Fantastic Success

Lower Green Kayaking Kayak Seal Launch Kayak Camp Girls

First a Kayak Camp update. As you know, kayaking has really caught on here at Rockbrook, and in response to that growing interest, we’ve begun offering 2 special 1-week camp sessions devoted entirely to whitewater kayaking. We’ve called these sessions “Rockbrook Rapids.” Today, the first of those sessions ended and we began to hear some of the exciting stories of how their many river trips went during the last week. The girls ran a section of whitewater every day, building skills and confidence on the water as they progressed through class I, II, and some class III whitewater. On two occasions, the crew camped near their river.  They ran the Lower Green, the Tuckaseegee, the Nantahala, the Chattooga (2 days), and the Upper Green rivers. This afternoon when the van pulled into camp after their last trip, the girls looked pretty tired and maybe a little grubby, but I’ve never seen a group more proud and satisfied. Unloading their gear, the girls happily handled the work, knew exactly what to do, and chatted effortlessly. It was neat to see that kind of camaraderie after just one week of shared outdoor adventure experience. The staff and the campers alike said the whole week was awesome. Check out the photos above (Click them to view a larger version) and you can see a little of the fun (Others are online in the photo gallery). One girl told me, “I’m definitely signing up for this again!” A fantastic success for the first kayak camp of the summer!

Camp Kid on Microphone Wheel Spin Fun Camp Pie Camp Counselor

A great moment happened today when Sophia won a chance to spin the wheel in the dining hall. When it was clear she was the winner, Chase asked her where she hoped her spin would land. What prize was she hoping to win? Without hesitating, Sophia yelled “Pie Your Counselor” into the microphone. It’s always very exciting to spin the wheel, but when it lands on what the girl spinning hopes for, it’s so marvelous the whole dining hall erupts. And as you can see in the photo above, “Pie Your Counselor” is exactly what Sophia got! The kitchen helped out right away, whipping up two chocolate pudding pies for the occasion, so right after lunch a crowd gathered on the hill to watch the mess unfold. Everyone laughed and cheered as the counselors proved they could take a pie in the face.  It’s not often you have two willing victims for this kind of pie massacre, so we all had a great time watching.

After Pie in Face

Tonight we also had our first dance of the summer with Camp Carolina. We again held two dances, one at each camp with the older girls traveling over to dance in the CCB dining hall, and their younger boys coming to Rockbrook to dance in our gym. You might think these dances with boys are awkward since they contrast so completely with the all-girl world of Rockbrook. In reality though, we do what we can to keep everything lighthearted and silly. The counselors dress up in crazy costumes, and are quick to encourage group dances rather than pairs. Sure, the older girls spend a good deal of time on shall we say “hair care,” but for them too, what’s fun is the loud music, wild lighting, bouncy dancing and overall exuberant tone. Of course, being their with so many friends is what really makes these dances great.  But that true for everything at camp!

Girls Summer Camp Dance

Hilarious Delight

Girls Rafting Camp kids whitewater rafting trip

At Rockbrook, every girl who has completed the 5th grade or older (our “Middlers” and “Seniors”) can go whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. For many years now, since the early 1980s, we simply ask the girls “Who wants to go rafting!?” There’s no extra charge, no pressure to go, and the girls decide for themselves if they are interested, but without a doubt, rafting has become the most popular outdoor adventure trip we offer. I’d say 95% of the girls old enough to go, do go, and go every year they come to camp. In this way, it’s become part of Rockbrook’s overall program. Rafting is popular, of course, because it’s really fun for the girls. They have an absolute blast rocking and bumping down the river, splashing and being splashed by the cold water, chatting a singing along the way, and laughing hysterically whenever someone falls out of the boat (which happens quite a bit… often intentionally, or at least partly so). Rockbrook is the only girls’ camp that has a US Forest service permit to raft the Nantahala, so we can use our own equipment and as guides, our own adventure staff as who are familiar to the girls. For us there’s no stranger in your boat, just someone you see around camp ordinarily, and that’s really nice for the girls. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day on the river for all 57 people (plus our 6 guides) who took their trips today. The first rafting day of the summer was an excellent success.

