Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls

The Magic of Camp

Today campers began a new rotation of activities, and experienced a regular Monday at camp. While this may seem pretty unexciting, a typical day at camp is actually when the magic happens. Although adventure trips and special Rockbrook surprises are important and provide unique experiences for campers, there is something special and valuable about having a regular day of camp.

Girls at camp playing tennis In activities, girls are able to connect with other campers and counselors of their age group, or line, who may not be in their cabin. They get to practice and learn new skills at the same time as building relationships. Campers don't need to go on the zip line or a hike to be pushed out of their comfort zone. Swimming, curosty, or climbing at camp can challenge girls and allow them to grow, while being alongside their peers and counselors.

Free swims are also valuable because twice a day campers can choose their own adventure. For example, they might go to the lake to swim mermaid laps, join in with Rockbrook runners club to run on the trails, or simply sit on the hill and make friendship bracelets. The options are only limited by campers' imaginations! It is important for girls to have this sense of independence and ability to make their own decisions as they are growing up. These free times throughout the regular camp day allow girls to have the social and physical s pace to be themselves as well as the space to let their imaginations run wild.

A regular day at camp also leads campers to some special places around Rockbrook's property. One path leads past the tennis courts, the Carrier House, and lower pottery to a tunnel that goes underneath Greenville Highway, so girls can safely get to the barn. It's a fun experience to walk down the wooded path, through the darkened tunnel, and pop out on the other side to a scene of green pastures, the horses, and the winding French Broad River. Up in the main part of camp, girls absolutely love to play in the two creeks at the foot of the hill. One creek is diverted from Rockbrook Falls and feeds into the lake, providing us with fresh mountain water to swim in. The other creek comes from Stick Biscuit falls, and winds its way underneath the Dining Hall, past Goodwill, behind Curosty, and down the mountain. There is almost no need to ever leave camp for trips, as we are fully immersed in the beauty of nature right here at Rockbrook!

Trips and special events are certainly beneficial to the overall camp experience, but it is important to remember how special a regular day at camp can be all on its own. The small moments, the in-betweens, the laughs and friends-these are what add up to create a camper's Rockbrook experience. The magic of camp is already present in the people, places, and spaces at camp, so we hope the campers take every moment they have to experience that magic. Horse playing You're reading " The Magic of Camp " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .


Deeply Satisfying

welcome to rockbrook This was an exciting Sunday morning because it marked the beginning of our second July mini session. It meant the arrival of about 90 campers eager to start their camp experience. The staff woke early to be ready, so when the cars began driving up the gravel driveway we had an absolute mob of enthusiastic counselors cheering and greeting each car. It was a quick check-in process -office, riding interview, nurse check, swag store, and hair exam- and by 10:30am, we had most of the new session girls settled in their cabins. For several, there was time to visit Rockbrook Falls, one of the waterfalls on the camp property. It’s only about half a mile from the center of camp, and the trail leading there is pleasantly flat (mostly!) and a beautiful, meandering walk through the forest. Visiting this waterfall is a perfect first activity after arriving at camp. It gives girls a chance to soak in the environment a bit, shake out a few jitters, and get to know the other people hiking with them. It’s also an magnificent destination. Around noon, the entire camp assembled under the walnut tree on the hill for a program of introductions, songs, awards, and skits. We sang the line songs, awarded cabin groups with the excellent inspection scores, and recognized girls with extraordinary camp spirit. Casey and Audrey performed a short skit about going to sleep in a camp cabin and the importance of staying quiet a night. Lunch was again deeply satisfying: tray after tray of Rick’s homemade mac-n-cheese, salad and fresh fruit. With no less than 4 types of cheese, and baked to that perfect gooey center and crunchy top layer, it’s always a huge hit. mad scientist campers Our all-camp afternoon event turned to science for its inspiration: a “Mad Science” Fair of experiments, games, and challenges. Counselors and Hi-Ups led the different activity stations. There was a “Green Team Quiz” game, a challenge to make a parachute, a chance to concoct sticky “Oobleck,” and a return of the “watermelon explosion” rubber band challenge. One of the more popular options was the Buoyancy test. The girls had to build a boat, something that floats, using only aluminum foil. Then they tested each person’s buoyant craft by adding fishing weights until it sank. The winner was able to hold 26 weights! With snacks and music, and plenty of lab coats, goggles and mustaches, the girls zipped between activity stations having fun and learning a little science along the way. Before dinner there was time for everyone to visit the lake for a swim if they desired. There are two of these “free swim” periods most days: one before lunch and the other before dinner. After being active around camp, zipping, riding, climbing, hiking, or shooting for example, the cool water of the lake is also a deeply satisfying experience. Swim, float, jump off the diving board, or shoot down the water slide- there’s a way to set your own pace at the lake. This is going to be an excellent week of camp.  Stay tuned! swimming girls camp You're reading " Deeply Satisfying " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

