Rosemary’s Story

Hi! My name is Rosemary Cohen, and I’m originally from Washington, DC. I went to college in Pennsylvania at Haverford College. During the first few months of my first year at college, I was finding my community on campus–the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, the Sneetches. A senior teammate of mine who I greatly admired and who had interned at High Rocks, was leading a fall break service trip to High Rocks. I signed up to go, thus beginning my journey with High Rocks, and sparking my ever-growing love for West Virginia.

Two years later, I received funding from Haverford College to come back to High Rocks in the summer of 2016 as a summer intern. I arrived in Pocahontas County and met the other interns, an incredible group of people, many of whom were alumni of High Rocks camps and programs. My intern group became very close, and we worked hard to contribute as much as we could to High Rocks in a few short months. At New Beginnings, I assisted in teaching a science class, accompanied our campers up the mountain on Hike Day, and played frisbee on the campground field, among many other things. At Camp Steele, I co-taught a course called Arts and Activism, harvested garlic, and hung out with my podlets.

For me, camp was full of contradictions. It was both exhausting and energizing as well as both too long and too short. I learned new things about myself, improved my creative and critical thinking skills, and learned quickly how to adapt to almost any situation. Camp was such an invaluable experience for me, and after the summer, I had a new direction in my life: working with young people.

On June 23rd, I turned twenty-one years old. Also on June 23rd, devastating floods hit West Virginia. At camp, we lost power and water. Around the state, including in Greenbrier and Nicholas Counties (where most of our campers lived), people were losing their houses and many people lost their lives. The floods directly affected most if not all of our campers. After New Beginnings ended, the Americorps at High Rocks (including me) were deployed to join national disaster response teams in hard-hit communities in White Sulphur Springs, Rainelle, and Richwood. We mucked houses, demo’d drywall, and sorted supplies for community members. Helping out with disaster relief showed me just how resilient West Virginians are, and how communities run so deep and strong in Appalachia. This was the work that called me to keep returning to West Virginia after the summer of 2016.

I returned that fall to lead the Haverford College fall break service trip, during which we worked on constructing the high tunnel at the High Rocks lodge. The next year, I visited High Rocks again to volunteer at High Rocks’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day Overnight, where I co-facilitated an anti-racist training, which I hope to do again this year.

Now, I’m settled into a cozy apartment in Pocahontas County, where I’m serving as an Americorps member at High Rocks. I split my time between High Rocks for Girls programming and programming at the Hub. And I’m over the moon to finally be living in West Virginia. I spend my free time hunting for fossils in the creekbeds of Pocahontas County, dancing Zumba at the Marlinton Community Wellness Center, and writing letters to my loved ones, most of whom are scattered across the east coast.

Written By: Rosemary Cohen

Date: Sunday, October 17th, 2018

Edited By: Sarah Mansheim

Skyler’s Story

New Beginnings

My High Rocks life began in 2014 with New Beginnings camp. Then I was 13, still somewhat timid and naive about the world, and unsure of what I was walking myself into. Two weeks in the Appalachian mountains in a county I’ve never been in, with adults I didn’t know so well, and girls I’ve never met. Of course my older friends told me that this place was incredible, and if I went I’d be glad if I did. I was shaking with both excitement and fear.

I remember my mom giving me lectures the entire ride to the grounds. “You know that bugs are awful this year, and you have plenty of spray.” “You know how you burn you’d better uses lot of sunscreen.” “Remember if you ever feel uncomfortable, you call us and we’ll come back.” I took all of these words in, not knowing if I’d have to use them, but, just in case. (I never saw it, but my grandmother likes to tell me that my mother cried when she returned home from dropping me off.)

