Wonders Everywhere

Costume HikersSometimes when you go hiking, the aim is not to cover a great distance, or to reach a particular destination. Instead of a goal, it’s a stroll. Instead of striving forward, some hikes are deliberately slow because what’s on the side of the trail is more interesting. Rockbrook is well known (among those who have looked) to be brimming with subtle points of beauty, magical areas of the forest that stand out as special… a clump of moss with the smallest fern poking through, the gnarly bark of a massive pine tree, or a snail silently sliding along a leaf, for example. With just a little imagination, it’s easy to understand all this beauty as the work of nature spirits, or fairies. It’s part of our camp lore; Rockbrook is a “fairyland of beauty,” as one camp song puts it. We live among fairies enlivening our experience of nature. They are rarely seen themselves, but if you look carefully, you can see evidence of them everywhere. Today a group of Juniors took a short hike looking for just such evidence, and to make it even more fun they decided to dress as fairies too. Exploring along the path to Rockbrook Falls, they found fairy houses, fairy gardens, and even fairy playgrounds, as shiny stones, delicate flowers, and colorful lichens proved the Rockbrook Fairies lived nearby. These girls learned that there are wonders everywhere… If we just slow down, look to the side, and pay attention.

Our oldest campers (10th graders), the Hi-Ups, helped teach the younger girls another piece of Rockbrook lore today— how to tie the special “Friendship knot” on the red neckerchief of our camp uniforms. We wear our uniforms only on Sunday mornings and a couple of special events, but the red tie, ideally tied with this knot, is a crucial addition to the white shirt and shorts. The Friendship Knot is also called the “Chinese Square Knot,” “Cross Knot,” and “Rustler’s Knot.” When tied properly it has a distinctive square pattern on one side, and cross on the other, akin to the Chinese ideogram for the number ten. It’s not difficult to tie, but like most knots, the best way to learn it is to have someone demonstrate the twists and turns of the pattern. So today Sarah first taught all the Hi-Ups, and once they mastered the technique, they fanned out across the camp to teach the other campers. Friends helping friends tie Friendship knots. Pretty cool!

Sliding Rock ScreamA trip to Sliding Rock is always exciting— freezing cold water cascading down about 60 feet of sloping rock into a deep pool below, and camp girls taking turns sitting in the water for a thrilling ride and plunge —but tonight when we took all the Seniors, it was even more so. The recent record rains in our area have completely saturated the ground, and even after three days of completely dry weather, we are still seeing higher water levels in the streams and creeks. Looking Glass Creek begins high near the Blue Ridge Parkway and when it reached Sliding Rock tonight it had had a chance to build quite a bit. With our lifeguards waiting at the bottom, rescue tubes ready, the girls had a great time sliding in the faster water as it pushed on their backs down the rock. It was loud, extra-splashy, cold as ever, and more adventurous than usual. While not every Senior braved the ride, some slid four or five times, and probably would have kept sliding if we had had more time.

We topped off the trip with a quick stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar for a frozen sweet treat.  Everyone enjoys a trip to Dolly’s. With all their special camp combination flavors (“Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” for example), plus standards like “Cookie Dough,” there’s something everyone likes.  It didn’t take long for the sugar to kick in and the girls to warm up for the camp songs to burst out.  It’s quite something to see when about 85 teenage girls start singing at the top of their lungs.  The word “powerful” comes to mind.  “Impressive” and “joyous” too.  With this kind of great Rockbrook girls, this much fun simply turns out that way!

Dolly's Girls

Irresistible Fun

Sliding Rock EmotionsSliding Rock CheerIsn’t this a great photo? As you may have guessed, it was taken at sliding rock here in Pisgah, but what makes it wonderful is how well it captures the expression on the girls faces, one ecstatic and the other a little terrified. For most of the girls we took to slide this evening, to zip themselves down the 60-feet of sloping granite through the cold mountain water of Looking Glass creek, they felt exactly that, an odd combination of intense excitement and dread at the same time. Just sitting down with the chill of the water up their back, elicits this feeling, and then as they begin sliding and accelerating down the rock toward the pool at bottom, most girls can’t help but scream. It’s really the perfect response for any thrilling adventure like this. On the second and third trip down the rock the feeling of excitement overtakes the nervousness, but even then, like riding a roller coaster, it just feels good to throw your hands up and yell. For even these teenage Senior campers we took tonight, this was irresistible fun. Sliding and sliding, we kept it up until it was almost dark— a very full dose of camp adventure.