A Sense of Place

horse riding camper girl These past few days, between the two July mini sessions, have allowed the full-session campers to dig deeper into various activities and spend a little more time honing their skills and knowledge of techniques. For example, down closer to the French Broad river where Rockbrook’s Riding Center is located, our young equestrians have been riding and working up to more advanced skills. The covered arena with its engineered footing (2 types of polyester fibers blended with a fine silica sand, and kept moist with regular watering) has been an ideal place for setting up cross rails and other vertical jumps for the girls. Some of the more popular horses, like Smoke, Snoopy and Rodin, have been working on the jumps with the girls. These are horses that train throughout the year at St. Andrew’s University, and are very good at trotting and cantering over poles, as well as experienced jumpers. They know exactly what to do when their rider approaches a jump, eager to clear it. It’s wonderful to see the smile on the girls’ faces as they zoom over the jumps. counselor and camper working on weaving The same is true for adventure activities. Climbers ventured off-camp to Looking Glass Rock for a day working on the climb called B-52, while kayakers tackled the more advanced section of the Green River. Even in the craft activities, the weavers finished edges, t-shirts were dyed with a new pattern, and the pottery folks learned more about throwing on the wheel. The friendship bracelet patterns are becoming more complex and the needlecraft projects more intricate. On the other hand, these few days also seemed to take on a slightly more relaxed pace. With added familiarity came greater comfort, making moments of free time feel great. We seem to be hanging out more naturally and simply enjoying each other’s company. Instead of a race, we’ve discovered a sense of place. Instead of a goal, we’re taking a leisurely stroll. jug band campfire Tonight’s evening program was an all-camp campfire, but one with a silly theme- Jug Band. Inspired by aspects of Appalachian culture, but along the lines of the old TV show “Hee Haw,” the campers and counselors dressed in their mountain attire (flannels, overalls, bandannas), tied their hair in pigtails, and in some cases painted freckles on their cheeks. Even Sarah arrived dressed as “Sayrry,” a mountain granny wearing a long dress, carrying a walking stick, and a pet (rubber) rattlesnake. The program included group songs, skits, and folks taking turns telling jokes. We sang “Rocky Top,” “Sippin’ Cider,” “Mountain Dew,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” and others. There was a skit performed to the “Rooster Song.” All along, the girls played improvised “musical” instruments like shakers, cans, and other things to tap or bang. For jokes, we heard that you call a pig that knows karate “Pork Chop” and when a horse is being negative it’s a real neigh-sayer. With a nice campfire glowing with orange flames and the whole camp gathered around, it was a fun and amusing evening. archery camper girls You're reading " A Sense of Place " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

