A New Pastime: Bowdoin’s Summer Capture the Flag League

Surya Milner ’19 makes an attempt for the safe zone, with Sam Brill-Weil ’20 and Patrick Warner ’20 in close pursuit.

For most young adults, the classic game of capture the flag was left behind on the playground. Student summer residents have decided to buck that trend. Each Tuesday afternoon, students from all walks of Bowdoin life gather to compete in the summer’s most exciting intramural sport, Major League Capture the Flag.

Surya Milner ’19, an intern at the Portland Press Herald and one of the leaders of the league, came up with the idea in the midst of a cooler-than-expected Maine spring. “I remember sitting at Thorne [Dining Hall] one too-cold day and thinking about how I associate summer with being active and running around,” Milner said. “I decided I wanted to create an outlet for students to do that without the pretense of being an athlete.”

The weekly game, which takes place on the fields behind the Farley Field House, involves two teams trying to defend their own flag (often a pinny or shirt) while stealing their opponents’ flag. Once a player crosses the middle line of the field, they can be tagged by other players and put into “jail,” to be freed only by a fellow team member. Agility and speed reign supreme, but often a good game plan can save the day.

Aside from athletic thrills, Bowdoin’s ongoing capture-the-flag game has provided students with a unique opportunity for connection. “It can be surprisingly difficult to meet new people during the summer since we’re all absorbed in our own jobs and there aren’t as many shared spaces on campus,” said co-leader Nell Fitzgerald ’19, who, as a government and legal studies fellow, is pursuing a research project called “Are Women’s Rights Human Rights?” “[League members] have definitely formed some real solidarity through their love for the game.”

This game is just one type of bonding the more than 270 Bowdoin summer residents partake in. Between weekend hikes, group dinners, and trips to nearby beaches, a summer at Bowdoin provides countless opportunities to discover “Vacationland” anew.

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