whitewater rafting camp splashEarlier today two groups of girls enjoyed a fantastic day rafting on the Nantahala River, another classic Rockbrook camp adventure popular with the girls. Perfect sunny warm weather, our regular crew of Rockbrook guides, and very few other outfitters on the river made the trips superb. We offer these rafting trips to every Middler and Senior— we can do that since Rockbrook has a Forest service permit to guide its own rafting on the Nantahala—and I’d say 90% of the campers opt to do it, either a day trip or a longer outing that involves spending the night at our outpost camp near the river. Like the sliding rock photo above, this rafting shot captures the feeling of rafting, and it too is a heart-pumping ride that’s uniquely fun at camp… good friends screaming their heads off as they bump down mountain whitewater.

Camper being slimedFinally, tonight we enjoyed a special dinner and evening program set to the theme, “Nickelodeon.” The dining hall was decorated with colorful streamers and painted banners showing well-known Nickelodeon television shows. While everyone enjoyed their roasted chicken Caesar salads and bread for dinner (oh, and which included a delicious chocolate cake with green “slime” glaze for each table), we played “Nick at Night” songs. Lots of campers and counselors dressed up. There was Sponge Bob, Patrick Star, Blue from Blue’s Clues, and the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There were colorful Nickelodeon “Splats” hidden under chairs in the dining hall, and when a camper discovered a certain splat, she won a prize. Several “lucky” campers won the prize of being slimed by a bucket of green goo dumped over their heads. We all gathered on the hill to watch the sliming. During evening program, we also played other messy games like an egg toss that required the contestants to catch the egg in a bucket strapped to their heads. There was a “Double Dare” style game where the girls could only use their feet to remove a banana from a tub containing various canned foods like jello, pie filling, whipped cream and sliced beets. These games were certainly a little messy and in some cases a little gross too, but I think the girls really enjoyed playing them and laughing while they watched their friends. Once again there seemed to be non-stop cheering as everyone stayed excited during the event.

Ninja Turtle Costumed girls

Summertime Delight

Horse Arena RiderHorseback Riding CamperThe new covered horseback riding arena and stables at Rockbrook are creating quite a buzz, so let me mention that first. After more than a year of planning and design work, we began building the facility last August and working throughout the winter and spring to finish in time for camp this summer. The arena is 180 feet long and 90 feet wide with a 26-foot vaulted ceiling, a 5-foot rail all the way around, and a high-bay LED lighting system. Most importantly, the arena footing is a special blend of white silica sand (trucked in from SC), nylon and polyester fibers that give just the right amount of grip and stability, but also cushion and rebound. Designed by an arena footing expert, this surface is amazing. On a regular basis we use a sprinkler system to keep the sand a little moist, which makes it virtually dust free, and also use a complex drag to level and groom the surface. We’ve been told that this arena, both because of its size and quality footing, is the best covered arena in western North Carolina, but that’s not why we built it.  We simply know how much nicer it’s making our campers’ riding experience— cooler in the shade, fewer annoying bugs, and of course an all-weather space that nicely handles the ordinarily wet climate of this county. With its gleaming white sand footing, and treated wood framing, it’s a beautiful building and a delightful place to ride.

Along with the arena, we built a new adjoining 10-stall teaching barn. We made the stalls huge (12×12 feet) to accommodate our larger horses, added sliding stall doors, rubber mat stall floors, and rear dutch doors that open to the outside. There’s a heated feed room and separate tack room, an extra-wide 14-foot aisle, and a giant 3,000 square-foot hay loft. With this barn, it’s now possible to tack up your horse and walk down the aisle right into the arena, all under roof.

