A Source of True Fascination

Camp girl find tadpole

This lovely photo was taken as Karen, our head photographer, followed a group of Junior campers down to the lake for their “Nature” activity period. Each armed with fine mesh nets, Hannah their counselor/instructor, soon had the girls skimming the lake water to “see what they could find.” Finding living things in nature is, in fact, something we do a lot around here. It might be a black snake climbing a low branch, a spider crawling innocently along the top of the shower door, or a shiny snail leaving its glistening trail up a rhododendron leaf. Each is, or at least can be with a little encouragement and sincere enthusiasm, a source of true fascination. Instead of squealing at bugs, have you noticed the fine segments of their legs? Instead of avoiding tadpoles in the lake, how cool is it to see them swim? These are little natural miracles ripe with fresh detail and ready to capture the curiosity of a child. That’s what’s going on here at camp. In this brief time, these girls can pour themselves into the experience of nature, in this case, of catching a tadpole, giggling as it wiggles in a little cup, and clapping a little cheer as it swims safely back into the lake afterwards. With so many moments like this at camp, we hope they sink in a bit and your girls are just as curious and engaged throughout the coming year.

Rifle Marksman girl at camp

A rather different experience awaits the girls who elect to take riflery while at camp. Instead of marveling at the wonderful details of the natural world, riflery follows a more measured path. Shooting accurately and precisely requires consistency, a steady, practiced set of actions. The girls learn quickly that riflery rewards a gentle, yet confident hand, and it shows in their improvement. Bullets in the black… I’m sure you’ll see a souvenir target to prove it!

Tonight the CA (9th grade) campers revealed their secret banquet theme and opened a “Big Top Circus” for everyone by transforming the dining hall with wall decorations, streamers, and brightly colored tablecloths. The girls each dressed in a a different circus costume too with mimes, a contortionist, dancers, a fortuneteller, lion tamer, and ringmaster all playing a role. For the menu, the girls chose to serve hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn, corn on the cob, cotton candy, and soda.

Circus decorations banquet
Camp circus girls posing

As everyone enjoyed different courses from the menu and listened to classic circus music (like “Entrance of the Gladiators”), the girls performed skits showcasing their talents… Juggling and even riding a unicycle. They presented choreographed group dances, amazed everyone with several mimes, a life-sized puppet show, and even made a “Photo Booth” for the campers complete with silly props. Overall it was a fun, interactive party. We all danced and sang, laughed and posed for photos, all charged up on plenty of sweet candy treats. Thank you CAs for an awesome night!

First session 2013 camp CA girls

A Sense of Wonder

Girl Drawing Class

It’s easy to see how there’s excitement around every corner here at Rockbrook. During the activity periods the girls are happily busy, fully engaged in crafts, sports, and adventure. They’re folding and tying white t-shirts preparing them for colorful dyes, and guiding rackets to tune their tennis serves. They are exercising their bodies and their imaginations riding horses and performing short improvisational skits. Each scheduled activity offers ways to play, to learn and to have fun with friends.

In addition though, there’s an added ingredient at Rockbrook that makes this more than just entertainment or a fleeting diversion, and it has to do with the sense of wonder that blossoms so easily and often throughout our day. These are moments when we are suddenly confronted by delicate natural beauty, like a spider web freshly weighted by drops of dew, or the zing of putting your feet in a chilly stream, or the sharp call at dusk of a Pileated woodpecker, for example. Simply being outside in this beautiful place is wonder-ful. It inspires Rockbrook girls to open themselves to new and fascinating experiences. And when combined with the caring encouragement of their friends and counselors, camp fosters courage and fascination rather than hesitation when encountering the unfamiliar. It teaches girls that the world is an amazing place ready to be explored, that curiosity will enrich their lives with delightful people, places and things. We hope that our time together in “the heart of a wooded mountain” at Rockbrook can be a lasting resource for our girls, a deep lesson about the joys of discovering the wonder of the world.

Camp Yoga group pose
girls cooling their feet while doing yoga

Here are a couple of photos taken of our Yoga classes taught by Mary Alice. They ordinarily meet in the stone “Hillside Lodge,” but can be held anywhere in camp where those purple mats can go… like here, for example, when the group decided cooling their feet by the creek would be relaxing. With a little quiet instrumental music in the background, Mary Alice guides the campers through a series of Hatha Yoga postures and controlled breathing. For many of the girls, these classes provide welcome moments of mindfulness and focused attention far removed from the ordinarily high-speed pace of camp life. In this way, they too can foster a sense of wonder for the girls.

