A Camp perspective from Mama B

ChapelAttempts can be made to replicate a camp, stories retold, even plagiarized, but the spirit of Rockbrook can never be duplicated.

So what makes a camp distinct, different from the rest, making it a place that generations of girls, from all over the world, count down the days until they can return?  What is it that sets apart a place that mothers long for their daughters to experience what they did as children?

As a camper, counselor, mom of campers, and now camp mom, my answer to this question comes from reflection over my life, and how much camp builds character and develops skills used for a lifetime.  Although, through the years, my perspective has changed, Rockbrook’s legacy is untouched, its heritage valued, and its spirit stronger than ever.  Girls from Rockbrook have an indescribable bond, a link to one another, bound by the fact that they were “camp girls” together.

Girls from RBC enjoy sharing what they love about camp.  From a parental perspective, here are a few of my favorites:

CHOICES-When else in life do young ladies get to decide for themselves how to spend their entire day and what hobby, talent, or new experience to pursue?  In my opinion, this teaches decision-making skills and develops a sense of independence they carry with them to adulthood.  It also facilitates adventure, encouraging them to try new things, step out of their comfort zones, and embrace new opportunities.

SIMPLICITY-We live in such a fast paced world that we forget to notice the beauty around us.  Simple domestic life at camp creates an atmosphere to better appreciate the natural surroundings.  It eliminates distractions, so campers and staff notice the magnitude of the mountains, sound of the streams, and smell of the mountain laurel.  This less busy, slower paced environment also aids in the development of new friendships.

Cabin

LIMITED TECHNOLOGY-As the mom of a teenager, I have noticed a real void in the communication skills of teens today.  Because there are no computers, TVs, or phones at camp, girls communicate face to face, an invaluable lifelong skill.

TRADITION-A place rich in tradition binds girls together despite their differences.  A camp deeply rooted in traditions gives girls the comfort that some things are “unchanging” and safe place, despite their changing circumstances around them.  They look forward to the things they do every year down to the songs, Spirit Fire, and ice cream.

And finally, LAUGHTER!  It’s good for the soul.  Girls are free to be who they are, uninhibited from the pressures of the outside world.  Loud songs are encouraged, costumes welcomed, and all personalities accepted.

Miss RBC.jpg

In conclusion, my gratitude has grown as I’ve come to appreciate the camp experience.  The more time I spend here, the more I realize that Rockbrook Camp has helped shape and mold me into the person I am today, and no matter how old I am, I’ll always be a Rockbrook girl!

Bentley Parker–Auburn, Alabama

Rockbrook Girl 1979-2013

The Rockbrook Camp Bell

Girls Summer Camp Bell

Here’s something that all the girls who attend Rockbrook will easily recognize— the camp bell! This is the bell we ring to signal the whole camp when it’s time to change activity periods, come to meals, and of course, wake up in the morning. It has such a clear tone and is easily heard throughout the entire camp, even up on Castle Rock.

It’s actually a very old bell (1895), well over 100 years old, and older than the camp itself by more than 20 years. For as long as anyone around here can remember it’s been perched up in the big oak tree at the front of the dining hall, ready to be rung by pulling on the rope that leads to the dining hall porch. It’s one of those very familiar parts of camp that everybody loves.

Vintage Postcards of Camp

Vesper Rock at Rockbrook Summer Camp Rockbrook Camp Historic Waterwheel

Here are two more vintage postcards showing the historic character of camp. Like the others we’ve posted, the Albertype Company produced these postcards in the 1930s. The first is a view of Vesper Rock looking out across the camp lake, and in the background you can see the Lakeview Lodge. The second card is even cooler because it shows what the Carrier’s (Rockbrook’s original owners) waterwheel looked like. It was dismantled many years ago leaving only the stone foundation which you can just barely spot down in the woods below the lake.  Wouldn’t it be cool to rebuild it?  Maybe someday we will!

P.S. Want to see more historic photos of camp, including another view of the waterwheel?  Check out these.

Remembering Camp in the 1930s

Summer Camp Horse Barn 1930s
Summer Camp River Paddling 1930s

Here’s something cool. Back in the early 1900s, the Albertype Company of Brooklyn, NY produced a number of postcards documenting scenes all around the country. Rockbrook Camp was apparently a favorite subject because we’ve found several cards from the 1930s highlighting scenes of camp. They are just excellent archival documents showing what camp was like in the early years.

Here we see a scene of the old horseback riding barn and paddling canoes on the French Broad River as it passes by camp.  Don’t you just love them?!

The Fun of Archery

Shooting Archery at Camp

Archery for teens and kids is still an amazingly popular thing to do at camp. Even if you’ve never held a bow before, let alone shot an arrow, it doesn’t take long to figure out the basics. And before you know it, you’ll feel really good about hitting the target, even getting a bullseye. Archery is a really old activity. Some of the oldest arrowheads found are more than 50,000 years old, for example! When you think about it, archery has been a part of probably every society to some extent. Wow! And now here it is at a summer camp for girls called Rockbrook!

Summer Sleepaway Camp Memories

Summer Sleepaway Camp Catalog

“I have too many fond memories of camp to pick just one! It depends on my mood. Sometimes it is the memory of the candles reflecting in the lake at Spirit Fire. Sometimes it is all the singing we used to do (& the many, many songs I still know by heart). Sometimes it is the zany pranks and fun, kooky things that let us express ourselves so comfortably, like Kangaroo Court. And sometimes it is just the remembered pleasure of sorting mail in Goodwill on a rainy, misty day while everyone else was at lunch — and how the sound of singing would carry over from the Dining Hall. And the sound of the bells in the morning . . . Oh, just everything, then. (Except the spiders in the rafters!)”
— an Alumnae from the 1980s

P.S. This is the cover photo for the 1961 camp catalog!

North Carolina Stone Hotel, c. 1840

Dunns Rock Stome Hotel

It’s always fun to bump into a surprising historical connection to camp. Here’s a great example we spotted recently— a photo of what was called the “Stone Hotel.” It’s on display in the Transylvania County Courthouse (that’s the North Carolina county where Rockbrook is located) with the caption “Built circa 1840.” But do you recognize the big rock up above and behind it? It’s our very own Dunn’s Rock! The junction of Island Ford Road and US276 (Greenville Highway) was once a bustling little town with houses, this hotel, and a general store called “Powell’s Store,” which is still standing and is currently the Mud Dabber’s Pottery. An 1870 census of the Dunn’s Rock Township, as it was called, recorded 80 men, women and children living there. You have to wonder if the hotel was still open when Rockbrook was founded in 1921, and if any Rockbrook Camp families ever stayed there. Pretty cool.