The time had come… Color War 2018 had reached the final day. Four days of divisional head-to-head competition had brought us here, with Red slightly ahead. Last night’s Songs and Cheers win by Gray had turned the momentum, and they seemed focused to piggyback that success with a morning run of their own.
Red made it clear early on that they would have none of that, putting Gray on notice with early wins in Cubs Baseball and Tigers Golf, followed by victories in Juniors Football and one Stars Hoops game. But Gray was determined to hang in there by responding with wins in Tigers Bocce and the other Stars Hoops contest, then backed it up by dominating Seniors Tennis.
Still too close to call as the teams headed to lunch, the tension and excitement of the past 5 days would have to again be settled at this afternoon’s penultimate closing event – TUGS OF WAR.
At least that’s what we thought…until Mother Nature forced Shep into some last-minute schedule changes, delaying the outcome anticipated by all until after dinner….a Skylemar first. We had tried waiting out the unpredictable storm, but mealtime came before it had safely subsided. By 7pm, light showers finally prevailed, conditions we're told make for excellent tugging.
Twilight TUGS on the new Snow Field, and what a show they gave us. The field was named earlier this summer for our much-loved Norma and Rich Snow, who have helped to run Skylemar for many years. Both teams marched with powerful strength as they took their places in this new TUGS home in front of a huge soggy crowd.
The intensity build-up from the past 5 days permeated the misty hot air, stronger than ever. They paced anxiously – struggling to stand still. Shep explained that it would take winning two out of three “pulls” to win the “tug" points for each division. Each team was allowed one Stars Lieutenant down at the rope to encourage their boys as they were set to dig in.
“Tuggers to the rope!”, he called.
They quickly staggered themselves strategically. They rooted their bare feet into the wet ground, got a very tight grip and hunched into ready position. THE WHISTLE BLEW and…
They PULLED with super-human strength. It came from the heart, from the mind, from the arms and legs. “PULL”, the Lieutenants hollered. Muscles popped as if going to burst, faces clenched, eyes were wide. They reached down deep and tried harder than ever thought possible...for themselves, for their team, for the brotherhood, and for you to be proud.
The shrill sound of George’s whistle indicated the end of each tug - one team had crossed the line, so the pull was over. The winners joyfully leaped into each other’s arms: the losers walked back to their places.
One by one, round after round, each team had felt the elation of a tugs win, until finally one team was in position for the tug that could win Color War 2018. Each side pulled so hard that neither went over the line – it seemed like forever the rope was suspended, but then…
RED WINS COLOR WAR!!!
Red Men jumped, screamed, hugged, high fives everywhere... for many the greatest moment of their entire life! And then the fantastically happy boys looked to their left...
Gray Men were defeated, crushed, heart-broken....many on the ground crying. Some embraced, sharing the pain.
The Reds headed over and cut through the crowd to collect their Gray brothers. They greeted friends with warm hugs and somehow knew the right thing to say. The Captains were raised on the shoulders of their oldest Lieutenants and were brought together to embrace. Then they were carried to the Pond, with both teams following behind. From each side of the dock, Jack and Daniel were dropped into the magical waters as the sky cleared and swam toward each other under the setting sun.
This tradition signified that Color War was over. All joined the Captains in Trickey, one bunk at a time. The magical waters quickly washed away the competition, and Skylemar was ONE again.
When the sun was down, we marched in silent procession down the bunkline, from Bunk 1 to the lake, one last time. With burning torches in hand, the Captains led the way. The journey ended at Trickey Pond, where we found beauty and peace. The loons sang as if they knew we were coming.
Shep began with a few moments of silence, devoted to sending warm thoughts of gratitude to those at home who we love. The Captains addressed the camp. “Make the most of this opportunity”, was Jack’s direction. “Think about remembering to focus on the positives, as opposed to the negatives”, was Daniel’s advice.
As the bonfire with the flames of many colors burned (blue, pink, purple and green), each person was called to the water’s edge to place a wishing-boat into the lake. It’s a block of wood with a candle on top, but to a Skylemar person, it’s a one-of-a-kind very special watercraft. You see, it comes with a legend: Place the boat into Trickey Pond waters - if you make a wish for someone other than yourself, that wish just might just come true.
After the much-loved ceremony, each cabin had pizza, s’mores and a small campfire just for themselves. It’s been a day and night filled with heart-warming tradition and moments to remember for the rest of our lives.