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.

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