The campground felt overwhelmingly big the first time I came into it. Open fields, lots of walking pathways and classrooms. And buildings that I would later learn were our sleeping arrangements, our “pods.” I checked the list of names of the girls to see who I’d recognize. There were several names I knew, and they all stayed in the same pod as me. My counselor was a friend I’d known since childhood. There were other adults there, many between 18-22, and they introduced themselves to all of us. Once I set up my living space, I was invited to join the rest of the group in name games in the middle of one of the open fields. My fear lessened and my excitement grew.

I spent the next two weeks doing things I never thought I would do. Dancing in the rain, enjoying learning about science and nature, hiking, getting my nails painted, horse riding, swimming in the river; there was never a moment that I was bored. When we weren’t learning, we were creating, or telling stories, or dancing, or cleaning the campground, making up new games and songs for ourselves. The books I packed with me were left unread, and my voice was left hoarse after singing at the top of my lungs for two weeks. Never once did I think about calling home.

I still remember those campfires. My FIRST campfire: learning all the songs, deciding who to sit by, trying to avoid the smoke coming off the fire. All the adults in the campfire were whispering back and forth, deciding what songs to do next. Someone would laugh and wouldn’t tell us what about. The Junior Counselors taught us the “special dance” we do around campfire, and we all danced together for the first time. Everyone always had something they wanted to share or read. The best part was singing “the camp lullaby” and waiting for someone to say goodnight. It’s our most special tradition to this day.

I opened up so much in those two weeks. I became less shy, I sang louder, I danced harder, I acted with people the way I acted by myself. I was so terrified to do that for so long. I quickly learned that the adults that were there were some of the best people I’d ever meet in my life. They were caring, they listened, and they did everything in their power to help you. I became comfortable enough to tell them everything about myself. Things I never talked about before suddenly came up in general conversation. And I was able to learn that feelings are okay. If you need to cry, cry. Laugh, scream, bawl your eyes out, sing, ball your fists up and release them until you’re not angry anymore. Feel, as much as you need to. I spent that two weeks releasing everything I’d held in, and they were always there to help me out. I still confide in them, and they’ve always been my rocks.

As all things do, that two weeks ended, and our parents came to pick us up. The day we all went home was filled with hugs and songs and exchanging phone numbers and addresses. As we left that day, everyone was glad to see their parents but also sad to go. There was a line of all the counselors and interns and staff members waiting to give hugs and say goodbye. Sarah Riley hugged me and said “Remember, you can’t drive yourself crazy trying to be perfect. Don’t be such a perfectionist, that’s my job.” And every bit of composure I had was gone. I did what I had been told for week was okay – I cried. I bawled my eyes out the entire ride home. Of course I missed my parents and was excited to see them, but I couldn’t leave this place that had let me grow so much in such a short period of time. It was another home, a sanctuary, a perfect place, how could I leave it? The adults sang “the goodbye song” as we exited the campground. “Goodbye Skyler, Goodbye Skyler, Goodbye Skyler, we hope to see you soon…”

I will graduate in May 2019, and this thought has made me consider my past and things that have been a part of my life. This will be my last year as a High Rocks girl. I look back at that girl who started there five years ago and how much we’ve both changed for the better. I have made so many memories and connections with High Rocks and its members and I am forever grateful for that opportunity. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to not be scared. This is going to be such an incredible experience for you, and you are going to march through this, and everything else. I wish this kind of experience, whether through High Rocks or anything else, on

every single girl. To give them the confidence they need, to give them another family, to let them grow and make memories, and cherish it for as long as they can. I already dread the day when I have to leave High Rocks as a girl. I can already hear my last goodbye song. Goodbye, High Rocks, I know I’ll be back soon.

