Let’s begin with breakfast, as we did this morning at 8:30am. Our Kitchen Manager and Head Chef, Rick, draws upon his 5 years of experience planning meals and cooking for Rockbrook (plus 9 years at other organizations) to surprise and delight us everyday with yummy meals. His goal is to provide healthy foods, made mostly from whole and natural ingredients (not pre-processed), that strike a balance between being “kid friendly” and “unfamiliar.” For example, this morning Rick started simply with hot scrambled eggs with yellow corn grits and fried country ham. But to mix it up a bit, Katie, our baker, brought out trays of homemade, freshly baked biscuits to go with the slightly sweet and spicy red-eye gravy Rick brewed (yes, it did have a little coffee in it!) as well. With orange juice, and a small bowl of fruit and yogurt from the breakfast bar, this was a complete— beyond complete —breakfast. And it was delicious! By the way, have you seen Rick in our video about the food at camp?
You may have heard about the special snack we serve between the first and second activity periods each morning around 11am: freshly baked muffins. Katie tries to surprise us every day by alternating between traditional flavors like Lemon Poppy Seed or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and more creative, one-of-a-kind recipes like Peach/Mango and Carrot/White Chocolate. It’s a big event to swing by the dining hall porch when the bell rings for “Muffin Break” and sample the day’s surprise flavor. Being able to catch up briefly with a friend before heading to a different activity, and to enjoy a soft, sweet muffin each day, is a wonderful Rockbrook moment we all love. When your girls return home in a couple of weeks, be sure to ask them what flavor of muffin was their favorite.
Here is one of the stars of the Rockbrook horseback riding program this summer. He’s Hula Hoop, an 18 year old Belgium Warmblood who comes to us from St. Andrews University and their Therapeutic Riding Program “Ride Like a Knight.” When he was younger, Hula was a top-ranked show horse competing in everything from Grand Prix to 3’6″ hunter shows. He’s won many top prizes, but for our girls, he’s a gentle, steady mount. Overall, we have 29 horses and ponies comprising the Rockbrook herd this summer. The girls are getting to know them in the stable club, grooming them and learning about other aspects of horse care, and then when it’s time to ride, friends with names like Hula, Lacy, Tony, Onyx, Gordon, or maybe Cool Beans are happy to oblige. Despite the rainy weather we’ve been having lately, Riding is still a popular activity at camp.
If you’ve looked at the map of Rockbrook, you’ve probably noticed that the French Broad River creates the western boundary of the camp. The French Broad begins in Rosman, NC when four creeks come together. From there, it travels more than 200 miles northeast and then west to Knoxville where it joins the Holston River to form the Tennessee River, which eventually flows into the Ohio River and the Mississippi. So, yes, you can launch a boat at Rockbrook and (after several miles of paddling!) come out in New Orleans.
This morning a group of Rockbrook girls set out in Rosman and paddled canoes 3 miles of that long journey. After pairing up and deciding who would paddle the bow and stern of the canoes, Emily reviewed for the group paddling strokes, cautioned everyone about avoiding trees along the edge of the river, and instructed them what to do if they tip over and end up in the water. Once underway, she also demonstrated how to cross from one side of the river to the other (“ferrying”) and how to stop in a calm area of water behind an obstacle (“catching an eddy”). As you can see from this photo, the weather was gorgeous and the girls spent the whole morning enjoying themselves on the water. Several of the girls commented that canoeing was their new favorite activity. It was that kind of perfect trip.
The entire Senior line, all 84 campers, took a different trip this evening. They loaded into buses and vans for a picnic in the Pisgah National Forest, a ride down Sliding Rock, and a cup or cone of their favorite flavor of Dolly’s ice cream. One highlight during the picnic was getting everyone to skip and play together in the grassy field. We must have played “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” for almost a half hour! At Sliding Rock, we found the water to be a little higher than usual (another indication of the wet weather these last weeks), but also a little colder too. That’s a big part of the fun though… the bone-chilling shock of icy water splashing up your back when you first sit down to slide. Plunging into the pool at the bottom and going under the water feels almost electric. It instantly evokes an urgent need to “get out of this water, NOW!” For some girls, this is fantastic fun, shivering, blue lips and all, while for others one trip down the rock is plenty. For everyone, this is the kind of mountain experience they look forward to at camp… likewise, for our stop at Dolly’s. This lovely ice cream stand, located at the entrance to the Pisgah Forest, serves more than 20 unique flavors of ice cream, combinations of ingredients really, named after each of the local summer camps. The Rockbrook flavor, for example, is called “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” and is chocolate ice cream, fudge, brownie bits, with peanut butter cups. Every camp flavor is different, so it can take a while just to read the menu! You might think that after freezing ourselves in the water at Sliding Rock we wouldn’t be interested in ice cream, but this is, as one camper put it, “the best ice cream on earth!” With ice cream to top it off, this was another terrific trip.