Scenic view of trees at camp

Pine Cove Origins: Birthday Rap

by Karissa Pitaniello


We take birthdays pretty seriously here! If you’re at camp on your birthday, you always need to keep an eye out for skit characters and alternate dimensions! The Birthday Rap is a beloved and crazy fun tradition that causes some campers to even plan their week of camp around their birthday so they can get the full experience (and so their cabin can eat dessert, of course).

Picture this: you had a blast all morning at activity classes with your friends and now you’re eating lunch (tater tots included, hopefully) and watching a hilarious skit unfold. When suddenly, crazy music starts playing and two random characters run on stage. They start telling everyone a story about how they were sucked into an alternate dimension (NO WAY!). While they were there, they saw something crazy that was making funky noises and motions. After they went closer to it, they realized it was speaking human language! And you wouldn’t believe what it told them. It told them that it was YOUR birthday! You run onto stage as the entire camp starts singing (or screaming) along to the Birthday Rap!

You might be thinking to yourself, “Self, where did this tradition come from? And how has it changed throughout the years of camp?” You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers!

Jeff “Backfire” Lay, Pine Cove’s Senior Director of Staff Support, let us know that, “The Birthday Rap has gone through many ‘adaptations’ over the years. It was pretty straight forward in the early 90’s, with things like ‘it was speaking human language.’ Then, things like, ‘like my mom always used to say… not every day is your birthday,’ came in the late 90s at the Shores, which then morphed into even more craziness in the 2000’s.”

So where did this seriously fun tradition come from in the first place? That’s where Daniel “Ambush” Wallace comes in! 

Daniel came to Pine Cove in 1990 after working at a different summer camp during his college summers. He was the Ranch Director until the summer of 1995, when he became the Kids and Youth Ministries Director. It was in this role that he would begin planning the Shores, before becoming the Senior Director of Camps in 2002. Daniel arrived at Pine Cove during a time when family camps were thriving, but youth camp registration had begun to decline. He used his vision and camping experience to bring about several seriously fun changes to the Ranch, which then trickled down to the rest of Pine Cove! Some of these now traditions include cheers (“Let’s count ‘em!”), worship at Club, closing ceremonies, opening day gauntlets, and more! 

Mario “High 5” Zandstra, Pine Cove’s former President and CEO, once said, “Daniel’s fingerprints will be all over Pine Cove for a long time.” And boy are we grateful for that! 

When it comes to the Birthday Rap, Daniel let us know, “When I came in 1990, it was very different from what it was when I left in 2003.” But something that’s stayed the same from the beginning? Skit characters busting in and saying, “I heard a rumor!”

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, it’s time to get up and sing along! Can’t quite remember all the words? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Well, let’s wake up. Don’t take a nap. And start your clapping to the Birthday Rap. Today is the day we must recognize, so start your jammin’ and let’s energize. So you say it’s your birthday all day long. That’s why we’re singing you the birthday son.

Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh), Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh). Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh).

Well, special treats will come throughout the day. I heard a rumor that ain’t been kissed (or “hugged”) they say. If there’s something in you life that you don’t want to miss (or “shrug”) it’s a (Insert group of campers or staffers) kiss (or “hug”).

Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh), Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh). Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you (huh, huh).

Posted Jan 10, 2024

Karissa Pitaniello

Content Coordinator

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