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.