Director of Rockbrook, Sarah Carter, handed me a letter yesterday, while we were winding down from the Jedi Training Academy event and such an incredible Mini Session Opening Day.
At this point, I was still smiley and filthy from both parts of the day, covered in shaving cream, paint, and mud and with “I am your father” written across my forehead. I was in the office and about to settle in for the night, not expecting such a magical surprise to unfold. But I could tell the letter was special by the way Sarah looked at me when she said, “Read this.”
The letter was written by a 90-something year old Rockbrook girl, and it reads: “When my children were old enough to be interested in my own childhood during the Depression, my favorite story was the 8 weeks at Rockbrook Camp in 1938. I was in the 8th grade that year and my mother told me I had a choice: 1) The 10 day trip to Washington D.C. in the spring, or 2) Rockbrook for 8 weeks. Sports has always been my greatest interest in life — The decision was easy.”
She really must have been an incredible athlete! For part of the letter, she describes the awards she remembers receiving, still thrilled after all this time: The awards were given “at the last evening campfire where the owner gave the awards and we all cried our eyes out. I still have my 3 ribbons! Red and blue in Tennis and yellow in Diving!” Although we no longer give out awards on the last night of camp, it seems that not much has changed in terms of how emotional the last campfire, Spirit Fire, can be!
What truly stuck me was the line, “Rockbrook was a life highlight.” I keep saying it to myself today, getting a little teary-eyed and trying to wrap my head around it… I have a million questions for her about what those 8 weeks were like for her and what kind of impact Rockbrook had on her.
She closes her letter by informing us that her daughter had heard someone mention Rockbrook in Maine last week, which compelled her to write the letter. We’ll continue to ponder who this mystery person in Maine could’ve been and are thrilled to write back to our 1938 Rockbrook girl shortly!
***In honor of this special “blast from the past” history edition blog-post, I’ve included some vintage pictures that I recently found that belonged to the founder of Rockbrook, Nancy Carrier.
I think I was supposed to write on the events of the day here at RBC, but I wrote about the ones that make those events happen. I just thought that you, as parents, would fully appreciate learning more about these great leaders that your girls will, most certainly, come home talking about.
Let me begin by saying that this blog entry was left to my discretion. Our humble full time staff here at Rockbrook would not choose to be boastful by having an entry written about them. But, Mama B has the password, and I feel this post is well deserved!
As a camp mom, I get to show up and do what comes natural by helping out in situations that warrant a mom’s attention. My duties seem simple compared to the ones of the full time staff around me who work all year and around the clock in the summer to provide the very best camp experience for our daughters. I am amazed every year at the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes requiring countless hours of planning and organization. What appears to campers to be spontaneous activities, really takes hours of planning to make it happen. Every detail of all planned activities here at Rockbrook has been thought out months ahead of time, so that everything runs smoothly down to the daily muffin flavor, bead color, and set of paddling gear.
This is all made possible by a staff that has a passion for Rockbrook Camp. They were all campers and/or staff here previously, which makes their jobs personal. They all have a great love for this camp, and their goal is for our daughters to have the same great experience that they did. They work continuously to make it even better. They each have gregarious personalities and each possesses individual gifts, that when combined, make RBC run like a well oiled machine.
The descriptions below are only a portion of all the tasks that the administrative staff accomplish here at Rockbrook. I took the liberty of interviewing a variety of campers and counselors here this session because when I try to describe such an amazing team, my words seem inadequate.
SOFIE-She describes herself as “a counselor the counselors,” but she’s so much more than that! Her gift is with people, and her spirit is electric. She does interviewing that takes place all year, as she handpicks the young women that will lead your children. And, I must say, this is one of the best staff of counselors that I have ever seen. Their energy is continuous, and their smiles are never ending. The personalities spotted by Sofie have meshed perfectly with one another, and the joyous spirits have transplanted to the campers, providing a perfect camp atmosphere. The counselors all laugh with her and enjoy her company here at camp, but they have the utmost respect for her. She holds them accountable in a joyous way that makes them want to strive to be better leaders. One counselor described her as “the sun,” and I think that’s a perfect description.
GRACE-She can be spotted here at camp with what she calls her “squinty smile,” and she’s easy to identify because it’s always on her face. If you listen carefully, you can also find her by hearing her laughter, which makes her the perfect liaison between the girls and parents.
