Absolutely Grand

When it gets hot outside, Rockbrook girls go to the water. It’s rare around here that the high temperatures reach above 90 degrees. It helps that being in the mountains keeps things cooler at night, and Rockbrook is tucked into a forested, west-facing slope giving it plenty of shade most of the morning, but there are always a few summer days, like today, when temperatures can climb. Fortunately at camp, we have plenty of ways to stay cool by taking a dip, splashing around, and otherwise getting wet.

Girls Laughing in whitewater raft
Girl Power Rafting
happy girl camp rafting

For example, the different creeks flowing through camp become water-park playgrounds for the girls during their free time periods. Above Curosty, the fiber arts cabin, you’ll find campers standing in the water— even sitting sometimes! —arranging small stones, floating their flip-flop shoes, and just enjoying the moving water headed to the lake. In front of Goodwill, the paper crafts cabin, the stream has more moss, larger stones to turn over and reveal small insects and other creatures —salamanders! crayfish! Armed with a small paper cup, girls are happily exploring, on the hunt for something of wonder.

Of course, the lake is the best place to cool off at camp. The diving board, 50-foot water slide, and variety of floating toys make it a fun and inviting place. Plus it’s always highly social, with groups swimming laps, playing “categories,” or lounging together in the water. As you might expect, the swimming and boating activities, plus the two free swim periods, have been extra popular with this sort of weather.

About 70 campers chose to experience the ultimate cooling adventure today over in Swain county, a whitewater rafting trip down the Nantahala River. Two buses of girls spent the night beforehand at our outpost camp that adjoins the National Forest. After a quick dinner, the girls sang songs around the campfire and topped off their evening by roasting marshmallows for s-mores. The next day, all the other girls met our Rockbrook adventure guides to take the two-hour trip down the Nantahala River. This is such a fun time for the girls. Take a look at the photo gallery (or click these rafting photos) to see their hilarious laughter, wide-eyed moments of foreboding, and cheerful screams through the rapids. In the bright sunshine, the layer of cool air hovering over the cold, cold river water, felt really good today. It was an ideal day of rafting.

Finally, there was a fun surprise for the girls announced during dinner. The whole camp would have a “counselor hunt!” This is a giant, whole-camp version of hide and seek where all the counselors disappear into hiding places all over the camp, and each cabin group together searches. Each counselor was worth a secret number of points (some positive and some negative!) so that after the 45 minutes of searching, the tally would also be a surprise. The camp bell signaled the start and finish of the hunt, and the winning cabin received a sweet treat from the kitchen.

It’s only been a few days, and already this session of camp is absolutely grand. So many friendly girls and enthusiastic counselors, with all the great activities happening, are blending to fill our excellent days.

Girls Camp Friends

Bouncing, Laughing and Singing

girls rafting crew

When Rockbrook was awarded one of the few permits to raft the Nantahala River back in the early 1980s (still the only girls camp recognized for this), we had no idea that it would become such an important part of our adventure program. Every year since, we’ve guided our Middlers and Seniors down the river, with I’d say about 90% choosing to go. For many girls, rafting is one of the highlights of their session, and their main adventure activity, with the possible exception being day hiking trips or zip lining.

Having this permit for guiding rafting trips on the Nantahala means keeping our own fleet of boats (cool Avon and NRS whitewater rafts), and having paddles, helmets, and PFDs for everyone. We hire and train our own guides (they are on our adventure staff back at camp) and are inspected by the US Forest Service annually. All of this allows us to run trips as we like, and have the confidence that we have great folks in the boats with our campers for the trips to go smoothly.

summer camper rafting

Today was another of those great rafting days. We took two trips down the river with two different groups of girls: the first rafting before lunch and the second after our picnic of sandwiches, fruit and chips. The girls had a blast bouncing over the rapids, splashing around, singing during the more calm sections, “riding the bull” (which means sitting on the front of the boat like a hood ornament), and occasionally falling in.  The Nantahala water is shockingly, steal-your-breath, cold, so when someone falls in, the whole boat screams and springs into action.  The goal is to get the swimmer back in the boat ASAP, so once in reach, the other campers help pull the wide-eyed swimmer back in by her PFD. It’s a coordinated effort that inevitably ends with several girls sprawled in the bottom of the raft laughing hysterically. It really was a fun day on the river, as the weather cooperated (we luckily dodged most of the rain in the area) and we easily made it back to camp in time for dinner.

