A Marvelous Culmination

Sometimes it’s fun to show off your skills in a competition. Ordinarily around here, we don’t hold contests to determine who is the best at something, since we’d rather pay attention to the fun of what we’re doing than to keeping score. But we’re still building our skills along the way, improving our shot in archery and riflery, our rock climbing ability, and our weaving technique for example.

Camp Rifle Tournament Camp Tennis Tournament

Tuesday, we got a little more serious because we invited the boys from Camp Carolina over for three friendly matches pitting our girls against their boys in tennis, archery and riflery. In recent years, our girls have traveled to Camp Carolina for these tournaments, so we were especially excited to host.  To show it, the girls were ready with painted banners decorating the courts and shooting ranges, along with matching team outfits— custom t-shirts, all black for the riflery girls, white with big yellow tennis balls for the tennis team, and grey for the archers. The final tally gave the boys a slim margin of victory in both archery and riflery, while the girls ended up winning in tennis. If your daughter participated, I’m sure she’ll be proud of the outcome either way.

Museum BanquetAfter weeks of planning and preparation, Tuesday night the CAs (9th graders) unveiled their surprise banquet theme to the rest of the camp. Entitled “Another Night at the Museum,” the theme transformed the dining hall into an amazing collection of Art, Culture and Natural History museum displays. The CAs dressed as elements of these displays: Roman and Egyptian figures, a dinosaur, living paintings (e.g., A Girl with Pearl Earring), Albert Einstein, tourists who visit a museum, and the counselors as security guards. The campers arrived dressed in their red Rockbrook t-shirt and were thrilled to see all the painted posters lining every inch of wall space in the dining hall, and then amazed as the CAs performed a series of skits and dances where the Museum characters came to life and interacted with everyone. There was music and dancing, candy to enjoy, and a real celebratory feeling. It was an incredible fun evening for everyone.

Camp Giant Peach PlayThis afternoon the whole camp (and a few invited parents and guests) gathered in the gym to watch a performance of this session’s musical, “James and the Giant Peach.” Adapted from the children’s novel by Roald Dahl, this play tells the story of an orphan boy, James, who befriends several magical insects, and despite his cruel aunts, Spiker and Sponge, embarks on a journey to New York City inside a giant peach. Fantastic and offbeat, it was fun to see how much the girls enjoyed acting the parts and singing the songs of the show. During a brief intermission, the dance classes presented their end-of-session choreographed shows. The whole afternoon was really entertaining— a marvelous culmination and artistic celebration of the session. These girls have talent!

Closing our session tonight was the ceremonial campfire we call “Spirit Fire.” This is another of the long traditions at Rockbrook. The campers and staff dress in their uniforms and gather around a great campfire set on the large rock (“Vesper Rock”) overlooking the camp lake for a program of traditional songs and personal reflections offered by counselors and campers from every age group. Tonight the fire looked gorgeous glowing orange amid the crowd of red and white uniforms, huddle closely. As the sun set and the woods around us grew bluer, then more grey before turning black, we could hear the waterfall splashing into the lake and the crickets chirping all around. In this beautiful setting we heard speeches recalling how Rockbrook has become important to these girls, the friendships formed, and the many ways we’ve all grown over these last few weeks. Sarah talked about the importance of finding moments during our busy lives to slow down and reconnect to those around us, like we do here at camp. She encouraged the girls to keep a journal throughout the year to record important experiences and to provide a quiet moment now and then for reflection.

We hope time at Rockbrook has a lasting positive effect on the girls who attend and settle into the culture of this place. The feeling that comes from joining this kind of caring community can make a powerful difference in these girls’ lives, enlivening and recharging their deepest humanity, strengthening who they are long after camp. It’s been a pleasure this session to witness so many wonderful examples of this transformation. Thank you everyone for helping to make it possible.

Candle Light camp Girls

A Spies Banquet

Kid holding her riflery targetWe’re approaching the end of our main session of camp, as today was the last day of regular activity periods. With the sun drying everything (“Hot and sunny without a drop of rain,” describes the weather.), and the campers feeling fully relaxed after all these weeks together, there seemed to be an extraordinary buzz of activity today. Down at the riflery and archery ranges, the girls have been preparing to challenge the boys at Camp Carolina in a shooting tournament scheduled for tomorrow. The shooting instructors select 3 girls from each age group to join the team that travels to Camp Carolina for the friendly match, so everyone interested was eager to practice before the event. Likewise, the tennis instructors were coaching the girls who would go to play a tennis match against the team of boys. For many of these girls, they look forward to just going on the trip, regardless of whether or not they win.

Bright tie dyesWe saw all kinds of completed craft projects appear today also. Ceramics pieces emerged from the kilns shiny and colorful. Tie-dye t-shirts were unfurled to the delight of their makers. Weavings were cut from the looms, and their loose ends tied, in Cursoty. The individual months for decorated paper calendars were finally assembled. Candles received their last few dips in the colored wax. Final beads were strung on many-stranded bracelets and necklaces. The finishing stitches were added to knitted hats, and needlepoint designs. When you see all these wonderful creations, I’m sure you’ll be impressed.

