Meet Our Girls And Boys Camp Head Counselors!


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How Did You Get Your Nickname? The humidity in the air gets my hair really frizzy/fuzzy—to the point where I look like I have a lion’s mane. So I’m embracing my hair to its fullest, literally.

Where Are You From? I hail from Chicago, IL.  Go Hawks!

Fun Facts About You? 1. I tell people I’m allergic to green peppers because I don’t like them and would prefer not to share a pizza with someone who eats them. 2. My family has a waterfall named after us in Tennessee. 3. I’ve been skydiving twice!

Favorite Part About Camp? Watching the girls get to do so many different activities in one day and seeing them set goals for themselves and reach them.

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party In The Lodge To? Call Me Maybe

Favorite Camp Meal? Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Fictional cartoon character, Tito from Rocket Power. Or Amy Poehler. Either works.

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? An Underwater Photographer

What Are Your Summer Goals? To stay up on waterskis, learn how to say the alphabet backwards really fast, and become a good toenail painter. Most of all, TO HAVE FUN!!!



Year At Camp? Early years at Family Camp, 6 years as a camper, and 9 as a staff member

How Did You Get Your Nickname? In the winter of 2004, I was ice fishing in Lake Plantagenet and a bear bit off half of my catch as I was reeling it in (‘see bear!’). This story may or may not be contested.

Where Are You From? Des Moines, Iowa

Fun Facts About You? 1. I am an Irish twin 2. I like to flip crutches upside down and use them as stilts 3. I used to lead camping trips to view active volcano eruptions in Guatemala.

Favorite Part About Camp? Nature walks, waterskiing, not taking myself too seriously, facing fears, yoga by the lake, going on trips, Petrie’s stories!

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party In The Lodge To? Cotton-Eyed Joe

Favorite Camp Meal? Egg salad sandwiches and pudding pops while watching Mama Mae’s stomp n’ grind

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Bill Grogan’s Goat

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? A Backpacking Photographer for National Geographic. I even exchanged a few emails with one once!

What Are Your Summer Goals? 1. Help Rancheros accomplish their goals! 2. Bring back/teach three songs we used to sing in the lodge 3. Share at a Services or Council Fire 4. Visit ‘The Lost 40’ – look it up!


Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 5.11.04 PMYear At Camp? 8th

How Did You Get Your Nickname? My first time at Thunderbird I kept asking for ketchup and tabasco because it was a bit rough adjusting to American food. Thanks Tres for Cholula!

Where Are You From? Monterrey, México.

Fun Facts About You? 1. I was born at 22 weeks, weighed 1.7 pounds and was 9 inches tall. 2. I do modern dance and also own a fashion brand called Two & Even. 3. I am not a cat person, but I absolutely adore Blue Sphynx cats and would love to own one!

Favorite Part About Camp? How I get to disconnect from the outside world and get in touch with nature.

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party In The Lodge To? Brave by Sara Bareilles.

Favorite Camp Meal? Salad Bar and Potato Bar

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor and Sara Bareilles.

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer so badly that instead of watching cartoons, I would watch classical ballet performances on A&E.

What Are Your Summer Goals? 1. Climb to the top of the climbing wall (Done!) 2. Stand up on waterskis (Done!) 3. Make it from my cabin in the Homestead village all the way to the lodge in less than 4 minutes. (still working on it)



CiceroYear At Camp? 3rd

Where Are You From? Boston, MA

Fun Facts About You? 1. I work as an outdoor educator during the rest of the year 2. I love Ketchup 3. I’m more of a cat person than a dog person

Favorite Part About Camp? It has to be ice-cream after Sunday lunch.

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party To? Shut Up and Dance

Favorite Camp Meal? Corndogs and Mac n Cheese

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Cicero, as in the Roman Orator, not myself. But I suppose I would have to learn Greek first.

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? A baseball player

What Is Your Summer Goal? To make sure every camper has an awesome time in my village


James PughYear At Camp? 4th

Where Are You From? Manchester, England

Fun Facts About You? 1. I have jumped out the second deck of a sailing cruise ship in the Caribbean. 2. I can bend my legs almost completely backwards like a bird. 3. I was born deaf!

Favorite Part About Camp? Speciality Days

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party To? Anything by Daft Punk

Favorite Camp Meal? Thai Curry!