girl group dance

Somehow, despite the desire to keep it a secret, only half of the girls seemed surprised when it was announced that we would be having a dance tonight with Camp Carolina. We often schedule a dance at some point during each session, but we try to surprise the girls with when it will happen because it minimizes the time spent getting ready. The line for the shower can only be so long! Over the years, what it means to “get ready” for a dance has evolved away from a “nice outfit” and become more about a crazy costume. Dances are less about brushed hair and more about braids, less about make up and more about glitter. Hawaiian shirts have replaced blouses, and pajama pants and shorts are preferred over skirts.

teen group dance

This is practical too when you consider the dancing, which is mostly a simple move of jumping up and down with one hand raised high. Clustered together, the crowd jumps in unison perfectly matching the straight beat of the music. The playlist tonight was a series of familiar, danceable pop songs from recent years— “Party in the USA,” “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” and “Wobble,” for example. A few classics also made it: “Africa” by Toto, “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, and “Mamma Mia” by ABBA, to name a few of the sing-a-long examples.

For about an hour and half, both dances (the younger children at Rockbrook and the older at Camp Carolina) were bouncing, laughing and singing along to the music. A little sweaty and surprised by how fast the time flew by, it took a good half an hour for the excitement of the evening to fade after the girls returned to camp and began getting ready for bed. A fun, full camp day to remember.

girl kicking dance

Irresistible Fun

Sliding Rock Cheer

Isn’t this a great photo? As you may have guessed, it was taken at sliding rock here in Pisgah, but what makes it wonderful is how well it captures the expression on the girls faces, one ecstatic and the other a little terrified. For most of the girls we took to slide this evening, to zip themselves down the 60-feet of sloping granite through the cold mountain water of Looking Glass creek, they felt exactly that, an odd combination of intense excitement and dread at the same time. Just sitting down with the chill of the water up their back, elicits this feeling, and then as they begin sliding and accelerating down the rock toward the pool at bottom, most girls can’t help but scream. It’s really the perfect response for any thrilling adventure like this. On the second and third trip down the rock the feeling of excitement overtakes the nervousness, but even then, like riding a roller coaster, it just feels good to throw your hands up and yell. For even these teenage Senior campers we took tonight, this was irresistible fun. Sliding and sliding, we kept it up until it was almost dark— a very full dose of camp adventure.

Sliding Rock Emotions
whitewater rafting camp splash

Earlier today two groups of girls enjoyed a fantastic day rafting on the Nantahala River, another classic Rockbrook camp adventure popular with the girls. Perfect sunny warm weather, our regular crew of Rockbrook guides, and very few other outfitters on the river made the trips superb. We offer these rafting trips to every Middler and Senior— we can do that since Rockbrook has a Forest service permit to guide its own rafting on the Nantahala—and I’d say 90% of the campers opt to do it, either a day trip or a longer outing that involves spending the night at our outpost camp near the river. Like the sliding rock photo above, this rafting shot captures the feeling of rafting, and it too is a heart-pumping ride that’s uniquely fun at camp… good friends screaming their heads off as they bump down mountain whitewater.

Camper being slimed

Finally, tonight we enjoyed a special dinner and evening program set to the theme, “Nickelodeon.” The dining hall was decorated with colorful streamers and painted banners showing well-known Nickelodeon television shows. While everyone enjoyed their roasted chicken Caesar salads and bread for dinner (oh, and which included a delicious chocolate cake with green “slime” glaze for each table), we played “Nick at Night” songs. Lots of campers and counselors dressed up. There was Sponge Bob, Patrick Star, Blue from Blue’s Clues, and the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There were colorful Nickelodeon “Splats” hidden under chairs in the dining hall, and when a camper discovered a certain splat, she won a prize. Several “lucky” campers won the prize of being slimed by a bucket of green goo dumped over their heads. We all gathered on the hill to watch the sliming. During evening program, we also played other messy games like an egg toss that required the contestants to catch the egg in a bucket strapped to their heads. There was a “Double Dare” style game where the girls could only use their feet to remove a banana from a tub containing various canned foods like jello, pie filling, whipped cream and sliced beets. These games were certainly a little messy and in some cases a little gross too, but I think the girls really enjoyed playing them and laughing while they watched their friends. Once again there seemed to be non-stop cheering as everyone stayed excited during the event.

