COLOR WAR!Warner-Tully events keep kids coming back for more

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, July 14, 2012

For more than 50 years, children from Mississippi and Louisiana have traveled down U.S. 61 South to Claiborne County for a summer camp experience that becomes more like a family reunion — Warner-Tully Memorial YMCA Camp.

“It’s a lot more personal at Warner-Tully,” said Olivia Hogan, a 21-year-old Vicksburg native and camp counselor. “When you’re there you’re out of your normal environment and it’s definitely like a family.”

Hogan said she started going to Warner-Tully in 1997 and “hasn’t missed a summer since.”

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“It’s very traditional, people come back for the stuff we’ve been doing for years and years, stuff their parents did there,” said Hogan, whose mother attended the camp when she was a child. “Things are constant at Warner-Tully, and you don’t get that at other camps.”

Though the traditional elements of the camp have stayed the same over the years, a few new touches have been added to keep campers and counselors coming back for more.

A new Warner-Tully favorite is a field day type event known as the color wars. The event is at the end of the week with campers divided into teams by cabin. Each camper dresses from head to toe in his or her team color, some even going as far as to paint their bodies.

The competition consists of relay races, complete with cheers, chants and skits for extra points. The cabin with the most points wins, and everyone on the team signs his or her name to a trophy.

“We’ve continued to do all of the great things from years past like mudslides, the things we’ve been doing forever,” said Kollin Falk, Big Chief of the camp. “We’re taking a program that’s good and making it better by adding activities like the color wars.”

Falk said the goal of Warner-Tully is to build lasting friendships and memories for everyone involved.

“We’re building such strong memories here that these kids are coming over and over,” Falk said. “Camps are hurting in this economy, but we’re thriving here.”

Archery, arts and crafts, fishing, canoeing, hiking, swimming and a ropes course are a few of the other activities kids can participate in while at camp.

“It’s fun here and the counselors are nice,” said Jordan Berry, a 10-year-old from Hattiesburg who was on his second trip to Warner-Tully. “Swimming is my favorite. We just have good food and good times.”

“I like that it feels like a home here,” said Allison McBride, a 16-year-old from Baton Rouge, La. “It’s small, and everyone is family. There’s a spirit to it.”

Allison, who is a counselor at camp this summer, said she’s been coming to Warner-Tully for nine years.

Falk said another important aspect of the summer getaway is its Christian ideals.

“We’re trying to show kids that God is always with them and wants them to be good Christian role models,” Falk said. “We do devotionals with a positive message about how God has impacted their lives and show the great outdoors God has given us.”

“I’ve had experience being a counselor at other camps, and I can definitely say Warner-Tully is my favorite,” Hogan said. “You form a bond with these people, and it’s been cool for me to see it grow over the years.”