How To Do a Color War

June 26, 2017

Written by Lindsey Horton, Young Life leader in Rome, GA. 

Are you looking for a fun event to build momentum in your YL area this summer?

Do you want a summer-time alternative to Clubble?

Already planning for a big kick-off for August or September?

Look no further than a Color War!

You might have seen this done at a summer camp or been a part of a Color Run. A Color War is essentially a color run without the running – well, not as much running.

With tons of colored powder, you’ll play several games with a giant color fight as your closer. Kids love it. It gets them messy, but not gross, and is easy to wash off. Additionally, it makes for some great social media posts for your high/middle schoolers. So, here’s how it works:

Pick a Place

It’s best to have the event in an open field. We used a field behind a local church. The powder will wash away in the rain, so it doesn’t leave a huge mess. Make sure there is a water hose nearby. Also, lay down towels so folks don’t track in the powder if they need to go inside to use the bathroom.

Powder Prep

If you have a large budget, you can purchase already dyed Holi powders in bulk, it’s more expensive, but way less work. It’s $120 for 25 lbs on Amazon. (You probably need at least 2 lbs/kid to make it fun, so 25 kids would be a minimum of 50lbs of powder. The more powder, the more fun.)

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can make your own Color Powder using cornstarch and food coloring. Here’s how you do it. (Well, this is how WE did it – you can also find other ways to make it online.)

How To Make The Powder

  • Order 200lbs of cornstarch (We bought it from It’s $20 for a 50 lbs bag. We ordered 4 bags, so 200lbs for about 50 kids. Shipping was an extra $50, so it was $130 for all the cornstarch. Order it in advance and you can get cheaper shipping.)
  • Order 2 boxes of 8 oz. food coloring (red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue, etc.). It’s $15 on Amazon
  • Gather a dozen of your middle and high school friends for a Powder Coloring Party. 
  • We mixed it all in large containers, but realized later that using smaller aluminum pans would have worked better as the powder needs to dry.
  • The exact water amount you need is just estimated – you basically add water until it’s a creamy consistency. You don’t want to add too much as it will take too long to dry, but you don’t want to add too little lest the colors won’t dye the starch. But it’s not an exact science. 
  • With 200lbs, we were able to create 6 different colors which we rationed out during the event.
  • Ideally, you would make the powder a week or two before the event so it has enough time to dry. The sun will dry them up pretty well, but careful about leaving them out overnight as the dew and condensation will affect the drying process. Keeping them out on something like a driveway or parking lot where it can stay dry overnight. Keep checking up on the powder to make sure it’s drying correctly. If you’re getting up to the date of your event and the powder’s still not dry, try separating the powder into smaller flat bins so they’ll dry faster.

Day-of Prep

For our games, we used the following supplies: 

  • 10 pool noodles
  • 600 water balloons (we bought the instant balloons on Amazon. They are so worth it and fill up and tie themselves in 30 seconds!)
  • 4 buckets for the balloons
  • 180 8 oz. plastic cups for the powder. 

You don’t have to use all of these since you can do whatever games you want, but this is what we did. Make sure you and your team know all of the games you’re going to be playing and can be able to explain them – the more people helping instruct/answer questions about the games the better.

The Event

  • Borrow a sound system to use outdoors. Good music makes the event a party.
  • Make sure to get a photographer/videographer to be there! It’s easy to edit the video quickly with the Magisto App. 
  • Have a welcome table where kids can fill out club cards.
  • Get a couple colorful skit characters to host the event.
  • As kids arrive, you can have yard games for them to play. 4 Square, conrhole, frisbees, footballs, etc…
  • Next, we warmed up with some mixer games like baby/bunkbed/backpack, follow-the-winner rock/paper/scissors, freeze tag, etc…
  • For the games, we started with 4-team capture the flag – but 2-team also works. Only really use 4-team if you have a larger club since it can get a bit confusing. We played three rounds of capture the flag alternating with powder (which was placed in small plastic cups), water balloons, and powder again as ammo. We allowed the kids to fill up their cups with water from their water balloon buckets to use as ammo as well. Instead of being tagged by hand, you got tagged if you got hit with powder or water.
  • Next, we played sharks and minnows using the pool noodles – getting hit by a noodle instead of getting tagged. The different teams took turns being sharks in the middle. Whoever could run across without being hit by a shark would earn points for their team. You could also mix in powder with the noodles as a tagging method.
  • Finally, we had the color war. We handed all of the students 1 cup full of powder and a couple water balloons. The leaders then stood in a big circle on the outside with the extra bins of balloons and the extra powder so the students could reload during the war. We picked a hype song, and when the bass dropped the war began. 
  • There’s no real winner, just people throwing the water balloons and color powder around until you run out.
  • For us, it took about 35 minutes to actually run through the powder and water balloons. However, we were able to stretch the whole event out with the other games and with water breaks and all, it lasted for about an hour and a half. So you don’t have to play the other games, but if you do only color war then it ends up being a pretty short event. Having the other events really help hype up the color war too. However, don’t try to do too many exhausting games before the color war. Remember that the war is your main event and really why kids are there, so you don’t want to wear them out by making them run around too much before the main event.
  • Also, try to include a fun prize for the winning team after the events. If you have extra powder, use some of the volunteer leaders and have them create a tunnel for the winning team to run through. As the kids run through, you can pour the last few buckets of powder on them to make sure they are truly covered in powder. If you don’t have any powder left, ice pops work just as well to cool down after a fun, hot day. 

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All in all, the Color War is a great kick-off event for your year of Young Life clubs. While it can take a lot of prep work, it’s definitely a lot of fun and your friends will love it! Make sure to upload the pics afterwards to a sharing site for them to download and be able to post on social media.

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