day starting point.

While the mini session girls were arriving, the full session campers began their day like other Sunday mornings with a late breakfast in the dining hall (which included freshly delivered Krispy Kreme doughnuts), time to dress in their camp uniforms (white polo shirts, shorts and red tie), our traditional flag raising ceremony (led by the Hi-Up campers), and chapel program (that today focused on the theme of “Community”). Afterwards, these girls also had a “choice period,” an opportunity to sign up for an hour doing many of the most popular activities— archery, riflery, yoga, hiking to Castle Rock, a flower picking expedition, and various string and paper crafts, for example.

Girl holding a decorated paper box
Girl doing yoga at summer camp
Girl aiming a rifle at summer camp

Right before lunch we brought everyone together, the mini- and full-session girls, for an assembly on the grassy hill in camp. This was a chance to sing a couple of favorite camp songs (like “An Austrian Went Yodeling,” for example), to shout out the 3 line (age group) songs, and to learn a new song from the Hi-Ups. The directors announced which cabin this week would be recognized as having outstanding camp spirit, and would thereby be able to display the Rockbrook “Spirit Paddle” on their table in the dining hall (It was Middler Cabin 1). We also had fun taking a “whole camp” photo. While some of the staff members were absent on their day off, the photo really shows how we’re a colorful bunch!

After what seemed like a steady stream of cheese tortellini coming out of the kitchen— bowl after re-filled bowl —and stacks of cool sweet watermelon turning into a pile of rind at every table, the mini session girls spent the first part of the afternoon demonstrating their swimming ability at the lake. If a girl could confidently jump off the dock, swim out 50ft and back 50ft, and tread water for a minute, she received a green swim bracelet and a buddy tag. If the lifeguards saw signs of struggle, as they did for a few of the youngest girls today, those girls can still swim at the lake, but they are restricted to the safety of the shallow area and must wear a life vest when in the water. Today, wonderfully warm sunshine buffered the chilly water of the lake, giving every swimmer a little boost.

Girls making friends at swim demonstrations
Camp counselor girl in dunking booth

By 3 o’clock, everyone was ready for an afternoon scavenger hunt. Working in cabin groups, the campers moved from station to station solving riddles at each place, sometimes having to tackle a group challenge (like untangling a “human knot”), sometimes finding a yummy treat like popcorn or cotton candy, and other times just enjoying a special activity. The dunking booth, for example, was a complete hoot. A brave counselor from each cabin climbed into the tank as each girl took turns throwing at the dunking target. Of course, we filled the tank with regular cold water making each dunk even more exciting (well, maybe a little less exciting for the counselors!). Several cabins, after throwing but failing to dunk their counselor, stormed the target to press it by hand, a clear violation of the rules, but entirely hilarious too. The whole event was a wonderful Sunday afternoon of helping cabins get to know each other better, to learn about the different buildings and areas of the the camp, and to enjoy a variety of snacks and activities together.

We’ve got a wonderful session going here. Thanks for being a part of it!

Beginning the Bustle

Girls excited for camp“I am so ready to bust out of this car!” That’s the way one girl put it when she arrived at camp this morning. “She’s been talking about Rockbrook non-stop for the last week,” one parent explained. And, “She woke up at 4am this morning,” said another. It’s true; some strikingly pent up excitement arrived (and was released!) at camp today as 155 campers opened our third session. Every session has excited campers arriving, but this seemed extraordinary. Perhaps, it’s because these girls have been waiting most of the summer for this moment, or they’ve been following along on the web site, or they simply know how much fun they’re about to have. Whatever the reason, these third session girls are pumped! All morning as everyone arrived, we heard squeals of camp friends reuniting, enthusiastic cheers from counselors greeting their campers, and maybe a few grunts as heavy trunks were hauled up the hill and down the lines to the cabins. The whole morning was a hustle and bustle with campers and their families moving in, girls playing group games in the Hillside Lodge, groups taking hikes to Rockbrook Falls, and new cabin mates making friendship bracelets together on the hill.  All this excitement and all this action made the morning really fun and festive.

Rick and his fantastic kitchen crew settled us down a bit with a yummy lunch of his homemade macaroni and cheese, steamed green beans, and fresh fruit salad… comfort food for the first meal. At the beginning of the meal, Sarah took a minute to explain where to find the vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free options, the peanut butter and jelly station, cartons of milk to drink, and the two salad bars. During the meal, it took about 5 minutes for a song to break out, the first of many that will erupt at every meal in the dining hall. With all the camp songs being sung around here, it’s no surprise that girls will find themselves singing them at other times throughout the year.  They’ll be eating lunch at school and suddenly have an urge to yell out “Rockbrook request! The Coconut Song!”

