Last Saturday marked the second annual co-ed Color War at the Y Camps of Medford. To the uninitiated, Color War is when two teams, the Red Team and the Black Team, battle each other for camp glory over the course of roughly 24 hours. It all started with a ceremony held at dusk on the Matolly Dam, with the Village Chiefs and Camp Directors scattered and dressed in Native American garb with flames at their feet and a spark in their eye. One by one the Chiefs declared their villages to be in battle. The Color War Captains were honored- Kelsey Henry and Ian McCrohan for the Black Team and Aly Brenner and Joshua Crossman for the Red Team.
The intensity of the day might lead someone to believe that Color War have been around for years. In fact, this was only the second year it’s been held. In the morning, the teams separate into separate practice zones: the Red Team gathered at Matolly while the Black Team prepared for the  battles at Ocky. During the morning, campers were coached by counselors in various activities: pillow polo on the landsports fields, basketball, swimming relays in the lakes, and carpetball. One group on each team was responsible for making signs and chants for their team.
The excitement of the day was diminished a little after lunch due to ominous thunder, which caused the teams to retreat to enclosed buildings at Ocky. Once the storm passed, the War continued with the meeting of the teams on the landsports field. After the first contest, a counselor tug-of-war won by the Red Team,  campers and coaches dispersed to compete in the events they had been training for all morning.
Swimming the Triangle (Ocky waterfront to Cherokee Beach to Old Senior dock back to Ocky), a 4th session camp tradition, has been adapted to be a competitive part of Color War. Counselors who wished to do so swam the ~500m distance to the thunderous cheering of the camps. In first place was kiwi and Red Team member Jason Garrity, who, despite an ankle injury, edged out the defending champion Katie Kinkaid. Courtney Ross, Matolly CIT director, came in a strong third. Congratulations to all counselors who participated in the race!
During dinner in the Ocky bowl (barbecue), teams presented their skits and banners while spectators reflected on the day’s activities. After dinner was the official Color War–a dodgeball-type game played by the Junior Counselors involving the landsports field and red and black paint. In a close battle, the Black Team won 2-1.
Dozens of small flames lit up the field for the closing ceremony as the winner of the 2nd annual Color War was announced…the Red Team! In a sign of true sportsmanship, the Black Team respectfully congratulated the now-undefeated Red Team for their performance. As campers returned to their cabins after an exhausting and exciting day, Red and Black warriors cast aside bandanas and washed off their face paint to discuss the fun and positive competitiveness of the day.
While we have returned to the normal schedule of camp, the epic rivalry of the Black and Red Teams will simmer in campers’ and counselors’ minds until next year’s competition. Until then, the values of Color War (good sportsmanship and genuine happiness at other’s success) will be this year’s legacy.
-Beth and Tess, Matolly VCs