  

 

Written By: Skyler McCallister

Date: Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Claudia

My High Rocks journey started a little over year and half ago when, as a junior at Haverford, I was looking for a fruitful way to spend the coming summer. I was scrolling through the Haverford website when I came across a listing for the High Rocks Summer Internship. The more I read about High Rocks the more interested I became. One month later, I was going to spend the summer in Hillsboro, West Virginia. I arrived at 123 Elm Street on May 31st, 2017 to be greeted by my seven housemates who anxiously awaited my arrival as I was the last intern to get to the house. The next morning my High Rocks journey officially began. That first day changed everything. I heard the High Rocks story. I met Renae, Dana, Janet, Liz, Sarah and Susan and a couple of days later I met my first group of High Rocks participants. Together with that first group of girls we hiked down a mountain. It was during that long, and rainy afternoon that I first started to connect to High Rocks through those amazing young women. I fell about 25 times, which hurt, but I got to watch as the girls, using a map and a compass, led the interns down the mountain.

It wasn’t too long after that that New Beginnings was in full swing. Here I got to work as the Administrative Intern which meant that I got to do a little bit of everything for the next two weeks. I have to admit that first camp was challenging but it was those sparks that lead me to fall in love with this place and these people. It wasn’t too long before Camp Steele started. Coming into the second camp of the summer I felt more confident and prepared. I’d gotten into my groove and understood my role better after the junior counselors had taken the time to show me what it means to be part of the High Rocks family. As quickly as the summer had started it ended and it seemed like my High Rocks journey had come to an end.

I went back to Haverford and while I was happy there, my heart longed to be back in West Virginia. That feeling led to me coming back as part of a Haverford Fall Break Trip. I spent a week with some of my peers volunteering at High Rocks and it was during this trip that I officially decided to come back to High Rocks in September as a year-round AmeriCorps Member. I was excited at the prospect of coming back in September but was reminded of camp by a High Rocks girl. In talking to her, I was reminded that camp is the heart of High Rocks and it was the thing that made me fall in love in the first place. That in combination with a feeling that I wasn’t done learning and growing through my time in West Virginia led me to repeat the internship a second time around. Like the first summer, I felt happy to have been here and couldn’t wait to do it again but differently to the first time I knew when I’d be back. On September 2nd, 2018 I moved to Hillsboro, West Virginia and on September 17th I started as the AmeriCorps for High Rocks Academy for Girls. I’ve loved being a part of High Rocks. Every High Rocks girl I meet pushes me forward, reminds me why I am here and inspires me. I am constantly amazed when I see them navigate the world around them with grace, perseverance and courage.

 

 

Written by: Claudia Rivera

When: September 26, 2018

Edited by: Renae Hall

Welcome to the New Blog!

            Welcome to the first blog post of many! This blog will be run by the Youth Advisory Board of High Rocks and every month we will try to get a staff member, AmeriCorps, or High Rocks girl to write a blog entry. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing, editing, and coming up with ideas for the blog! At the end of each blog you can find who wrote it, the date it was written, and who edited it; this is for your convenience in case you ever want to cite our lovely posts. With that being said let’s jump right in and get this show on the road!

High Rocks offers summer camps for young girls and while these summer camps are one of our main events for our girls we offer other opportunities, such as overnights! These overnights usually are paired with a community service project the next morning and are held at one of the three High Rocks locations. We invite any past participants as well as current participants to join us for these fun events. This weekend, September 28, we will be hosting our annual Back to School Overnight. This is the first overnight since camp and personally one of my favorites.

This overnight is held at the lodge and transportation is provided by the wonderful staff and AmeriCorps of High Rocks. This overnight is linked with the Possum Trot, which High Rocks helps out with every year. Our girls can participate in the run, cheer on the runner’s, check in runners, sell garlic (grown fresh in our gardens,) or sell jewelry. As you can see there’s plenty to do. Girls trade off jobs and even get breaks giving them the experience of working a job. When girls do this they get volunteer hours.