She’s on top of any situation that may arise with campers, and she does such a beautiful job of communicating with young girls in a way in which they can relate. She also insures that your girls have every opportunity to participate in all their desired activities here at camp, so that their experience is all that they hoped it would be. She has the gift of organization as shown by her assurance that each child is on the appropriate list for the activity that they have chosen, and that the counselors of that activity are anxiously awaiting their attendance. She spends a great deal of time pairing pen pals, which the girls look forward to, and allows new campers to feel connected before their arrival. Cabin assignments are also a crucial part of Grace’s job, as she carefully places each child with a peer group and counselor for each session.
CHASE-Chase exemplifies the epitome of the Rockbrook Spirit, and I think this is essential for someone planning all the events that your girls attend here at camp. She makes everything “fun,” as shown on your girls faces as they attended a pirate party, World Cup soccer night, pancake breakfast, overnights, vegetable garden cutting, and the list goes on. I can only imagine the preparation it takes to get ready for a party for this many girls with various silly activities and snack choices. She makes it look easy, and the greatest part is, she has the best time of all! She has insured that all the activities are stocked with all the necessary equipment and supplies. A great deal of her time in the off season is spent ordering beads, paint, fabric, clay, string, and all the necessary supplies needed so your daughter can create masterpieces to bring home. Her jovial spirit is evident in everything she coordinates, and a good time is had by all.
SARAH and JEFF Carter-I can honestly say I don’t have any conception of the quantity or variation of tasks this couple accomplishes on a daily basis to run this camp so successfully. If I attempted to describe their efforts, I’m sure I would way under estimate the time and energy it takes to run such an extraordinary organization. But, I can say with confidence, that every detail is considered, every activity researched, every staff member contemplated, and every aspect perfected.
JEFF-Although he may appear to be in the background to many of the younger campers, he plays a profound roll in the experiences of the older campers. As a past Rockbrook hiking instructor, he has a great knowledge and love for the outdoors that he enjoys sharing with the older girls. He provides great safety skills and a sense of security for the girls that are transitioning to counselors, on their three day overnight. One counselor stated “He had a great Rockbrook experience, and he wants to give back so that girls can grow, learn, and pass it on to their campers.” Jeff has a keen awareness of everything that is going on during camp. He’s always there to making sure everything is running according to plan. His state of the art website is work of its own, and he’s constantly seeking improvements to be made each year.
SARAH-Sarah fully appreciates each and every Rockbrook tradition, and she values its meaning. She has worked very hard to preserve the heritage here that she remembers as a child. It is such a joyful experience for her and for the rest of the moms who attended here, to be able to share this with our daughters. Her gentle, calm spirit makes campers comfortable, and she handles all situations with such grace. Whatever circumstance she is faced with at camp, she exemplifies patience, which puts everyone around her at ease. She not only knows each and every camper by name, but she recognizes their distinct qualities. She fully appreciates each of your daughters’ uniqueness, and how they contribute to their cabin community.
When you have owners and staff who are emotionally invested, it drives them to make camp all it can be. Their spirit for camp is contagious, and your daughters will hold on to the memories they have helped create throughout the year. I am grateful that all the girls who attend Rockbrook are the beneficiaries of such a passion, aimed at the creation of a great camp experience!
“[At the gathering] I was reminded that the Spirit of Rockbrook is ageless, timeless, and omnipresent. And while we may find ourselves having moments where we forget about it in the un-real world, it never forgets about us. It connects us all no matter what “school or name or fame” because at its core, the Rockbrook Spirit has the uncanny ability to gather and welcome hundreds of women (and the select irreplaceable male figures) with wide open arms whenever we feel like going home.”
Charlotte and I recently returned from a Rockbrook Roadtrip, and I wanted to share some of our highlights with you. We traveled far and wide looking for RBC girls. In just seven days we landed in five different cities, spent time with six awesome host families, met eight new canine friends, filled the gas tank close to ten times, saw nearly 150 slices of pizza be devoured, and laughed with countless Rockbrook campers, alumnae, and new pals. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
On day one, we headed south from Brevard and made it to Atlanta where we had a Rockbrook party at camper Kate’s house. Kate hosted the party with her mom, Betsy, a RBC alumna. We had so much fun! We weren’t ready to leave Georgia after we had such a great time in Atlanta, so we made stops in Columbus and Macon. In Columbus, we laughed all night with Emma, our host camper, and her brother Cam. We fell in love with their new puppy, Tank, but Emma wouldn’t let us take him home.
Tank wasn’t the only furry friend that we wanted to take home with us. We had a party at Anna Kate’s house in Macon where I was introduced to her sweet dog, Ollie. I had heard rumors that Ollie was one of the best dogs I would ever meet. Let me assure you, THE RUMORS ARE TRUE. We saw lots of Rockbrook campers at the party in Macon, and Anna Kate’s mom Kathleen, a former camper herself, built a fire so we could all make s’mores. Yum- talk about a crowd pleaser!
