The Spirit of Rockbrook

Every year, Rockbrook sends out a publication entitled the Carrier Pigeon, which has, in the past, featured poems, photos from the summer, camp memories, and cabin photos. The Carrier Pigeon is sent out during the off season, so that campers can have “mem’ries of Rockbrook all winter long.” Tonight, our campers had the chance to write down their own memories, poems, or drawings to submit for the 2019 Carrier Pigeon. To spark their minds about Rockbrook and what makes camp special, today each of the three lodges had a poster board with a different question for campers to answer:

1. What makes Rockbrook a special place?

Campers walking through the woods

Even before you open your eyes in the morning, the natural environment of camp calls out in the form of leaves rustling, frogs croaking, birds chirping, and rain falling. Everywhere you look at camp, you either see the lush forest, ancient rocks, or the shimmering creeks. This close interaction with nature that campers have every day is unusual for many compared to life at home, and it allows campers to have a deeper sense of place and connection to the environment than they otherwise might have. Connection to other people also makes Rockbrook a special place. Since technology is limited at camp for campers and staff alike, we are able to have more face-to-face interactions and are able to build genuine relationships with the whole community. According to our campers, Rockbrook is special because they can be apart from their friends for a year, but pick up again the next summer as though no time has gone by. It is our mission for campers to walk away from camp with some of their very best friends, but we also hope they return to camp to continue building their connections to people and place.

2. What is your favorite Rockbrook memory?

groovy glasses on camp counselor

While many camper and counselor memories connect back to the special place and relationships of camp, some memories can be of things that are uniquely Rockbrook. For instance, trying out for the camp play for the first time and getting the lead role, or frolicking in the stream at the bottom of the hill. 

Many campers look back fondly on Sliding Rock and Dolly’s cabin day trips, as well as other off-camp trips like rafting the Nantahala. Another favorite memory and time of the summer is the Fourth of July, when camp turns into one big birthday party celebration for America, replete with field games, face paint, costumes, barbeques, and fireworks. Throughout the summer, campers are able to make memories small and large that will stay with them for their whole lives.

3. What makes a Rockbrook Girl?

In addition to being a good friend, a Rockbrook girl is kind and loving to others. She is open minded, honest, and always willing to bend her back to help a friend without asking for credit. She has a great, positive attitude, and is not afraid to embarrass herself, even at a camp-wide dance. This spirit of love, kindness, and carefree living is what we strive for at Rockbrook, and is embodied by every camper that comes to the heart of our wooded mountain. Living in community and having the time to try new things naturally instills these traits in campers and counselors alike, fostering a close-knit culture of supportive, empowered females that stays connected until next summer when camp starts again.

camp friends hugging

Girls with Moxie

Camp kid tie dyeing t-shirts
Young camper girl learning to canoe

Moxie is a good way to describe it… that impressive quality these Rockbrook girls have driving just about everything they do, from singing songs in the dining hall, to making tie-dye t-shirts, to learning how to canoe. The word is a neologism, more well known in Maine because of the soda, but it’s a great way to describe having “vigor, verve and pep,” “courage,” “skill and know-how,” as my dictionary defines it. There’s something about camp that brings out the moxie, making everything more fun and exciting. It’s akin to a “spirit for life,” an enthusiasm for doing. All kinds of adventure, sports and creative activities, punctuated by free time with friends and wrapped in a multicolored layer of silliness, is the name of the game around here. And like one Rockbrook song puts it, these girls have “ginger, pep, spirit, grit and wit,” making it all the more awesome.

Young camper kid horseback riding

With this kind of fun happening each moment at camp, with these girls exercising their moxie, it’s easy to forget that through the tunnel and down by the river, the Rockbrook Equestrian Staff and their 29 horses are just as busy teaching horseback riding. Kelly, the Equestrian Director, told me she’s got 93 campers placed in classes throughout the week, ranging from beginners to advanced riders. Kelly places campers interested in riding into lessons that match their interest, experience and current riding ability, and then those classes meet several times each week. It becomes a complicated schedule, but also a busy one given how many girls want to ride this session. The advanced riders tend to be out in the late afternoon, so that’s a good time to see jumping and faster cantering. It’s just beautiful to watch, especially in the upper pasture where the view of Dunn’s Rock is so prominent in the background. Coming in the morning is a treat too though because you can talk with the youngest riders, see them learning the fundamental skills of riding and relating to their horses with such care and attention. No matter what their level, horseback riding for many girls is their favorite activity, and is quick to bring out the most wonderful smiles and feelings of accomplishment.

Camp Counselor friends with camper

Moxie describes the pulse of our campers really well, but when it comes to the counselors this session, their moxie can be seen in the patience, compassion and caring at the core of their relationships at camp. Here too, these great young women are confident and lively in their teaching. They are fantastic role models, trustworthy and responsible, treating everyone fairly and with respect, and at the same time enjoying themselves and laughing just as hard as their campers. Our counselors have a “spirit for life” at camp, a verve making them friendly and instinctively aware of their camper’s needs.  Sofie and the other Rockbrook directors take great care recruiting staff members, but it’s this special quality we’re looking for.  We know it makes the best counselors, and this summer, they’ve definitely got it.

When the summer wraps up and your girls return home, we hope you’ll see their moxie a little more clearly, and marvel at its power in new ways.

Camp Kid splashing down off the waterslide