Nearby outside, we also constructed a new 90-foot round ring to complement the existing 100×300 jump course ring in the lower pasture. If we divide these large riding areas, we can hold five mounted lessons at the same time, which really helps when we have almost 80 girls at camp who are currently riding. We’ve been taking full advantage of these great facilities keeping all our young riders as busy as possible.

Sliding Rock GirlsSliding Rock Cheer

Since today was cabin day, the day when we change up the afternoon schedule to allow cabin groups to enjoy an activity together, we gathered all of the Middler campers for a grand trip into the forest. A trifecta trip of sorts, we charged up the group with a fun picnic dinner, visit to Sliding Rock, and a final stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar. Middlers have such a great time on this trip, eager to play games in the grass after their meal, excited to plunge into the chilly pool below Sliding Rock, and thrilled to select a unique “camp flavor” of ice cream at the last stop. We had a total of 115 people on this trip when you include all of the campers and staff members, creating quite a mob. At Sliding Rock, we completely filled the place! Going in the evening (after regular hours) allows us to do that, have our own lifeguards and give the whole event a Rockbrook feel. The photo gallery will show you what I mean, but girls really enjoyed the excitement, the adventure of it all, the classic mountain summertime delight that we’ve loved for years at Rockbrook.

Back at camp, mostly dry in a warm sweatshirt or fleece, the girls had no trouble making a quick path to bed. Today we have played, laughed, and played some more… just how summer should be.

Dollys Ice Cream

Dancing and Dashing

It’s cabin day! That’s the time, Wednesday afternoons specifically, when instead of going to individual activities, the girls do something as a cabin group. For regular daily activities everyone signs up for their own set of four, so this is a nice time when all the girls living in a cabin can enjoy a special activity together.

sliding rock shock girls creek slide Zip Creek Girls

All of the Middler (5th and 6th grade girls) cabin groups had their cabin day together taking a trip into the Pisgah Forest for a dinner picnic, field games, wild rides down a sloping waterfall, and an ice cream treat. We loaded all of our vehicles for the short ride up into the forest to our favorite picnic area that has a shelter and a large grassy field. Hot dogs with all the fixings, chips and watermelon (so much watermelon for 94 people!) fueled us up for the after dinner games. We played “Everybody up,” the “Human knot” challenge, and a huge game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl,” a clear favorite whenever we’re out away from camp. There was a slight sprinkle for about 30 minutes during our games, but it was only a minor nuisance, and if anything more, an added thrill for the girls dancing and dashing about in the grass.

NC waterfall swimming kidsIce Cream Face ChildrenCamp Girls PoseCamp Girls WaterfallBack in the vans and buses, we next were all at Sliding Rock for a good hour and half of classic mountain forest fun. For many of these Middlers this was their first trip to Sliding Rock, and as they sat in the chilly, fast moving water at the top of the 60 foot-long slide, and plunged into the pool below, they very quickly understood why this trip is so popular with the older campers. It’s amazing fun! The ride down is loud from the roaring waterfall and the cheering friends watching. It’s cold, even “freezing,” from the whitewater splashing all about, and from the swim at the end. It’s exhilarating as you accelerate down the rock toward the splash awaiting at the end. As it began to get dark, we finished up our sliding, said goodbye to the rock, and next found ourselves at Dolly’s Dairy Bar. Conveniently located at the entrance to the Forest, we now have a tradition of stopping for a sweet, also “freezing,” treat before heading back to camp. The folks at Dolly’s are experts at moving a huge group of campers along as they select their favorite flavor. It might be one of the special camp flavors they’ve concocted (Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion, for example), or something more common like peppermint. Licking our cones, then spontaneously singing camp songs, happily chatting along in the red and white glow of Dolly’s outdoor lights, it wasn’t long before it was time to head back to camp for some warm clothes and a cozy camp cabin.

