Covered in face paint, donned in their team colors, they tug, they run and they shout until their voices go hoarse, and then they shout some more! Ropes are burned, alliances tested, spirits rise and fall.
It’s not last night’s Survivor episode: It’s WAY more intense.
It’s Color War! One of the oldest and most cherished events in American camping. Campers all across the country wait all year to compete against fellow campers and counselors, knowing as soon as they step foot on camp every summer, Color War could break any minute, surprising everyone and busting out this epic all-camp battle!
Every camp is different. Some do intense multiple day-long events, and some stretch out the competition over the whole summer; but one thing is the same at every camp: It’s all about the break.
Ice cream trucks, celebrity impersonators, hypnotists, live music and flash mobs; color war breaks keep getting better and better! Color War breaks have the near impossible task of being completely unique, highly entertaining, and most of all– they gotta surprise the heck out of hundreds of campers, who just know it’s coming!
Justin Efros, Director at Jeff Lake Camp in Stanhope, New Jersey has been at Jeff Lake for twenty-nine summers now, and he knows how important a spectacular break is! He’s seen some pretty amazing color war breaks: “We’ve had skydivers, monster trucks, dropping ping pong balls from helicopters, a plane with a banner behind it- we’ve had it all!”
But the problem with having amazing Color War breaks, is that they keep getting harder and harder to top. Jeff Lake Program Director, Adam Baranker was on his second year as “Color War Commissioner”, and he knew had a big job ahead of him.
“The campers are on the edge of their seat each summer waiting for the surprise break out of Color War” Adam says, remarking that Color War is probably most of the camper’s favorite event of the summer and that sixty year old camper alumni still check in on Color War status to see how their beloved Blue or White team is doing. Once a camper is assigned to that team, they are Blue or White lifers, a tradition that Adam thinks makes Color War one of the campers’ favorite event of the summer.
“It is SO cool for our campers to know that they are competing in the same events that were held when camp started in 1958.” And since then, they still have the same chance to make all the difference for their team, “Color War also gives the opportunity for any child to shine. You may not be the greatest athlete, but if you can cheer at the top of your lungs, you will feel like you are contributing to your team’s success!”.
With all that great past and present camper power, comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to planning a break. Adam was looking for something outside the box. Way outside the box, so he called in reinforcements.
Aimee Berger, director and founder of Camplified, and former camper herself, knows just how important a camp’s break is. When she visits her old camp, Kutsher Sports Academy, color war is always the first memory to come rushing back, “The first thing I think of is Lenny and J.J, my team captains who made Color War because of all their comedic antics, and our hunger for competition. It’s something my brother and I still talk about today.”
So naturally, she’s up for the challenge of helping camps plan a really great break, “After 12 years of bringing rock concerts and brand activation onto camp property, my relationships with summer camp directors has gone from professional to personal. For me, this means that they are my friends and we share the bond of camp in common,” she says. “As an executive in the entertainment business, my rolodex has proven more resourceful to me in the world of assisting summer camps then it ever did as a music manager and equally rewarding.”
And so formed the plan:
First, Adam and Aimee created a fake radio contest with SiriusXM’s The Morning Mash Up crew, radio personalities and co-hosts Rich, Nicole, Ryan, and Stanley T. were to come to Jeff Lake and MC the Friday Wigwam Ceremony, the camp’s weekly awards ceremony.
Former Laurel South Camper, Nicole Ryan, was especially honored to have a hand in creating color war memories, “As a radio host, when you get the call to play a role like this at a camp, you immediately reflect on all the amazing Color War breaks you had when you were a kid. Getting asked to assist in making those same memories for other children is something I could not wait to do! Any camp alumni would get it: It’s a camp thing…and there is nothing like it!”
The Morning Mash Up crew sent them two mp3’s before the day they came,
Check out the Morning Mash Up’s Jeff Lake as Semi-Finalists Announcement Here!
And then the day before the break, they sent them a clip of them saying that Jeff Lake had won!
Morning Mash Up announces Jeff Lake as WINNERS! Check it out here!
“Our campers were SO excited that they would be invading camp the next morning” Adam says, though admits to being a little nervous about the plan going smoothly, “The CITs were joking that they knew Color War was maybe on the horizon because of how I was pacing the entire time during Wigwam.”
The Morning Mash Up crew got the party started as they handed out awards, turning WigWam into a giant dance party and campers loved every second of it!
Wanna see the dance party?Check it out here: Wigwam Dance Party!
Jeff Lake Camper, Connor Edge agrees, “They made Wigwam so much fun and my group all loved running down and hugging Nicole when we won Honor Group!”
Watch it here! Honor Group win!
Check out the whole break here!
At the end of Wigwam, The Morning Mash Up crew said they had a surprise for the campers in a box in the car. Adam and Justin took the box out of the car and the crew took off the top off and 200 Blue and White balloons flew out to break Color War 2013.
“The younger campers were all extremely surprised,” Adam gushes. “When the balloons flew out of the box they were so excited. I think the older campers knew something was up my sleeve. Even though they might have suspected it, I think that suspicion is half of the fun!”
And fun it was! “The whole day went off seamlessly, Adam said. “We all said that it was one of the most fun days we have ever experienced!”
Fellow camper, Jenna Jenkins will also remember this break for a long, long time, “This was one of the best breaks ever! The Morning Mash Up started Color War off with a bang and it was so exciting when all of the Blue and White balloons flew out to start the four days of competition!”
Justin is still not sure that campers have finally come down from their Color War Break and Wigwam high. Maybe that memorable break is what inspired the closest Color War final score ever with Blue: 500.5 over White 499.5? Wow! Now that’s close!
But the real question for Jeff Lake is: how will you top this next year?
Adam’s not worried, “Let’s just say I’ve got Aimee Berger on speed dial”