Tie Dyes are Always in Fashion!

Camps Craft Tie Dye

One craft at summer camps like Rockbrook that’s always popular is making a tie dye t-shirt. It’s certainly a classic thing to do, and while you might think of swirls and colors on shirts from the 1970s, tying and dyeing cloth is common all over the world. For example, there is adire tie dyeing in Nigeria (Africa), shibori dyeing in Japan, and mudmee dyeing in Thailand, just to name a few.

In the Rockbrook craft activity called “Hodge Podge,” the girls use rubber bands to tie up the cloth. Folding, twisting, bunching, pinching, and wrinkling the material you make all sorts of different patterns. Then with the rubber bands, you keep everything tight. The tighter the fold, the more resistant to the dye that part will be. That’s part of the creativity involved— deciding what to make tight (resisting the dye) and what to leave loose (taking on the color of the dye). Plus, there’s the fun of picking what colors to use, and in what areas. With so much variation, it’s neat to see how each shirt turns out different.

Are your Kids Ready for Camp?

Kid Camp Summer

How do you know if your kids are ready for summer camp?

It’s an important question to ask, especially if you have a younger child who’d be new to the experience. Most discussions of this question focus on whether or not your child is outgoing and ready for the social component of camp. The idea here is that once a child makes friends at camp, they’ll enjoy the activities and be fine away from home. In fact, it’s often hoped that the camp program will help a shy child become more outgoing, more self-confident and independent. It’s true; camp is great for this reason.

Talking with Sarah, the Director of Rockbrook, she also cautions parents to make sure their child is honestly interested in attending camp. “It’s best for it to be her idea,” she says. As parents fondly remember their own summer camp experience, or hear that camp is “good for kids,” they can sometimes push a little too hard and talk their children into the idea, perhaps before they are really ready. “Research camps together and find one that sparks her interest and makes her really want to go. Learn about camps together; listen to her concerns, and with gentle encouragement, you’ll find the right camp,” Sarah suggests. You’ll know she’s ready for camp when it’s her idea and she’s excited to go.

Summer Camp Makes Kids Talented

Summer Camp Kids at RockbrookOK, what do these people have in common: Larry Page (co-founder of Google), Condolezza Rice (U.S. Secretary of State), Bob Dylan (musician), Drew Carey (television actor), J.D. Salinger (author), and Katie Couric (journalist)? You might guess, but it’s true; they all went to camp as kids. The list of other famous and influential people who attended or worked at a summer camp is a pretty amazing list. The talent and abilities these folk now famously show, is impressive.

What’s interesting about this is to think how so much of what we become springs from our experiences as kids, how the people we meet, the activities that challenge us, and the accomplishments that validate who we are, can so profoundly inspire who we might become. As summer camp was a part of these talented people’s lives, and as it continues to be for scores of children today, it played some, perhaps even crucial, part in making them so.

Kids Summer Program

Kids Camp TimeIs it possible to have “too much summer camp?” According to Abby Brunks, in her recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, the answer might be yes. Ms. Brunks fears that being at summer camp can become an extension of the busy, overly scheduled life most kids experience throughout the school year. She believes that kids need a “good long break to just hang out,” and therefore cautions parents not to send their kids away to summer camp (particularly “specialty camps” apparently) for “weeks on end.”

Here at Rockbrook, we understand this concern. That’s why we build into every day a good amount of free time when campers can just “hang out.” There’s time to sit on the porch and talk, explore one of the camp streams, goof around with your cabin mates, make up a song, write a letter, or just relax. For years we’ve recognized this as one of the great opportunities of camp— it’s a chance to experience carefree summer living, to have the freedom to decide for yourself what you feel like doing, while having so many fun options easily available. That’s why coming to camp is so great. Sure at home you may be able to hang out, but you won’t have near the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and explore nature. And because it is so refreshingly different from home or school, weeks easily seem like days.

Why Do Girls Go Rock Climbing?

Girls Rock Climbing Summer Camp

Why do girls go rock climbing when it looks so scary?

Well, there’s something fun about the challenge of it all, the concentration and the determination it takes. You know there’s an amazing view waiting at the top and the repel down is thrilling, but it also feels good to use your muscle strength to balance up. The whole thing is like a puzzle you solve through coordination, physical and mental endurance powering your careful movements on the rock. Making it past difficult spots, maybe even all the way to the top, is a great confidence boosting experience. Sure it’s a little scary, but it’s perfectly safe too. When you’re done, it just makes you want to climb again!

Rock climbing is one of those summer camp adventures that’s just loaded with surprising benefits.

Photos of Summer Camp Friends

Here’s a set of photos taken one Sunday afternoon at camp. We were queuing up for our cabin photos and took these at the same time. They show our traditional uniforms (white shirt and shorts, plus a red tie) that we wear on Sundays and at other special events. Such good friends at camp!

Camps in the South

South summer camp

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been making our fall travel plans, scheduling Rockbrook Camp parties all over the south. Several are set on the calendar. Chances are we’re coming to your city or some place close by, so check out the schedule here: Camp Party Schedule. If you haven’t come to one of these parties before, they’re great fun. We watch a movie and see some slides from last summer, see each other again 🙂 and meet loads of new people interested in camp for next summer. We’ll be going to more places in the winter also, so stay tuned!

Every year Rockbrook girls all across the the south get re-energized about attending camp.  These parties spark that energy in the fall and early spring, so that when summer approaches, everyone is bursting with excitement.

 

What Summer Camps are About

Summer Camp Baskets

Here’s another interesting bit of reading about summer camps, this time from Harper’s Magazine (September 2007 issue). Rich Cohen, in “The Summer of Our Discontent: An Ode to Sleepaway Camp,” writes about his childhood experience at Camp Menominee in Wisconsin, and brings to the article a good deal of research about summer camping in general. There’s lots of good stuff to be found (subscribers can read more here), but I wanted to simply pass along a summary quote.

“Life at camp was changing— the nature of the kids and counselors, the very sense of what camp should be about. In the 1800s, it was about religion; in the early 1900s, it was about preserving a spark of frontier spirit; in the mid-1900s, it was about the barracks and preparing a generation for the coming war; now it’s about preparing kids for school and work, speeding them through the meritocracy.”

Yes, “being prepared” is still a big part of camp, but at Rockbrook we want kids to be kids. So camp is a place where girls can try new things, play, and play some more, create things, explore the outdoor world, gain confidence (social, physical, etc.), and have some crazy fun. Of course, personal growth and “preparation” for being a happy, well-adjusted individual happens within this context, and under the supervision of many positive role models.

I guess we could say attending Rockbrook isn’t primarily about learning how to be a better student or employee at school or work (though that might happen in the end), but it’s about having a more rounded and complete childhood experience that serves you well later in life.