Life on the Wild Side

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
–Joseph Campbell

One benefit of going to camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is all of the adventures that await us in our own backyard! The outdoor staff at Rockbrook relish in the opportunities they get to introduce campers to all of the excitement that surrounds our camp. One hike has been particularly popular this year. It’s called the Wet ‘n’ Wild Hike. The adventure staff haven’t really explained it beyond that—they want to leave a lot of the surprise in it for girls who have not gone yet. Still, I have been pretty curious about it every time I hear it announced, so I decided to try to get the inside scoop from some of the campers who went on the hike today.

My anonymous source, a member of the elite outdoor staff, gave me the full story. For the sake of this post, we will call her Rita. This morning, Rita made a cryptic announcement that a Wet and Wild Hike would be happening. Murmurs filled the dining hall: campers had heard about this hike, but what would actually happen on it? After twelve lucky girls signed up, the trip was off! Rita co-piloted the van and tried to find tunes the girls would love to set the right mood for their hike. They drove into Pisgah National Forest and got out of the van at Cove Creek. The real adventure was to begin!

The hike begins with a walk through a few fields and campgrounds. At this point, the campers are somewhat confused because there is no water present. Eventually, they bump into the creek and the real adventure begins. There are tiny, rambling trails, and they walk through a confusing and twisted path until they hear the sound of a waterfall. They stand at the base of the waterfall, eating muffins and discussing waterfall safety. With at least 712 waterfalls in Transylvania County (the county Rockbrook is a part of), it seems most relevant to have this conversation. After the refreshments, the girls played with a baby skink, a lizard common in the area, and enjoyed playing in the waterfall.

After that, they voyaged back toward the van and the second part of their hike. They carefully crossed slippery rocks (Rita says they always make sure to note that “there is no shame in crab walking”) and they get on yet another side trail. The girls are elated to find that this leads to a miniature sliding rock—a natural rockface they can slide down! The girls enjoy the perfect day and slide until they are content. Rita says that, at this point, the hike “feels like Eden.” There is such simplicity in the hike, just girls purely playing outside!

The third part of the hike is Rita’s favorite. After hiking on another side trail, the girls arrive at potholes. After talking about how potholes form, Rita talked about how they couldn’t swim in it because it only went knee-deep. Then, Rita fell backwards! The girls were nervous for her, but she popped out of the water laughing. In fact, the potholes were about eight feet deep, so the girls enjoyed swimming and playing in them. On another pothole, water shoots the girls out into the deep part, and the girls took advantage of this many times.

Following such a full hike and pure bliss, it was time to scramble back up the hill and get back into the vans. The girls were told to keep the hike a secret, for the outdoor staff wanted the surprises to exist for everyone who has not yet gone on this hike. They were then treated to a feast of a lunch: homemade chicken soup, chips and salsa, and pineapple—what a perfect meal!

IMG_1375 Mini session seniors and middlers got to continue our Wet ‘n’ Wild adventures today for cabin day! After enjoying a delicious picnic dinner and playing a few rounds of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl,” a beloved game, we all got to go to Sliding Rock! Sliding Rock is a natural waterslide that is in Pisgah Forest. It’s sixty feet long, and girls start at the top before taking a wild ride down freezing cold water before plunging into a pool at the bottom. Counselors are standing at the top to help girls get settled and prevent slipping, and life guards are in the water at the bottom, throwing girls floating tubes and reeling them in! The girls can go two-by-two, so many choose to go with a friend or a counselor. Campers are given the choice of whether they want to slide or not, but we had a particularly excited group last night, and many chose to take the plunge! Some girls went as many as five times, and everyone had a perfect time!

After Sliding Rock, we all piled back in to heated vans (some of us were very cold after our adventure) and headed to Dolly’s for some well-deserved ice cream. Girls look forward all session to their trip to Dolly’s, a local dairy bar that offers special edition ice creams named for local camps. Some girls have a favorite flavor (Illahee is very popular, a combination of cookie dough and brownies, other girls love Rockbrook, an extremely chocolaty concoction), while others try to branch out and try all of the flavors. Every girl also got a sticker with the Dolly’s logo, which many put on their trunks and water bottles when we got back to camp. We all sat around in rocking chairs or at tables enjoying ice cream and singing our favorite Rockbrook songs. It was fun seeing the two lines together—girls got to interact across the ages and get to know other campers they are less likely to meet. We ended by singing both the Senior Line Song and the Middler Line Song before we heard a familiar, “Hey Rockbrook, this train is leaving the station!” at which point we got back in the vans and returned to camp, ready for bedtime after such an exhilarating day.

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Part of the beauty of our summers is that they give us the opportunity to get Wet ‘n’ Wild on a daily basis. We aren’t nearly as shy as we might otherwise be of “getting our hair wet” (literally and metaphorically) as we might usually be. Some girls are adventurous by nature. They jump in to wild adventures because they look fun. Others (and I might be in this category) are more reserved because they consider how cold they might be after, or how tired they might be because of a long hike, or how they could slip on a rock. Rockbrook has taught me to be more adventurous, though, because I have learned that when I say ‘yes’ to any adventure, I never have regrets. By the end of Sliding Rock, I wound up thoroughly chilled with a minorly stubbed toe. Yet these minor discomforts were discounted by the thrill of going down Sliding Rock with a good friend and being able to have a shared experience with the rest of the senior line.

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Rockbrook gives us the room to decide for ourselves when to leave our comfort zones, but I think we all do in our own way. Maybe we decide to go down Sliding Rock because our friends cheer for us and convince us that it will be worth being cold. Or maybe we go on a kayaking adventure that frightens us because we are just learning to be more confident about skills. We might try riding the bull on a whitewater raft even though we may fall out. It will happen for each girl in its own way, but I think living at Rockbrook makes every girl a little more in touch with her wild side.

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