If you are reading this right now, then you are more than likely caught in the midst of the Polar Vortex. And while it’s true that “Polar Vortex” sounds like the rejected title for a cheesy sci-fi novel, the reality of icy arctic winds swirling their way down from Santa’s workshop to where you sit this very moment is enough to make anyone long for an end to winter.
Last Tuesday, each and every US State had temperatures fall below freezing (true, you had to climb to the top of the highest mountain in Hawaii to find temperatures of 21 degrees, but it totally still counts). This means that, at some point in the last few days, every American Rockbrook camper (including me) has been bundled up against the cold, dreaming of warmer days. To those campers who are warm and snug in the balmy southern hemisphere: oh, how we envy you.
It’s not that winter doesn’t have it’s perks. What’s not to love about hot chocolate, crackling fires, and quiet evenings spent indoors with your family? Winter gives us an opportunity to slow down, appreciate the small things, and enjoy the quiet.
Still though, this Polar Vortex business might be taking this whole “winter” thing a bit too far. Sure, catching snowflakes on your eyelashes is one of life’s beautiful joys—but watching icicles slowly accumulate there is less enjoyable. True, everybody loves bundling up in cozy winter clothes—but when frost begins to weigh down your fur-covered boots, and you begin stomping around like you’re transforming into a Yeti from the toes up, suddenly those clothes are a bit less glamorous.
But, never fear, chilly Rockbrook-ers! Nothing brightens a gloomy day like a smidge of camp cheer—and lucky for us all, that camp cheer is available to us even in the Polar Vortex-iest of days. All you have to do is take some of those classic camp staples, and give them a little tweak, and voila! Winterized Rockbrook!
1. S’mores Hot Chocolate
Oh yeah, you read that right. Hot chocolate AND s’mores, in one stunningly delicious concoction. We all know that camp just isn’t camp without those three heavenly ingredients coming together at least once to form the most perfect three-bite snack in the history of both bites and snacks. But why should you wait until summer comes around to enjoy this beautiful treat? There are tons of recipes out there for S’mores Hot Chocolate, but this one is absolutely the most delicious.
2. Chevron Scarf
Needlecraft is one of my favorite activities at camp. What could be more peaceful than sitting on the shady back porch of Curosty, listening to the stream ripple past, and knitting up some Christmas presents for your family? Quiet, cozy winter evenings give you the perfect opportunity to work on your needlecraft skills. And you don’t have to choose just one boring old color for that scarf you’re working on (unless it’s Rockbrook Red—Rockbrook Red is never boring). We like to spend our summers perfecting all sorts of exciting patterns for friendship bracelets—why not use one of those? If you follow this link, you can find a knitting pattern for a chevron patterned scarf, which can remind you all winter of those beautiful bracelets that your mom made you cut off in October because they were kind of starting to smell.
3. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Every coffee shop in the country spends all winter throwing pumpkin flavoring into every drink and snack they offer, but we all know that the best pumpkin-flavored snacks are the little morsels that our camp-baker-extraordinaire (Katie) cooks up for muffin break. I talked to Katie yesterday, and she pointed me in the direction of a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe that is almost identical to hers. I know this post is supposed to be about “winterizing” camp traditions, but let’s be honest, there’s no need to winterize muffins. Muffins are excellent at all times, and in all weathers. Of course, everyone knows that these muffins taste best when eaten outside in the sunshine, after a morning of camp activities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a gloomy winter day a little more delicious.
4. Campfire Bonding
What are the three most important elements of a campfire? Being with people that you love, some good music, and, of course, a fire. There’s no law that says a campfire has to be outside. All you have to do is start up a fire in your fireplace, gather around it with your family and friends, leave those cell phones and computers far, far away, and just enjoy being with one another. And don’t forget to sing. Whether you’re singing Christmas carols, old camp songs, or the latest offering from T-Swift, there’s nothing quite like singing to chase away the bite of winter, and remind you that summer can’t be far away.
This is the time of year is when camp starts to feel furthest away from us—it seems like a horribly long time since we’ve been there, and an even more horribly long time until we get to be there again. But even on those coldest days, when the news is filled with headlines about “Polar Vortexes,” “Snowmaggedons,” and “Snowpocalypses,” the spirit of camp is never really that far from us. Sure, throwing on our swimsuits and jumping into the lake isn’t really an option, and it’s probably not the best idea to go white water rafting, or to have a shaving cream fight, but all it takes is a little creativity, and you can give any boring old winter day a bit of camp flare. And these aren’t the only ideas out there—if you can think of any other ways to give winter a camp-y twist, feel free to post them in the comments section, or on the Rockbrook Facebook page!
So enjoy your snow days, fellow Rockbrook-ers—summer will be here before you know it!