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Bill Murray

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? A Policeman

What Are Your Summer Goals? To perform at every services/council fire, and to get up on waterskis!

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Year At Camp? 4th

Where Are You From? Ohio

Fun Facts About You? 1. I put chips on my sandwiches 2. I am always spinning my keys around my fingers 3. I really want a Giant Anteater as a pet

Favorite Part About Camp? The Campers!

Favorite Camp Meal? Lasagna and Breadsticks

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be? Mahatma Gandhi

When You Were Little, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? A Spy

What Are Your Summer Goals?  1. Run a happy village 2. Get my campers on trip as much as possible


image (1)Year At Camp? 4th

Fun Facts About You? 1. I lived in Australia for 2 years.  2. I can roll my tongue.  3. I once went on a road trip with Cheif, Flick, Zing, and Zooko in an old school bus with a massive Thunderbird painted on the hood!

Favorite Part About Camp? Services

Favorite Song To Have A Dance Party To? Anything Bluegrass

Favorite Camp Meal? Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

If You Could Go On A Road Trip With Anyone, Alive Or Dead, Who Would It Be?  Cheif, Flick, Zing, and Zooko!  Or…Dewey, Loon, and Cicero

What Are Your Summer Goal(s)?  1. Attending broga as least once 2. Visiting the black rafts at least once a week  3. Making sure each Chip camper has a good time and grows as a person

Anything Else We Should Know About You?  My first three summers at camp were 6 years ago!

A Note From The JL Girls

Our Junior Leaders get to spend five weeks of their final summer as campers hiking and climbing across the Northwestern United States and Canada. Last week, our JL girls dropped us a note to tell us how their trip is going, and it seems like they are having a pretty wonderful time. Here is what they had to say:

Even after only two weeks on trip, it’s clear that JL is an experience unlike any other. We’ve trekked through miles of mud and mosquitos, tripped across freezing rivers, huddled beneath trees in the pouring rain, and enjoyed every second of it.

IMG_1789Recently, we completed a 4-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. Between hiking through breathtaking mountains and staying up late laughing in our tents, there was little room to worry about anything. On trip, we can slow down and enjoy the things in life that make us smile. We eat, sleep, poop, laugh, and sing together, and the result is the closest-knit group of girls you’ll ever meet.

We’ve been together for so long that we can have conversations for hours where every sentence starts with, “Remember that time when…?” We wouldn’t dress up in crazy red, white, and blue outfits on the 4th of July and jump into the middle of the Jackson Hole parade with anyone else.

JL has allowed us to break through obstacles in a way we never thought possible. Throughout our 3 days of climbing, the words “I can’t” weren’t heard even once. Instead, we pushed past fears and felt the accomplishment of tackling a wall and reaching the top. The same is true when we hike up any tough hill, and once we’re at the top, nothing seems impossible anymore.

JL is singing in the vans, driving each other crazy, sleeping in a tent every night, laughing until our stomachs ache, not showering for 10 days at a time and being totally ok with it! JL is a two-month break from Instagram, annoying group messages, and all the drama of high school. It is a chance to grow up with the most amazing and supportive group of people, but also a rare opportunity to be crazy, ridiculous, and immature in all the best ways. As we spend our last summer together, there is no doubt in our minds that JL is the adventure of a lifetime. 


The JL Girls of 2015

The End Of A Beginning


Today, we s10469218_4649354589275_1499747030721840155_nay goodbye to our wonderful first session campers. We can’t believe how quickly these first four weeks flew by, and we can’t put into words how much we are going to miss them. While we are so sad to see our first session campers go, we are so happy to have gotten the chance to spend time with them this summer, the chance to grow, learn, and laugh with them.

As we’ve wrapped up the session, these past few days have been a whirlwind of fun, from a midnight pizza dance party to fantastic drama and gymnastics shows to the Paul Bunyan all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae extravaganza—awarded to one cabin in each village that received the best scores for cabin cleanup each morning—to our final Fancy Dinner, where we dress up in our fanciest (i.e. silliest) attire to celebrate the end of another incredible first session.

To the campers leaving us today, we hope you think of Thunderbird throughout the rest of your summer and your school year because we will certainly be thinking of you. We hope you smile when you remember the incredible memories you’ve made here and how many more are waiting to be made when you return next summer. We cannot wait to see you here again. As the buses pulled away with all of you, camp grew a little bit quieter. We hope you know that as you read your plane letters and say your last goodbyes at the airport, we are here missing your singinIMG_7981g and laughter filling the air.