Ninja Turtle Costumed girls

Fantastic Success

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!

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

Confident and Capable


Let’s start with an update from the kayakers, particularly the staff and campers who are enjoying a week-long specialty camp devoted to kayaking. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing interest in whitewater kayaking among the girls at Rockbrook, so to meet that interest, we now offer two specialty kayaking camp sessions called the “Rockbrook Rapids.” Led by Leland Davis, and our two head kayaking instructors Sarah Arvidson and Stephanie Whiting, these 1-week sessions are essentially small-group kayaking trip camps where the girls can improve their boating skills while enjoying some of the many whitewater rivers in the area. Everyday is a different river trip, with some including overnight camping. Today the girls ran the lower section of the Green River, which is a great place to start out because it provides a series of class II rapids, plenty of moving water to practice eddying and ferrying, and at one point a perfect surfing wave. Despite the light rain that fell most of the day, the girls had a great time on the river. Back at camp for a hot shower and a huge pasta meal, they seemed happy and proud of the day’s accomplishments on the river. If you are an Instagram user, Leland is posting now and then to a specialty account for the Rockbrook Rapids. Follow along! (By the way, here is our main Rockbrook Instagram account.)

Girls kayaking camp fun in the rain
(9th grade hiking girls

Our 9th grade girls, who we call “CA campers” or “CAs,” accomplished an important goal today. They selected their banquet theme. Right after breakfast, we loaded up a couple of buses and drove to the Dupont State Forest for a hike, and more importantly, a private place to discuss what the secret surprise theme will be. The girls brainstormed more than 40 different ideas, and after hiking to a beautiful overlook, stopping along the way to narrow down their list, they settled on their theme. They cheered after the final decision, and immediately started offering new ideas about the special food, decorations, music and costumes they would organize for their big party of the session. The girls were so eager to take on the responsibility of planning and implementing this complex project for the whole camp, I can already tell that this is going to be an excellent banquet.

Our 10th grade girls, known at camp as “Hi-Up campers” or just “HUPS,” likewise had a special day— their first “Girls With Ideas” meeting. Getting together with their counselors, this was a discussion session focused on what it means to be a Rockbrook girl and how those character traits can help make our camp community stronger, contribute to the magic of camp for the other, younger campers’ experience, and potentially make the broader, outside-of-camp, world a better place. The Hi-Ups are the oldest true campers at Rockbrook, so we count on their leadership with several camp projects, special events, and important jobs, like clearing dishes from the dining hall, and setting all the tables before each meal. This particular group of HUPS is already showing amazing maturity and enthusiasm for their new roles at camp.

Camp Girl Climber

After tenth grade, we offer one last step in leadership training, and it’s for those girls interested in becoming a cabin counselor at Rockbrook: our “Counselors in Training” or “CITs.” These 11th grade girls (We only accept six per session) live in the cabins with the younger campers, and as their name suggests, take on the duties of a counselor managing cabin life. They teach a camp activity for part of the day, and also take on the task of running the kitchen dish washing machine after every meal. You can imagine, depending on the meal, this can be a monumental endeavor easily taking a couple of hours. So these girls are hard workers! It’s a paid position designed to be ideal training for returning as a full counselor.

For our 9th, 10th and 11th graders, this coaching and progression of camp responsibilities, adds up to concrete leadership training. Working together as a cooperative group, focusing on important tasks, accepting responsibilities with real consequences for the broader camp community, these teenage girls are growing more confident and capable while developing real-life leadership skills.  …Another example of how “camp is a place for girls to grow.”

With good sunny weather most of the day, and only a slight late afternoon shower, this has been an excellent first day of activities. The girls have scattered across the camp excited to try everything— adventure, crafts, sports, and horseback riding. It’s been a great start to what already feels like a fantastic session!

