After the parade ended, Chatniss retreated to her bunk for a quick change of clothes only to be stopped by fellow campers Pete Mellarkowitz, a shy and semi-athletic boy from Great Neck, and Gale Horowitz, a 16 year-old strapping young man who was the object of affection of female campers, counselors and administration alike. Pete, whose parents owned the Roslyn Bakery, approached Chatniss with an offer to help. Chatniss remembered this generous boy who, on visiting day, took pity on her by giving her a mini Cupcake by Melissa when her family ran out of their own. “I’ll join you Chatniss…we can win this together,” Pete whispered in her ear.
“It’s okay Pete. You’ve done enough for me. Those cupcakes were delicious. I’ll never forget that,” replied Chatniss.
“Then I’ll throw all the events I’m in for the next five days. I promise you won’t have to go home,” pleaded Pete.
After Pete went back to his bunk to read his Archie comics, Gale, the camp hunk, grabbed Chatniss by the arm and brought her behind Bunk 26. “Chat, I’m going to fake an injury so I don’t have to participate in anything athletic. I’ll just work on the banner and maybe the camp fight song,” explained Gale.
“That’s a great idea, Gale. No one in camp would ever suspect that you’re freakishly un-artistic and can only write on a third-grade level. Have you even written to your parents at all this summer?” asked Chatniss.
“Once, but it was the letter where I just had to check off boxes so I’m not sure if that counts. You expect me to be handsome, athletic AND smart?” Gale shook his head. “Who cares… tonight, I’m going to jump down from my bunk bed and land on Jake Gerstein’s Diablo and sprain my ankle. I won’t be able to play anything for the next few days.”
“It’s a plan, Gale. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Chatniss whispered as she went back to her bunk.
That evening Chatniss was taken from her bunk to meet up with her Color War advisor, Haymisha Abernaski, a now retired camp director who, as a camper, came within a broken string on his guitar during the All-Camp Sing to winning Color War in 1958. His breath stinking of sugary bug juice, Haymisha laid out the path that would lead to a victory for Chatniss. “Let’s look at the events you can win, like Freshman Girls softball instead of the ones that you have no chance like Counselor Tug of War,” pontificated Haymisha. “And tomorrow morning when there’s a mad scramble for sports equipment, food, and clothing, you’re going to go straight for the bow and arrow for archery, that’s your bread and butter; then grab some goggles, you can wear them for swim, basketball, and lacrosse; and make sure, and I can’t say this enough times, get blue spray paint for your hair to show your team spirit. Without that, the judges won’t believe that you’re trying.”
The next morning, the mad scramble went almost as planned with Chatniss picking up the archery equipment, goggles and a baseball glove but no hair spray paint. Disappointed, she started the day over in lower camp swim meet and easily won in the pool. Then she went over to Senior Boys baseball and eked out a 1-0 win, followed by a spanking in kickball delivered to the Upper Juniors, boys and girls.
The camp team, led by senior counselors Rebecca Fishkin of Dix Hills, NY and David Goldberg of Marlboro, NJ, was dominating in the events that Chatniss couldn’t get to.
The Boys side swept nearly every single event in her absence except for the ones that Pete had his hand in. The camp’s biggest win was in the Senior Boys Basketball A Game where Jeremy Goldstein scored a camp record 54 points against a team of chairs placed in random spots on the court. Goldstein, a 5’2” rising high school freshman who was cut by his middle school basketball team in Bergen County, was pleased by his stellar performance. “There was no one there to stop me. I dominated both ends of the court. I stopped at 54 because it’s triple chai. This camp gives me the false inflated self confidence that I’m going to need if I expect to make the high school team next year.”
Feldstein echoed Goldstein’s sentiments. “By showing the kids that they can be successful, we’re enabling them to thrive when they get back to the real world. We just hope they go to school with mostly Jewish kids so they can at least be semi-competitive.”
Over the course of the next few days, Everstein handily won the archery competition, the Apache Relay, the upper and lower girls track meets and the mega-point value Rope Burn setting a record scorching time of 24 seconds. Very strategically during the track meet she was able to yell out to one of several camp videographers, Nigel Jones, “Hi Mom, send me some Color War Stuff!”
As the final day approached, Chatniss was exhausted, beaten down from four days of intense competition. Over twenty campers had gone to the infirmary over that time suffering from heat exhaustion, sprained ankles and bruises, while some of the more lazy and spoiled campers went just to enjoy the air conditioning. With only one event before the sing, all-camp Gaga, she prayed to the heavens for something that would revive her and give her the boost she sorely needed. Only moments later, a FedEx jet screamed across the sky and parachuted down a small package to Chatniss from her mother. She hurriedly ripped the box open and found blue sweatbands, a blue tutu, blue face paint, and a blue Mohawk wig! Her prayers had been answered.
Only hours after beating the entire camp in a special square mile Gaga pit, Chatniss entered Horowitz Hall for the big sing. Dressed in all blue, she was revitalized as she sung her heart out to made up songs featuring the music of Air Supply and Survivor. Chatniss had done the impossible. She had made it through five of the most intense, physically demanding days of her life. There was nothing more she could do. Her future at Camp Huron Lake was in the hands of the judges.
Director Marty Feldstein, took the stage moments after the camp sang its final song to the tune of Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love”. “Here are the results of the 2013 Camp Huron Lake Color War!!!! Chatniss, 1,836 points. The Camp, 1,836 points! We have a tie!!” The entire building went silent. Marty walked over to Camp Athletic Director Sydney Flickerman for a brief conversation then came back to the stage.
“AT CAMP HURON LAKE, EVERYONE’S A WINNER!!!!”
The hall erupted with cheers. It was pure mayhem. Pete and Gale picked Chatniss up on their shoulder and carried her down to the canteen for a frozen Charleston Chew.
For accomplishing quite possibly the greatest feat in the long, storied history of Camp Huron Lake, Everstein’s parents will get a 5% discount on next year’s camp tuition if paying by cash or check on or before November 15th.