We play a lot of capture the flag at Field Camp. Sometimes we play other games, but we always come back to capture the flag.
1. Teams are divided up by some arbitrary criteria, such as odd v. even days of birth, County v. non-County residents, etc..
2. The object of the game is to retrieve the flag or flags from the other side without being tagged, at which point you and your teammates hoot and holler and bask in victory.
3. If you are tagged on the opponents’ side of the field, you must willingly go to jail, with one hand atop your head to indicate you are going to jail.
4. If a teammate manages to tag you, or anyone to whom you are bodily linked while in jail, you get a “free walk” back to your side. While “free walking,” you must have both your hands atop your head. You must return to your side before you can again participate freely in the game.
5. Teams can guard the flag, although they cannot go within a ten-foot perimeter surrounding the flag. Once the flag is touched, this “safety zone” disappears, until the flag is returned the original location.
6. You can pass the flag, although it must be run across the line by a camper for victory.
7. All players must compete in a sportsmanlike manner, and all games end with group handshakes and encouraging, supportive “good games.”
2000 – The Sara Foster-Reeves Game. We were playing a lopsided game in the front yard at Tandem School, under the big oak trees. For whatever reason, one team had about twice as many competitors as the other. It was near the end of the day, and it looked like it would be a quick rout. But time and again, Sara Foster-Reeves and her teammates managed to stop those who were carrying the flag. Meanwhile, many of her teammates made desperate attempts to get their flag, but were hastily tagged and put in jail. As the game progressed, Sara worked with fewer and fewer teammates to guard the flag. It seemed like only a matter of time. But then, Sara pulled one of the most remarkable feats in the brief history of our game. With only one teammate left, she ran to the opposite side of the field and freed her entire team from jail. It was so unexpected. We were all just waiting for the other team to win at that point. Big game.
2001 – The Mo Game. During ’01, we began to play games of counselors v. campers, and with about 50 campers, they had a huge advantage. Wave after wave, they were unstoppable. We counselors lost quickly. But we developed a plan, to slowly pick off and put the kids in jail. After several losses, we finally seemed to be on our way to a counselor victory on one July Thursday evening. The counselors were guarding the jail closely, with 6 of our 9 players. In time, we had nearly all the kids in jail, save a few guarding their flag. At this point, Jay, Scott and I began to make our runs to get their tennis balls and their flag. Again, it seemed like it would be only a matter of time before we won. Meanwhile, Mo seemed like he was trying to free his comrades. But at some point, he realized that the flag was unguarded, and he made a break for it. With Scott, Jay and I going after our own flag, we watched helplessly as Mo returned with his own team’s flag, and victory. His teammates all erupted in cheers and ran down the hill from the jail celebrating the victory.
2006 – The Reuben Game. It’s been a while since a game has merited being added to the historic list. This has been the case despite the fact that quite a few memorable games have been played, particularly ones pitting the campers against the counselors. In the early years, the counselors dominated these games, but last year, the counselors were pretty much shut out. This year, these contests ran about 3 to 1 in favor of the kids. But the big game this year happened on the second-to-the-last week of camp with our most crowded week in our history. On Thursday night, we played a few games before the campfire, and one of these games dragged on interminably. We were all quite surprised, however, when we saw none other than Reuben retrieve the ball from the Pavilion side and nearly run it across the line before passing off to J.P., knocking him down, and then watching as J.P. scrambled across the line. Go Reuben!
2007 – This game just keeps getting better. We have been impressed this year with how well the campers are playing, and it was never more obvious than in the Field Camp Day Hog v. Frog game. It started off slow, as usual, but after a good 15 minutes, about half of each team was in jail. Eli made an especially memorable mid-game run, eluding smart Hog defenders for several minutes before finally running out of gas. Unfortunately for the Hogs, they had placed the flag a little too close to the jail, and Quinn grabbed the flag and made his way past the jail on his way, freeing 15 or so frogs. His run with flag failed, but the frogs were smart, immediately sending reinforcements to guard the jail, and making a concerted effort to get back on the flag. Down to just five defenders, the Hogs staved off effort after effort to take the ball across the line. But when Max chased Quinn back into the corner, Ethan picked up the ball, ran half the way forward, and passed off to Maddy, who expertly caught and ran the ball across to victory. It was an excellent team effort, and a game for the history books. Errr, that is, the history pages.
2009 – As camp has grown slowly bigger, it’s been nearly impossible for the counselors to achieve a legitimate Thursday evening victory. Sure, we can recruit the Leadership School to our side or initiate the Junior CIT program ruse to add players, but we just can’t beat the campers when the sides are about 60 to 10, particularly when the campers feature players such as Quinn or Ben S.. But on one Thursday night this summer, Alex Mosolgo-Clark singlehandedly beat the campers. He famously told Catherine he might as well make a run for the ball and sacrifice himself. But he made it to the ball. It was guarded, as has become the campers’ trademark, by about ten people who could have probably held hands around the circle were it allowed by the rules. But when a counselor tried to free the half-filled jail, Alex seized on the moment of his guards’ inattention and scurried across the line. A deft ball fake near the line fooled young Ben S. and Alex danced across the line, without anyone hardly noticing.