Camp kids whitewater rafting trip
Camp Kids smiling in whitewater raft

Throughout the day we took about a third of the camp, almost all of the Middlers and Seniors who had not yet gone this session, whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River over in Swain County. This is quite a logistical challenge when it includes 76 campers, 6 staff members, 7 whitewater guides, 6 bus drivers, 1 Rockbrook director, lunch for 100 people, and all the whitewater equipment for the trip itself. But we have plenty of experience making it happen, and all in-house without hiring a third-party company to handle it. The trip itself is a combination of electrifying rapids, like the “Quarry Rapid” that has several large waves in a row, and calm sections where there’s time to chat with everyone in the raft, maybe start a splash war between boats or the girls can test their nerve with a quick leap into the (very!) cold water. It was a gloriously hot day, perfect for rafting, and the girls had a ball laughing and screaming all the way down the river.

This last photo is another great example of how Rockbrook is helping to foster a sense of wonder for your girls. For generations, girls have been struck by the natural splendor of Rockbrook, even describing it in one of our traditional songs as a “Fairyland of Beauty.” Spending time here in this ancient forest, among powerful trees and other bristling plants and critters, it feels magical, almost like everything is the work of tiny, winged fairies. Tonight after dinner, Pam our talented gardener, hosted a “Wings and Bling” garden party for any girls interested in making a fairy house, or a potted arrangement of flowers. Using bark, moss, flowers, polished stones, bits of cloth, Mardi Gras beads (from tonight’s fun “birthday night” dinner), and anything else the girls felt inspired to include, the group made a entire Fairy village. Such imagination and creativity! Later, two campers, with complete sincerity, suggested that the Fairies would enjoy a bedtime cookie and we should leave a bit for them in their village. All, so so wonderful.

Garden Fairy Village

Wonder, Creativity and Adventure

Whitewater Rafting Fun for Kids

Camp was full of wonder, creativity and adventure today, with so much going on. A big group of seniors and middlers headed over to the Nantahala River for a whitewater rafting trip. We packed up our gear, a great picnic lunch, and pulled the buses out of camp after breakfast. It was about a 2 hour drive, but with a quick bathroom/stretch/snack break, we arrived at the edge of the river in time for lunch. We really lathered on the sunscreen because it was a bright sunny day— perfectly warm to balance the cold river water. Clyde, the Rockbrook Adventure Director, and his crew met us at the top of the river with the RBC rafts blown up and ready to go. Every girl is outfitted with a life jacket (PFD), helmet and paddle before dividing up into groups of 5 for each raft. Then it’s 9 miles of rapids going down the river with the finale being the class III Nantahala Falls. True adventure!

Child glazing camp pottery mug
child horseback riding
girl climbing summer camp

Meanwhile in camp, the girls taking pottery were hard at work on their face mugs.  These are fun creative projects that start with slabs of clay they shape into a cylinder.  Then after attaching a handle, each mug gains character with an individualized face… eyes, nose, mouth, even teeth and eyebrows sometimes.  The final step for the girls is to paint on several colors of glaze before the pottery instructors fire the pieces in the kilns.

Down at the equestrian center, Cara and Audry along with the other horseback riding instructors are keeping the campers happy with the Rockbrook horses.  If you haven’t seen them in the photo gallery, they are a great looking bunch, from our smallest Welsh Ponies up to our 17.1 hand thoroughbred gelding Gordon.  There are lessons going on all day down there, from first time riders to girls learning to jump.  It’s always amazing to see the look of wonder on the girls faces as they learn to ride comfortably these great horses.

On the other side of camp, the alpine tower was crawling with campers, quite literally!  Every age group, from the youngest Juniors to the oldest Seniors, can sign up to climb this 50ft high ropes course tower.  It provides all levels of climbing challenges, and the staff members are great at starting girls out with the best route to match their ability.  There are easier ways to get to the top, and really tough obstacles for the more experienced climber.

Dressed up little girls at camp

Dinner tonight was a big surprise for the campers; it was “Restaurant Night,” but also with a dress up theme, the game of “Clue.” All the girls dressed up as players of the game in some “mysterious costume” they created, and the counselors dressed up as characters from “Clue” like Mrs. White, Professor Plum, and Ms. Peacock. The staff served the campers a wonderful meal of roasted chicken, pasta, salad and fresh fruit, but afterwords the game began. Each cabin was given an initial clue that when solved sent them to another part of the camp to meet one of the game’s characters and to receive a new clue. Each station/character also required the whole cabin group to perform some kind of challenge before receiving their next clue, challenges like singing a particular song, untying a human knot, or everyone telling a joke. Ultimately, once a cabin solved all the clues/riddles they were led back to the dining hall for prizes and treats. Wow, what a game! Everyone loved the action, the costumes, the imagination and cabin group cooperation it required, not to mention how much fun it was.