What’s So Special About Today?

Have you ever had a birthday at Camp Tawonga? Everyday at Tawonga is special, but for campers have their birthday at Camp, we make their day extra special!


Tradition is an important part of Tawonga’s culture, and the way we celebrate birthdays at Camp is one of our most deep-rooted traditions. Counselors and fellow bunkmates help the “birthday camper” have an extra special day, sometimes with decorations in the bunk or a special birthday hat. Then, after dinner and just before song session, our entire camp community celebrates the birthdays of the day together. One of the directors comes onto the microphone and invites anyone in our community who’s having their birthday to the front of the Dining Hall where they will participate in a classic call-and-response shtick: 


Director: “It’s a special day here at Camp Tawonga, I am going to invite_____ to tell us what’s so special about today! _____, what’s so special about today?”


Camper: “It’s my birthday!”


All of Camp: “It’s their birthday!” 


Director: “Have you ever had a birthday at Camp Tawonga before?”


Camper: “No…”


All of Camp: “They’ve never had a birthday at Camp Tawonga before!”


Director: “On this special day how old are you turning?”


Camper:- “I’m 13!”


All of Camp: “13 years old!”


Director: “Well in just a moment this entire Dining Hall will be singing a rousing, raucous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ but before that (All of Camp: Ahhh!) you will be blowing out the candles on your very own personal and private glittering glob of gooey glucose, but before that(All of Camp: Ahhh!) you will be making two wishes… One for yourself and for the whole world!


After they blow out the candles and the entire Dining Hall sings “Happy Birthday,” the birthday camper get hoisted by their counselors in a chair bar mitzvah-style, counting one hoist for each year up to the number of years they have just turned! They then head to the Back Porch of the Dining Hall to enjoy their delicious big bowl of ice cream with their bunkmates (it’s not actually personal and private, it’s big enough for an entire bunk to share). 


Traditions like these are what distinguishes Camp from “the real world,” where magical moments are made even more magical by living them in a communal setting. There are certain “camp-isms” and shticks that stand the test of time and connect Tawongans across generations. Every Tawongan, young and old, knows the birthday shtick and feels an emotional response when experiencing it.


Check out photos from the day and hope you get to have a birthday at Camp Tawonga soon!