During the time of the Possum Trot there is also the Roadkill Cook-Off happening! If girls would like they can walk around during their break and look at what all the marvelous vendors have to sell. This experience is one you can’t get anywhere else and I highly recommend that current High Rocks participants join us for a wonderful time

 

Written by: Stella Neeley

Edited by: Renae Hall

Written on: September 25, 2018

High Rocks Academy for Girls is Recruiting

It is officially recruiting season for High Rocks Academy for Girls! Know a middle or high school girl that is looking for an adventure this summer? Then camp at High Rocks is perfect for her! If you know a girl that would like to apply to High Rocks or would like to recommend someone for High Rocks, please contact Kendra at (304)653-4891 or admissions@highrocks.org.

Help Plan the 2016 Our Children, Our Future Student Leadership Institute

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*Credit for Photo to Our Children, Our Future

High Rocks is helping host a Student Policy Summit this summer, where students will make their own plans and priorities for what needs to change in this state. Those top priorities can become bills in the next Legislative session, and your voice as a young person can become WV law. Participate from start to finish! Who’s in?

“Every time positive social change happens in American history, students and young people are leading the way. In that spirit, we are proud to beteaming up with high school students, college students, young workers, young entrepreneurs, youth development organizations, and allies to plan our first ever student-led Summer Institute.”

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

High Rocks is seeking AmeriCorps Members and Interns!

Open Positions:

6 Month AmeriCorps Position at The Hub

Location: Lewisburg, WV
Start Date: March 1, 2016 or March 16, 2016
Description:. The Hub is a drop in teen center run by High Rocks in Lewisburg, WV. We’re looking for a member to run programming and be a mentor to young people. Members serving at The Hub, our connected student cafe in downtown Lewisburg, will serve as a mentor to youth participants, create and facilitate structured activities focused on art, music, entrepreneurship and empowerment, and support the day-to-day activities of The Hub.

6 Month AmeriCorps Position at Trillium Arts Collective

Location: Lewisburg, WV
Start Date: March 1, 2016 or March 16, 2016
Description: This position provides a unique opportunity to assist a non-profit arts organization that has been in Lewisburg, WV for 32 years. Stage production, volunteer recruitment and management, marketing, writing, graphic design, editing and media skills are useful. Computer skills and experience in social-networking is required. Trillium will provide training as needed. The AmeriCorps member attends and takes minutes at committee and board meetings which will provide full immersion in the workings of this non-profit arts organization. This position is ideal for recent college grads or someone ready for a change.

6 Month AmeriCorps Position at Friends Of the Lower Greenbrier River

Location: Alderson, WV
Start Date: March 1, 2016 or March 16, 2016
Description: Friends of the Lower Greenbrier Watershed Organization (FOLGR) will engage one AmeriCorps member to serve in Monroe, Summers, and Greenbrier Counties. The member will implement curriculum for the watershed and environmental educational programs developed by FOLGR, involving in-class educational activities and field-based activities, such as water quality monitoring and macro-invertebrates identification and assessment. The member will strive to strengthen our organizational capacity in the watershed community by developing volunteer recruitment and retention strategies and by developing service opportunities and community service events that engage community members to improve their communities.

Summer teaching Intern – Camp

Location: Hillsboro, WV
Start Date: June 1, 2016
Description:  Each summer, High Rocks becomes a hands-on, hearts-on classroom for college students from around the country. Interns gain direct experience mentoring teens and also participate fully in the program as theory builders and analysts learning about social change, women’s issues, and Appalachian studies in partnership with young people, staff and volunteers. Service in communities is enriched and complemented by a series of seminars that invite interns to explore regional history, development, theory, media and art. Each intern supports staff in summer programs (including two residential summer camps), and also completes an individual project and an intern group project. The internship has two main components–seminars and hands-on experience working with teenagers. This two-part approach is designed to deepen the experiences of the summer interns so that they leave High Rocks with theoretical as well as practical knowledge about the region and state, the challenges facing girls, ethical social change, and effective community service. Housing is provided and meals are provided while summer camps are in session. Interns also receive a stipend for the summer. Individual interns have, in some cases, worked with their colleges to secure academic credit.