Fun Just Like That

Girl Making Tie Dye Shirt

Here’s a common question we hear at camp; “Can I tie dye my __________?” Tie dying is part of the Hodge Podge craft activity, and mostly we have white t-shirts available for the girls to dye, but this question has also been framed with answers like, “my shorts,” “my underwear” (of course!), “my socks,” “my backpack,” and even “my shoes!” We love that kind of creativity around here, so often the answer is “Maybe! Wanna try it?” The results could be described as “mixed,” but it’s certainly fun to experiment with the squeeze bottles of bright colorful fabric dye. When it comes to shirts, the results have been spectacular lately… chevrons, spirals, bullseyes, waves, smilies, and plenty of random patterns, all with great, vivid colors. Making a tie dye has a fun surprise built into the process too— when the t-shirt, or other garment, is untied and you get to see the cool pattern created from the dye being absorbed or resisted. One group of girls today looked particularly pleased at their untying. Look out for some fun new fashions heading home to you at the end of the session!

Summer Camp Swimmer

The Rockbrook lake continues to be a popular spot throughout the day. As so many other parts of the country are baking in the summer heat, we’ve been hitting high temperatures in the mid 80s. That’s not too hot for around here, but with the humidity, a dip in the lake has felt excellent. The girls have been hard at work swimming their “Mermaid Laps” (A certain number admits them into the “Mermaid Club.”). They been perfecting their silliest jumps from the diving board, and repeatedly zipping down “Big Samantha” our giant water slide. There has been some mischief underway too with a bunch of squirt toys, athletic skill shown using kick boards, and plenty of cooling off and relaxing in the inner tubes.  In addition to the regular four activity periods when the girls can sign up for swimming, the lake is open to everyone right before lunch and dinner for about an hour. I’d say with all of these options and opportunities, most everyone at camp is visiting the lake these days.

The great warm weather lately has also inspired us to offer the girls several waterfall and creek hikes. Right here on the camp property, the WHOA (Wilderness, Hiking, Outdoor Adventure) instructors have been bringing girls to Rockbrook Falls. It’s a nice set of small waterfalls that cascade down multiple levels into pools… perfect for a refreshing dip. For several Junior campers, the creek in the center of camp is a place to play, stack stones, and race sticks (or their shoes!) in the current.

Outdoor Swimming Hole

A few miles south of camp, the Dupont State forest has magnificent high waterfalls like Triple Falls and Hooker Falls. In the Pisgah Forest, a group of Juniors visited Moore Cove to feel the spray of the waterfall there. And we’ll be heading to sliding rock tomorrow night for the ultimate waterfall experience.

Every year when we survey the campers about their favorite outdoor adventure activity, whitewater rafting wins the number one spot (Ziplining has become #2, by the way). That’s not too surprising when you consider how perfectly it combines several amazing things. First, just being outside is great, but when you have the natural beauty of the Nantahala Gorge, the steep rocky slopes rising on both sides of the river, it’s extraordinary. There are massive trees (poplar and hickory come to mind), thick rhododendron thickets, and flowering silk trees. There’s bound to be a King Fisher that swoops by chirping, and a sharp eye may spot a turtle or water snake hiding among the sticks and leaves of an eddy. Some of this probably slips right by most of the campers because the real focus is the crazy, bumpy ride in raft. The girls take turns “riding the bull,” which means sitting on the front of the raft with their legs dangling, an intrepid hood ornament that’s bound to get the biggest splash in the rapids. Falling out of the boat is part of the fun too… for that matter, so is falling into the boat unexpectedly after hitting a hidden rock. Let’s not forget the temperature of the water either: a frigid 50 degrees thanks to the majority of the water coming from the bottom of the deep Nantahala lake (as part of the Duke Energy hydroelectric project). Hitting that water, even when it’s sunny and hot outside, is a wide-eyed, breath-taking, shock, just as it’s an excellent thrill.  Add to that the fun that comes from singing and laughing with friends in the boat. For the two hour trip down the river, the girls are splashing each other, waving for photo opportunities, making “high fives” with their paddles, and doing “fire drills” to switch places in the boats. Yes, it’s outdoor adventure, but taken altogether, this is super fun too. Since we took almost half of the camp rafting on the Nantahala today, it was fun… just like that.

