Camp is an Adventure

Outdoor Adventure StruggleCamp is an adventure! It is because it gets girls outside for all kinds of exciting activities. Climb high up a real rock! Paddle a raft down through whitewater rapids. Sleep in the woods far from the “comforts of home.” These, and other outdoor activities, are just plain thrilling.

But why is that? What makes something a thrilling “adventure?”

The answer might be a little surprising, but it actually boils down to danger. It’s true; an adventure activity always carries a degree of risk. It’s an activity where we “take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome” (as my dictionary puts it). So for example, rock climbing includes the risk of falling. Whitewater boating has the risk of capsizing, and when camping in the wilderness there’s always a chance of horrible weather (among other things!).

But of course adventure isn’t about getting hurt or experiencing some disaster (there’s safety training and equipment to help with that). It’s about avoiding danger despite the threat of it. Adventure is about overcoming the difficulty and conquering the fear associated with an activity.

Adventure activities are thrilling because we can actually do them despite the risk. Through our own efforts, applying specialized knowledge and skills, we succeed in the face of possible failure. Sure it might be a struggle, but it feels great. Yes, an adventure activity can be difficult, but also really exciting to face it and win!

That’s why, incidentally, adventure activities are so good for boosting kids’ confidence.

Being at Rockbrook provides so many great ways to be adventurous, opportunities to try activities that may look a little scary, but then with the right instruction, encouragement and role models, to also manage the risks and cope beautifully with the challenges involved. Very cool stuff!

Learning to Climb at Camp

Kids learning to rock climb while at campWhen girls first begin to learn rock climbing at Rockbrook, they start on our high ropes course climbing tower. It’s an “Alpine Tower” and you may have seen photos of it before here. It’s really the perfect place to learn how to climb because it makes so many different elements of “real rock climbing” so accessible. The girls can quickly learn important safety principles like the belay commands. They can begin to feel comfortable using the basic rock climbing gear like the harness, helmet, carabiner and rope. And, they can actually climb! A lot! The Alpine Climbing Tower provides close to 100 different ways to climb to the top; there are poles, nets, ropes, cables, climbing holds and rock walls to allow a whole range of difficulties and challenges. Girls can sign up for climbing instruction every week at camp and climb a couple of different routes every time they come!

But what do you learn when you first start out rock climbing? The importance of stretching and warming up is a good start. Everyone does better if they are flexible and a little stronger after warming up. After that the first lesson emphasizes the importance of balance, of being able to hold still balancing on one foot, for example, and moving the other leg or arms to reach a certain spot. Next, the girls learn footwork is central to rock climbing. It’s not mainly about finding grips for your hands, but rather about learning to use your feet and legs to move up the rock. Your hands and arms mainly help with balance, and your legs keep you moving. The other beginning rock climbing lesson to learn is more mental than physical. It’s learning to stay calm and focused. Rock climbing is a series of puzzles that requires concentration, and a calm, clear attention to details the rock presents. If you aren’t relaxed on the rock and get in a hurry, you might miss a hold or skip right over the perfect foothold making your route more strenuous and less enjoyable.

All of these lessons can take some practice to master, but there’s so much rock climbing going on at Rockbrook, the girls easily learn them. It’s really not hard to learn how to rock climb at camp, and the girls love it!

Camp Lets You Really Rock!

Girl Rock CampFor many of the girls at Rockbrook, especially the older “seniors” (teens thirteen to fifteen years old), rock climbing is one of their favorite adventure activities. For these girls, RBC can be a girls rock camp. That’s because there are so many opportunities to climb. Not even counting the climbing wall in the gym (which has 6 different very cool routes on it: four face routes, a sweet corner for stemming, and a hand crack route) and the Alpine Tower (which easily has more than 100 different rock climbing challenges), the girls have plenty of rock right on the camp property.

Castle Rock is the huge granite rock towering above camp where girls have six different rock climbing routes to work on.  It’s so nice to just hike up the hill behind the dining hall to our very own private rock climbing spot (no driving!).  And the rock is excellent! There are nice deep hand cracks, a finger crack, delicate face routes with some serious exposure, and of course plenty of chances to work on your friction climbing. The rock provides a variety of climbing challenges that beginners and more experienced girls will find just right.

With all of this climbing right at Rockbrook, and then with the great rock nearby in the Pisgah National Forest, camp has the kind of adventure where girls can really rock!

Adventure for Girls

Girls Climbing Camp Adventure

Girls of all ages get at least a taste of adventure while at camp. Even the youngest girls (who, having finished kindergarten, can be as young as 5 years old!) are able to gear up and climb our 50ft Alpine Tower. Even before leaving the ground it’s an adventure— fitting the helmet, tightening the harness, clipping the rope to everything, and learning the belay commands. This kind of outdoor adventure camp activity introduces girls to a few technical details of climbing while at the same time providing a nice balance of physical and personal challenges. It’s balancing up little holds and remaining calm and focused despite a fear of heights.  All good things!

Rockbrook Camp’s Ropes Course

Youth girls climbing adventure ropes course

“Does Rockbrook have a ropes course?”

Yes, we have an Alpine Tower. This is a special challenge course camp structure that combines both low ropes course elements and really cool high ropes course events. If you haven’t seen one of these, they are amazing. From this photo you can see a little that they are made of huge telephone poles bolted and lashed together in the shape of two inverted pyramids. This allows the youth girls to climb up three different sides, swing on ropes, balance on logs, scramble up cargo nets, and pull up on all sorts of climbing holds. There’s the “corporate ladder,” the “missing link,” the “swinging logs,” and the “bump out” to name just a few of the ropes course climbing elements on the Tower. You can imagine how popular climbing is at camp, and with all these different ways to climb, girls can come back all the time and have something new to try.

P.S. Did you know Rockbrook’s Alpine Tower is unique among youth camps because it is the only one with a roof?!

Camp Ropes Course Climbing

Girl climbing high ropes coursesWe’ve described Rockbrook’s high ropes courses before, and discussed some of the benefits that follow learning how to climb, but what does it really take to do it? What are the “tricks?” Four things are important: flexibility (to stretch and reach different holds), balance (to steady yourself standing on one foot for example), strength (to pull up, or more frequently, stand up), and lastly, concentration. Bring all these together, and you’ll be a good rock climber.

Here’s a picture of a girl climbing our alpine tower high ropes course. She’s standing up and over her right foot, balancing on it and leaving plenty of space between the climbing poles and her body. This makes it easier to move her left foot up and provides more stability than leaning in and hugging the poles. Step by step, little by little, slow, deliberate, concentrated moves— add them up and you’ll be at the top before you even know it!

Summer Games for Kids

Summer Kids GamesWhat is that thing?! Well, the kids at camp have named it “The Toy,” but it’s basically an aqua ropes-course, a climbing structure made of wood and rope suspended over the water on one side of the Rockbrook lake. The most popular game kids play on it is really challenging— you try to reach the farthest of 5 rings (like the girl in the photo) as you go out hand-to-hand over the water.

This is just one of the options at camp and is something you don’t have to do if you don’t want to. If swimming is more your thing, that’s fine.  Even if you don’t want to get in the water, that’s fine too.

Of course, if you don’t make it to the 5th ring, there’s a fun splash at the bottom! But if you do make it to the last ring, and only a few kids have, we announce your name in the dining hall and reward you with a special treat/prize.

Do you know what the prize is? Let us know in the comments!