Girl swimming at summer campWith bright sun shining overhead, we broke into age groups for the afternoon rotating between camp tours of the different activity areas, cabin and line meetings, and swimming demonstrations. We ask everyone at camp who wants to swim (or go whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking) to demonstrate their ability in our lake.  It is a mountain-stream-fed lake which, very different from a warm, clear swimming pool, is quite cold and often a little intimidating for young girls used to shallow water. Consequently, it can be a shock to jump in, swim out 50 feet, back another 50 feet using a back stroke, and tread water for 1 full minute, as our demonstration/test requires. For even experienced swimmers, it takes a solid effort to overcome the cold without a struggle. Still, you would be proud of your girls for they all did very well, with only 3 needing to retake the test later. If someone struggles to complete the full swimming demonstration, we still encourage her to come and enjoy the lake, but we require that she wear a life vest and stay in the shallow area. To keep everyone safe at the waterfront, our American Camp Association accreditation requires these kinds of proven protocols.

Camp Counselor Skit with costumesLater in the afternoon, the whole camp assembled in the gym to learn more about the different activities offered this session by enjoying a program of skits performed by the activity instructors. This is a chance for the campers to meet the different instructors and hear more about what goes on at strange sounding activities like the “Alpine Tower, “Curosty,” “WHOA,” for example (Climbing, Fiber Arts, and Adventure/hiking). For the counselors, it’s a chance to dress up, maybe sing and dance a little, and show everyone what fun it is just to be at camp. In addition to these skits, we sang activity songs, line (age group) songs, and did a whole lot of cheering to make this a fun hour.

We’re just getting started. The bustle is just beginning, but I can already tell we’ve got excellent counselors and super excited campers ready to make this a great session. Stay tuned!

Blossoming Friendship

High water on High Falls in North CarolinaIt’s a big topic of conversation around here— all the rain we’ve been having. It really has been phenomenal, raining just about every day at some point, heavy showers lasting for an hour or more, and some days seeing little relief. As a result, our nearby creeks and rivers are extraordinarily flooded. For example in the Dupont State Forest, this photo of High Falls shows the power of the Little River as it crashes down 125 feet (Compare it to the photos here.). While this amount of rain does make us shift our kayaking, canoeing and rafting schedules a bit, it also makes for dramatic hikes to view waterfalls. We’ll be busy and having a great time no matter what the weather, but I’m pleased to report that today was an almost completely dry day. We had just a tiny spray of rain for about 15 minutes, and that was it.  Good news!

Today we welcomed to camp our second July mini session campers, all 116 of them. This is exciting for everyone—for the full session girls already here because they will now have many more friends to play (do camp!) with, for the returning campers (which is about 75% of them) because they will be reuniting with camp friends, and for our new Rockbrook campers because they will finally get to experience camp for themselves. For everyone, this is the kind of excitement that matters on a personal level, an excitement that’s tied to people and the positive relationships the Rockbrook community inspires. Arriving at camp fires up a joyful feeling of friendship rekindled and presently born anew. It’s a palpable vibe everywhere here.

Camp Cabin wins spirits paddleAround noon, once everyone had safely arrived, we gathered the whole camp on the hill in the shade (yes, there was sun out to make that shade!) of the walnut tree. With crazy creek chairs spread in all directions, the directors, activity counselors, and the Hi-Ups presented several skits and songs for everyone. For our new girls, this was their first introduction to some of the craft projects, adventures, games and activities planned for this coming week at camp. For all of us, it was a chance to belt out the line songs (Juniors, Middlers, or Seniors) loud enough to echo them across the valley.  This photo shows the cabin recognized this week for demonstrating exemplary Rockbrook Spirit… kindness, generosity, friendship, enthusiasm, and encouragement. To recognize this accomplishment, they will proudly display this RBC “Spirit Paddle” in their cabin for the week.

First time swimming testAfter a fantastic lunch of Rick’s homemade mac-n-cheese, steamed green beans, fresh tomatoes, and sweet watermelon (comfort food for a first meal…), the mini session girls changed into swimsuits so they could demonstrate their swimming skills to our team of lifeguards. The girls arrive in cabin groups led by their counselor, all ready to get wet. Chrissy, the Director of the waterfront, begins by welcoming everyone and reviewing all the important rules this area requires, our tag system being the most important. There are rules about using the diving board and the water slide (“Big Samantha”), about where swimming is allowed in the lake, and about when the lake is open or closed. Following this review, the girls take turns jumping in the water off of the dock, swimming 50ft out, 50ft back, and treading water for 1 minute. This can be  disconcerting, especially for the youngest campers, so we are very careful to assess everyone’s mood as they step up on the dock and to provide gentle encouragement. We want this experience to be positive, even if a girl has trouble completing the entire series of skills. When someone struggles in this deep water, we require her to swim in the shallow end of the lake and to wear a life jacket until she can pass the test later.

