The Fun was Multiplied

Girls Camp Arrivals

Today we proved it again. We proved one of the basic principles of camp, something that we know makes things better… more fun. It’s simply this; if it’s good to do something with a few people, it’s more fun to do it with even more people. Certainly there will be diminishing returns at some point, but generally speaking at camp our fun ramps up further when more kids join in. Games of Gagaball, swimming in the lake, making pottery, kayaking down a river, doing yoga, playing tennis, even relaxing in one of the red rocking chairs on a lodge porch— there’s more conversation, reward, emotion, silliness and fun when we do any of these (and other examples too!) with others. It’s an easy lesson to learn in a place so community-minded as Rockbrook. Being inclusive, friendly, open and generous, leans us all toward each other, encouraging more meaningful relationships. At camp we seek each other out, thrive inter-acting, and enjoy everyday with friends.

Today’s proof came when 75 Mini Session campers arrived and joined the full session girls. Right away, as cabins filled with new smiling faces and new wood-chip name tags were spotted around camp, it felt more festive. It took really no time for these new campers to jump right in, to be hiking, playing tetherball, tying their first friendship bracelet, and romping the hills of camp with their cabin groups.

Camp Cabin Award

Just before lunch, we all gathered on the central hill of camp under the old walnut tree for an assembly. This is a gorgeous shady spot that looks out at the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, and serves as an amphitheater of sorts for us. Sarah began the assembly by welcoming the new campers to Rockbrook and introducing the directors, special staff members, and head activity instructors. Then we all felt the power of the added enthusiasm provided by these new campers when the Hi-Ups, the oldest girls, led the camp singing the different “Line songs.” Part song and part cheer, I bet folks all over the river valley could here us!

Camper Obstacle Fun
Obstacle Race kids

The best proof came after rest hour when the counselors set up a crazy obstacle course for the campers. We warned them to dress in swimsuits because they were apt to get hot and wet running to each station, challenge and obstacle. Some of these were a little messy, like the color run where blasts of colored powder and water balloons (thrown by a couple of counselors) blocked their path, or the “noodle crawl” that had the girls duck under a net and crawl through an area of wet noodles. Other obstacles were physical, like weaving through a maze, jumping over bales of hay, and stepping from stone to stone along the path.  The obstacle course ended at the landsports field where we had an inflatable water slide and a huge dance party. Snow cones and chilled watermelon, plus lawn sprinklers and an army of counselors armed with water guns, helped keep us cool in the afternoon sun. Face painting, hula hooping, corn hole games, and loads of dancing added to the fun. Karin and Abby, two of our camp photographers, caught most of the action, so be sure to check out the photos in the online gallery. You can tell by all the faces, the fun was multiplied. Good active, messy, fun.  You know it’s been a great camp day when everyone in camp needs a shower before dinner!

Color Run Fun Kids

An Upbeat Celebration

Pottery Camp Works

Throughout the session, over the last few weeks, the girls have had their hands deep in clay making all sorts of small sculptures, decorative tiles, vessels like cups and bowls, and just about anything they can imagine. Both pottery studios were almost like factories with campers producing incredibly varied forms, works of art really, from the uniformly brown clay. More recently over the last few days, everyone took the next step of carefully painting glazes on their pottery pieces. The glazes paint on in dull-looking colors, but after the final step— firing in a kiln —they take on the shiny, more vibrant color you expect. Last Night Michelle, the director of our Ceramics Program, fired two completely stacked kilns containing all the work of the campers.  That’s an almost 24 hour process, with the temperature slowly rising (to drive out any lingering moisture) and then holding at 1940 degrees for almost 12 hours. It’s very exciting to open the kilns after all that time and heat, and to see how the pieces ultimately turned out. This morning Michelle unloaded the kilns and set out all the finished pottery so the girls could claim their work. Such a colorful exhibit!

Kid flying on camp zipline

By the end of the day today, even using part of the free time before dinner, Andy and the climbing staff accomplished the goal of allowing every single camper to ride on the zip line. The Rockbrook zip line is a huge thrill. It’s 450 feet long and begins after you cross a swinging bridge suspended high above a ravine between two large rocks. The bridge is about 100 feet long and has (quite intentionally) missing planks, forcing the girls to step carefully from plank to plank over each gap. So right from the start, an adrenaline focus comes naturally to mind. Of course, while on the bridge, the girls are wearing a climbing harness and are securely tethered to a safety cable above. Not long after that focus, when the girls clip their double-wheeled pulley into the main zip cable, and then leap off the launch rock into what feels like 150 feet of empty space below, the whole experience tends to elicit wide-eyed surprise. Some girls simply cling to their tether and smile as they fly down the cable, while others whoop with joy, hands stretched high in the air. Either way, the first thing we hear on the landing platform is, “I want to do it again!”

Olympic Final Camp Dinner
Camp Dinner Party Entrance

Tonight was something everyone in camp was looking forward to, our end of session banquet. Based on a theme kept secret from everyone except the CA girls who planned every aspect of the event (costumes, music, decoration, food, skits, and choreographed dance numbers), the banquet is a fantastic party thrown for the entire camp. The CA campers spend all day decorating the dining hall, again in secret, until the theme is finally revealed as the campers enter through a tunnel of arms. Our banquet theme for this session… The “Rockbrook Olympics!” The CAs created a festive international party with posters of Olympic sports, flags of countries from around the world, streamers, balloons, and table decorations highlighting different countries and sports. They built an awards podium, and presented a synchronized swimming routine, a boxing dance number, as well as opening and closing ceremonies, complete with an Olympic torch. They served “Olympic Onion Rings” “Misty May’s Mixed Vegetables,” “Gold Medal Chicken Nuggets,” and “Shawn Johnson Strawberries.” Through the dinner, as the girls nibbled on all the different courses of food and enjoyed the candy also decorating the tables, they had dance breaks, spontaneously jumping up to dance in the cleared center area. The girls and staff members, all dressed in their blue RBC t-shirts, seemed so happy, laughing and dancing, pausing now and then for a quick photo. The banquet was a wonderful mix of fun dancing and food, colorful decorations and entertainment, but most of all, an upbeat celebration among now very close friends.  These girls know how to enjoy themselves!

Campers and Counselor at final camp dinner