Meaning, Emotion and Beauty

It’s been a long standing practice here at Rockbrook to ask parents for feedback after their daughters attend a session of camp. It helps us understand what went well, areas where we can improve, and aspects of camp they particularly appreciate and value. We’ve learned a lot over the years and made improvements based on this feedback. Camp dancers A recent parent comment caught my eye because it was a little unusual. One mother said she believes Rockbrook’s size, it’s intimate feeling, was important to her child’s success at camp. When this mom was “camp shopping,” she explained she wanted the best small girls’ camp, a camp where her daughter would feel cared for , not just be taken care of “like by a babysitter.”  It’s true we have intentionally kept Rockbrook the same size for years, even when we could be adding cabins and accepting more girls. We know there is something special about joining a small community like this where you know most of the people you see, and have regular opportunities to deepen your relationships with them.  Too small would limit what we do and who we can meet, but too big would be worse, likewise limiting the quality of our relationships and reducing camp to mere supervision and entertainment (again like what a babysitter provides). This mom put her finger on one of the things we value most at Rockbrook- getting to know each other and caring for everyone through kindness and generosity. She attributed it to our size, and while that’s important, we also strive to hire and train our staff accordingly, and to set that overall tone throughout each session of camp. Like an essential current flowing through the camp community, the deep relationships, the quality of the friendships, we have with everyone makes camp life meaningful, emotional, and beautiful. We’re so pleased it’s a powerful component of every Rockbrook experience. Print Making kids This afternoon, a van of girls had the chance to visit the working studio of Ann Dergara for a print making workshop. Ann is a professional sculptor, painter and print maker who lives here in Brevard, and today she was teaching the girls about “monoprints.” Using a clean plate of plexiglass, she demonstrated how to apply different layers of colorful ink, add subtle textures and then imprint the design to a sheet of paper using a large rolling press. After the demonstration, the girls eagerly jumped into making their own monoprint.  Since only one print can be made from each inked plate, the results are unique pieces of art. When each piece emerged from the press, the girls clapped and cheered to see their work come alive. We saw proud artists today! Here’s one last thing I’d like to share. It’s a large poster of paper we saved from one of our weekly staff meetings. Ordinarily held on Sunday evenings, these meetings gather all the cabin counselors for discussions of how things are going, further training, and an opportunity to enjoy time together. You can see (click the image for a larger version), this sheet asked the counselors why they love their campers. Here are some of the responses: Counselors Love Campers
  • They are silly, enthusiastic and super sweet.
  • They LOVE camp.
  • They’re nice to each other.
  • They are inclusive.
  • They have such amazing passion and inspire me everyday.
  • They are confident.
  • They are always looking out for each other.
  • They get along so well and are the coolest gals around.
  • They are learning.
  • They are so funny, kind, and thankful.
  • They make me laugh.
  • They are proactive sorting out their interpersonal problems.
  • They challenge me and help me grow.
  • They aren’t afraid to be goofy.
It’s so great hearing how much the counselors admire their campers, how the girls here give the staff’s experience more meaning, emotion and beauty. It’s amazing how proud the counselors are of the campers, how impressed they are by them, and how thankful they are to be their friends at camp. For the staff too, one of the richest rewards of camp is the quality of the relationships formed here.  So clear and so cool! beautiful camp girl wearing Rockbrook bucket hat You're reading " Meaning, Emotion and Beauty " by Jeff Carter , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

2nd Session Video Note - Part Two

Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks spent another day this past week filming at Rockbrook, capturing some of the sweet interactions at the heart of our camp community. And now we have another of his fascinating 2-minute videos to enjoy. Take a look! There are moments of accomplishment, true affection, spirit, and of course sheer happiness.  Be sure to turn up the volume to enjoy the sounds of camp too. Click here for the video. Or see below.
You're reading " 2nd Session Video Note – Part Two " by Jeff Carter , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

