A key component of Rockbrook’s philosophy, the appreciation, preservation, and enjoyment of nature are activities that we are lucky enough to immerse ourselves in while at camp. Whether hiking to Castle Rock, swimming in the lake, venturing out to Rockbrook Falls, or simply standing on the hill, it is delightfully easy to marvel at and exist within the beauty of the natural world. Camp offers a wealth of wonderful interactions with the immediate environment around us. However, it’s important to remember that enjoying Earth’s natural wonders is not an activity that is confined solely to the camp world. You may be busy with school or living in a big city, but getting back in touch with that natural goodness is never too hard a task. Mary Oliver’s poem “Going to Walden” reminds us that nature is not one specific place– rather, it is right where you are. You just have to find it.
As hardworking students, you’ve rounded the corner into that time of the school year that can be laden with academic demands. The middle of the semester can keep you busy writing papers, studying for midterms, and maybe even preparing a senior thesis. A heavier workload usually translates into longer nights in the library, yet as important as scholastic success is, don’t forget to step outside every now and then. According to child environment and behavior researcher Andrea Faber Taylor, our directed attention, which we use when concentrating on tests and work, is not a limitless resource. Cracking the books day in and and day out leaves you with a serious case of both physical fatigue and mental fatigue.
So, what’s the cure? Go outside. Taylor’s theory of attention restoration argues that “walks in nature and views of green space capture our involuntary attention, giving our directed attention a needed rest”. Your physical environment has a significant effect on your mental state, and perhaps locking yourself in the basement of the library isn’t really the answer to your quest for academic accomplishment. Make a point to sit in the sun, walk around campus, or even eat lunch outside. Mother nature might just be your best study buddy yet.
Many a camper has been to Rockbrook Falls, or at least to the bridge at the bottom of it. There is, however, a larger portion of the falls that can be seen if you are one for adventure. To get there, you have to scramble, climb over rocks, and maybe even get a little wet, but the 60+ foot falls is worth it! Many years ago, water was diverted from its creek through camp, providing a stream to play in and also water for the lake.
There is also a smaller waterfall, Stick Biscuit Falls, located above the upper camp fire circle. You can even climb behind it! This stream runs underneath the dining hall, and through camp.
Rockbrook has many special places that campers have continually rediscovered every summer. Even campers that have been here for a long time still can find a new spot that leaves them awed. There’s no picture here – you’ll just have to discover them for yourself!
And there he was. The legendary Senior Line Skunk. I had stayed a few minutes after on Line Duty (between 10 and 12 pm, 2 counselors stay up in the bathhouse until all the other counselors are back in their cabins) to finish my book, and suddenly, there stood a small skunk in the doorway of the Deducky, the Line’s large, open-air bathroom. We made eye contact. “Oh, no,” I thought, picturing him turning around sharply to spray me with his stinky ooze. “Oh, no,” he probably thought, “is she going to eat me?” We maintained eye contact, neither of us certain of what to do next. Who would leave first? I decided an abrupt movement might frighten and provoke him. Instead, I made a soft noise with my foot by scraping it on the sandy, concrete floor. He flinched and looked down at his front paws. I held my breath. He looked back at me, as though apologizing for the intrusion, turned around, and walked casually away. I looked round the empty bathroom. I was startled and fascinated by what had just happened. At Rockbrook, we try to live peacefully with surrounding nature, wildlife included. We’ve got creepy-crawly, fuzzy-wuzzy, feathery, slippery, stinky, and stingy friends all around us. We believe it is important to allow nature to run its natural course even amid rowdy camp life. Chance are, you will come across some interesting wildlife during your time here. After a busy year in crowded streets and building, life at Rockbrook can provide one the opportunity to witness natural beauty that is constantly flourishing around us.
Sarah Hart Fishburne is a camper-now-counselor extraordinaire who attends UNC-Chapel Hill.