How I celebrated my birthday at cherubs

Boy poses off to the right of two cookie cakes.

Sameer Shaikh smiles next to his birthday cookie cakes. He turned 17 while at cherubs, celebrating with Insomnia Cookies. Photo by Gabby Birenbaum

Heading into cherubs, I worried about my first birthday away from my home. I skeptically approached the day, packed with lectures and assignments, and I made peace with what seemed poised to be a quiet, academic birthday.

In fact, my birthday spent at cherubs proved to be among my most memorable and unique. My birthday falls on July 17 — roughly marking the program’s midway point. Shortly after midnight, my parents had dozens of Insomnia Cookies delivered to my entire floor.

I had already grown close with my fellow cherubs, so the sense of discomfort I worried would characterize my birthday experience had already vanished. Yet the gift from my parents served as a reminder that attending this program put me in a “cherub bubble” but clearly does not indicate a disconnect from the outside world.

I awoke to, “Happy birthdays,” from everyone on my floor. The routine morning lectures that I had previously feared would dampen my day surprisingly had the opposite effect. Simply being surrounded by friends who genuinely desired to make my day special instilled the same sense of comfort I would feel at home. I spent a portion of my afternoon in Evanston with friends, eating lunch and relaxing by the Lakefill.

The evening brought more excitement. The community associates gathered the entire camp for a mandatory meeting shortly following check-in. What ensued truly differentiated my cherub birthday experience from previous years, as all 83 of my fellow cherubs sang “Happy Birthday” while enjoying cake.

Ironically, a day that represented a significant source of unease before camp became one of my fondest cherub memories. Future cherubs with July birthdays: embrace it. Ignore the initial sense of discomfort. In all likelihood, it will be the best summer – and best birthday – of your life.