The Hunger Games Get Real

If you don’t live in a cave, then you’ve probably heard of Suzanne Collins’ popular, young adult series The Hunger Games. But what you may not have known is that kids in Largo, Florida, recently had the opportunity to participate in the games, in the form of a weeklong “Hunger Games” day camp (Yes, you read that correctly).

(Credit: Tampa Bay Times)
(Credit: Tampa Bay Times)

Jared D’Alessio, camp director, does recall debates about the theme when the idea was first brought to his attention. However, D’Alessio believed that the camp could cut out the violence. While I am not opposed to getting kids excited about books, even I have to admit that D’Alessio’s comment is a bit hilarious, when you consider that the entire series is based on violence and the fictional government’s ability to wield that violence. Cut that out, and all you’re left with is whose team your on, Team Peeta or Team Gale.

In an effort to cut down on some of this violence, camp counselors have refrained from using the term “killing” and now ask that campers “collect lives” by tugging off the flags that are strapped around each campers’ waist. Whoever has the most flags (lives), wins. Maybe it’s just me, but collecting lives seems almost worse. It’s like collecting limbs, or a serial killer’s job description.

But, what do I know? Let’s ask the kids. The following quotes were taken from a recent article from the Tampa Bay Times:

“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.”

(Credit: Tampa Bay Times)


“I don’t want to kill you,” [Rylee] 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.”

Being free to act on violent urges (even in a fictional scenario), can be dangerous. Reading a book allows you to view the world of Katniss on the sidelines, removed from the danger and able to make your own observations. However, Susan Toler, clinical psychologist, says of Largo’s “Hunger Games” camp:

“When they start thinking and owning and adopting and assuming the roles, it becomes closer to them. The violence becomes less egregious.”

What do you think about the idea of a “Hunger Games” camp? I, for one, think Largo’s themed-camp had good intentions, but was, perhaps, not well though out. Maybe stay away from books that focus on kid-on-kid violence, like The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies, and instead opt for a book series like Harry Potter. Game of quidditch, anyone? There’s already a whole league dedicated to the sport.

– Melanie Figueroa


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