Uniquely Memorable

It’s really one of the most popular things we do at Rockbrook, something we all enjoy multiple times a day, in fact. We can’t live without it, and fortunately we have an absolute expert guiding the activity for us. It’s the meals at camp, the delicious food served by Rick and his staff in the kitchen! Three times a day, he serves home-cooked main dishes and fresh side items, all while adding extra preparations to suit the vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free needs of the campers and staff. And you’ve heard about the full-time baker who thrills everyone each day with cookies, breads, and a surprise flavor (today was mint chocolate chip) of fresh-baked muffins. It’s simply marvelous! Preparing authentic corn Tamales Today’s lunch was a great example of the lengths Rick will go to make the food at Rockbrook special, uniquely memorable, and outstanding. It was authentic, completely made from scratch, tamales, served with black beans, fresh guacamole, sour cream, chips and salad. Preparations began several days ago, as the crew first made all the salsas: a bright red Guajillo chili sauce and a green variety combining serrano peppers, tomatillos, garlic and onions. They also roasted chicken in advance, pulling it off the bone in shreds, along with frying a blend of onions, green and red bell peppers. Each tamale has to be made individually and by hand, and when you need 1200 tamales to feed the camp, it’s quite a project. One by one, a layer of tamale filling (a paste of fine cornmeal, lime, oil and stock) is spread on a corn husk, and chicken or cheese along with one of the salsas and peppers added before folding the husk into a pocket and carefully being layered into several large pots to be cooked by steaming. The result is many delicious, hot savory treats. Part of the fun of eating tamales is unwrapping them, revealing the yummy middle of the husk pocket- undoubtedly a new experience for some the campers and staff. I would bet, this will be remembered as a favorite meal of the session. Meanwhile, this morning girls were offered several adventure outings: a kayaking trip to the lower Green River, a canoeing trip to the French Broad, a hiking trip to Moore Cove in the Pisgah National Forest, rock climbing at Castle Rock, and a zip line tour through the course on the Rockbrook property. Such amazing opportunities to dive deep into the unique beauty of this part of western North Carolina!
rafting camp children child whitewater kayaking camp Child swimming with kick board at camp
This afternoon, cabin groups and their counselors planned special activities for their “cabin day.” One group had a relaxing float at the lake, while another chose an exhilarating ride on the zipline course. Two different groups took a hike to the top of Castle Rock to enjoy a view of the French Broad River valley. Two groups chose craft projects: one making tie-dye t-shirts, and another decorating compliment jars. One senior cabin planned an entire game show! -the wolves vs. the vampires in a competition to “Earn Lotso Respect.” All of the junior cabins loaded up the buses for a short trip over to Dolly’s Dairy bar, and for many their first taste of Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion or one of Dolly’s other camp flavors. It was an exciting evening for the full session Middlers and Seniors. Along with their counselors, all 101 of us rode up into the Forest for a dinner picnic, visit to Sliding Rock, and final stop at Dolly’s. We love this trip because it combines time together eating and playing games, top-of-your-lungs excitement on the natural water slide, and what one camper called “the best ice cream in the world.” For many girls, this uniquely North Carolina experience is a highlight of their session. Tomorrow we must say goodbye to our mini session campers, recalling fondly the fun we had together, and looking forward to our chance to be together again next summer. Thank you girls! Sliding Rock Camp Buddies You're reading " Uniquely Memorable " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