Rafting Celebration in a Rapid

Immersed in the Unfamiliar

Glancing through our online photo gallery today, you may have noticed that the girls are all wearing long sleeves. It might be a t-shirt or a sweatshirt, or likely a Rockbrook fleece, but all morning long we needed to bundle up a bit because it didn’t feel much like summer around here. It was more like the fall with the low temperature of 54 degrees when we woke up at 8am this morning. While odd for us in late July, this kind of cool, low humidity weather makes everything sparkle at camp. Waking up under warm covers in our open-air cabins, adding a layer of fleece while clicking the floor loom in Curosty, and biting into the fresh mint chocolate chip muffin, all felt especially good this morning. Up above was the deepest blue sky, not a single cloud anywhere, and the sun felt instantly warm when you stepped out of the shade, even as it warmed to about 75 degrees in the afternoon. Summer in the mountains can bring the most surprising and wonderful weather.

Yesterday, Bentley wrote about how camp has helped her daughters (and herself) gain social confidence when meeting new people or encountering unfamiliar social settings. She saw attending a sleepaway summer camp a perfect setting to develop that skill because, after all, it’s inevitable you’ll be doing unfamiliar things and meeting new people at camp— the girls in your cabin, in your wheel-thrown ceramics class, or in your whitewater raft on the Nantahala River. Everyday, there’s someone new to meet and something new to do and experience. (“Did you try that pineapple salsa at lunch today?”) From this angle, camp life means immersing kids in the unfamiliar— experiencing first-hand strange food like homemade ginger coleslaw, odd weather like this morning, quirky people like that counselor from out west, challenging activities like aiming a real gun, alien creatures like those HUGE wolf spiders occasionally found in the shower, and so forth. While camp is providing girls new experiences and offering a range of fun activities to try, it’s more importantly pushing them beyond what they know, confronting them with the exotic. Camp life happily leaps right out of every “comfort zone,” and in this way, is intentionally un-comfortable.

Riflery Ready Girl at Camp

And that’s a good thing! Obviously, we don’t want camp to imitate the comforts of home. Many of the benefits of camp life spring from those differences— unplugging from technology, being active outdoors, and managing everyday decisions, for example. Personal growth, learning of the most profound kind, requires a little shaking up and a surprise now and then. We want our kids to have these novel experiences because they are unfamiliar and because they challenge them to grow more competent. For this reason it would be a mistake to insist we make everything “easy” at camp, for example to make sure the lake isn’t too cold or that she already know everyone in her cabin. As parents, we often spend our time helping our children be comfortable, keeping them happy, and providing everything we can to smooth their path, but that’s the paradox of camp. It’s both uncomfortable and fun. It makes our girls happy while safely challenging them. Camp is as joyful as it is unfamiliar.

What makes this paradox possible at Rockbrook is our camp culture. It’s our emphasis on community, and the values that support it like kindness, caring and generosity. We all know that everyone here (counselors and campers alike) will be quick to support our efforts and is more inclined to cooperate than compete. Enthusiasm and encouragement bubble up everywhere at Rockbrook strengthening our courage to let our true selves blossom. We celebrate silliness, creativity, and costumes! We love singing, dancing, playing, and doing almost everything together. In this kind of community, what’s unfamiliar becomes part of the fun, and what’s at first a challenge becomes another opportunity to experience something new regardless of the outcome. What makes camp “fun” is another whole topic to consider, but I think the Rockbrook camp community is a big part of it.

Zoo Costume Girls

For about half of the camp, almost all of the Middlers and Seniors, today included a whitewater rafting trip down the Nantahala River. We ran 2 large trips, using our own equipment and guides: one in the morning and a second in the afternoon. Perfect sunny weather added to the excitement of rapids like “Delbar’s Rock,” “Whirlpool,” “The Bump,” and of course the “Nantahala Falls.”  These are high-pitched trips, partly from the rapids but equally from the icy cold water splashing about. It was a great afternoon of whitewater adventure.

