by Ken Miller, Associate Director and Athletic Director
The echoes of Color War past reverberate throughout the history and memories of Moosilauke campers. There was always the mystery of how Color War would be broken although many of us felt we knew what night it was going to happen. The actual Color war breaks ranged from everything from ping pong balls bouncing all over the mess hall, letters to each camper received at rest hour, the themes of pirates, giant eels, and even Grease, to crazy loggers and the Planet of the Apes. This year we had the mystery of why the Color War of 1961 never happened. The story was that a pilot had been hired to break Color War but he never made it to Camp Moosilauke and disappeared under mysterious circumstances (A storm? A tornado?). The lead up to a Color War break is as important as the break itself as campers follow clues that take them to many areas of camp. There was a list of Color War results since 1943 posted at the office which clearly showed that there were no results in 1961. A local pilot was hired to perform a few flyovers in a small plane during the week. The campers of 2011 came down the hill at night to discover a real plane that had crashed in front of the office. Each of the age groups were tasked with finding various items from the plane crash including a parachute, a pilot’s hat, aviator goggles and a satchel. The satchel was the most important discovery as it held the missing teams of 1961. The ancient book that contained this vital information was unfortunately locked and could only be opened by a blood relative of Moose Miller. The teams were then announced, including age group lieutenants, advisors and lastly the captains. There is a sacred envelope that holds the points for the final team song and team fire building. Each captain challenges and offers words of encouragement to the other team in the ax challenge.
Color War is a time when campers bring all of their skills to a final contest between the Red and Grey teams. We run up junior hill, throw Frisbees, race a mile, shoot arrows, burn ropes with fire, perform heroic rope pulls, swim, canoe, sing songs, catch fish, and play baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis. It is a time when those campers who possess advanced skills in certain areas can shine and that is not a surprise. However, it is also a time of discovery as campers achieve heights that they could only imagine before. It is within this discovery that we find what is most intriguing about Color War. It is face paint and cheers. It is about a young camper who does not play much baseball getting the game winning hit. It is about campers finding something within themselves that makes them run a mile for their team. It is the wonderment at a six foot fire with the flames licking at a rope that all want to burn through. It is about an incredible sense of accomplishment and spirit, not only during Color War, but throughout the summer. Color War, like the rest of the summer is a time when older campers cheer on younger campers, and where young and old celebrate achievements, both large and small.