Meanwhile, other cabin groups had different plans. A couple of groups went camping at the outpost site under Dunn’s Rock. This is a beautiful campsite on the Rockbrook property that includes an arrangement of huge boulders, massive old trees, the nearby creek, and a simple fire ring of stones arrange many years ago by former campers. A group of Junior campers hiked up to Stick Biscuit Falls, the waterfall up the mountain a bit behind the dining hall. It’s the smallest of the waterfalls on the camp property, but is a fun place to explore and feel the spray of water created by the falls hitting the rocks below. The Hi-Ups had a blast zooming through the trees on the Rockbrook Zip Line course. With 3 zip lines and 3 suspension bridges, it took them about an hour to run through the whole course. A group of Junior campers took a quick trip into Dupont State Forest for a swim at Hooker Falls, which has a bright sunny pool to enjoy. Another Junior group headed down to the garden to pick flowers and then make fairy houses back in camp under a hemlock tree. A cabin of Seniors decided to make “Spa face treatments” using avocado, yogurt and coffee grounds… a little silly certainly, with perhaps dubious benefits.

Mixing things up on Cabin day.  Oh so good!

Teen Girls Face Mask

Easy Going Excitement

Camp Painting ClassThis first week of camp continues to settle into a comfortable pace just as it seems also to energize with enthusiasm. We could call the feeling “easy going excitement.” That may sound odd, but it’s one of the magical aspects of camp life. It starts with the people here at Rockbrook. There’s such a strong sense of community glued together by kindness, caring and cooperation, it’s typical for our daily encounters with everyone to be encouraging and positive. It’s part of the camp culture. We do what we can to help each other, with, for example, cabin chores or getting ready for an activity. We share— gosh almost everything! —costumes for skits, friendly greetings, songs, and virtually non-stop conversation, for example. There’s very little competition to distort this sense of bonding, no real ranking or struggle for power over someone else since noncompetitive, just-for-the-fun-of-it play rules the day.

With this kind of easy, pleasant personal interaction being the warp of your day, when you can count on this kind of true community encouragement, the weft of new and perhaps challenging experiences are perfectly supported. Instead of being scary or “too difficult to try,” new activities become intriguing opportunities. The comfort, care and support of the camp community makes new challenges exciting, even thrilling because any sort of “failure” that might follow is easily cast aside as a first attempt, as an opportunity to be silly or to laugh with friends. Knowing you’re accepted by those around you helps soften insecurity and defensiveness in the face of imperfection. In this way, the inevitable struggle, whether minor or major, we all encounter when grappling with some new activity, skill, or emotional situation becomes a concrete opportunity to learn and grow rather than something to duck.  This fabric of support and challenge, woven from the newness of camp and a mindset engendered by a positive, relationship-focused culture, makes true what we’ve said for decades; “Rockbrook is a place for girls to grow.”

You might by familiar with the notion of a “Growth Mindset,” coined by Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her best-selling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It has become a well-known concept championed by all sorts of educational institutions. Contrasting with a “Fixed Mindset,” which combines a relatively deterministic worldview with a belief that innate personal abilities like intelligence, creativity and talent are static, a “Growth Mindset” begins with the opposite core beliefs, that individuals can grow and learn, that obstacles, criticism and challenges are valuable opportunities to develop, change and grow. Dweck found that people with a strong growth mindset are more inclined to work hard, apply novel strategies, accept input from others to continually learn, and as a result tend to achieve more while enjoying a greater sense of free will. You can see why educators love this notion and are always advocating a growth mindset in their students.

Rockbrook too! Living here at camp, buoyed by the caring supportive community of friends, it’s much easier for our girls to adopt a growth mindset and to experience the feeling of success that often follows. We’re not worried about innate talents here. Instead, there is a real spirit of experimentation, of knowing that what’s new and challenging can also be surprising and fun. When we’re always ready to celebrate simply being together, no matter what the outcome, the process of stretching ourselves becomes a constant joy.  Camp proves it everyday; a growth mindset is fun and rewarding.  So cool!

Before I sign off, I wanted to mention the awesome trip the Senior girls took to Sliding Rock this evening. We first headed into the Pisgah Forest for a dinner picnic and a few group games. The girls loved playing “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” and dashing about in the grass. At Sliding Rock, the water seemed colder than usual, but that didn’t discourage most of the girls from zipping down the rock multiple times. We had the whole place to ourselves, so it was easy for everyone to slide as many times as they liked. And all that cold water didn’t cool the girls’ enthusiasm for a stop at Dolly’s and a cup or cone of their favorite ice cream. For everyone, it was a classic camp night out with good food, lots of shrill laughter, some challenging outdoor adventure, and time with our very best friends.