As one of our most beloved camp songs reminds us, the end of camp is no end at all, it’s just the end of a beginning. Here at Thunderbird, this end signals the beginning of a brand new session. To our second session campers getting ready to head to camp tomorrow morning, we are so excited to see you! We hope you are ready to have the greatest summer of your lives. Your amazing counselors cannot wait to meet you, and our eight-week campers are eagerly awaiting the sounds of your buses driving down the road so they can welcome you to Thunderbird.

See you all soon!!!

4th of July, Thunder The Sea, and Mustaches: Our First Session Specialty Days

One thing that I always think of when I think of camp is dance parties, the greatest dance parties in the world. There is a magic to jumping up and down while screaming out One Direction and Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus at the top of your lungs in a place where you are so comfortable in your own skin that you couldn’t care less how you sound or look or about the fact that you’re t-shirt is probably drenched in sweat.

None of that matters when the 150 other people around you are screaming just as loud and jumping just as high. None of that matters when the 150 other people around you are your favorite people in the world, people who would far prefer to dance crazy than dance cool.

Back in 2011, I wrote this about camp for Women’s Adventure Magazine:

At these [dance] parties, a girl becomes a hero when she teases her hair and rubs dirt on her face to look like a cavewoman, when she wears mismatched sequined clothes and adds a sombrero to accent the sparkle. I have never felt more like a supermodel than the night I spent running around camp in a chicken suit. Never have more people envied me.

At camp, crazy is cool. Laughter makes anyone beautiful, and the crazier we dance together, the closer we become.”

I think as you get older at camp, all of this only becomes more important. As kids begin to grow up—faster these days than they ever did before—and face the endless school pressures of fitting in, it is things like these Thunderbird dance parties that show them just how happy they can be when they let down their guard and are being nothing but themselves.

What’s even better is that these dance parties are usually accompanied by fantastic days because they almost always occur on specialty days. A few times each summer, we hand the reigns over to a village of campers and let them plan the day. Campers get to select a theme and plan a day of meals and activities around it.

Specialty day gives campers a chance to use creativity and imagination to invent their own fun.

We have had some incredible specialty days so far this summer. At Girls Camp, the Sodbusters, our youngest village, planned Thunder the Sea, an ocean-themed day that began with an exciting row boat battle game and ended with a marvelous counselor fashion show. Each cabin was given a prop and assigned the task of dressing up their counselors in sea-themed attire. We all had so much fun watching them strut across the stage.

The Sodbusters did a great job running the day. From the moment they ran through the Homestead and Ranchero villages to wake the rest of the campers up for breakfast, their energy and enthusiasm helped make each and every activity a blast.

Boys Camp’s youngest village, Crow, told the rest of camp that their specialty day was Mustache Day, but, little did everyone else know it’d be shockingly interrupted when our assistant director, Chuckles, was kidnapped! Luckily, the boys already had their detective mustaches ready, and they spent the day searching for clues and tracking Chuckles down. The campers located him at the waterfront at the end of the day, where his captors set him free.

Then, of course, there was the 4th of July, which has become an all time favorite holiday for many of our campers and staff. Nowhere else that I have found knows how to celebrate quite like Thunderbird. No matter what country you hail from, the dance parties, talent shows, and all-camp games make it hard not to feel some good old U.S patriotism.

Over at Girls Camp, the Fourth of July is run by the Homestead village, our oldest in-camp girls. The Homesteaders planned an amazing Independence Day. In the morning, we painted our faces, dressed in red, white, and blue, feasted on waffle sticks for breakfast, and then battled it out all morning long in our annual capture the flag competition. The red team and blue team tied at the end of an energetic, fun-filled game. While no flags were captured, there were certainly a lot of laughs along the way. Later in the day we enjoyed a waterfront obstacle course, a slip ‘n slide, and other fun activities.

