Alumni Day: We welcome you BACK to Lake Bryn Mawr!

Campers are used to seeing visitors on camp on Saturdays; most weekends during the summer, we welcome prospective camp families with camper-guided tours and songs in the dining hall. This Saturday, though, was a little different: We welcomed alumni back to camp!

For the last decade, we have set aside one Saturday each summer as a special Alumni Day when we open up camp – during Color War, of course – to former campers who want to come back and visit. It’s a special chance for them to see what has changed at camp (and what hasn’t), and for today’s campers to hear from alumni who have carried the spirit of the Angel Code with them well past their Bunk One summers.

Alumni who visited Saturday got to enjoy lunch in the dining hall, organized activities around camp, songs in the dining hall and tours of campus. A favorite highlight of alumni tours is always the Fieldhouse, where tour guides know to budget for extra time as our grown-up Angels flash back to their Bunk One summers, looking for their backdrops on the ceiling!

Alumni Day isn’t just an opportunity to show former campers what Bryn Mawr is like today – it’s an important reminder to everyone on camp that the memories we’re making today with our campers will be with them all their lives. From veteran senior staff members to first-time cabin counselors, everyone who works at camp finishes Alumni Day with a renewed appreciation for the impact we have on our campers. It only takes a few minutes of talking with alumni in their 20s, 30s and 40s who still vividly remember lessons they learned from their LBMC counselors to realize that we have a lasting impact on our campers. That reminder is the valuable gift our visiting alumni give to our staff.

Our alumni give an important gift to our campers, too: the gift of tradition! It’s incredible to see realization dawn on our younger campers’ faces when the women on campus for Alumni Day launch into the same cheers and songs we still sing in the dining hall every day – and they still know every word, either because they grew up singing them, too, or even because they wrote some themselves! Every Color War has its own story, and we love seeing alumni talk with current campers as they share the tales of summers gone by.

For campers, Alumni Day is a sign that no matter where they go or how they change, Bryn Mawr will always be with them. And for alumni, the day is a reminder that no matter how far they travel, Bryn Mawr will always be home.

Color War 101!

What do blow dryers, soccer balls and chess pieces have in common? In the real world, maybe not much. But every girl in camp has spent the last week trying to figure out the connection between these clues to the 2014 Color War break!

This week, the moment everyone has been waiting for all summer finally arrived: Color War broke, and the Green and Gold teams are now fully engaged in the annual celebration of athleticism, creativity, tradition and spirit.

If you’ve had a phone call or a letter from your camper this week, you might have thought she was speaking a foreign language at times as she described to you the excitement buzzing through the air at camp. If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry – we’ve put together this quick and handy guide to LBMC Color War terms so you can follow along with all the action.

Break: This is the official event that lets campers know Color War has begun. The exact date and time of the break are unknown to almost everyone on camp — although there’s plenty of speculation about when it will come! The break is usually built around a theme (not to be confused with the Color War themes, below); this year, that theme was Harry Potter.  And color war broke out tonight!

Chain: Spirit chains are a traditional camp activity done on Visiting Day and in the lead-up to Color War. Starting at their own cabin, Bunk One campers work their way up Cabin Row hand-in-hand, leading cheers and collecting campers in one long human chain as they go. The chain eventually ends up in a giant circle on Main Campus, where campers do more cheers and songs – until, eventually, they are rewarded with a clue!

Clue: Clues offer campers hints about the theme and time of the break. Sometimes they are delivered at the end of a spirit chain, but other clues appear at surprising times – like one clue this year that was delivered by “owl mail” from the dining hall skylights. (Helium balloons stood in for live owls.) This year, clues gradually revealed that Voldemort, Harry Potter’s enemy, was collecting meaningful objects from around camp (including a heart, a blow dryer, a soccer ball and an angel to represent the four values of the Angel Code) to create “horcruxes” and return to power. One of the clues usually comes with an amulet for the Bunk One campers to wear; this year, they received chess pieces that they were told they would need to “defeat” Voldemort.

Fake: Adding to the anticipation, the real break is generally preceded by a series of “fake breaks” that leave campers guessing. The real break involves the whole camp, with senior staff members playing the characters engaged in the action; this year, encouraged by Harry Potter (Played by Ben), campers had to work together to defeat Voldemort by reciting the Angel Code, doing cheers, singing, and using Bunk One’s chess pieces to win a game of life-sized “wizards’ chess” to save Jane, who had been captured by Voldemort (played by Scott). Campers knew the real break had arrived when they saw green and gold lights appear in the shape of two letter Gs, followed by celebratory fireworks.

