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Color war is a meta-game played in summer camps, schools and some social organizations (such as sororities, fraternities, or small businesses). Participants are divided into teams, each of which is assigned a color. The teams compete against each other in challenges and events to earn points. Typical color war challenges include tug-of-war, dodgeball, archery, as well as more contemporary sports such as soccer and basketball. These challenges and events vary based upon the venue for the game. The games' durations can range from a day to several months. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game. Typically, color wars consist of several events that are worth insignificant amounts of points, and then one large final event that is worth enough points to win or lose the entire color war.

At Maine Golf and Tennis Academy, Mainemarker, Color War begins with a surprise break-out, for example an ice-cream truck arriving at 11pm and waking everyone up to eat ice-cream, stating the teams, handing out shirts and declaring the start of the game.

At Camp Avoda, Color War is set on a date only known to the Color War staff and administrators of the camp, and is broken at a random time with a staged event, such as a fire truck coming to the camp, or the campers being told their counselors were fired. Color War lasts for 6 days of intense events, and then is ended with another staged event to declare the winner, such as a boat race. These type of events happen at other camps around the country as well, and Camp Avoda is not unique in this.

Camp Magan Av announced the president of the United States would be visiting the camp. When his limousine arrived, a counselor emerged from the car and announced "color war!"

At Camp Skylemar in Naples, Maine, Color War is the culminating event of the summer. Red and Gray!

Color was can also be useful in the school setting for pep rallies or to get students excited about learning. Points can be allotted for completion of academic activities or events. Points can be tallied and scored.

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