We visited Charlotte’s mom’s house in Georgia before heading North for our last two shows. It’s only necessary that I mention this because I was able to snap a picture of LITTLE CHARLOTTE that I feel I must share with you. Enjoy.
After three fabulous shows in Georgia we made the eight hour drive to Charlottesville to catch up with camper Hannah Margaret and her parents, Wendy and Ed. We loved seeing so many Rockbrook girls in Virginia, and a couple of loyal counselors, Lyndsey and Greer, made appearances also. However, it was Hannah Margaret and her dog, Freckles, who stole the show in Charlottesville. Freckles, a show dog in his own right, has won ribbons in a couple of local dog shows with Hannah Margaret as his trainer. Go Freckles, Go!!!
We were sad to leave Charlottesville, but excited to make it to DC where campers Tia, Wiley and Sarah were waiting for us! The DC party, hosted by Alison and Jill, was such a blast! The energy was amazing, and everyone was so excited to hear about camp. We gave all the girls some RBC shades, and they rocked them To wrap our trip up, we had dinner with some of our favorite Rockbrook counselors in DC. Elizabeth, Katie, Christine, Jane, Kendal, Charlotte and I laughed all night long. It was great to catch up! We had such a great time out on the open road, and we loved seeing so many Rockbrook faces- new and old! Thanks for coming out, y’all! We hope to see you all again soon!
During the recent Rockbrook reunion there were several sets of Mothers and Daughters in attendance. It was such a special experience for Moms and Daughters to finally get to be campers together, sharing bunk beds, singing camp songs and dining around the green tables in the dining hall.
During the activity portion of the reunion there were lots of Mother and Daughter sets spotted sliding into the lake on the water slide, hiking together, playing tennis or making crafts. Overall though, the favorite experience for everyone was just sharing time with their loved ones in such a special place. Sharing the gift of Rockbrook with your daughter is definitely the gift that lasts a lifetime.
Each summer we are always thrilled to have campers in attendance whose family members are also former campers. This year we were especially excited as we had three campers during our Third Session who are the great-great granddaughters of Nancy Carrier, Rockbrook’s founder! It was so great seeing their enthusiasm about camp and knowing how proud their great great grandmother would be to see them as campers!
Check out this great page from a 1941 Rockbrook Catalog. Campers had the opportunity to go on lots of different adventures including overnight camping trips. Camping trips now follow the principles of Leave No Trace, but back in the 1940’s you can see that the camp outs were quite elaborate. Don’t you know those S’mores tasted delicious?!
Did you know that Rockbrook’s home Transylvania County is also known as “The Land of the Waterfalls?” Transylvania County contains over 250 waterfalls thus earning it’s nickname. Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls on the east coast and is only a few miles from Rockbrook. We even have two waterfalls on Rockbrook’s property- Stick Biscuit Falls and Rockbrook Falls.
Click here for a local waterfall map. Have fun on your adventure!
One of the most common memories shared with us from our former campers is their recollections of Polar bear swim in the chilly lake at camp. Campers would get up at the rising bell, and with their counselors would run down to the lake for a quick dip. What a refreshing way to start the day!!
We found a great write up about Polar Bear in our Rockbrook Memories Book. Jerkey, a much beloved Rockbrook director would lead the girls in their morning plunge.
“Much of the fun at camp that summer stemmed from Jerkey’s leadership. I can see her now as she led us during those wee hours of the early morning in a series of setting up exercises before we jumped into that icy cold pool. Somehow, even in my shivering state, she made it seem glorious thing to do.”
You will be glad to know that the Polar Bear tradition continues today and that the camp lake is as chilly as ever!! As the camp song states: “Polar, polar, polar bear, you can be a part of it all, if you dare!”
Many campers and staff from the early days of Rockbrook often mention Mrs. Carrier’s dog and sidekick, Peggy. We were thrilled to find a photograph of Mrs. Carrier and Peggy together so we could “meet” the girls favorite mascot during those early years. Here is a great excerpt about Peggy, written by a former camper:
“All the campers knew and loved the Great Dane, “Peggy”, who followed Mrs. Carrier wherever she went. She seemed in her canine way to be part director, for she watched the girls as though responsible for their safety. She was a harlequin, the bright patches of white over-lapping the black spots, and though her bark was frightening, she had the gentlest of natures. Seeing her bounce up the hill at the side of Senior Lodge, one knew that Mrs. Carrier could not be far behind and that as long as her mistress stayed in the camp area Peggy would be nearby.”
If you have any Peggy stories you would like to share we would love to hear from you!