Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

Rocky River Girls Forever

*This post is a re-run, but it’s how I feel every summer so I thought it was worth revisiting. (Plus, I was uber-busy this week and didn’t have time to post anything fresh. It’s also the same reason I haven’t called my mother back yet. Sorry Mom–I’m on it!).


I am grateful to my parents for a lot of things, but I’ve always been extra thankful that they sent me to summer camp. Eight times. Either they really, really loved me, or they really wanted to be rid of me a few weeks a year.

They drove me out to a little town in the Texas hill country called Wimberley, which was on the news once for having the cleanest air in America. It’s the kind of town where women with soft voices and big hair rotate homemade door wreaths every season and clear kitchen messes with gingham dish towels. It is charming.

photo credit:

My camp was called Rocky River Ranch, and you had to drive over a cattle guard to get inside. It was on the bank of the Blanco River, which was crystal clear and always cold despite the crazy Texas heat. We slept on rickety bunkbeds in small wood cabins. Some of us even stayed in covered wagons. It wasn’t glamorous–it was rustic–but in my mind, it was where heaven and the hills held hands. That’s not my line; I stole it from the brochure. But as a kid, I really believed it.

We rode horses, and made lanyards and did eggbeaters in the pool. We watched movies at the outdoor theater down the road and found our way back by flashlight. We had no boys to distract us, no reason to fix our hair into anything other than messy ponytails. There was no internet access or cell phones–they didn’t exist yet–so the highlight of our day was mail call when we’d we’d race up the hill in hopes of getting a letter from our moms, our best friend or the boy who promised he would write.

I still have every single one.

Meals were eaten in a wood-paneled dining hall called The Grubstake. We drank sweet tea out of galvanized pitchers and ate things like fried chicken and mashed potatoes without worrying about clogged arteries and fuller thighs. After we ate, we sat around the table and sang.

I went out to a friend’s lakehouse in Connecticut this weekend, and I guess that’s why I got to reminiscing about my camper days. Sitting on the edge of a quiet lake reminded me so much of my time in Wimberley. As summer inches to its close, it’s hard for me not to dream backward about the best summers I ever had. I love the city lights, but they’re no competition for stars.
I went to summer camp well over 20 years ago. It’s a different time now, and I hope those Texas girls have the kind of experience we had back then.
I hope they didn’t add a computer station to the mess hall.
I hope they’re stripped of their little pink cell phones at the front gate.
I hope they write to their mamas, not on Facebook, but on real stationary.

I hope they still sing.

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • Kerri
    My heart is full reading this. I mean that. You have evoked something very, very beautiful here. Thanks for sharing :)
  • victoria | vmac+cheese
    I love this post. So, true story, pretty sure I had a few girl scout retreats at Rocky River. And you described Wimberley perfectly. I was a summer camp girl too, and I long for those days. My camp was on the Frio River, not far from Garner State Park. There are many things I don’t miss about Texas, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for those hot afternoons spent swimming in the Frio. Sigh.
  • A Brit Greek
    Awww, i love this post Jenn… We don’t really have summer camp in the UK, well put it this way, i spent summers making my mum tear her hair out instead! I sure hope the young ‘uns are stripped of their phones and anything techy…I was thinking that I use the computer to send emails so often that i’ve forgotten how to write a decent letter to my friends/loved ones across the pond.
    Lovely photos!
  • Vanessa@Luxuria
    Wow! there were no such things as summer camps in the UK when I was growing up unless you belonged to the Girl Guides (which I didn’t). It sounds truly blissful.Your pictures also look wonderfully relaxing also.
  • Mariel Torres
    Sounds like the grandest time darling… by the way, that last picture is incredibly beautiful!
  • Lauren Zabaneh
    OH MY GOSH. You just wrote out my summer camps days in this post! I mean, we did the exact same things. I sing the songs I learned at camp to my kids now and they love it! We used to do this thing where the camp leaders (it was also an all girls camp) would grease a watermelon with loads of crisco and put it in the pool. Talk about fun! (isn’t that just ridiculous?) And we would race to see who could get it to the other side of the pool first. It was unbelievably hard and gross. It took weeks to get that crisco out of our hair. ick. Yet, I miss it. This was so beautifully written Jenn. I so agree with you…there is still nothing like getting a hand written card or letter. Hugs!
  • Mrs. Ham
    i love that last photo! unreal! hope you dont mind if i visit your blog!
  • Sara
    Beautiful pictures!! :) Kiss,
  • Sandi
    I love this post.
    I loved summer camp, you’ve expressed my thoughts exactly.
  • Anonymous
    I am a former camper at Rocky River Ranch, who later became a counselor, and I can tell you for certain that both RRR and Wimberley have not lost their charm or given in to technology. I still go out there sometimes, and although they have made improvements, RRR is still the home that it was when it was founded over half a century ago.
  • Anonymous
    You should go to one of the Great Escape weekends and see Rocky River Ranch! I work there currently and love it! No computer stations, plenty of letters (though some are emailed to the directors who print them out and give them to the girls), and phones are not allowed! Everything you described is still how I think of RRR now.
  • FripperyVintage
    Very cute post! I grew up not far from where you went to camp so I have a lot of the same memories and now I’m looking forward to sending my son to camp for the first time.
    • Jenn P.
      That area is so wonderful. I miss it!
  • Party Box Design
    oh my gosh, i love this post…. so so sweet and I love your photos with it!
    • Jenn P.
      Thank you!
  • Katie
    Great post! I am sitting in an office wishing I were in Wimberly right now! Such fun times. If I remember correctly, it was “chicken fried chicken” :)
    • Jenn P.
      I owe my RRR experiences to you, girl!! And yes– I believe you are right!