When we all arrived back at camp, a special jungle/animal themed dinner called “A Night at the Zoo” was ready to begin. We had just enough time to race back to the cabin to throw together an animal costume. Maybe that meant simply wearing a squid hat, or painting a few whiskers on your cheeks, but there was also a giraffe and several tigers in the dining hall too.  Jungle-themed decorations and posters on the walls helped set the mood, while the girls had a great time singing animal songs (e.g., “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and dancing to a few related pop songs (like “Roar” for example). We gobbled up pizza and salad, and finished with chocolate chip cookie dough for dessert, making the whole dinner a special event.

Descending and Ascending

Kayak trip on the upper green river
NC Green River Kayak kid

One of the whitewater rivers popular with kayakers in this area of North Carolina is the Green, a dam-released river running through a deep gorge just south of Asheville. One reason for this popularity, besides the natural beauty of the surrounding forest, is the different sections of the river that provide a range of whitewater boating challenges. Perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most technical, section is known as the “Narrows.” With several class IV and class V rapids, and boasting a gradient of about 100 feet per mile, this is a section for experts only. At the other extreme is the section known as the “Lower” Green. It is about 5 miles of class II whitewater making it excellent for beginners, and the section most commonly run by camps.

Today a group of Rockbrook girls, led by Leland, Andria and Clyde, ran a third section known as the “Upper” Green. It is a moderately difficult section of class II and III+ rapids dropping almost 50 feet per mile over 4 miles. The whole section runs relatively fast, and the two largest rapids, named “Bayless’ Boof” and “Pinball,” are challenging lines with significant waves.  Our Rockbrook kayaking girls handled it just fine, and spent the whole day playing on the water. Rarely paddled by summer camp kids, it’s a real accomplishment for these girls to run the Upper Green.

Kid climbing Sundial route of Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina

Meanwhile, another group of Rockbrook girls, rather than descending a river, ascended a rock. Led by Andy and Rita, a group of Seniors and Middlers woke up early and drove into the Pisgah Forest to reach the base of Looking Glass Rock. They headed up the trail… gently uphill at first, but steep toward the end —to a climbing area known as the “Nose,” and were able to set 2 ropes on a well-known climb called “Sundial.” This climb is rated 5.6 in the Yosemite Decimal System, which means it’s steep enough to require a belay system and technical hardware for safety, but not so difficult that it requires advanced skills or strength. Climbing Sundial requires precise footwork, and the girls quickly figured out that the sloping “brow-shaped” handholds sometimes work better when you cling to them from underneath, lifting up instead of pulling down. Sundial also rewards you at the top of the 80-foot first pitch with a gorgeous long view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This photo of Haley at the top of the climb shows her after she removed her blindfold.  That’s right; with careful and patient footwork, she was able to climb the whole route blindfolded!  After a quick splash in the creek to cool off, the crew made it back to camp happy about the day’s fun and accomplishment.

Back at camp, the girls eating lunch in the dining hall were surprised when Chase interrupted the meal and shouted “Dance Break!!” into the PA System.  The speakers were ready and the music queued up, and a second or two later the entire dining hall was up and dancing to the song “Classic” that’s popular on the radio these days.  It’s a fun, pop dance song, and most of the girls new the words enough to sing along. For those three minutes of loud pumping music, everyone was moving, smiling and having a complete blast.

Girls slip and Slide for Fun
Girl attacking with shaving cream

Our after dinner “twilight” event was a crazy shaving cream fight and slip-n-slide. This is about as simple as it gets, but also equally as fun. The girls dress in their swimsuits and assemble on our grassy sports field. Then, armed with a can of plain shaving cream, they attack each other spraying and smearing the slippery foam everywhere. The goal is to cover your friends (and, I suppose, anyone within reach!) as much as possible, spraying their backs, arms and hair, all while running around to avoid being sprayed yourself. Can after can of shaving cream was emptied, while we all laughed hilariously and screamed with delight. At one end of the field, we also unrolled a wide sheet of plastic down a gentle slope, added a little soap and sprayed it with water to make a fun slippery ride. The girls, all greased up with shaving cream, took turns launching themselves down the plastic, sliding in some cases 75 feet before rolling off the end to a stop in the grass. This last photo sums up the event nicely… Tons of good “clean” fun.

Camp Shaving Cream Fight for Girls