NC Sliding Rock Kids Girls Sliding Rock

Magical Moments

Camp Friends Group
As girls start getting settled into camp and third session has started going full swing, most of them have found that they feel right at home in their cabins. I love looking at how different cabins look and feel. Some are decorated with fairy lights, a camp “bucket list” of all the things the cabin wants to accomplish throughout the session, plus many photographs of camp from years past and friends and family from home. Everything is starting to feel cozy, the noises of the night no longer so scary, the bunk beds and friends ever more inviting.

In addition to the physical space in which we are residing, everyone is starting to get more comfortable with one another. We are moving past basic questions and getting in to the ease that comes with being around good friends. This was particularly appreciated today because we got to hang out as cabins all afternoon—it was Cabin Day! For Cabin Day, we cancel the two afternoon activities and counselors plan fun activities for their individual cabins. Everyone looks forward to cabin day— it usually means an extra special activity, some good snacks, and, of course, lots of time spent bonding together!

Middle School Girls CampThe counselors put a lot of work planning activities they think their individual cabins will enjoy, and it definitely showed today! One group of junior counselors knew their girls loved playing with hair, so they spray painted hair (it’s temporary!) and braided the girls’ hair. This made every girl have the opportunity to be wacky, but also to feel special as they all had fun helping each other to do some fun hair dos.

Another junior cabin loves fairies (which is something I hear more about at Rockbrook than anywhere else—there is something that is just magical about it). Their counselors planned a great adventure for them, and I loved hearing all about it from the girls! They hiked to Stick Biscuit Falls (the nearest waterfall from camp—you can actually see the waterfall from the new office building) and searched for fairies. Then, after romping around in the woods and finding an adventurous trail back down the mountain, the girls made their own fairy wings! In addition, they came up with their own fairy identities— I heard of a football fairy, a flower fairy, and a nature fairy! The girls told me that their cabin had made a pact to wear their fairy wings at every meal (while they made sure to point out that other fairy accessories were encouraged, but they were not required). This seems like a small detail of a camper’s time at Rockbrook, but these are the magical parts of camp, the things that give cabins a certain identity that they will remember for years to come.

Pokemon Camp GameThe middlers decided to do something as a line for cabin day, and I saw so much excitement as the girls raced up and down the lines. In light of the Pokémon Go craze, the middler counselors decided to bring Pokémon Go to Rockbrook! Each counselor dressed up as a Pokémon and some hid while others went around with the girls. Much like a scavenger hunt, the girls went from station to station and acquired different treats (that were in Easter Eggs) as though they were collecting Pokemon. Then, they got to decorate cookies that looked like the different characters. Finally, to cap off a great cabin day, they all had a “battle” in the gym by playing dodge ball. Everyone had an amazing time and all the middlers were grateful for all the thought their counselors had put into the activity.

For their cabin day, the seniors had a picnic for dinner and then went to Sliding Rock and Dolly’s. The picnic was perfect—the girls ate quiche, warm lasagna, fresh peaches (possibly the best peaches I’ve ever had), and banana pudding. We then played a large group game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl and You’re a Rockbrook Girl too,” which is a tradition at these picnics and an opportunity for all of us to learn new things about others. Then, girls went down Sliding Rock— they loved the opportunity to slide as many times as they wanted. Though cold afterward, everyone was excited for Dolly’s, the local ice cream shop that names its flavors for the local camps.

No matter which adventure they were a part of, every camper enjoyed Cabin Day. It makes us all to feel more connected with our cabin and lets counselors be creative, choosing things their particular campers will enjoy. Above all, though, growing closer as cabins allows us to feel even more comfortable with each other, and therefore even happier and more at home at camp.

