1, 2, 3, 4 We Want Color War!

  • I just witnessed one of the most inspirational moments that I have seen in my 9 summers at camp. However, I still have other events of the week to share, so I won’t spoil the story.  Okay, maybe a little spoiler alert…it involves the ending of Color War and the incredible sportsmanship of our campers.

    Last week was a bittersweet Shabbat, knowing that it was the final Shabbat of first session. We spent the afternoon packing and cleaning, and taking a break for Department Awards. Saturday night our campers traveled into a space themed dining hall for banquet, planned by Birya and Tel Chai (our 10th grade campers). These campers worked hard all session making centerpieces, painting murals, choreographing a dance and writing a song for the rest of camp.  After dinner and entertainment, our camp community went to Elbess (our indoor gym) for Shira (singing) and a slide show presentation recapping the fun we had first session. Typically, a camper crying is not a good thing, but tonight the tears that flowed were signs of a successful first session.  Through the hugs and tears of our campers, I kept hearing “next year I’m staying full.”

    On Sunday morning, we said goodbye to 135 first session campers.  We had such an amazing first session, and it was so sad to see them leave. However, we couldn’t be sad for long, because families were waiting to enter camp for Visiting Day 2017.  At the end of visiting day, our full season campers said goodbye to their families and headed out on trips.  Our Oles (3rd-6th grade campers) went bowling at Leda Lanes. Our Tsofs (7th-8th graders) went to Cedarland for miniature golf, swimming and batting cages, and our Bogs (9th-10th graders) enjoyed skating at Roller Kingdom.

    We welcomed 89 second session campers to summer 2017 on Monday morning. Even with the rain, spirits were positive as friends reunited and new friendships began to develop.  The morning was spent bonding as bunks and giving tours to new campers.  We had an enthusiastic Shira session after lunch, with our singing drowning out the sound of the rain. Afternoon activities were held in rainy day locations and campers traveled with their bunks to a few different activities including arts and crafts, Discover Israel, a Dutch Auction and a dodge ball tournament. Just as Birya and Tel Chai plan the first session banquet, Kinneret and Tel Yehuda (our 9th grade campers) plan the Final Banquet for our camp community.  They didn’t waste any time starting to plan this event, and have already picked the theme (but I can’t share it because it is a secret until the night of banquet).

    It is our tradition to introduce the staff to second session campers in our Counselor No Talent Show.  However, this year, we had to change it to a Talent Show.   The performances showcased our amazing staff in ways that we typically don’t see.  The final act was the glow stick dance created in 2011 and performed by a different group of staff each year. It was a great start to second session.

    On Tuesday, camp woke up to our first morning of second session.  We had a full day of regular camp activities.  However, as soon as second session starts, so do the chants of “1, 2, 3, 4 we want Color War!”  This year, our community did not have to wait long. As dinner came to an end, Wally, the Boston Red Sox mascot made an appearance into the dining hall.  As he walked through the doors, the Color War theme song “Eye of the Tiger,” began to play, and the entire camp broke out in cheers. Color War was here! The camp followed Wally out to the Bog field where bunks had the opportunity to take pictures with Wally before the teams were announced.

    Right after teams were announced, they gathered at their team locations and all our oldest campers led their teams in cheers as they bonded together as a team.  While there are team captains, Color War is a leadership opportunity for all members of Birya and Tel Chai, each taking on different jobs in preparing their teams for the events of the week. After team meetings, teams gathered at the beach for the opening Color War activity, Digging for the Heart. Up until this point, teams are identified as Team 1, Team 2, Team 3 and Team 4. The team captains dig for one of the four pieces of a colored heart to reveal their team color and team name.  Blue is Negev, White is Galil, Red is Sharon and Yellow is Yarden.  This year the teams found all four pieces of the heart (In order: Yarden, Sharon, Galil and Negev) and could put the puzzle together to create the whole heart.  Yes, there are still a few pieces from past years buried somewhere deep in the sand of our waterfront.  I am waiting for a year when we find 2 pieces of Sharon.

    The camp woke up on Wednesday morning, excited for Color War.  Now that the teams knew their colors, they were ready to start Color War and the first event of the morning was the Key to Competition. A wooden key, painted with all 4 team colors was hidden in the wood shed on the beach. Team members received clues, one at a time, to find the hidden key.  Congratulations to Galil for finding the key! After team meetings, teams competed in the All Camp Relay, a relay race held on the soccer field. After lunch and rest hour, teams met on the Bog Field for the Maccabia Games. These games include a series of races and events including the softball throw, the shoe scramble, the three-legged race and the wheelbarrow race.  The Games end with the Tevya “marathon,” a one mile race around camp.