If you don’t know about “Muffin Break,” let me describe it because it also has become an important feature of camp life at Rockbrook. It’s essentially a yummy surprise for the girls each morning provided by one of the bakers in the kitchen, a freshly-baked muffin served as a snack between the first and second activity periods (about 11am). The muffin flavors are different everyday, ranging from traditional varieties like chocolate chip and cinnamon crumble, but often have an added twist. For example, we’ve seen pumpkin chocolate chip, key lime pie, white chocolate strawberry, and even zucchini sprinkles. Today was another new flavor, maple pancake. The muffins were reminiscent of pancakes, and sure enough, included a drizzle of maple syrup on the top making them sweet and sticky, and fun to eat. The next time you send a letter or email to you daughter, you might ask her about the muffins and if she’s had a favorite flavor so far.

Spinning the wheel Camp Wheel spin

On the wall in the dining hall, right up front where everyone can see it, is something we call “The Wheel (of FUN!).” Somewhat like the game show “Wheel of Fortune,” our wheel spins and clicks around until stopping on a random section where we’ve indicated fun activities that the lucky spinner wins. You can see these prizes in the photo above, but they are designed for an entire cabin to enjoy and include things like “Rest Hour at the Lake,” “Polar Bear” (an early morning, before breakfast, jump in the lake), Dance Break (picking a song to blast during a meal where everyone stops to get up, sing and dance for a couple of minutes), and “Dress a Director,” for example. Though not every time, we often spin the wheel during the lunch announcements. Selecting which camper gets to spin the wheel is a big part of the fun. Chase hops on the mic and has everyone stand up, and then by announcing random qualities, narrows down the crowd. She might say, “Stay standing if you have your hair in a pony tail” and those without pony tails will sit down. Then, “Stay standing if you’ve made a friendship bracelet,” or “Stay standing if you have a brother.” As the excitement builds to almost explosive levels, this process continues until only one person remains standing, our wheel spinner. Today that person was Alden and her spin landed on “Pie a Counselor,” which to everyone’s hilarious delight (well, maybe not so much the counselor) happened after dinner.

Nickelodeon Egg toss gameSpeaking of dinner, tonight’s had a theme: Nickelodeon. The counselors set up the dining hall to play several Nickelodeon-inspired games throughout the meal. First, they surprised the girls by revealing that every chair had a colored “splat” hidden underneath, and that each color indicated they won a small prize, like a jump rope, silly putty, or crazy fidget sticks. The main event though was a game of musical chairs where the counselors roamed about while music (a Nickelodeon theme song, of course!) played, and sat down at a different cabin’s table then the music stopped. It was a fun way for the campers to get to know other counselors. For dessert, the kitchen made green “slime” glaze for each table to “slime” it’s own chocolate cake. A little messy and a lot of yummy. After dinner the games continued out on the hill. Again inspired by Nickelodeon, the girls tried an egg toss where they had to catch the egg in a pail taped to a helmet. Like the Nickelodeon game show “Double Dare,” other groups had a challenge to use only their feet to remove a banana from a tub filled with different types of canned food like cherry pie filling, jello, and sliced beets. I think you can understand why we held these games outside! Sure they were a little gross, but the girls loved playing like this— small physical challenges, silly costumes, messy consequences, with cheering each other all the while. It was one of those wonderful camp moments of full exuberance and laughter that is very difficult to find anywhere else.

Camp Archer Girl

A Day (Un)Like Any Other

Stephanie Brown here! I am the middler line head and Rockbrook intern doing the blog post for today.

RBC ziplineAs we woke up to the sound of the 8 o’clock morning bell, the air was crisp and the day looked promising as the fog cleared from a top Castle Rock.  There were no Rockbrook surprises but it is days like these that girls seem to love the most.  Zip lining was offered throughout all four periods and it filled up fast! Girls love to yell, hold tight, or just let go when they go down the zip line – for some it is one of their favorite experiences at camp.

Others had their daily scheduled 4 activities. A popular choice of activity is yoga. Here girls are able find a nice quiet time to relax from the hustle and bustle of camp. Mary Alice, the yoga instructor and middler cabin counselor, welcomes any experience level. It is held in the peaceful hillside lodge where, as campers practice, they can see a view of the hill, lake, and castle rock.