Green and Gold: Our official camp colors are also the official names of our Color War teams. Green battles Gold to determine not only who can win at contests of skill, speed, agility and creativity, but who can be the most spirited and most sportsmanlike throughout the course of Color War.

Themes: Not to be confused with the theme of the Color War break, the “Color War themes” are a pair of themes selected by Bunk One before the summer even begins. Each team has a theme that provides a foundation for its cheers, songs, mascots and its presentations at Sing. The themes are closely-guarded secrets, known only to the Bunk One campers, until they are revealed the morning after Color War breaks. This year, the themes are Take Me Out to the Ballgame (green) and The Lorax (gold).

Sing: The culminating event of Color War, Sing is a very traditional event that involves every single counselor and camper. Each girl in camp wears a costume that fits in with her team’s theme. The teams present their songs and cheers, along with musical interludes, and a stage movement and elaborate stage scenery presented by Bunk One. Sing is also when each team presents its backdrop, a special banner painted by Bunk One that will hang on camp as a monument to that year’s Color War.

Final Fight: On the last night of Color War, after Sing, all of camp gathers for one last event – a “final fight” that reveals the winning team. Presented by members of the senior staff, the final fight has taken many forms over the years – a dodgeball tournament, a tug o’war, a jousting match – between staff members representing the Green and Gold teams. When the dust clears, the color that has won the fight represents the team that earned the most points and won Color War.

Whew! We hope you enjoyed this crash course in Bryn Mawr Color War. Of course, there are many more details and many more stories to be shared, and we’re sure your campers will be bursting with them when they step off the bus next weekend! Color War is one of our favorite camp traditions because while there are certain things about it that stay the same from year to year, each Color War is truly unique because it’s the campers who make it special. They bring the spirit, the creativity and the sense of pride in their team, and we are always impressed at how Green and Gold alike come together to make this traditional event their own.

What’s the best age group to be in at camp? We’re pretty sure it depends completely on which age group you ask!

The middle of the summer is always busy with tournaments, trips, socials, outings and playdates in addition to the regular schedule of camp activities. While we all enjoy the traditional all-camp events like Carnival and Spirit Week, this time of the camp season provides opportunities for the various age groups to enjoy special activities designed just for them. These age group-specific programs let campers get to know other girls in their age groups, develop peer leadership and communication skills, and explore new group dynamics outside the usual settings of cabin, dining hall and program area.

Here’s a look at some of the age group adventures campers have been enjoying over the past few days:

• Lower and Upper Juniors creative writing workshop: A chance for some of our oldest juniors to get in touch with their thoughtful sides and explore creative self-expression.

• Senior Camp age group overnight trips: With Lower Seniors off to Baltimore, Upper Seniors sailing around Mystic, Bunk Two exploring Boston and Bunk One venturing to Vermont and Montreal, this has been a big week for overnight trips!

• Upper Seniors Woodstock Museum trip: Three days of peace, love and music make one perfect day trip for the Upper Seniors! The girls got a firsthand look at the famous fields of Yasgur’s Farm, where one of the most famous events of the 1960s took place.

• LITs volunteer with Habitat for Humanity: Leadership doesn’t just mean taking charge — it also means giving back. That lesson was at the forefront of the LITs’ trip to Newburgh, New York, to work on a series of houses being built by the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

• Manor House/Lodge play: Our youngest campers took to the Apple O stage in “Say What You Want to Say,” an exclusive new show with an original script! Everyone in camp was impressed by their stage presence, their message and their energy.

• Bunk One/Two bowling with Camp Greylock: Our seniors love seeing their friends from other camps, including the young men of Camp Greylock, who are always kind enough to stop by Honesdale on their overnight trips. These visits are especially memorable when we get to do something off camp, like hit the lanes and show the boys a thing or two about bowling!

• Junior Camp special day: Each summer, there’s one special day on camp when all of the seniors are away — and on that day, the juniors play! For more than a decade, we’ve dedicated one day each summer to a special all-Junior-Camp theme day, when Upper Juniors get the chance to step into a leadership role and encourage their teammates to get into the fun and spirit of a unique competition.

From long bus rides and exploring new places to wacky competitions and onstage performances, age group activities give campers new ways to explore camp — and to celebrate all the age-appropriate and wonderful things about being exactly who they are today!