Lake Party GirlsToday’s sunny weather became the inspiration for a lake party before lunch. With all the lifeguards on duty, we opened the water slide, slipped all of the floats into the water, blew up a few extra beach balls, and pumped out some fun, up-beat music to set the mood. A few girls soon took turns doing crazy jumps from the diving board, jumps where they had to act like an animal, mid-air, before hitting the water. Just lounging in the sun was also pretty popular, for example on one of the big rocks near the lake. A couple of counselors showed up with muffins (yellow cake with roasted pumpkin seeds!), fruit and drinks for everyone to enjoy. In no time, it was a fun party!

The main event of the day, however, was something the CA campers (9th graders) have been planning since the first day of the session, something kept a secret this whole time, and something everyone looks forward to immensely… the final Banquet. This group of CAs decided to make their banquet revolve around the theme of “spies, detectives and mysteries” and entitled it, “Who Dunnit?” Their decorations, which completely covered every inch of wall spaces in the dining hall, were awesome posters of movie and TV characters like the Pink Panther, Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, James Bond, Men in Black, and Nancy Drew. Caution tape and balloons hung from the rafters. Then even further, all 29 of the campers dressed as a different character, from inspector Clouseau, to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, to Charlie’s Angels. All the CA counselors dressed as minions from the movie Despicable Me. The campers performed several choreographed dance numbers, enacted a skit investigating who stole the sun (I suppose a nod to the rainy weather we had this session), and served a meal of “Bondwiches,” “Secret Service Caesar Salad,” “Spaghetti & Mystery Meatballs,” and “Scooby Snacks” for dessert.

Mystery Banquet Theme Scooby Doo costumes Girls Banquet Table

The campers and staff members, all dressed in their green RBC t-shirts, danced and sang together between skits and performances. For everyone, this was a lavish party, pushed to the limit with plenty of sugar-fueled fun. At the end, it turned a little serious though, as groups of the oldest campers presented songs to their counselors, and vice versa. They took a well-known song and changed the lyrics to express the friendship and feelings that have grown over the session. It became clear just how much these girls have shared, and how much they’ll miss each other when the session ends Thursday morning.

Yes, the Banquet night can be a little emotional, like tonight, but ti was wonderful too.

Girls Camp kids

Shirts Inside Out

For years now, ever since the early 1960s, Rockbrook has been holding camp dances with the boys of Camp Carolina— both camps shared the same owners, the McConnells, for a while beginning in 1961 (Have you seen the RBC History Video?). In addition though, we’ve also held archery, riflery and tennis tournaments each session, with the RBC girls challenging the CCB boys to a friendly competition. It was today that our sharpest arrow and bullet launching ladies and racket wielding women traveled across town to show the boys how it’s done. The girls, dressed in special t-shirts they made for the occasion, came ready, and by the end of the morning, had soundly beaten the boys in all three sports! Archery scored more than 90 points to best the boys and riflery won by more than 10. A great showing!

Camp Girls and Boys Archery TournamentCamp Horse Riding RelayBack at camp, Kelly and the Equestrian staff had organized a barn party for everyone, both riders and non-riders alike. There were simple hand-line pony rides and other games to try, but the funniest event was a relay that challenged two groups to put on baggy clothes and ride across the field the fastest. Riding in all those layers, and carrying an enormous handbag made it a little challenging too!

Camp play dalmations cheeringAfter packing our trunks and moving them to the Landsports barn for tomorrow’s pickup, we were treated to this camp session’s musical performance, 101 Dalmatians. This was a delightful production with homemade costumes (lots of white puppies with black spots, hair in ponytails as ears!), painted scenery, props, as well as choral numbers, solo songs sung, and a cute suspenseful story. The fiendish Cruella de Vil, who plots to make a dalmatian fur coat, is foiled in the end and Roger and Anita adopt all of the 101 puppies spared, the cutest, most bright-eyed smiley puppies you’ve ever seen.

Camp Spirit Fire Speaker

The final event of this, our last full day of camp this summer, was our traditional all-camp campfire we call our “Spirit Fire.” The setting for the campfire is beautiful with all of the campers and counselors dressed in their white and red uniforms, a bright orange, yellow and white fire blazing, the huge white oak and hemlock trees towering above with the dimming grey blue sky above us. The tone of the evening is more serious and reflective than what we ordinarily enjoy at Rockbrook, as tonight’s program is something that’s been passed down for generations— traditional, harmonious songs, and short speeches and comments about camp prepared by campers from each Line, counselors, and Sarah. These are opportunities for the girls to say something about what Rockbrook has meant to them this summer, to express how they feel about camp and the people they’ve come to know and befriend while here. Some of the comments are quite moving, easily bringing emotional tears, while others are truly insightful, like tonight when a counselor told us that for one of her campers, she loved RBC because “it’s the kind of place where it’s OK to wear your shirt inside out.” That seemed spot on. To put it differently, Rockbrook is a place where it’s OK to be your real self, where you’ll be loved for who you really are, and not for just your appearance, talents, or grades. It was such the perfect thought to end this wonderful session.

In so many ways during this time together, we’ve lived with our shirts inside out. And it’s been great!