Though the day had a regular schedule, somehow it was anything but regular. The campers got to choose how they would like to spend their free time. During these days, time almost stands still. We do not know what is happening anywhere except right where we are. Campers have time to really “stop and smell the roses” with a short trip down to the garden. Whether it be in a cabin, outside on the hill, or at the garden a single conversation with a friend makes a friendship you have only had for a week feel like one you have had for years.

yoga at rbcA highlight of the day was the Dance Break at the lunch. A dance break is a prize that one can win on the Wheel in the dining hall. If you spin it you and your cabin choose a song that will be played during a meal unexpectedly. Everyone, and I mean everyone, gets out of their seat and starts to dance. If you haven’t read this post about the wheel, check it out!  As Taylor Swift’s 22 came on over the speakers someone yelled, “dance break!” It was such an amazing moment to witness as it almost encapsulates camp life here at Rockbrook. Campers, counselors, directors, Taylor Swift fans, and non Taylor Swift fans alike were dancing around the dining hall with nothing holding them back.

It is at the end of these days when we realize nothing is better than this. These little moments that make you smile and feel grateful, because you have been given an opportunity to have a regular day become most extraordinary.

rbc sunflower

The Wheel of Fun

Camp girl riding zip line

It being the 4th of July weekend, we all stayed close to home and enjoyed activities in camp today. This part of North Carolina is a popular tourist destination… even more so this weekend … so to avoid the crowds, we thought it a good idea to do things in camp.  For example, our zip line was humming with action all day today. Located in the woods a short distance up the trail leading to Castle Rock, the zip line begins with a high suspension bridge strung between two massive boulders. Wearing a helmet and a harness clipped into a safety cable is essential both to support the campers should a foot slip, but also to give them a small boost in confidence from the cable’s reassuring tug. The suspension bridge is a little “freaky,” as one girl put it, because it’s wobbly and (intentionally!) missing a few planks. Staring down through the gaps in the planks is indeed a little disconcerting, but it really makes you concentrate as you take each step. At the end of the bridge, perched high on the rock, the campers then clip their pulley into the zip cable. Here a little bravery is called for because the first step is out into the air with about 50 feet of nothing below.  Immediately, you are accelerating down the cable, flying by the Hi-Up cabin and zipping 450 feet across to the other side of the camp. It’s a thrilling ride! The zip ends gently over an inclined platform, where it’s just a matter of standing up and unclipping your pulley from the cable.  “Time for one more zip?” You bet!

Girl sharp shooter

One of the benefits of attending a full session of camp, and especially this 4-week (our longest) session, is that the girls can really dig into their favorite activities, signing up for them several times if they like.  The kayakers can take trips to more advanced rivers, the weavers can start more elaborate projects, and the girls can really improve their skills whether its their tennis serve, their archery or riflery aim, their one-handed cartwheel, or dive at the lake. These talents can take extra time to develop, so having a chance to do more while at camp can make a difference. And on the other hand, a longer session means having more opportunity to try new things, to experiment with something that might even become a new favorite. Have you ever tried acting, rock climbing, or dance? At a long session, you certainly can.

Camp wheel spin game

This is the “Wheel of Fun.” It is mounted on the wall in our dining hall, and is a huge hit with the campers. Reminiscent of other “clicker wheels” (think of game shows like “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price is Right,” for example), a person spins it, hoping it will stop spinning on a something desirable. Our wheel has things like “Candy” and “Muffins,” but also “Dress a Director,” “Cabin Cheer” (work together as a cabin and present a cheer to everyone at the next meal) and “Dance Break” (pick a song to play during the next meal so that everyone can get up and dance). Girls also hope to avoid some of the spots, though… things like “Polar Bear” (which means the whole cabin jumping in the lake before breakfast), or “Lose a Turn.” We don’t spin the wheel at every meal, but when we do, it’s very exciting for everyone. We pick the person to spin by narrowing down the group with a series of criteria. It’s different every time, but it goes something like this. Chase, who often does it, will say “Stand up if your hair is in a ponytail.” And about 100 campers and staff members will stand. Then she’ll narrow it down by saying, maybe, “Stay standing if you’re wearing red.” Then maybe, “Stay standing if you have or had braces.” She’ll keep this up until there’s one lucky person still standing who gets to spin the wheel. All of the items on the wheel apply to the whole cabin, so as it’s spinning, everyone is quivering with anticipation, and when the wheel stops, the whole dining hall explodes with cheers. All in all, the “Wheel of Fun” is something we do simply because that’s what it is— fun… big fun for everyone.