Let the Games Begin!

One, two, three, four, we love Color War!

One, two, three, four, we love Color War! Olympics, Color War, Maccabia are just some of the names camps use for this summer ritual of camp wide fun and competition.

They say “timing is everything” and for some camp directors placement of the games in their camp calendar is part of their “master plan”. Some hold them early to create excitement for the rest of the summer; some place them in the middle to keep the excitement and momentum of camp going; and some use the games at the end of camp to have campers and staff leave on a high note. Some camps countdown the days until Olympics begin; some hold opening and closing ceremonies that mimic the Olympic Games; and some are very secretive about how and when the Color War break will happen with just a few key staff with the inside information.

No matter how you slice it, Color War, Olympics, or Maccabia is the most highly anticipated program of the summer. Capitalizing on the excitement of this this summer’s Olympic Games in London, many  of the day camps at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds caught the Olympic spirit and are holding their games now while the London games are in session.

Here’s what I was lucky enough to see:

At the Mildred Goetz Day Camp in Pearl River, senior division campers from Camp Yomi, of the 92nd Street Y Camps, held an Olympic Games theme day. The excitement was palpable as campers participated in a variety of sports, such as kickball, gaga, and soccer, as well as cheers, songs and banner making. Campers cheered for their teams and cheered for friends on other teams; and at the end of the games winners and losers shook hands. Camp Yomi will also hold an all camp Color War later in the summer.

The yellow team tries for a goal.

Everyone loves the Kickball competition.

At the Alice N. Proskauer site, the Friedberg Family Day Camps held their Color War over three days. They went with a musical theme with four teams: Red Rock, Blue Broadway, Green Country, and Gold Disco (who were the winners by, the way). You could hear enthusiastic campers and counselors encouraging and cheering their teams. Campers from all the teams were involved competing, learning songs, cheering, and working on their banners. Banner making is just one of the competitions that highlight the creative and artistic side of the campers.

Green Country practicing songs and dances.

Red Rock gets ready for the song competition

Gold Disco really gets into the fun.

Campers from red and green competing in basketball

Continuing the rounds  of our camps, Bronx House Day Camp, at the Mildred Goetz Day Camp, was in the throes of their Olympic Games when I visited. In the spirit of the Olympic Games in London, they went for a true Olympic theme with teams representing four countries: Red Japan, Blue Australia, Yellow Spain, and Green Brazil. As part of their team meetings, campers also learned a bit about the country they were representing. I got to see campers getting their groove on practicing for the dance competition as well as see younger campers competing in wacky relay races and older campers battling it out in football and soccer.

The four Olympic teams.

Bronx House gets ready for the dance contest.

Campers huddle up before the big football game.

Win or lose, everyone has fun at Wacky Relays.

At many camps, Color War is one of the most anticipated and beloved programs of the summer. But Color War, as the Olympic Games, is not just about winning and losing. It’s about sportsmanship and so much more. Camp directors take this opportunity to teach values, those life lessons that you can only really learn by experience: teamwork, fair play, empathy, leadership, and trying your best. Camp truly teaches us that “when the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

When your children come off the camp bus at the end of their Color War you can ask them who won, but make sure to ask about how much fun they had because at camp “we are all winners!”

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