    Wednesday night’s activity was Beat the Clock. Sitting in the round in El Bess (our indoor gym), campers compete in a variety of contests on the stage set up in the middle of the room. I heard that some campers have been practicing saying the alphabet backwards all year long in anticipation of this contest. Other contests include an egg toss, a mummy wrap, eating a donut off a string and finding an Skittle in a bowl of whipped cream.  The evening event culminates with a pie eating contest.  At the end of Wednesday night’s events, Galil, was in the lead, then Yarden, Sharon, and Negev.

    With a threat of rain yesterday morning, the Color War Committee quickly updated the schedule to maximize the outside activity time before the rain came.  Half of our campers started their morning on the courts and fields competing in the Gordon Games.  The Gordon Games include basketball, newcomb and kickball tournaments.  The other half of our camp was on the waterfront competing in Aquatics Day. There were silly races like swimming while reading a newspaper and swimming while holding a ping pong on a spoon.  There was also the not-so-silly Omen, in which team members canoe out to the river, get out of the canoe and run up a hill to retrieve their team’s flag, and then canoe back to the waterfront.  The morning concluded with the Greased Watermelon competition.  I can try to explain this intense competition, but you have to see it to believe it.  Imagine a football game in the water with a very slippery watermelon instead of a football.  Even that picture in your mind does not do it justice.

    Camp took a Color War break for lunch and rest hour.  Bunk 4’s prize in Monday’s Dutch Auction was a pizza party in my house.  Yesterday was the day that I was lucky enough to spend some quality lunch time with these 5th great boys.  It was so much fun, and I enjoyed getting to know these boys over pizza.

    After lunch and rest hour, teams headed back to team meetings to prepare for Culture Bowl and Songfest. Culture Bowl was held in the afternoon.  Each age group (Oles, Tsofs and Bogs) gathered in a different place for a gameshow-like competition of Tevya and Judaic trivia. Instead of buzzers, they banged on metal pans to indicate they were ready to answer the question.  The Color War Committee planned the day perfectly, and the only rain we got was during lunch and rest hour when campers were inside.  Unfortunately, the ground was still wet and Thursday night BBQ was held inside.  Although the atmosphere was a little different, the hamburgers, hotdogs and cookie bars were still the same!

    While others would choose Greased Watermelon or the Apache Relay as their favorite Color War activity, for me, Songfest wins hands down. Our oldest campers work so hard during Color War writing a Hebrew song, a cheer, a fight song, and an alma mater, and then teaching these songs to the rest of the campers on their team. Team by team, they present each of their songs to a panel of judges. They also make a banner and prepare a speech tying their banner to camp values. The banner gets presented to the Leadership Team and banners are hung on walls around camp.  I love the thought that when these campers bring their own children to visit Tevya, they will be able to show them the banner they made so many years before. I love seeing the smiling faces on all of campers during this event, and I love the pride they feel for their team. At the end of Songfest, Galil was in the lead followed by Sharon, Negev, and Yarden.

    This morning was the Apache Relay, a 94-step relay race involving the entire camp. Each camper takes on a different leg of the race including braiding a challah, completing the Adrenaline Force Obstacle Course, playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on an instrument, making 4 consecutive free throw shots and cooking a hot dog.  The Relay ends with team captains lighting a fire under a rope until the rope burns.  This 3-hour event takes incredible coordination and our Color War Committee did an excellent job organizing the many details of the relay.

    The inspirational moment that I spoke about in the introduction of this newsletter happened when the winners of Color War were announced.  In 4th Place, Galil (white), in 3rd Place, Negev (blue), in 2nd Place, Yarden (yellow), and the winner of Color War 2017, Sharon (red).  The entire camp broke out cheering for Sharon, who this year broke a 17-year streak of losing the competition.  Regardless of the team, every camper was so happy to see their friends break the curse that plagued Sharon.  It was a true representation of the sportsmanship and compassion that is the core of who Tevya is as a community. As I looked out at the see of colors all hugging each other, I was so proud of all of them.

    I feel that the tone of Color War is set by our oldest campers, Birya and Tel Chai (BTC) lead the other campers through this 3 ½ day competition. BTC 2017’s positive attitude, strong sense of compassion, and commitment to values such as sportsmanship and teamwork made this week a success in every way possible.  In truth, they have set the tone for the whole summer and this week was a continuation of what we have been seeing all summer. For the parents of these campers, I know you must be so proud of your children.  BTC 2017 will forever be remembered as an incredible group of teens who exemplify all we want our role models to be.

    While I enjoy the spirit of Color War, I am happy when it ends.  We go from four teams back to one community as we prepare for Shabbat. I am looking forward to the peacefulness of our first Shabbat of second session.

    Shabbat Shalom,


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