After a summer drenched with more than the typical amount of seasonal rain, Mother Nature stepped aside for the past 5 days. A sensational weather week gave us the full range of emotion from every corner of camp. We saw plenty of ups and downs on the fields, courts and in the water, filled with amazing plays, buzzer-beaters, great shots and phenomenal saves, spectacular runs, catches and interceptions, clutch hits and outstanding glove work. There were daily displays of speed, power, agility, quickness, and plain old athletic “smarts”, with too many last-second heroics to mention. We even saw a rare hole-in one! More so, both teams gave it all they had with maximum effort, all-around hustle, and an intensity level you’d expect in a War this close from the very start. The passionate leadership, outstanding teamwork, sportsmanship, and incredible resilient spirit thrilled us all, and will leave a lasting memory for all who witnessed it. Here’s how it ended….
Red’s tenuous lead gained at last night’s Songs & Cheers would be tested right out of the shoot this morning as Gray came storming out and blitzed Red in the first of two Sophomore Soccer matches over at the Hejduk. But Red again was up to the challenge, and made an early goal stand up to win the second. Red then won Juniors Football and both Stars Hoops games and again took command. A pitcher’s duel on the Freddie Pierce saw the Red Cubs slip past the Gray 2-0, before Gray got back on the board with a win in Seniors Tennis. Red victories in Tigers Golf and Bocce, and the all-camp Archery point put them solidly in the catbird seat – before Gray jumped right back in it by sweeping a pair of Freshmen Hockey games as we closed out the week’s athletic events. Gray had fought valiantly, but Red would take the lead into the summer’s most anticipated traditional event – the most memorable activity of every Color War for the past 70+ years – Skylemar’s official closer -- TUGS of WAR!!!
Coop’s Red Men had performed magnificently since mid-week, putting them in position to close it out. It would only take two wins out of the seven Divisions in Tugs to win it all. It seemed likely, but history has written many fairy tale endings. Aiden’s Gray Men still believed – and remained upbeat and confident of pulling off the upset.
The time had come… the PA sounded, “Gray Team to the Tennis courts, Red Team to the Hockey courts” for some last second “psyching up,” not that anyone needed it. Shep called the teams to the Snow Field, and within minutes our youngest division, the Cubs, took the rope for the first time, beginning the process. It would take best 2 of 3 tugs for a win in each division; Round 1 saw each Division take their first tug before coming back for Round 2.
“Tuggers take the rope!”, Shep bellowed. Grip tight, feet anchored, George blew the whistle and…
PULL!!! Muscles clenched tighter than tight, faces twisted with Herculean effort. Each participant put every ounce of his very being into pulling that rope because he…has…to…win. The air filled with emotion, so thick that spectators were overcome as well. This demonstration of will power was so intense that many on the hillside teared up. These were our boys!
Those on the sidelines screamed, “Pull…Pull…Pull”! A few tugs seemed like they’d never end. When Gray swept the oldest 3 Divisions, Red’s lead had all but disappeared, down to just ½ point separating the teams – then, just as suddenly, Red closed out the Juniors and Sophomores tugs ….and it was over. RED WINS COLOR WAR 2021!
The Red Team stormed the field in celebration! They leaped into each other’s arms, cheered wildly and just plain exploded with joy. It was the happiest day of their lives.
At least it was until they saw their Gray brothers sobbing, collapsed in raw emotion. They too wanted to win more than anything in the world.
Red Men reached out to Gray with hugs and kind words. The Captains were hoisted on the shoulders of their Lieutenants, and the entire camp followed them down to Trickey Pond.
Here, friends leaped into the lake, which is where the magic happens. Trickey Pond washes away the competition, and Skylemar is one.
The magic continued after sunset, when it’s time for Waterfront Ceremony... perhaps the most loved and cherished Skylemar tradition. The Captains led the torch-lit procession, which included every member of the Skylemar community. The walk was silent, and even the little guys followed the rule tonight.
At the lake was a pathway of torches, with a giant bonfire on top of the water. Once seated, we paused for a moment of gratitude for all those at home as well as at camp. The Captains each had a chance to share their message. They talked about their appreciation for Skylemar, and all that they’ve learned here. The Captains encouraged each camper to be grateful for this opportunity and make the most of every minute.
Shep called each cabin, one at a time, to come to the water’s edge and light their Wishing Boats. Our legend holds that if you light the candle, place the boat in Trickey Pond and make a wish for someone other than yourself, that wish just might come true. The boats sparkled like a sky full of stars, as Skylemar songs were sung from across the lake.
Once up the hill, each Division had their own campfires. Pizza and s’mores too. It was a special way to end a spectacular week.