Daily Acts of Leadership

Leadership is a trait seen in numerous forms every day at camp. From the directors to the campers, everyone has the opportunity to be a leader in some way. Successful leadership characteristics start with the counselors, who role model patience, dedication, kindness, and teamwork. Counselors both live in cabins with campers and teach activities, so they have countless chances every day to demonstrate leadership to their peers and to their campers. In activities, counselors provide girls with opportunities to learn new things as well as facilitate appropriate challenges to help them build on skills they have learned throughout the session. In the cabin, counselors work together with their co-counselor(s) to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for their campers. girls eating muffins at camp After witnessing their counselor role models, campers are inspired to take initiative in various forms. Recently, several Junior campers have created clubs (Skit Club, Game Night, and Nature Fairy Club to name a few), and even made their own announcements to the whole dining hall at meals. This sense of ownership and belonging along with the courage to try something new is fundamental to the Rockbrook experience. Campers hone their leadership skills when they take initiative and give their creativity free rein, and camp provides a supportive, encouraging environment to allow this to happen. For some girls, they might make the leap from being a camper to being a counselor at some point in their Rockbrook career. This transition is called the Leadership Ladder, and it begins with CAs, who are the 15 year old campers. The CAs still take activities like the other campers, but their main responsibility is to plan and put on a big themed dinner and dance party called Banquet at the end of their session. CAs practice teamwork, decision making, and organization as they plan their Banquet, while at the same time still enjoying the fun opportunities for campers. The second step in the Leadership Ladder is Hi-Ups. These are the 16 year old girls, who are technically still campers, but they have more responsibilities that allow camp to function. For instance, they set and clean up the dining hall for meals, as well as begin to help in activities rather than take them. Yesterday, the Hi-Ups put on a special Twilight event: Wockbrook Water World! They planned, set up, ran, and cleaned up the whole event for the Mini session campers who are leaving on Thursday. Everybody loved the slip n slide, water guns, sno-cones, and water balloon fight! The Hi-Ups impressed us all with their initiative, enthusiasm, and work ethic, exemplifying true Rockbrook girls. After Hi-Ups come CITs, or Counselors-In-Training. The CITs are no longer campers as they are fully on the staff side of camp life. They live in cabins with 2 co-counselors and their campers, they help in activities, and they wash dishes after every meal. Besides learning how life is like as a counselor, CITs receive extra training with the directors to help ease the transition from camper to counselor. One activity the CITs did early in the session was about determining your natural leadership style, and what this means for working both individually and on a team. This allowed CITs time to reflect on their in- and out-of-camp experiences as leaders, and how they want to grow this session while working at Rockbrook. Campers, CITs, counselors, and directors alike all have chances to foster their leadership skills every day. Even though there are structured times and places for teamwork, patience, and critical thinking to grow at camp, it is the unexpected, self-led moments where leadership truly flourishes. You're reading " Daily Acts of Leadership " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

Birthday Celebrations at Rockbrook

Each summer we have campers who get to spend their special day at the best place on Earth – Rockbrook Camp! Having a birthday at camp is something unique and only applies to a handful of girls. At Rockbrook, we try to make each birthday special! First, counselors spend time creating a banner to be hung in the dining hall right next to the birthday girl. The birthday girl will walk in, see her special birthday banner, and her face will immediately light up with excitement. The banner also lets all of camp know it's a special day! Along with the banner, cabin mates usually create a birthday card and sometimes even craft gifts from various activities to give to the birthday girl.

Hi-Up counselors Mia (at left) and Grace enjoying the lake for Mia’s birthday!

The next step of the birthday celebration is for the kitchen to bake the birthday girl a cake! Counselors then take the time to put icing and candy on their camper's cake. At either lunch or dinner, the Hi-Ups will ring their song bell as the counselors walk out with the birthday cake in hand. The dining hall then breaks into a beautiful chorus of "Happy Birthday." Once the counselors reach the birthday girl she can blow out her candles and make a wish as the dining hall chants "stand up, stand up, stand up!" As the birthday girl stands, the campers chant "tell us when to stop" and then they begin counting. When the campers count up to the birthday girl's age she will wave her hands signaling them to stop! We then all cheer and the birthday girl and her cabin mates get to enjoy the delicious homemade birthday cake!

Camp dog Felix celebrated his 2nd birthday with an agility demonstration and a dog birthday cake!

Today is July 8th, and we happened to have two special birthday celebrations! First was to celebrate one of our fabulous Hi-Up counselors! Mia turned 22 today and was celebrated with a three layered cake covered in candy, along with a dance break at lunch where we all got to dance to Taylor Swift's song "22." This evening we celebrated the second birthday of our beloved camp dog Felix! During twilight, Felix showed us all of his wonderful tricks he learned at doggy school. He rolled over, gave high fives, and even jumped over a hurdle and through a hula hoop! The crowed cheered and continued the camp tradition of singing "Happy Birthday." Felix then got a dog-friendly cake of his own – he really enjoyed licking the icing! We ended Felix's birthday celebration by eating dog-shaped cookies the kitchen staff so kindly made for dessert!

