April 10, 2024
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April 10, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As summer camp approaches, parents must prepare their kids for war… color war, that is. Color war has many of the hallmarks of real war including uniforms, battle cries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, summer camp color war features facets not normally associated with actual war, including singing contests. Just imagine how much more civil the Civil War would have been if it had all come down to best song?

For half of all campers, i.e., the winners, color war is the highlight of their summer. For the other half, i.e., the losers, it is a bitter reminder that no matter how hard they try, they will always be losers. Yes, it’s cruel and unfair but remember, this is war. It’s not a color conversation, color contest or even a color confrontation. It’s a color war, during which the strong win, the weak whine and the color-blind wonder what team they’re on.

Over the last few decades, summer camp color war has undergone relatively few changes and thus has arguably become a bit stale. So, the question is, how can color war be improved?

First of all, color war “breakout” (i.e., when the start of color war is announced) has become way too predictable. Let’s not stand on ceremony any longer. Camps should dispense with the elaborate and telegraphed “breakout” routines and just blatantly put color war’s start on the official camp calendar. If campers crave an element of surprise, then camps should flip the script and keep campers in suspense as to when color war will end. Imagine if color war lasted an unpredictable two weeks or at least until the intensity is borderline dangerous, the competition is almost unhealthy and the drama is nearly toxic. To make it an even bigger surprise, the camp should unceremoniously declare that color war has ended in the lamest and least satisfying of all results: a tie.

At that point, there would be a new type of color war “breakout” as the devastated campers would break out into tears, hysteria and revolution. (Yes, we’re talking about a coup d’camp!)

Second, every color war should have an official “Kvetch Committee” to resolve the innumerable disputes and inevitable protests. (Disputes are inevitable because during a color war, nothing is black and white.) The Kvetch Committee should actively listen to all complaints, create a detailed record and then issue a formal written decision that reads something like this: “Petition denied. You’re all a bunch of spoiled brats. No second-helping of dessert for any of you for one week.”

Third, any self-respecting color war should include an eating contest. The problem with the typical eating contest, however, is that Jewish kids, by virtue of genetics and breeding, are programmed to consume mass quantities at alarming rates. So, a far more interesting contest would be to place each child in front of his/her favorite meal and then see which camper can hold out the longest before taking a bite. To speed things up, have each participating camper skip breakfast and also helicopter in their helicopter moms to prepare their most irresistible dish. Such a test of restraint also can be used during other color war events. For example, camps should lock campers in a room with their least favorite teachers teaching their least favorite subjects, and see which camper can last the longest. This event would be called “Summer School Smackdown.” Camps also should force children to hang out with their annoying families during a buzz-killing afternoon away from friends and fun, to see which kids are the first to abandon their ideas of independence and fantasies of freedom. Oh wait, camps already do this event. It’s called Visiting Day.

Finally, the often outcome-determinative song contest should feature the most reticent campers speaking their truth through songs that wreak of almost too much honesty. For example, imagine the following overly revealing song, sung to the tune of One Direction’s 2014 hit, “Night Changes”:

Going back to camp.

Confidence is pretty low.

My mother tells me that I have to go.

Having an empty nest.

Is all that she really wants.

Hating summer camp.

I really want to go home soon.

My parents are too busy in Cancun.

Having no stress.

Is all that they really want.

I’m only getting older, baby.

The camp director thinks I’m crazy.

Are my parents really this lazy?

Do my parents really love me?

Everything that they ever dreamed of.

Empty house and vacation for two months.

They probably wish it was more like twelve months

Do my parents really love me?

They will never change, unless I sue.

Bottom-line: If your team loses color war, that does not mean your entire life is ruined. The only things ruined will be your reputation, dignity and childhood.

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