At Boys Camp, Independence Day is also the specialty day for the oldest campers, the Chippewa village. On the evening of July 3rd, the Boys Camp campers were assigned to either the red, white, blue, or green team. Each team came up with a chant, and they spent the morning of the 4th competing in a relay race all over camp. The race involved canoeing and fun yakking at the waterfront as well as an epic sprint to the lower ball field, where teams competed to be the first to build a fire large enough to burn a rope hanging over each fire pit. After the red team was declared the victor, the day continued with capture the flag and an all-camp swim.

On July 4th evening, Boys and Girls Camp came together for the Hootenanny, our annual co-ed talent show. The boys and girls sat on Boys Camp’s sand hill, enjoying popsicles while watching their friends perform some pretty amazing talents, from a great dance by Girls Camp’s youngest cabin, Durango, to some Rubix Cube solving by a few boys camp campers to a beautiful rendition of Vance Joy’s Riptide, sung by some talented Homestead girls. We were so proud of each and every camper who had the courage to stand up in front of Thunderbird and show off their amazing talents.

And of course, all of our specialty day meals were accompanied by some pretty amazing dance parties.

Our Sodbuster, Crow, Homestead, and Chippewa villages planned some wonderful specialty days. We cannot wait to see what the rest of the villages cook up second session!

Keep dancing, Thunderbird.

Campingly Yours,

Molly “Pixel” Sprayregen



Welcome To Thunderbird


There is a place between the trees where everything feels paused, where the sounds of text message pings are replaced by the slaps of canoe paddles on glassy water, where the double tap of an Instagram ‘like’ takes a back seat to the world’s tightest hugs, and where laughter, friendship, and fun are the key ingredients to helping strong young girls and boys become proud, confident women and men.

This place is Camp Thunderbird.

I came to Thunderbird for the first time when I was nine years old. When I think back to that trembling, wide-eyed kid stepping off the bus into a sea of songs and smiles, I feel on some level she knew right away that fifteen years later, here I’d still be, twenty-four now, telling all of you how Thunderbird can change your life.

Thunderbird gives you the kinds of friendships that can only form when you live, learn, laugh, play, struggle, and succeed together. It’s a special kind of bond that grows when you learn to support one another all day every day for weeks in a row. Ask anyone who has come to Thunderbird, and I am certain they will tell you there is nothing in the world like a camp friend.

Thunderbird teaches you to set goals and push yourself farther than you ever thought you could. It teaches you resilience, to laugh off frustrating moments. It gives you the freedom to be yourself and the bravery to fail. It is where you learn that being responsible and mature doesn’t mean you can’t also be youthful and silly and free. It gives you a love for nature, the chance to climb mountains, bike miles and miles, and canoe down streams.

Most of all, Thunderbird gives you happiness, pure, unadulterated happiness.

The summer has only just begun and already we have watched the campers learn new skills, gain confidence, and, of course, have so much fun. There have been beautiful climbing trips, amazing specialty days, rockin’ dance parties, crackling campfires, and one of the most amazing northern lights displays that Thunderbird has ever seen. Laying under the stars watching bright green stardust dance across the sky is something we will never forget.

I think that in today’s screen-centered world, camp is more important than it has ever been. For four or eight weeks, our campers get to shut down their laptops, turn off their phones and just let themselves be kids. The concerns for who their top friends may be on Snapchat or how many ‘likes’ their pictures get on Facebook fade away, and in place the concerns become which colors to weave together in their next friendship bracelets, whether to spend the afternoon water skiing across the lake or playing an exciting game of tennis, and which crazy songs to scream out during meal times.

At Thunderbird we don’t care what you’re wearing or how many photos you’ve been tagged in. We care that you are smiling, that you are learning to love yourself for exactly who you are and to love others for exactly who they are, too.

Thunderbird is a refuge from the outside world, yet it also prepares you for it better than anything else. While it lets us all escape for a while, it allows us to return feeling stronger and more prepared for whatever the universe might throw our way.

The thing about camp is it doesn’t matter when you get here or how long you stay. Once Thunderbird is in your life, it is in your life forever.

To all the campers and their families who have joined us for the first time this summer, we welcome you with open arms. We are so happy to have you join our family. For those of you who have been with us before, welcome home.

We cannot believe how quickly the summer is flying by. Every summer, it is a surprise how fast it goes, but we know it only flies because of how much fun we have.

I will be blogging with updates throughout the rest of the summer, so make sure to keep checking back to find out what everyone at camp is up to!

Campingly Yours,

Molly “Pixel” Sprayregen