Girls Slide Rock

Life on the Wild Side

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
–Joseph Campbell

One benefit of going to camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is all of the adventures that await us in our own backyard! The outdoor staff at Rockbrook relish in the opportunities they get to introduce campers to all of the excitement that surrounds our camp. One hike has been particularly popular this year. It’s called the Wet ‘n’ Wild Hike. The adventure staff haven’t really explained it beyond that—they want to leave a lot of the surprise in it for girls who have not gone yet. Still, I have been pretty curious about it every time I hear it announced, so I decided to try to get the inside scoop from some of the campers who went on the hike today.

My anonymous source, a member of the elite outdoor staff, gave me the full story. For the sake of this post, we will call her Rita. This morning, Rita made a cryptic announcement that a Wet and Wild Hike would be happening. Murmurs filled the dining hall: campers had heard about this hike, but what would actually happen on it? After twelve lucky girls signed up, the trip was off! Rita co-piloted the van and tried to find tunes the girls would love to set the right mood for their hike. They drove into Pisgah National Forest and got out of the van at Cove Creek. The real adventure was to begin!

The hike begins with a walk through a few fields and campgrounds. At this point, the campers are somewhat confused because there is no water present. Eventually, they bump into the creek and the real adventure begins. There are tiny, rambling trails, and they walk through a confusing and twisted path until they hear the sound of a waterfall. They stand at the base of the waterfall, eating muffins and discussing waterfall safety. With at least 712 waterfalls in Transylvania County (the county Rockbrook is a part of), it seems most relevant to have this conversation. After the refreshments, the girls played with a baby skink, a lizard common in the area, and enjoyed playing in the waterfall.

After that, they voyaged back toward the van and the second part of their hike. They carefully crossed slippery rocks (Rita says they always make sure to note that “there is no shame in crab walking”) and they get on yet another side trail. The girls are elated to find that this leads to a miniature sliding rock—a natural rockface they can slide down! The girls enjoy the perfect day and slide until they are content. Rita says that, at this point, the hike “feels like Eden.” There is such simplicity in the hike, just girls purely playing outside!

The third part of the hike is Rita’s favorite. After hiking on another side trail, the girls arrive at potholes. After talking about how potholes form, Rita talked about how they couldn’t swim in it because it only went knee-deep. Then, Rita fell backwards! The girls were nervous for her, but she popped out of the water laughing. In fact, the potholes were about eight feet deep, so the girls enjoyed swimming and playing in them. On another pothole, water shoots the girls out into the deep part, and the girls took advantage of this many times.

Following such a full hike and pure bliss, it was time to scramble back up the hill and get back into the vans. The girls were told to keep the hike a secret, for the outdoor staff wanted the surprises to exist for everyone who has not yet gone on this hike. They were then treated to a feast of a lunch: homemade chicken soup, chips and salsa, and pineapple—what a perfect meal!

IMG_1375 Mini session seniors and middlers got to continue our Wet ‘n’ Wild adventures today for cabin day! After enjoying a delicious picnic dinner and playing a few rounds of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl,” a beloved game, we all got to go to Sliding Rock! Sliding Rock is a natural waterslide that is in Pisgah Forest. It’s sixty feet long, and girls start at the top before taking a wild ride down freezing cold water before plunging into a pool at the bottom. Counselors are standing at the top to help girls get settled and prevent slipping, and life guards are in the water at the bottom, throwing girls floating tubes and reeling them in! The girls can go two-by-two, so many choose to go with a friend or a counselor. Campers are given the choice of whether they want to slide or not, but we had a particularly excited group last night, and many chose to take the plunge! Some girls went as many as five times, and everyone had a perfect time!

After Sliding Rock, we all piled back in to heated vans (some of us were very cold after our adventure) and headed to Dolly’s for some well-deserved ice cream. Girls look forward all session to their trip to Dolly’s, a local dairy bar that offers special edition ice creams named for local camps. Some girls have a favorite flavor (Illahee is very popular, a combination of cookie dough and brownies, other girls love Rockbrook, an extremely chocolaty concoction), while others try to branch out and try all of the flavors. Every girl also got a sticker with the Dolly’s logo, which many put on their trunks and water bottles when we got back to camp. We all sat around in rocking chairs or at tables enjoying ice cream and singing our favorite Rockbrook songs. It was fun seeing the two lines together—girls got to interact across the ages and get to know other campers they are less likely to meet. We ended by singing both the Senior Line Song and the Middler Line Song before we heard a familiar, “Hey Rockbrook, this train is leaving the station!” at which point we got back in the vans and returned to camp, ready for bedtime after such an exhilarating day.

