The most universal experience we had across the generations at Saginaw was the anticipation of and the playing out of Color War. No matter if it was Boys or Girls Camps these questions were on everyone’s minds from the first week each summer.
When do you think Color War is going to break?
How are they going to break it this year?
What are the teams going to be?
Who are going to be the Color War Captains?
It all began with the anticipation of the break. We all knew it was likely to be in the first week in August or so but we were on pins and needles about it weeks before that. The fake breaks were as enticing as the real thing and some of the fakes were almost as elaborate as the break itself. We can remember crop dusters, sky writers, fire engines, fireworks, special skits, and a whole lot more.
We were spying in places like Saniford Hall or Russ Hall looking for team banners being made or eavesdropping wherever a piano could be found for a few bars and lyrics of color war songs in the works. Pairs of counselors disappearing could be a tip off to the counselor captains. Herbie or Connie acting even more peculiar than normal could be a tip to an imminent break.
Once the break occurred there was an announcement like “All Girls Camp go to Saniford Hall and All Boys Camp go to The Dell” and now all the waiting and anticipation was over-time for the Big Color War Reveal.
Here is when you got your first glimpse of the team names and banners and the adrenaline started to flow. The realization of which counselors would be running the show and who their divisional camper captains, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, and P.F.C.s would be. And finally the reading of the team rosters so you knew which side of the Color War divide you would be playing and cheering for.
Next step was splitting off into teams for the first pep talk, discussion of the schedule of events, and the distribution of the Color War Songsheets that would become the constant companion of all the campers the next four days, trying to memorize the lyrics and figure out the tunes.
This was usually followed by a furious attempt by captains and some campers to make custom color war shirts for themselves. Rit Dye and magic markers seemed to appear out of nowhere as anyone with a hair of artistic talent was called in to help conjure up the team image on a white tee shirt turned crimson or light blue. Warning: these shirts had to be washed by hand to avoid ruining the rest of your wardrobe in the wash.
Once the schedule kicked in Color War had it’s own rhythm that was different than all other day’s of the camp year. There were songfest rehearsals twice a day. Older campers would pair up with the younger kids to help them learn the songs and mentor them in proper songfest behavior.
There were activities in each division-morning, afternoon, and sometimes at night-from skills competitions to swim and track meets to softball, volleyball/newcomb, and basketball games. It was up to the team captains and officers to set line-ups in all the events.
When your division event ended you hustled over to cheer your team’s efforts in the other divisions. The points your team got for winning were graduated by your division but they all added up to the team total that was announced every evening and posted to the permanent scoreboards that are still on display in the canteen.
The scoreboards depicted the themes, counselor and camper captains, and the daily progress of the scores. Sometime in the late 90’s, in an act of political correctness, it changed from Color War to Color Days.
The centerpiece of the field activities was the Medley Relay for the Boys and Girls Camps. This ginormous relay included all the Inter and Senior campers in a choreographed series of individual events that culminated in the final campfire/rope burn at the side of the pool.
Working through all the permutations and combinations for camper medley event assignments took three days of serious study of individual performance, competitive attitude, and a bit of voodoo magic to come up with a winning relay roster.
There was no match for the intensity of the moment with the pool grandstands flush with kids from each team chanting “Burn Baby Burn!”.
The final stanza to Color War was the songfest in Saniford Hall the last day that ultimately decided the winner in each camp. Fight Songs, Cheers, Alma Maters, and Friendship Songs for the girls were something the team members carried in their memories long after the final scores were announced.
Below is a compiled list of the Boys and Girls Color War Teams of this era with links to songfest sheets and team rosters (when we found them) for your nostalgic enjoyment.
Feel free to sing along…..just make sure you are alone.
Boys Color War Teams
Click on your year to see songs and rosters
Girls Color War Teams
Click on your year (if highlighted) to see songs and rosters
1972 Red Warlocks vs Blue Witches
1974 Red Vikings vs Blue Crusaders
1975 Red Sinners vs Blue Saints
Boys and Girls Color War Teams (1987 and on)
Click on your year (if highlighted) to see songs
1987 Red North vs Blue South
1988 Red Preppies vs Blue Greasers
1989 Red Devils vs Blue Angels
1990 Red Riches vs Blue Bums
1991 Red Knights vs Blue Magicians
1992 Red Clowns vs Blue Acrobats
1993 Red Fire vs Blue Ice
1994 Red Jungle vs Blue Sea
1995 Red Royalists vs Blue Patriots
1996 Red Aliens vs Blue Astronauts Songs
1997 Red New York vs Blue California
1998 Red Vikings vs Blue Pirates
1999 Red Country vs Blue Rock and Roll
2000 Red Army vs Blue Navy
2001 Red Hot Dogs vs Blue Cool Cats
2002 Red Superheroes vs Blue Villians
2003 Red Yoga Masters vs Blue Bodybuilders
2004 Red Wild Wild West vs Blue Pirates of the Caribbean
2005 Red Saginaw Survivors vs Blue American Idols
2006 Red Robbers vs Blue Cops
2007 Red Desert vs Blue Jungle
2008 Red Robots vs Blue Jungle
2009 Red Fire vs Blue Ice
2010 Red Vampires vs Blue Wizards
2011 Red Past vs Blue Future
2012 Red Space vs Blue Sea
2013 Red Tropics vs Blue Artic
2014 Red Country vs Blue City
2015 Red Toy vs Blue Video Games
2016 Red Rockstars vs Blue Athletes
We need more photos from Color Wars past so if you have any please scan them as JPEG files and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org