We are so lucky to live in such a joyful and supportive community here at Rockbrook, where we can celebrate occasions large and small. Whether you hit a certain number of bullseyes, swam a specific number of mermaid laps, or you are having a birthday at camp, there are always fun and exciting celebrations in store. You're reading " Birthday Celebrations at Rockbrook " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .


Feeling the Joys of Nature

Sunday mornings begin at a more relaxed pace compared to the rest of the week. We all sleep in an extra few minutes and then arrive for breakfast in pajamas… no worries about being dressed with cabin chores done beforehand. Also on Sunday, it’s been a long standing treat to serve fresh donuts along with our breakfast, having a little taste of the outside world. Then there’s cabin time for changing into our uniforms (white with a red tie) before assembling on the hill for flag raising. The Hi-Ups do the honors of presenting and raising the flag. Immediately afterwards, everyone walks down the lower line of cabins to the wooded amphitheater where we hold our Chapel program. nature camp program Today the Middler campers and some of their counselors presented a program on "Nature." Like all of our chapel programs, this gathering was not a religious ceremony, but instead an opportunity to identify and reflect upon a core value or experience we all share at camp. In the past, we’ve held chapel programs on friendship, kindness, gratitude, community, and compassion for example. This morning we took time to consider our relationship with the natural world. We sang "Tell me Why," a slightly modified lyric to "Country Roads," (“Almost Heaven, Rockbrook Camp..”) and "What a Wonderful World,” accompanied by Tunde on guitar and Isa playing ukulele. We heard short readings on Nature selected by campers Sidney, E.A., Amelia, and Elizabeth. Camper K.P. read a short reflection she wrote about her feelings in Nature and its importance to all of us. She said,
Nature is all around us. It is a big part of Rockbrook and it has a role in almost everything we do here. Rafting the Nantahala, hiking to Castle Rock, even dinner on the hill: Nature is a way of life around Rockbrook and we all live it. Sometimes it is calming to just sit on the Hillside Lodge porch and look down at the garden, watch campers play in the creek, and see the girls splashing around in the lake. The serene setting of Rockbrook on a North Carolina mountain surrounded by trees and species of plants is the nicest place I know.
girls in camp uniforms Sarah echoed this sentiment by reading the illustrated children’s book, “You Are Never Alone” by Elin Kelsey. This is a wonderful reminder of how nature touches almost every aspect of our lives, that “this beautiful planet showers [us] with gifts” in so many ways. The book illustrates how nature supports and at times heals us, how it stimulates our emotions, sense of wonder and imagination. Quite literally, Nature helps us be human. Much like what we enjoy at Rockbrook, it is a “warm, supportive, community that is always there for [us].” Sarah added how lucky we are at camp to experience the plants and animals of the forest (yes, even the “sprickets”) so intimately, feeling the joys of Nature without a care in the world. This message really resonated with the girls, many of them nodding their heads in agreement as she read the book. Good stuff! Lunch was another incredible meal prepared by Rick and his kitchen crew- roasted, dry-rubbed chicken breasts, fingerling potatoes, and honey-glazed, oven-roasted Brussel sprouts, with fresh blackberries and whipped cream for dessert. Amazing! The food at Rockbrook always gets high marks, and with meals like this, you can easily see why!
playing corn hole with real corn donut on a string watermelon rubber band
Our all-camp afternoon activity was a wild carnival of events down at the landsports field. With fun music pumping, and different snacks to keep us going, the girls enjoyed group games and challenges related to the theme of “food.” For example, one event challenged the girls to eat a doughnut dangling from the end of a string without using their hands. Similarly, another challenge required the girls to peel a banana (first cut in half) using only their feet. We used actual pieces of corn on the cob to play games of corn hole. The girls took turns making “pies” of whipped cream to toss at their counselors. There was a “grit pit,” a literal pool of warm grits, to experience. There were cookies to decorate, and beaded composting “worms” to make. One game was particularly fun, a challenge to use only rubber bands to break open a watermelon. They girls worked together stretching two or three rubber bands at a time over each watermelon, gradually adding to the band’s total pressure. There was only a small crack forming to warn them before the melon exploded to bits leaving a ball of sticky rubber bands behind. It was very exciting, and the kind of big crazy fun, we love at camp. goofy camp kids You're reading " Feeling the Joys of Nature " by rbc , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