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Part of the beauty of our summers is that they give us the opportunity to get Wet ‘n’ Wild on a daily basis. We aren’t nearly as shy as we might otherwise be of “getting our hair wet” (literally and metaphorically) as we might usually be. Some girls are adventurous by nature. They jump in to wild adventures because they look fun. Others (and I might be in this category) are more reserved because they consider how cold they might be after, or how tired they might be because of a long hike, or how they could slip on a rock. Rockbrook has taught me to be more adventurous, though, because I have learned that when I say ‘yes’ to any adventure, I never have regrets. By the end of Sliding Rock, I wound up thoroughly chilled with a minorly stubbed toe. Yet these minor discomforts were discounted by the thrill of going down Sliding Rock with a good friend and being able to have a shared experience with the rest of the senior line.

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Rockbrook gives us the room to decide for ourselves when to leave our comfort zones, but I think we all do in our own way. Maybe we decide to go down Sliding Rock because our friends cheer for us and convince us that it will be worth being cold. Or maybe we go on a kayaking adventure that frightens us because we are just learning to be more confident about skills. We might try riding the bull on a whitewater raft even though we may fall out. It will happen for each girl in its own way, but I think living at Rockbrook makes every girl a little more in touch with her wild side.

Sliding Rock NC!

Camp Girls at Sliding RockKids on Sliding RockSliding Rock North Carolina GirlsBest Sliding Rock TripSliding Rock ScreamSliding Rock SwimSliding Rock is a natural water slide located along Looking Glass Creek in the Pisgah National Forest, south of the Blue Ridge Parkway along highway 276. Not far from camp, taking a trip there has over the years become a Rockbrook tradition of sorts. On cabin day, which is a day when we suspend the individual activity schedule for everyone so we can spend time together as cabin groups, we often take an entire age group to Sliding Rock.

Tonight it was the Middlers’ chance to take a ride down the rock. After a fun cookout of hotdogs, homemade coleslaw, potato chips and fruit, we arrived at Sliding Rock past when it had officially closed to the public. This is our routine, and our preference. We can provide our own lifeguards, counselors to help the campers settle into the water at the top of the rock, and set a good “Rockbrook Vibe” when we have the place to ourselves.

Sliding Rock is about 60-feet of smooth granite that slopes gently downward. As the creek water washes over it, small pockets of whitewater form around bumps and indentations in the rock. At the bottom there is a pool of water about 6 or 8 feet deep, plenty deep enough to go under water, but not so large that it’s difficult for the girls to swim through.

Take a look at these photos (you can click them to bring up a larger version). The girls first cross the water below the pool and head up the right side of the rock to the top. This is their first exposure to the temperature of the water, which can be politely described as “refreshing” like all the mountain streams around here.  It’s chilly, but compared to the heat of the day, it feels fantastic.

The real shock happens when the girls sit down in the water at the top of the rock and they feel it splashing on their backs. That’s when eyes widen and mouths open to let out wild screams. The water pushes, and soon they are accelerating down the rock heading to the splash landing below. We encourage the girls to slide in pairs, adding to the fun. As the girls twist, spin and sometimes topple down the rock for several seconds they scream even more, squint, and hold their noses at the last second. It’s so thrilling, and so much fun, they are quick to zip around and slide again. The awesome RBC lifeguards are ready to help the girls exit the pool below, keeping everyone safe.

Meanwhile, the girls who are watching the action, either waiting for their next turn to slide or from one of the two observation platforms, are cheering on their friends, singing camp songs and laughing at the craziness of the sliding.

It’s amazing to see how something this simple can be this much fun. Sliding Rock is one of those timeless mountain camp experiences in North Carolina that just can’t be recreated anywhere else. It’s really ideal, and the girls absolutely love it.

Top of Sliding Rock NC