“Sit beside a mountain stream, See her waters rise,
Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies….”
Tucked away in seclusion, next to a peaceful creek in the woods, is the out camping site Rockstock. It is one of my most favorite serene places to visit at Cheley. Rockstock is a retreat for campers and staff alike to be immersed in a natural environment among friends.
Faith Evans, a former out camping counselor at Cheley, established Rockstock 26 years ago in 1985. Her intentions were to create an out camping program with the outdoor elements of backapcking, where the less adventurous campers would have the opportunity to grow and learn self-sufficiency in the outdoors. These campers would learn to cook gourmet meals, build their own shelters, and work together while gaining an appreciation for nature. Rockstock was designed to be a site where counselors could develop and learn new skills as well. Counselors that typically stay in camp for programs have the chance to experience nature and gain outdoor living skills. For out camping counselors, this is a place to be mentored by the Rockstock director and coached in developing their out camping programs. The support staff is also invited out for meals and to experience this out camping haven. It also provides the opportunity for campers to practice hospitality as they prepare all the meals and give tours to the guests.
It is an evolving program, in which each new director adds a personal touch, but keeps the basic principles at heart. Eric Gershon, the current Rockstock director, strives to continue Rockstock’s legacy as Faith had intended. Eric runs an excellent program that campers cannot wait to be a part of. When asked why Rockstock is so appealing to the campers, Eric attributed it to the unique games, the hands on experience, and most importantly the chance to play in the water. Campers get to play in the creek, construct bridges, and float through the rapids on tubes. “I like tubing down the river and making our own food. It helps us know how to survive in the mountains,” a current camper states. Another camper likes building his own shelter and playing “Gaga”, a dodge ball game unique to Rockstock. All activities the campers enjoy, they enjoy doing together. Eric assigns teams for all tasks at Rockstock, whether it is fire building, cooking, or building shelters. Part of the Rockstock program is to help kids interact and create relationships with peers. “I strive to create a sense of community within the campers that will not only last through the summer, but beyond camp as well,” Eric Gershon states.