Thursday, August 8, 2013

HUNGER GAMES Summer Camp? Yep. It's Real.

When I first read The Hunger Games, I have to admit I was as disturbed by the concept as I was intrigued. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the series and Suzanne Collins's writing, and I do believe that her themes, while disturbing, are important commentary (and a cautionary tale) on today's society and its values.

As such, I was able to overlook the shivers the idea shot up my spine, though I did still carry some concern regarding how the books' young adult audience would take the lessons. And it seems there was some reason behind those shivers. According to the Huffington Post, there is now a Hunger Games themed camp open for children:

Ever dream of becoming Katniss Everdeen? Well, now you have a chance to be just like her in real life. Sort of. 
According to the Tampa Bay Times, kids at a "Hunger Games" camp in Logo, Fla., can now channel their inner tributes by participating in athletic and intellectual activities inspired by the hugely popular series.
[Watch the video news report HERE]
The camp, however, has raised concerns, as children were reportedly describing how they would "kill" and "stab" each other. Susan Toler, a clinical psychologist, called the camp "unthinkable," while Julie Miller of Vanity Fair described it as "disturbing."
After noting that the "violence the kids had expressed was off-putting," the camp announced a change to the rules: Instead of "killing" each other, campers would "collect" lives. Still, during a recent tournament, one crying 11-year-old claimed that he was kicked and "stepped on." 
"I’m not entirely sure that isn’t normal kid behavior," writes Rebecca Pahle at The Mary Sue. "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... " 
See the original post HERE
Over at The Mary Sue, Pahle also shared some exchanges between children at the camp:
“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.”
This story was also retold in Pahle's post:
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 AndrĂ©s 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.
I don't know about you all, but I shudder at the thought. I'd love to know what the owners of such a camp were thinking when they came up with this idea (if anything other than dollar signs). I'd also love to know Collins's opinion of the scenario. 
While the camp has been revamped to focus more on "gaining lives" than "killing" after all the backlash from parents and the media, the fact that it even began as modeled off the violent side of the book initially is beyond mind boggling. 

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