Recently I ran one of my email roundtables. It was on Color Wars – the breaking of them, the challenges, creating teams and much more. In an attempt to gain more submissions I put up a $50 Amazon gift card for my favorite Color War break. In all, over 150 camp professionals submitted ideas – many sent in multiple ideas. While I have never run a Color War myself, I am certainly planning on doing so this summer after reading through these great ideas.

What I found so amazing about this roundtable is that many of those that submitted ideas had never participated (or even heard of) Color Wars. They did research on the internet, used some creativity and added unique challenges they do in their normal camp program.


The winning submission was an entry that had multiple ideas and introduced to me the idea of “Fake Breaks”. While these are EPIC breaks there is NO WAY most camps would be able to afford or pull off these kinds of breaks, including my camp.

Because of that I decided to award a $25 Amazon gift card to the runner-up…a low cost, yet incredibly well-done break – and at a day camp none the less. I also love that they included a video.

I also added an honorable mention to a submission that I thought was fantastic and seemed doable for any camp to pull off.

winnerThe winning submission comes from Colleen M.

This is one of the biggest moments to me, this is what I spend 10 months of the year putting together trying to make it more amazing each summer.

Let’s talk about fakes. This is when I do something crazy where the camps think color war is about the break and then I have a banner that comes out saying fake out. You should see the kids; they are sitting on the edge of their seats each day waiting for it to start. We do some fakes that cost nothing, to cost a little.

Each year I have a tradition where I play music and call all campers and staff to the gym. I have a boys vs. girls comp – treasure hunt. Each bunk is given a clue to find part of the puzzle; they then bring it back to the gym and start to put everything together, which will show a picture – A picture which is a clue to the names of color war. We give out clues throughout all the fake outs so the campers can try and guess what the color war names are going to be. I also have a CD with sound effects.

The best is the helicopter, you wouldn’t believe how you play the sound of a helicopter over the PA system, then say everyone go to the girl’s tennis courts, and 450 (campers and staff) drop everything and run, and then there is nothing there. Try it. We also have put food coloring in the milk blue and yellow at breakfast, left clues on everyone’s bed when they are at a meal, so when they come back they go nuts. We have made funny movies on camp, woke the kids up at 1am and showed them. One year we took the banner and filmed the banner at places the kids and staff know (like Walmart, Chinese, bowling alley, movies, our day camp etc.), asking them if they know where the banner is. It’s pretty funny and costs nothing.

I have taken 5 male counselors, and put a funny dance in the pool to funny girly music, had counselors paint their body blue and yellow and run around camp. I even have two morphs suits that we use each summer, with clues. Last summer we even got a child morph suit, so it was like a color morph family.


I have had a scuba diver go into our lake while kids are still sleeping, called all kids to the lake and then randomly out walks this scuba diver with a clue. This year I also took my waiters/waitresses (10th graders) and I did a glow in the dark dance with them, right before the break, so our kids thought for sure it was the break, then had a sign saying fake out. I have had a fire truck come on camp, police car, even a bus pull up and off walked my director dressed up as the old man from six flags and started dancing to the music.

Last summer I had a dance group come on camp, after we told the kids someone stole the banner and we needed it back or we wouldn’t do color war. The dance group came running in saying they stole the banner and if we wanted it back we would have to do a dance off. I have had a hummer limo drive on camp, kids thinking someone famous was in it, and then the morph suits come running out.


This is my baby, past 6 years I am the one researching and booking the event. This does cost some money, however you do not need to spend any. Ideas from my fakeouts can also be used as a break out. Here are some past color war breaks:

2012 – Jousting competition – 9pm, kids were in gym then led to our sitting area. Two horses were waiting and then announced the black knight vs. the blue/yellow knight. We then walked over to our soccer fields, where they started the competition, jousting, sword fighting, very exciting.


2011 – Fire Cirque du Soleil, took all our campers off camp for 3 hours to our day camp, in the mean time the company set up in our gym. Campers came back and we paged them to the gym. different fire effects, hula hoop, head-gear, even lit part of the (cement floor) gym floor on fire, had a large hoop attached to roof and performed while the hoop was on fire.


2006-2010 breaks can be found in the Color Wars roundtable compilation. My favorite two breaks are the ones above. Having jousters on horseback at camp would be quite a site – as would Cirque du Soleil performs. Well done, Colleen. I can’t wait to see what you come up with this year.


The runner-up submission comes from Buffy D.

runner-upWe sent home an email to the staff and parents telling them we are working on a new camp video and will be having a screening when it is complete.  On the day of the screening we gathered the entire camp body into our rec hall where there is a giant TV screen. We played the video – for about 5 minutes the entire camp was viewing a montage of pictures from the previous years.

At a certain point – the video stops – and on comes a TV news announcer (this was a real news anchor) – saying they interrupt this broadcast to announce there is a villain on the loose at Tall Pines and Uncle Andrew has called in the heroes to see who can destroy the villain first. On the screen are the characters from each side – which we previously filmed – of them running through camp; Then suddenly, and timed perfectly, they burst through the doors of the rec hall and run through the crowd with confetti guns.

Once the crowd is calmed down the generals then announce which bunks will be assigned to what color – then green and white bandannas are disbursed to each bunk counselor to give out. Also the entire weeks activities are given out in a day by day schedule.

The video is great. I asked Buffy how she got a real news anchor to do the broadcast and how much overall she spent on this break (besides the costumes).

Buffy’s response:
It honestly was a matter of networking. First we contacted all the local stations and no one would accommodate us. Then when I asked one of my counselors who taught video at a high school – because our back up plan was to do a fake taping.  He reminded me he worked at Comcast Sports net. And he called in a favor. We wrote the script and he just read it and sent us the tape and we incorporated it into our tape. It was just luck. And the newscaster comes from a camping background in his youth so he “got it”. It did not cost us anything – but I sent gift baskets as a thanks.

The confetti wands we found through a balloon guy I had used at camp. They were $25 – our original idea was to use a confetti cannon.



The honorable mention goes to David M. I edited his submission to include the breaks I liked the most.

Color War, or Maccabiah, at (our camp) is a big deal. Many campers actually schedule the weeks they want to be in camp around when they think color war will be. Each year it comes out at a different time.

We had a sheriff come and teach us about what to do if a bear was spotted and while he was speaking, someone in a bear costume came up to the pavilion holding a COLOR WAR BANNER.

We told people a special musical guest was coming. Somehow, it spread that Justin Bieber was coming. A stretch hummer limo pulled up, the driver rolled out a red carpet and the Color War Generals exited (much to the dismay of the teenage girls but they took it well!)


I love the bear one. Rent a bear costume and have a ranger volunteer to do the talk. Sounds like a lot of fun.

If you take a look on the right hand side of the screen you’ll see the sidebar and that’s where you can sign up to be on my mailing list. When I run an email roundtable I notify everyone on the list about it. I tell them what the topic is and then they usually have around a week to submit an idea. Then everyone who submits an idea gets the compilation of everyone else’s ideas. So get on the list NOW, because you never know when I might call for a roundtable.