Color Wars: Birch Trail Style

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For those parents who went to summer camp as kids themselves, or for anyone who ever even watched a movie about going to summer camp, the idea of color wars will probably sound pretty familiar. The tradition of splitting up the camp community into—let’s face it—largely arbitrary teams of various colors for some good-natured, healthy competition is about as old as time. There are myriad reasons for this, and this rite of passage has often gained national attention. In fact, I remember a few years back when The New York Times published a piece about Color Wars being the quintessential ritual of summer camp, how camps across the country handle the programming differently according to their own philosophies, and how, through this time-honored tradition, campers are able to share in the true lessons of camp.

Part of what makes Color Wars so much fun is the break from the usual routine, and no one ushers in that change of pace better than our BT girls! For first-session, Pandemonium is the two-day, all-out, bonanza-style Color Wars program that absolutely sets this place abuzz! And it all began last night with a spectacular, surprise introduction to the festivities that got everyone super excited.

The ceremony is a secret, but I can tell you that part of it includes the crowd on the edge of their seats waiting to hear which team they would be on for the next two days. These team assignments allow the campers opportunities to make new friends, branching out from the relationships they’ve formed within their cabins and villages and out into the rest of the camp community. I remember my own days as a camper during Color Wars, bonding with other campers and even counselors I might not have had much interaction with if not for special programming like Color Wars.

The real fun began this morning when the campers all got to dress in their team colors (complete with accessorizing like you would not believe), and meet to learn cheers, decorate their team sites, and sign up for relay races the like. Competitions, skits, and sing-offs galore will be held a little later on today. Throughout the whole experience, I’ve been consistently impressed by the level of spirit and sportsmanship, especially between the older campers and their younger counterparts.

All around camp during Pandemonium, energy is high; kids are collaborating; staff are letting the older kids lead (but with ready help by their sides). When I witness cheering events, I can’t help but feel tempted to chime in, which—after all these years—is really saying something!

I wish parents, non-camp alumni or those who don’t understand the intense bond and experience of Color Wars could be a fly on the wall during Pandemonium and TIAD (our 2nd session Color War extravaganza). The happiness, sense of community, camaraderie, silliness and teamwork are truly second to none. After two days of races, modified sports competitions (think basketball with eight balls in play), dress-up, cheering, decorating, and general chaos, all the fun comes to a close with a super special ceremony. Exhausted but happy, the campers then walk back to their cabins at the end of the night, ready to begin the next day as a unified camp once more.

Here at Birch Trail, the most important message we wish to convey to our girls through events like Pandemonium is that no matter what color you might wear on your shirt, shorts, and toenails for a little while, or what cheers you sing during an intense relay race down by the waterfront, at the end of the day we will all help clear the dishes in the lodge together, and snuggle up around the council fire. Though it’s fun to compete, and we love to get serious about the fun we have, every BT girl knows she is a part of something much bigger here: a community built on friendship and acceptance.


One thought on “Color Wars: Birch Trail Style”

  1. 40 years ago (I think) when I went to Birch Trail we called this Pow wow day!! So much fun! Good that you have added al the recent social aspects like tolerance to it! Good thinking!

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