As election season comes to a close – my mute button couldn’t take much more – I can’t help but equate the passion-driven loyalty to one side or another to overnight camp.
Decades ago when I was a camper my favorite time all summer was “Color War,” now deemed politically incorrect lest we encourage our children to like “war.” The “color” part had to do with the camp’s colors. In my case, blue and gold. For one solid week entire bunks were split, families were separated (my sister and cousins were on different teams) as we ate, played and competed as a team. There were competitions in all sports, sing-offs and activities like treasure hunts and skits.
It got intense.
For seven consecutive summers whether I was on the blue team or the gold, I lost. But it never stopped me from going back the following summer and embracing Color War with as much enthusiasm and effort as I had previously displayed. I wouldn’t always lose. Right?
In my eighth time experiencing Color War, though at a different camp and one where I was a young counselor in training, I was selected as a general of one team. My best friend from childhood and a phenomenal athlete who I had competed against for years, Barbara Levin, was made the general of the other.
We competed head to head in a number of events, including one sprint which, after years of Barbara always coming in first, I finally prevailed despite slipping on a muddy patch.
At the end of the week, when the votes were tallied and all the points collected, the winner was announced. My team! I can still remember the feeling, jumping up and down, crying, everyone looking at me like I was ridiculous and overreacting. “But you don’t understand.” I retorted. “I never win! I lose every year!”
Still, it was just Color War; week of activities at camp.
At the time I didn’t realize that the experience of losing, and very rarely winning, would ultimately help me appreciate political elections. Not all of my choices came out as victors last week, but that won’t stop me from feeling just as passionate the next time around.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.
The operative word being “sometimes.”