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Color War Is Here!

Leah Reisman

Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready, ready, ready? Come on, I don’t hear you. Let me hear you louder! You say you’re ready? You’re sure? Ok then, here goes: This week’s feature is... COLOR WAR! (And no, this is not a fake-out!)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Back in the dark ages, when your parents and grandparents went to camp, there was no air-conditioning, and even the staff members didn’t have cell phones. However, there’s one thing that been part of summer camp since, like, forever. And it isn’t going away anytime soon. So here goes the breakout for this week’s feature!

A Camp Classic

Color War has always been a camp classic. But if your parents showed up at the Grand Sing this year, would they be able to just slide right back on stage and sing along? Or has Color War evolved over the years? Let’s talk to some camp directors and Head Counselors who have been around since — well, since before the camp dining room had air-conditioning — and find out...

Changing Colors

If Color War is a universal camp classic, then it’s gotta be the same year after year, right? Why bother changing the formula for something so timeless? But in all honesty, our directors and head counselors agree that Color War has been tweaked over the years to ensure that it doesn’t start to taste stale… 

Camp Agudah: “Color War has evolved over the years to become more about ruchniyus,” Rabbi K. relates. “Breakouts used to be about scaring the campers with fake shootings and police. Nowadays, we tend to do exciting shows. Also, about 25 years ago, one of the rebbeim in camp initiated the Grand Bechinah, where boys use Color War to learn masechtos they generally don’t learn. This has created a different atmosphere during Color War.”

Photo: Shutterstock

Camp Yachad: “Over the years,” Rabbi Becker discloses, “it’s getting harder and harder to come up with good breakouts. Kids are smarter and savvier now, and based on the camp schedule, they can figure out when Color War is supposed to happen. So we have to do a lot of fake-outs!” 

Camp Bnos: Rebbetzin Perr keeps a log of 60 years worth of Color War breakouts and themes, so there are never any repeats. (Wow, that’s a lot of years!) Over the years, Color War in Camp Bnos has been shortened from a three-day extravaganza to just one day and night, since the girls seemed to be wiped out after too much Color War. Rebbetzin Perr also shares that technology has changed the face of Color War, with videos, slideshows, and a chidon where the questions are posted on a large screen where everyone can see them.

Best of the Breakouts

So much planning and creativity goes into each breakout, and some of them just can’t be forgotten. Maybe you’ll recognize some of these memorable breakouts… 

Camp Agudah: Once, a long time ago, one of our very talented counselors built a spaceship and we put it in middle of the camp. The next morning, the campers were greeted by a “UFO landing,” with green and blue balloons coming out of it. Another time we had two sky divers, one dressed in blue and one dressed in green, of course, land in the middle of camp. One year we announced that a fake Rebbe, the “Falshe Rebbe” was coming to visit camp. All of the campers lined the road to greet him, singing “Yamim al Yemei Melech...” The “Rebbe” gave an excellent speech that ended with a Color War breakout.

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