It was finally here...the end was near… Color War 2017 - the Final Day! Other than Opening Day back in June, it’s maybe the second most anticipated day of every summer. The day began with the regular routine, but the breakfast buzz was all about how this War would finish – the always memorable, highly emotional Tugs of War.
But wait, we still had a full slate of morning games to be played to set the stage for the drama that was to come. Red still led, but Gray’s winning performance on the stage last night had them closing the gap fast.
Early on, it looked like Gray would keep it going when they swept a doubleheader in Cubs Baseball, and won Senior Tennis. The teams split two Junior Football games, but Red then answered with wins in Tiger Golf and Bocce, Sophomore Soccer and swept a pair in Stars Hoops to carry the morning, and move further ahead instead. Red had staved off the latest Gray run at them, and put themselves in great shape heading to the finish.
By late afternoon, it was time for the final and most important psych-up meeting of Color War 2017. "Red Team to the Pine Grove. Gray team to the tennis courts", the PA blared before all were called to the Freddie Pierce for the last event that would ultimately result in triumph for this year's winner.
It was the last chance to motivate, to share the strength, to pass on the power. The Captains and Star Lieutenants paced as never before. In minutes, the winning team would be determined, and each wanted that honor more than anything else. It’s time for…
Gray marched silently from the north and Red from the south. Lines of strong men, arms linked, hearts pumping.
Shep explained the rules. Each division’s tug (best 2 out of 3) is worth 2 points each. The crowd knew that Shuey’s Red Team had command (8 ½- point lead) and would look to close it out, but Max’s Gray Team wasn’t about to roll over.
“Tuggers take the rope”, Shep ordered. He confirmed that the flags are precisely centered, blows the whistle and….
Muscles tightened by every ounce of strength, they pull with steady force. Biceps, triceps, lats, quads, abs…each of them bulging as if they would burst. They pull with might powered by firm determination. Inside their minds a voice repeats:
“Pull! Pull! Pull!”, cries the team.
Each side refuses to give up. The rope barely moves, because the strong forces are equal. One side gains a little, then loses a little. Back and forth, till finally...
The unthinkable happens for one team, while the moment they’ve been waiting for comes for the other. The whistle blows and it’s over.
Watching this competitive duel from the sidelines is an experience unto itself. Determination electrifies the air and you feel things you never have before. It’s just about impossible to keep from crying, no matter how you rationalize, even if you have no preference on which side wins. It’s a rarely-in-a-lifetime experience to see 200 boys putting their heart, soul and strength into making something happen.
With their backs up against the wall, Gray somehow found a fresh supply of inner strength and pulled…and pulled their way to 4 straight division wins (Stars, Seniors, Juniors, and Sophomores) virtually knotting the score.
After 5 days of incredible comebacks, last second TDs, overtime goals and amazing plays all over camp, and with outstanding displays of Skylemar sportsmanship throughout, only ½ point separated these two GREAT teams with only 2 Divisions left to tug! Needless to say, the tension and excitement were off the charts!!
Then suddenly, it was over… Red WINS as their Tigers tugged Gray across the line, filling the faces of 200 drained competitors with tears of jubilation and sorrow.
They leapt into each other’s arms! Shouts of joy, cheers of elation, hugs all around! “ WE DID IT!”, is heard over and over.
And then they glanced to the right. Their Skylemar brothers on the Gray team were broken-hearted. Some... crying. Within seconds, Red tossed aside the victory, and turned their attention to consoling friends.
The Captains were lifted on the shoulders of their Lieutenants. They embraced, and all cheered. Both teams surrounded the elevated leaders, and everyone headed to Trickey Pond.
We’ve said it before. Trickey Pond is magical. Everyone jumped in with friends, and the waters washed away the competition. Just like that... Skylemar was once again one, a single band of brothers!
When the sun went down, with our Captains leading the way by torch light, we marched down the Bunkline in silent procession. Back we went to that miraculous Trickey Pond, this time for the 2017 Waterfront Ceremony, maybe summer's most magical night.
As you know, silence can be difficult, especially for a little guy. But as we sat by the giant bonfire on the sand, looking out at a lake that looked like glass, only the crackling of the embers could be heard. If you listened closely, Skylemar songs could be heard in the distance, as if they were coming from the middle of the lake. (they were!). The Captains each spoke, reminding all to never let an opportunity pass, and to appreciate every minute at Camp Skylemar.
Cabins were called up to the water’s edge to place a Wishing Boat in the lake. It’s a little boat made of wood, with a candle on top. Legend holds that if you put the boat in the water (even if the candle goes out) and make a wish for someone other than yourself, it might just come true.
Following the ceremony, the special night continued. Each cabin had their own little campfire, with pizza and s’mores. It felt great to be together, laughing, and just “hanging out”. It’s one of those times you remember the rest of your life.