A Place of Belonging

It’s not too difficult to see that the girls at Rockbrook this session are having a great time. If you visit camp, all the action is what you first notice: the horseback riding at the barn, the rock climbing at Castle Rock, the kayak roll sessions in the lake, the spinning pottery wheels, clicking looms, nimble scissors, and busy knitting needles. Likewise, your first glance at the photo gallery leaves the same impression. The girls are engaged in so many ways, happily active, smiling and chatting with each other. friends bonding at summer camp That’s all good stuff, but on another level, there’s something remarkable also going on. It’s the culture of Rockbrook. It’s the way the girls treat each other, the assumptions and values that subtly guide them. It’s how it feels to be at Rockbrook, living and playing together in this tight-knit community. It’s tricky describing this culture because it’s certainly multifaceted and complicated, but one aspect I think worth noting is the sense of belonging girls enjoy at Rockbrook. Almost immediately after they arrive, girls are comfortably in groups around camp, paying attention to each other, including each other no matter what’s going on. Cabin groups provide the backbone of this feeling, but it’s present everywhere. Free from the competitive social and academic pressures of school, this all-girls environment is devoted foremost to the quality relationships we have with each other. Simply put, the culture of Rockbrook, and by extension what it means to be a “Rockbrook Girl,” begins with being “nice” to each other. summer camp teen friends Thinking about the traditional “Rockbrook prayer” recited during the “Goodnight Circle,” programming staff member Savannah put it this way:
The culture here at Rockbrook is one of optimism, respect, love, and altruism. The amount of kindness is astounding; people are always seeking out ways to brighten someone else's day in any manner. Each positive encounter, no matter how small, can always somehow be traced back to at least one aspect of the prayer. The message encourages girls to stand up for what is right, to be their best selves no matter who is watching (or not watching), and to aim towards making the camp community even better than it already is. It allows us to feel a sense of support unlike anything else. Campers are more than willing to take opportunities to “do a little good” by writing a friend a sweet note, picking up a piece of litter on the ground, or walking a younger camper to her activity. Everyday at camp is filled with these small, sweet moments.
kids playing outdoors at summer camp I’ve written about why girls love camp , and there are certainly many reasons. But perhaps most importantly, Rockbrook is a place where girls feel they belong, where who they really are (and not who they think they’re supposed to be) matters. At camp, there’s mutual caring. It’s a place where we all value and rely on each other without any reference to our age, our intellect, or our looks. Nobody has to say it, but for these girls, Rockbrook is “a place of their own” where they feel safe and happy.  And that feeling becomes the foundation for all of our relationships at camp, the root of the friendships, and the spark for personal growth. More than ever these days, young people need certain experiences to overcome the forces of abstraction and isolation they face. Just think, for example, how all that screen time impacts their ability to communicate face-to-face, to engage the inevitable imperfections of the real world (compared to the edited and filtered online version of things), and to be actively creative and confidently engaged. They need a place of belonging where they can practice being more connected to those around them, where they can play, encounter new challenging experiences, and grow. Thankfully, Rockbrook is such a place. girls relaxing at summer camp You're reading " A Place of Belonging " by Jeff Carter , originally posted on Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls . Connect with Rockbrook on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram .

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