A summer camp in Largo, Fla., has taken the popularity of Susanne Collins’ trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” to a whole new level. The tournament-style camp expects kids to mimic the novel’s characters and compete in a real-life Hunger Games where they would fight to the “death.”
The Country Day School summer camp invited its 26 participants to playact roles similar to their favorite Hunger Games characters while playing games based on the novels and film series.
The kids were originally going to spend a few days training and then participate in a final Hunger Games tournament where they would pretend to fight to the death. However, the playacting prompted talk of high levels of violence from the kids.
"If I have to die, I want to die by an arrow," one hyperactive boy told the Tampa Bay Times. "Don't kill me with a sword. I'd rather be shot."
Other children talked about taking friends out with a sniper rifle, while a little girl reportedly said she would "stab" a friend to death, reported NY Daily News.
Because of the dialogue going on between participants, midway through the week organizers changed the semantics of the game. The kids no longer killed each other by pulling flag belts from each other’s waists, but instead collected “lives” from the other players.
The kids also participated in team-building activities like Minefield, where they guided one another through verbal cues through a field of cones, baseball gloves and Hula-Hoops, reports NBC News.
The final tournament was also cleaned up and made into a version where no one would “die.”
NBC News reports Susan Toler, a clinical psychologist, said the camp idea was "unthinkable," noting that "when [children] start thinking and owning and adopting and assuming [those killer] roles, it becomes close to them. The violence becomes less egregious."
Although head counselor Lindsey Gillette said the event was successful and great fun for attendants, it is unknown whether the themed camp will resume next year.
Sources: NBC News, Tampa Bay Times, NY Daily News