What is College Weekend at Camp Wekeela?
Even if you are not a sports fan, here in the United States, when you think of March, you usually think of March Madness and college basketball. Largely deemed the best tournament in North American sports, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments provide intrigue and enthusiasm for most people. The tournament creates a larger sense of chaos that sports lovers enjoy – where 64 teams (technically 68 with “First 4” matchups) will compete. The tournament is so beloved, because no matter how talented a major program can be, such as classic
teams like Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. any team can win any given matchup. The tournament emphasizes teams that are built on teamwork – not one or two dominant player(s) – but heart, soul, and competitiveness. March Madness chaos has coined the term “bracket busters” when low ranked schools/teams with no statistical right to win, causes a huge upset. For example, the last few years have seen many notable upsets, with low seeded teams making the Elite 8, Final 4, or Championship game. Usually these teams, known as Cinderellas, have their 15 minutes of fame and a powerhouse school beats them, but the nation is captivated by the improbable and incredible run built on teamwork, guts, and passion.
When it comes to March Madness – we can’t help but think about Camp Wekeela College Weekend. At Camp Wekeela, College Weekend occurs the 3rd week of the summer. Unlike Color War, where camp is divided into 2 teams, Green & White, College Weekend divides the whole camp into four specific colleges/universities. The teams are announced early, but campers and staff do not know their assigned teams until the day of. A few summers ago, we started a process of sending campers acceptance letters, where staff will read out their camper’s college weekend team as if they are being accepted to that school. It’s a very fun process, staff will play Pomp & Circumstance music and let the campers get excited about their teams. College Weekend begins with the first Line-up, after these acceptance letters, where campers and staff will gather in their colors, cheering and awaiting the announcement of the Deans. The leaders of each college during college weekend include two deans – first year staff who exhibit leadership, enthusiasm, and overall a great job during the summer. Deans have the honor to lead their teams during the entirety of college weekend.
So before we go into what college weekend is and isn’t, you may ask how do we select the teams? A few years ago, we would choose schools based on school colors, geographic regions of our campers, and possibly some staff who went to certain schools. With the rise of social media, we started a bracket challenge of our own, to coincide with March Madness. We take recommendations via our Instagram story and create a bracket based on community responses. This allows all campers, staff, parents, and alumni to support their favorite college or alma mater. It allows a diversity of choices, with schools both big and small, being represented.
So when the bracket is finalized and the 4 teams are announced, how does College Weekend work and how is it different from Color War? First, College Weekend is NOT Color War. Color War has many traditions and intricacies that differ, including silent meals, Rope Burn, banners, Alma Maters, etc. College Weekend has many similarities, but the intensity level is lower. Overall some highlights of College Weekend include: Kettle Boil, Pie Eating Contest, the Quiz Bowl, and the Halftime Show. As College Weekend takes place in the first session, it allows campers who are unable to stay for Color War a sense of healthy competition and fun with their friends. During College Weekend, the teams will be mixed during activities, making the teamwork unique. Every camper will play with, and against, their fellow competitors which makes the points even more valuable, as a win can benefit your team, and your opponents, at the same time. It’s an incredible tradition, one that Ephram began in his first summer in 1997. College Weekend has become a highlight for campers and staff that see the weekend as a break from the normal rotational schedule at Wekeela. College Weekend is not all sports either. In addition to traditional team sports, other competitions that take place during College Weekend include(s):a pie eating contest, art, ropes course, and swimming, in addition to the very popular activity for staff: The Voice – a singing competition. College Weekend is usually the time of year when staff and campers who had a hard adjustment to camp begin to feel settled, and the friendly competition enables them to show off their strengths.
At Wekeela, we want everyone to thrive. No matter their talents, giving campers an opportunity to compete in sports, music, art, dance, and more allows them to really shine. College Weekend gives our campers an opportunity to cheer, sing, laugh, and play for a weekend where the goal is not only to do your best, but have as much fun as possible.
This March, we will select our teams for College Weekend 2023 via our Bracket Challenge on social media. We hope you will join us as we select the 4 teams that will eventually compete for the College Weekend 2023 crown!