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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

There’s a The Hunger Games-Themed Summer Camp in Florida

So. Country Day School in Largo, Florida hosts a week-long Hunger Games tournament where bloodthirsty tykes complete to kill one ano–I’m sorry, to “gain lives” by collecting flags from each other. Also, exchanges like this take place:

“I don’t want to kill you,” [Rylee Miller, 12] told Julianna Pettey. Julianna, also 12, looked her in the eye. “I will probably kill you first,” she said. She put her hands on Rylee’s shoulders. “I might stab you.”

OK, Lisa Gartner of the Tampa Bay Times. Explain this one to me.

The camp is structured thusly: The 26 participants train throughout the week to prepare for the final hour-long tournament on Friday, which tests them on things like “Intellect,” “Accuracy and Precision,” “Balance and Poise,” and “Teamwork.” Initially students were going to “kill” one another by defeating them at the various stations and taking their flags, but on Wednesday a decision to change the term to “collecting lives” was made, probably after some parent overheard a quote like this:

“If I have to die, I want to die by an arrow,” Joey Royals mused to no one in particular. “Don’t kill me with a sword. I’d rather be shot.”

*insert Florida joke here*

Head counselor Lindsey Gillette is careful to note that the camp emphasizes positive things, like teamwork, instead of the death and soul-crushing despair felt by characters in the books. “We decided to make an emphasis on gaining points and gaining lives rather than getting out in the games and losing,” she says.

You know how to eliminate violent themes in your summer camp? Don’t do The Hunger Games. Because if you do do The Hunger Games, things like this happen:

Alyssa Stewart, 12; Alexis Quesada, 13; and Julianna formed an alliance. After nabbing a few flags, they paused in a safe zone, a green picnic bench under a tree, to get a drink in the shade.

There, the girls added Andrés Kates, 11, to the alliance. But the second he left the safe zone, they grabbed his flag. “Hey!” he yelled, stumbling backward.

The girls ran off, first across the basketball court, then through the grass, between buildings, by the water fountain, past the body lying on the ground . . .

The body lying on the ground. CJ Hatzilias, 11, face-down, in the grass. He was crying. “They stepped on me,” he said.

Someone went for help. “CJ, what happened?” Gillette asked.

“They stepped on me,” he said.

D’Alessio knelt down. “I’m sure it was an accident.”

CJ shook his head. He said some boys had knocked him down and kicked him.

D’Alessio got him up, wrapped an arm around him, walked him over to the camp offices.

Then again, I’m not entirely sure that isn’t normal kid behavior. All I really know about kids is that they’re little humans and that I used to be one. I never pushed anyone to the ground and stepped on them, but then the only time I went to summer camp I made a concerted effort to stay inside and read the whole time. So I’m going to say this camp looks disturbing but also kind of fun, you know, if you’re into running around and doing sports during the summer. Ugh. Exercise.

(via: HyperVocal)

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  • Mark Brown

    And yet if you tried to get young kids to actually READ the Hunger Games, there’d likely be an outcry over age-appropriateness.

  • Matthew Name

    Don’t ruin this with actual logic and facts!

  • Camille Monae

    *insert Florida joke here*

    “Just wait a few minutes. Here, wear this hoodie.”

  • Renee I.

    So they are training bullies? Because that’s what I got out of that.

  • Mina

    This sounds creepy to me. I mean, it sounds like a really fun camp in some ways, but children simulating a murder fest does not fill me with good feelings.

  • Anonymous

    This… God… Florida, man…

    It cannot be said enough, so despite the fact that everyone here probably already realizes it…this totally misses the point of the Hunger Games. I have faith though that somewhere out there some school is actually using the books to discuss with their students the societal issues that would lead to a dystopian world that would allow such an event as the Hunger Games (hell, you could even just take it back to the Roman Empire and gladiatorial combat as a means of control by violent entertainment). Or maybe I’m just being too optimistic and they’re actually planning High School Fight Clubs.

  • Roberta

    Man, I know that camp is supposed to have some ruthlessness (capture the flag=anything goes), but I think this is just a tad over the top.

  • ihearttheplanet

    Well this is disturbing.

  • Anonymous

    Meh, capture the flag games are as old as time. During my stint in the scouts we used to play stuff like this on weekend camping trips, and they got a heck of a lot rougher than what’s described in the article.

  • Jesse

    It just goes to show you how fiction can so easily be distorted. I remember i had an argument once with this guy because he said that the end of 1984 showed that Big Brother was actually a good thing because the protagonist ultimately died happy.

  • Nat

    CJ’s being kicked by a group of boys isn’t because it’s a Hunger Games camp. IT’s because those boys are jerks who need to learn to not do that. That’s like blaming Bioshock Infinite for me beating someone in the face with a baseball bat instead of a skyhook.
    Putting any group of people in something competitive isn’t going to be all fireworks and cotton candy. Do people not know this already from Survivor or, you know, our own games?

  • Anonymous

    Macalester College has a Hunger Games course:

  • Anonymous

    This is dumb. I don’t have a fundamental objection to there being real-life games for teens inspired by The Hunger Games, but you’ve got to be a bit intelligent about it.

    Capture-The-Flag, paintball, games emulating battle and survival in some way – they exist already and they’re fine. I don’t know if they pay a game called ‘Waterloo’ in America, but it’s a form of tag where every player has a flag tucked into their belt to represent their ‘life’. Kids manage to play it without killing each other. Or there’s Manhunt, another game ready to be dressed in Hunger Game ephemera.

    When I was a kid I was a member of The Woodcraft Folk (a kind of hippy, unisex Scouts, which started as an off-shoot of the Scouts back in the 30s). When we had big camps, the adults and older teens organised Wide Games for the kids. They’d be based around stories like Watership Down of Lord Of The Rings (hippies love Lord Of The Rings), and take the form of loose, sandbox-style quest games themed. There’d be elements of orienteering, trail-reading, problem solving activities, treasure-hunting, woodcraft skills in general. Adults played helpful or hostile characters to encounter.

    My point is, even an organisation whose mooto is ‘span the world with friendship’, and who have invented a form of co-operative musical chairs (far more fun that the normal version, actually), an organisation that had banished all simulated battle and violence, were STILL able to come up with Wide Games where kids felt exciting, independent, motivated, clever, tense, immersed in a story.

    There also used to be a great show on Children’s BBC called ‘Raven’ where teams competed over the course of a week in problem-solving tasks and physical feats in a kind of Celtic/fantasy-inspired setting (the teams had names like Eagles) with a loose backstory to the game about sorcery and so on. The winners were ‘The Ultimate Warriors’ despite there being nothing like violence in the games, and it actually being all about teamwork and intelligence.

    I think The Hunger Games can be a totally valid inspiration for games without missing the point of the books and without opening the door to the kind of chaos and violence described. You build in rules that touching other players is instant ‘death’, you make the game about problem solving to access supplies (candy, water guns, that sort of thing). You have adults evenly spaced as supervisory but non-player characters (dress them as peacekeepers to pretend they’re not there to step in, so the kids can suspend disbelief). Then make the end objective, when the group-versus-group bit is won and over, to take down the Control Centre and bring down the Capitol by everyone working together. That’s just spitballing – playleaders and childcare professionals sitting down to actually devise a game systematically should be able to come up with something workable and ideologically sound.

  • Anonymous

    The books – and now movies – seem pretty creepy to me. The premise of children killing each other for entertainment? Bad enough that it’s accepted in the fictional world of the books. By supporting the books and movies we’re now accepting the idea too – however abstract.