It’s color wars time at Birch Trail! Sunday and Monday were Pandemonium- our first session color war. Each session we have a color war where the camp is split into 5 different teams and we have two days of cheering, competition and spirit. The campers love Pandemonium because of the crazy costumes, silly cheers and fun activities and relays. In true Birch Trail fashion it’s a very exuberant few days.
There are so many wonderful things about color war; one of my favorites is how it brings campers of all ages together in a group. Color war typically occurs in the middle of the session so our campers are now comfortable in their cabin groups. Being placed on a color war team and spending two days with campers from other cabins (older and younger) is a great way to get to know the larger camp community. Almost all of the activities in color war are designed to help foster community and team building. Learning and practicing cheering in sync, dressing in the same colors, supporting and cheering for your team members in an event all help build up the bonds of your team.
Leadership is a large part of Pandemonium. The TM campers (our oldest campers) lead each team. The girls have been waiting years for this day and they take their role very seriously. It’s not everyday that a 15 year old is responsible for leading a team of 40 campers and 25 staff. The TM captains write their teams’ cheers, organize who will participate in the events of the relays, support and encourage their teammates. A large portion of determining who wins Color wars is the team that functions the best as leaders. Winning the relay only counts for so much. Leading well as a group, ensuring that every member of your team has a voice and encouraging the other teams is what really wins Color War. All this is consistent with Birch Trail’s values and just helps to further engrain our value system in our campers. Teamwork, new friendships, creativity, silliness, leadership, support and fun are the important ingredients that make up a successful color war.
When the scores are announced (in a super secret ceremony) there will be some very real tears. The campers who win are proud of the effort they put in and the success their team achieved. The teams that lose are equally proud of their teams’ effort. What makes me so happy as a camp director is the support the teams give each other. The winning teams support the losing teams and the younger campers see the value of friendship reinforced, even in the face of victory or defeat. True leadership and true friendship will always triumph over competition at Birch Trail. Winner and losers are only spoken about at the scoring ceremony. After tonight we don’t speak of color wars or who won until the next color war. However, the new friendships, growth, leadership and support carry on throughout the summer.