War Spirit Chains & Color War

Today is the last day of a very close Color War.  To help give a better perspective of  Bryn Mawr and Spirit Chains, an all camp tradition, a few former campers put together this reflection.  This reflection was read at last night’s Color War event.


One an average day, it takes Bryn Mawr campers twenty minutes after reveille blows to pull on the day’s uniform, brush their teeth, and tie up their laces to be ready for breakfast. Even then, they still sluggishly walk to lineup, roused only by the smell of French toast sticks as they enter the Dining Hall. When the girls are awoken, however, by the urgency of Bunk One’s spirited cries, they are ready, alert, and energized within less than a minute. Surprisingly, the overwhelming rush of people and waves of noise approaching their cabins don’t alarm them. Rather, in less than an instant, the campers know exactly what is happening. A Spirit Chain is about to take place, and before you can say “Color War,” these girls are ready for action.

The campers wait anxiously on their porches, jumping up and down giddily as they anticipate latching onto the chain. Following Cabin One’s lead, the girls hold hands as they trot happily down cabin row, chanting the first spirit chain song. Once the circle is formed, it only takes one look around to see something remarkable unfold. The energy emanating from each individual camper is palpable, and it is shared with all fellow Angels and staff. Spirit chains have the ability to transcend the boundaries between camper and staff, regardless of age or experience. It is a cooperative effort – the first sign that Color War is less about competing with one another, and more about uniting through tradition.

It’s not necessary for the girls to know all the exact words to the songs. They somehow understand that it is more important to contribute their enthusiasm and energy to the Spirit Chain, even if that means simply clapping their hands and screaming for fifteen minutes straight.

It doesn’t take years of camp experience to appreciate why Spirit Chains are meaningful. Underneath the chants and screams, the stomps and claps, Spirit Chains uncover the heart of tradition that keeps Bryn Mawr alive – the true reminder of what camp is all about.

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