Color War is our number one special event of the summer. Four days of non-stop, all-camp competitions bring out a summer crescendo of spirit and enthusiasm. Words cannot express the anticipation with which the entire camp awaits this event at the end of the summer. The exact day on which Color War begins — known as Color War Break — is a mystery, known only to the directors. Several “fake breaks” rouse anticipation to fever pitch by the time the real break finally comes.
The entire camp is divided into two teams — Orange and Black — who follow a special daily schedule while competing in every camp activity. Color War’s major events are: the all-camp Classic Relay (which includes everything from a three-legged race to whistling the alma mater with a mouth full of crackers to canoeing to a hundred basketball stations – all in the course of a single hour), Song & Cheer (a singing competition), Hatchet Hunt, Tug O’ War, and Rope Burn.
Rope Burn is unlike any activity at any camp. Each summer, six of the oldest boys are chosen from each team for the event. For three days, scores of campers from each team help collect wood, strip kindling, and practice their stack, to prepare for the biggest bonfire imaginable. Their objective? Build a fire hot and high enough to burn through a thick piece of rope which has been soaked in water and is suspended 10 feet in the air.
On the final night of Color War, the entire camp cheers both teams as they enter the campfire area. A perfect silence falls as everyone awaits the starting whistle. When it blows, both teams leap into action, stacking wood and trying to light their fire. Time blurs as two fires blaze higher and higher into the night sky until — suddenly — one side of the rope snaps in half (often within 8 minutes or less). The winning team leaps into the air and the crowd erupts with cheers (or cries of dismay). Such is the energy that pervades Color War.
At the end of four days, the team with the most points wins. There is no prize for winning, but you would never know it from the exultation of the winning team and the tears (yes, tears) of their opponents. Thankfully, winners and losers meet in the lodge for a closing ceremony, hug it out, and camp returns to normal by nightfall.