Face painted camp girlsGirls Camp Dunking BoothLater in the afternoon, Chase, Grace and about 14 counselors set up an “activity tour” for everyone that combined group games, “minute to win it” type challenges, a dunking booth, and fun little snacks stationed all over camp. The girls and their counselors ran from station to station… getting their faces painted, untangling “human knots,” playing “I’m a Rockbrook Girl,” nibbling popcorn and cotton candy, tossing eggs to each other (ideally without breaking them!), and dunking their brave (and eventually wet) counselors. It was a great way to spend the afternoon together, getting to know each other and the different areas of the camp at the same time.

It was a great first day of the mini session—fine weather, a really nice feeling of blossoming friendship, and good fun all around.

It’s a Highlight

First tetherball game
Greeting her first camp horse

It’s a highlight of the summer, the largest opening day of a session with 210 campers, 78 staff members, parents, grandparents, a good number of little brothers and siblings all arriving at Rockbrook this morning for the start of our second session. More importantly, today is a highlight of the year for many of the campers arriving, because they’ve been waiting since last summer to return to Rockbrook, to see their camp friends, to take a deep breath of the woodsy mountain air, to sing their favorite camp song in the dining hall, and to get busy with all the fun activities of camp. And for new campers, today is a highlight simply because it is their first day of their time at camp. The directors, Sofie, Chase, and Grace, the program staff and the superb group of cabin counselors assembled this session are all equally excited to welcome everyone to camp. You could feel it as girls and their families arrived all morning; this is a amazing bunch of people and we all are pumped up for a great session!

Throughout the morning, those campers who arrived early jumping right into things by taking a hike to Rockbrook Falls, the largest waterfall on the camp property, learning to make a new patterns of friendship bracelet, greeting a couple of the camp horses, brushing up on their tetherball skills, or simply getting to know each other relaxing in one of the many red porch rocking chairs around camp.

Girls finding a waterfall on hike
Feet of girls waiting to swim

It was easy to guess this year’s t-shirt color because just about everywhere today you saw girls wearing the same heather green. Likewise, the girls all proudly wore their wooden name tags. These tags, following a long Rockbrook tradition, are thin slices of dried Mountain Laurel strung simply on a piece of vinyl lanyard, but each is designed and decorated by every camper’s counselor and is presented right when the girls arrive at camp. Some girls add to the decoration and collect them as souvenirs of their years at camp (so many wooded camp name tags hanging in girls’ rooms at home!).

After a comforting lunch of Rick’s homemade, baked macaroni and cheese, salad and fresh fruit… and pausing to sing Happy Birthday to Katie …the girls gathered in their cabins for brief meetings. These are opportunities to get to know all of the cabin mates, but also for the counselors to discuss cabin chores, the daily camp schedule, and important safety rules. Next, everyone began a rotation between camp tours, swimming demonstrations, and games in each age group’s lodge. By this time the weather had turned cloudy and a slight drizzle was falling now and then, not thunder or lightning, but the occasional burst of raindrops that would last for ten minutes or less. This made our swimming demonstrations a bit chillier than usual, but you would be surprised how this barely slowed down these girls. With encouragement and support from their counselors, coaching from all 8 of the lifeguards, reassurance from Sarah and the other directors, and cheering from their cabin mates, most girls easily earned their swimming tags and were quickly wrapped in towels chatting wildly about how “freezing” the lake is.

Camp Staff Skit

Just before dinner, the entire camp assembled in the gym to enjoy an introduction to all of the Rockbrook activities presented by the counselors. Each team of instructors took the stage to perform a skit or song related to their activity. In most cases, if their activity involves special equipment, it was featured in the skit. In this photo, for example, we have the paddling instructors singing and dancing decked out in spray skirts, helmets, and PFDs. We’ve found this to be a great way for the campers to meet the activity instructors, get a glimpse of their enthusiasm for their activity, see some of the cool craft projects available, and understand what’s involved in each activity…all in preparation for the time tonight when they will sign up for their first set of four scheduled activities. There are always fun new aspects to the activities (this year, the new Nature Nook out in the woods, for example), so this assembly gives both new and returning campers ideas about what they’d like to do while at camp.

As we settle in here at camp, I hope you begin following along by checking the online photos available each day in your parent account, reading and sharing these blog posts, liking our Facebook page, and even following us on Twitter. There’s always a lot going on at Rockbrook, and these are the ways you can keep up a bit.

P.S. Don’t be shy about commenting on these blog posts! We love hearing from you.