Summer Teaching Intern – The Hub

Location: Lewisburg, WV
Start Date: June 1, 2016
Description: High Rocks believes in youth spaces—places where young people can be comfortable expressing themselves. At High Rocks we find great value in creating safe environments for youth to interact with supportive adults and to face intellectual, emotional, and physical challenges. Our youth centers will facilitate our award-winning educational programming and allow for more youth engagement in the community at large. Interns will support programming and daily operations at High Rocks Youth Centers. They will create, implement, and facilitate workshops, events, and other programming based on High Rocks curriculum. They will strive to create an environment of learning and inspiration.

Summer Grow Appalachia Intern

Location: Hillsboro, WV
Start Date: June 1, 2016
Description: High Rocks Grow Appalachia supports more than 30 gardens in and around Pocahontas County, WV. We are dedicated to helping mountain families plant a healthy future for themselves and their communities. We provide them with skills and resources to grow sustainable, nutritious food, teaching them how to prepare and preserve food in a healthy way, empowering them to share their knowledge in the community, creating programs to provide food to elderly and disabled residents in need, and developing local farmers’ markets to sell surplus food. The Grow Appalachia intern will serve with the Grow Appalachia team at High Rocks to increase vegetable production and local sales using organic practices. They will help increase the community’s access to locally grown vegetables and build relationships and systems that strengthen the local food economy.

Summer Wellness Team Intern

Location: Hillsboro, WV
Start Date: June 1, 2016
Description: Camps are the heart of High Rocks. Our summer Nutrition, Wellness, and Garden intern team will serve as mentors, role models, and cooks during the two camps: New Beginnings for 7th grade girls (12 days) and Camp Steele for 8th-12th graders (15 days). During camp they will work as a team with the Executive Chef to plan and prepare nutritional meals, work in the High Rocks camp garden with teens, and lead wellness activities.

Year Round AmeriCorps Member – College Access and High Rocks For Girls

Location: Hillsboro, WV
Start Date:  September 19, 2016
Description: High Rocks AmeriCorps members improve academic achievement by providing area youth with programs that support them both to succeed in school, and also discover skills and interests that keep them engaged in learning within and beyond the classroom. AmeriCorps members provide direct service in all the key components of the High Rocks programming.

Year Round AmeriCorps Member – High Rocks Media Program and Youth Community Action

Location: Hillsboro, WV
Start Date: September 19, 2016
Description: High Rocks is seeking one full time AmeriCorps member to facilitate our Youth Community Action and Media programs. They will serve as mentors to youth, lead weekly community action meetings for young people, help facilitate youth to develop their voice and find social issues they are passionate about, bring young people on trips to the state legislature and other events, and organize and facilitate media workshops.

Year Round AmeriCorps Member – The Hub

Location: Lewisburg, WV
Start Date: September 19, 2016
Description: The Hub is a drop in teen center run by High Rocks in Lewisburg, WV. We’re looking for a member to run programming and be a mentor to young people. Members serving at The Hub, our connected student cafe in downtown Lewisburg, will serve as a mentors to youth participants, create and facilitate structured activities focused on art, music, entrepreneurship and empowerment, and support the day-to-day activities of The Hub.

For more information or to apply for a position contact shelby@highrocks.org or call (304)653-4891

Legacy Fund Update

What a great start to 2016! We are more than halfway to our goal! We have raised $43,806 between the online fundraiser and checks received here in the lodge, which leverages $73,850 from our matching fund donor in Legacy Fund match. That’s a total of $117,656 for the Legacy Fund in total.

70 people and families have donated to the fund. THANK YOU!!!!

We have $60,150 remaining in matching funds we can get for High Rocks with the support of this community.

55% raised! Thank you for loving the High Rocks.

Front Page News!

Steele Studio made it to the front page of the Nicholas Chronicle for the jewelry sale we hosted during the Hometown Holiday Marketplace in Richwood. Thanks everyone who came out to the event!

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