The Pinnacle Cup: Competition at a Non-Competitive Camp

Emory Klesick21 Jan, 2019

One of the most anticipated events for campers each summer is the challenge for the Pinnacle Cup. The reaping of the teams kicks off a six-day series of events that puts three teams to the test, competing against one another in the hopes of claiming the coveted trophy. Every session, campers put on their team colors and join the thousands of campers who have come before them to earn their spot in Pinnacle history.

History of the Teams

Although it wasn’t originally called the Pinnacle Cup, team competition at Camp Pinnacle began long ago. Campers would divide into two teams, scarlet and grey. Led by a captain and two lieutenants, each day would begin with a captains’ challenge and end with an all-camp evening program. To end the competition, the two teams would race against one another in the Apache Relay, a camp-wide race involving every camper and counselor on camp. Throughout the day, there would be three separate races, one for each age division. A tally was kept in the dining hall, tracking points earned by each team throughout the week. It wasn’t until the morning after the Apache Relay that a winner would be announced, and one team would walk away with bragging rights until next summer.

As Camp Pinnacle evolved to where we are today, some elements from the original Pinnacle Cup were kept as we added new traditions. In the “early days” (2012–2013), an Olympics-style competition was created where two cabins were paired to form a “country.” These countries would compete against each other in a variety of field games and wrap up the day with a relay on the field.

Over the years, as Camp Pinnacle grew in size, adjustments in the competition were made to ensure every camper had the chance to contribute to their team’s success. Soon, the Olympics fizzled out, and instead came Pirate Day. On the last full day of each session, counselors and campers were divided into four teams: red, blue, black, and green. On this day, the teams competed against one another by searching for hidden treasure around camp, building a pirate ship, and creating a team flag. Pirate Day was the first time team captains were re-introduced back into the competition; one male counselor and one female counselor were chosen to represent their team. During that summer, a trophy was constructed to highlight the winning teams from each session, and it became known as the Pinnacle Cup!

The Pinnacle Cup Today

Soon after the creation of the Pinnacle Cup trophy, its name grew to represent the full week of competition. Teams were narrowed down to three: red, blue, and green. The new Pinnacle Cup incorporated games and traditions from the former competition such as Gold Rush, captain challenges, and the Color Relay (a spin-off of the Apache Relay), which was added in 2015.

The Pinnacle Cup is held once every session, beginning with an elaborate smoke and mirrors show where the cup is unveiled on a specific night by a specific group of unnamed individuals. After all the cheers, excitement, and hype calms down, the reaping of the teams begins. First, the team captains are named. An honorable role, six staff are chosen to represent the three teams, one male and one female per team. With team captains standing tall, flags waving, and face paint ready, campers are assigned to their Pinnacle Cup team! As soon as the final name is read off, the competition begins with an all-camp evening program. For the next week, campers compete in a variety of morning challenges and evening programs. Points are awarded to the winner of each as well as sportsmanship and spirit points. Come Thursday morning, a secret tally notes the current standings; however, it isn’t until the conclusion of the Color Relay that a winner is crowned. All across camp, an 85-station relay puts teams to the test, typically coming down to the final moments at the council ring with fire-building skills. At the end of the day, one team gets to paint their colors on the cup, adding to the rich traditions of Camp Pinnacle.

The Big Picture

Campers are not assigned to the same team year after year; rotating teams each summer helps create a sense of team unity. The Pinnacle Cup is designed for campers to “compete” with one another without feeling the pressure of competition; it’s all about the fun and spirit of teamwork. Our goal is to teach campers that it’s great to partake in competition, but being overly competitive can be detrimental. The Pinnacle Cup is about bringing out the best in every camper and staff through organized team events; it’s not about winning or losing, but rather the overall experience. At the end of each day, you will hear the chant “fun and friendship” echo all over camp—that’s what the Pinnacle Cup is truly about.


View All Posts