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West Orange Times & Observer Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 4 months ago

The Camping Cuber makes his way to Winter Garden

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Vincent Urick-Brokus, aka TikTok’s The Camping Cuber, is spending the season in Winter Garden.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

Vincent Urick-Brokus owns 150 puzzle cubes. Of those, only two have stumped him.

Urick-Brokus, better known as “The Camping Cuber” on his YouTube and social media, is known for traveling the United States in his RV while solving and creating cubes. 

Now, The Camping Cuber has made his way to Winter Garden. 

Urick-Brokus and his girlfriend, Rachael Piper, arrived Dec. 5 in West Orange. Since then, they have enjoyed the entertainment, dining and activities available in the area.

“Our favorite part is the downtown area,” Urick-Brokus said. “I love the night vibe with the music and the golf carts.”

Although the couple is thriving and The Camping Cuber’s influence is growing, the journey has been anything but easy. 

The 25-year-old was born in Michigan and joined the U.S. Marines out of high school.

In 2017, Urick-Brokus was in South Korea on a training operation when he first learned to solve a Rubik’s cube. 

As a radio operator, after setting up equipment, Urick-Brokus was tasked with hourly check-ins. That left a lot of down time. Some guys picked up crosswords, cards or word searches. Urick-Brokus spent his 12-hour shifts learning the parts of the cube from a fellow Marine.

When he returned to the U.S., Urick-Brokus bought his own. 

For years, Urick-Brokus kept the one branded Rubik’s cube. One day, while shopping in a Barnes and Noble, he was checking out the S.T.E.M. section when he saw unique variants of the cubes. He bought a bunch and immediately began to attempt to solve them. 

Although it took a long time, he was determined to solve the cubes with no help. He explained there are multiple methods to solve a standard cube. It took him six months to learn to solve a Square-1 cube.

“I was like ‘Wow I did this by myself with no help,’” he said. “It’s awesome. That’s the whole reason I love this. I like the feeling of figuring it out, but it’s only satisfying if I get no help at all.”

In 2019, Urick-Brokus was attending the metal music festival “Epicenter” in North Carolina when he met Piper. 

Two weeks later, he moved in with her and her family. 

“I wasn’t ready to go home, because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life,” Urick-Brokus said. “I thought it would be easier to find myself if I didn’t go home.”

That Christmas, Piper’s family bought him a dozen different types of cubes, which he solved immediately. 

“It became like an addiction at that point,” he said.

Urick-Brokus also has begun to engineer his own extensions of cubes and even create his own through 3D printing, which he does with the help of a filament from ZYLteach. He is now an affiliate and has discount codes with both this company and TheCubicle, a cube store with unique designs.

“I’m most passionate about designing my own cubes, and I can really showcase my engineering capabilities this way,” he said. 

Urick-Brokus is so addicted to cubes that he recently decided to showcase that passion in the form of a tattoo. The ink, done by Handspuntattoos in Orlando, showcases the artistic concept of pointillism.

“I’ve been talking about getting this tattoo for years,” Urick-Brokus said. “Then we are driving around looking for shops, and we just so happen to go into a shop where the guy also had a Rubik’s cube tattoo. It was one of those ‘stars align’ kinda moments.”

GOING VIRAL

In September 2020, Piper suggested her boyfriend make a TikTok page. At first, Urick-Brokus resisted the idea.

“I really thought nobody would be interested, because I’m like a grown man with a kid’s toy,” he said. “But then we would have friends over, and they would watch me solve them and be like, ‘Oh my God,’ and eventually I was like, ‘OK, I’ll make a TikTok.’”

The Camping Cuber now has more than 170,000 followers on the platform.

In May 2021, his first video went viral. Urick-Brokus talked about the hardest cubes he owned at the time; the content received 12.5 million views. 

Then, an unexpected disaster occurred.

That same month, the owner of Piper’s house decided to sell the property from underneath them with little warning.

The couple scrambled to find options. 

Urick-Brokus had just finished his prerequisites at Fayetteville Technical Community College and was going to transfer to North Carolina State University for aerospace engineering. The couple planned on moving closer to the university and opening a coffee food truck. 

Although the pair explored their options, apartments in the area were expensive. Instead, they decided to put a down payment on an RV and moved in to it the day before they were to be out of the house. 

“Rachael has always wanted to drop everything and travel,” Urick-Brokus said. “However, going from a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house to a 33-foot trailer in 30 days was stressful.”

ON THE ROAD

The couple is still adjusting to the change. Urick-Brokus said there are things they didn’t know they had to pay attention to until actually having the experience of living in the RV.

The couple devised small additions to make the living space cleaner and more comfortable, including a shoe cleaner to help keep the dirt out of the RV, a shoe rack to hold essentials such as deodorant or lotion, an ottoman for leg room, water jugs for clean water, and, of course, a space for cubes.

“With how rough this last year has been, we have been so lucky with all of the places we’ve been able to travel to,” Urick-Brokus said. “I wouldn’t trade this last year for the world.”

Urick-Brokus also recently attended his first cube competition — The Florida Fall 2021 by the World Cube Association in Orlando in December. 

Although he has had experience with cubes for years now, he said he was always focused on solving different puzzles on his own and wasn’t serious about timing or competition until last year. 

“I got absolutely destroyed by everybody pretty much,” he said. “I knew going into it I was going to get absolutely obliterated, but I’m like 25, and most of these kids are 12 and 13. But then I was like, ‘I’ve only been doing this seriously for about a year.’”

He averaged only 20 seconds for a standard 3X3 cube.

Although by normal standards, Urick-Brokus’ skills are undeniable, he said he still has a long way to go. 

The fastest solution of the Rubik's Cube, as of 2021, is currently 3.47 seconds by Yusheng Du.

“There were world records set at the competition, and now I want to focus on getting faster and building my brand,” he said. 

Urick-Brokus also is working with TheCubicle to get some of his designs on the market. 

“I don’t know of anyone else who prints their own puzzles and makes content with them, so it’s unique,” he said.

In addition to Winter Garden, the couple has traveled in the RV to North Carolina and Virginia. They plans to stay at the Winter Garden campground until March. Maryland is up next on the list.

“Seeing all of this happen is like validation,” Urick-Brokus said. “It’s seeing some of these followers keep coming back and genuinely looking forward to and enjoying my content that, for me, is showing that all of this hard work really means something to somebody, and that makes it all worth it.”

GET CONNECTED

To view Vincent Urick-Brokus’ content, find him on TikTok and YouTube as @thecampingcuber.

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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