Some seem to argue that competition is four-letter word, something that we should protect our children from at all cost. And, certainly, this nasty thing has no place at camp, right?
Really? No competition at camp? No Honor Bunk (for the cleanest bunk of the week)? No winner of the Home Run Derby? No Color War?
Ask a camper what would happen if Color War went away. Go ahead. Just be prepared for a “are you serious” look followed by a discourse that would remind you of a prison level riot. “They would NEVER do that! Color War is the BEST!!”
Why do the kids love Color War so much? For a couple of reasons:
- The spirit – everyone gets involved. Really involved.
- It’s goofy – you get dressed up, you play, you have a good time.
- It’s serious – you want your participation to matter to your team.
- You count – every camper has a chance to make a positive impact on their team whether it is in spirit, athletics, the arts, in the water, or elsewhere.
- It’s safe. Do our campers get caught up in the heat of the moment? Yes. Does it turn negative? Rarely. Do we use these rare outbursts as teachable moments? Every time.
Dr. Chris Thuber, one of the leading camp thinkers in the country, explains the best type of competition is cooperative. Cooperative competition is “when competition creates just a little anxiety, demands fair play, and emphasizes fun, children’s performance can be enhanced and they learn to make moral decisions independent of adult caregivers.” This is a perfect example of what we follow at Camp Winadu.
We want our campers to learn new skills in a fun, safe, and positive environment. The only way to know where you need to improve on those skills is by testing them, whether it is against yourself by going past self set limits or another person on the basketball court or soccer pitch.
Bob Bigelow, a former member of the Boston Celtics and now a youth sports reformer, explains that “now it’s all top down from the parents [but] what most kids want is just to have fun, develop their skills, run around and socialize.”
This defines the vast majority of campers and exactly the type of environment we create at Winadu. The kids have fun. They play. They learn from each other AND from our fabulous staff members.
Camp teaches life lessons every day, most of the time without the campers knowing it. How to enjoy pushing yourself, how to be an active part of a team, how to test your skills against the clock, the course, or another team… these are the lessons we strive to teach in a safe, positive, and FUN manner.
So, who’s ready for Color War!?!?!