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A Hunger Games-Themed Summer Camp Exists, and Here's Why It Shouldn't

200px-Hunger_games-1First, I should confess something. I loved The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but then I’m a total sucker for YA fiction, from anything by Judy Blume to Harry Potter to Divergent.

And I am looking forward to the day when my daughter is around 14 or 15 and she can read, and correctly process, The Hunger Games series herself. But this is a work of fiction and one that should stay that way; something that comes alive only on the pages of a book or on a movie screen. I would draw the line at my daughter actually participating in a Hunger Games-style competition, even if it was totally fake and blood, guts and real arrows did not make an appearance. What does this mean for me and my family? It means I WILL NOT NO WAY JOSE OVER MY DEAD BODY send her to a Hunger Games camp, because there is, against all parenting logic, a Hunger Games summer camp.

“If I have to die, I want to die by an arrow,” one camper named Joey Royals said. “Don’t kill me with a sword. I’d rather be shot.” Lisa Gartner of the Tampa Bay Times spent time at the Florida camp and although she kept her journalist objectivity, it was clear that she was as in awe of the premise of this camp as I was.  Really, how could it be constructive in any way, shape, or form to have this exchange occur: one camper (age 12) says to another camper (also age 12), “I don’t want to kill you,” and the other replies, “I will probably kill you first,” then adds, “I might stab you.” Yes, kids at the age of 12 were joking about offing their friends during camp. And if you think 12 is too young, the youngest camper in attendance was 10.

The camp was reportedly not trying to promote violence and mid-session changed the terms they used from “killing” each other to “collecting lives.” You can check out the whole scenario in Garner’s article here (plus photos). And even though there was no real violence, no weapons, and thankfully, no deaths, the idea of kids that young engaging in a Hunger Games fantasy, with the support and encouragement from camp counselors seems, to this mom at least, completely bizarre, irrational, and a great big camp FAIL.

Now, when I think of summer camp I think of sing-a-longs, macaroni necklaces, and kids working and playing together. The Hunger Games camp is sending a completely different message and one that is unsettling and totally disturbing. Think about it: you’re sending your children to a camp where they put their minds in a place where they are plotting and preparing to pretend to kill their fellow campers. There was a time when kids would play cops and robbers or a round of war, but it seems that for the most part, our society has become more sensitive to kids engaging in fantasy play that promotes violence. We, as a culture, are promoting more classic collaborative play, from kickball to four square, games that are far more constructive and far less violently tinged. This camp doesn’t seem to fit into our collective conscious.

I understand that the camp organizers may have been trying to tap into pop culture and to host a camp that is timely and hip. But where do you draw the line? Because a really big line should have been drawn here. The premise of kids putting themselves into the mindset of killers is so, so wrong. Especially since this mindset is encouraged constantly by the the daily activities of the camp. And the OTHER big thing that bothered me about this particular camp is the age of the participants. Kids who are ten and twelve years old are way too young, in my estimation, to be engaged in the Hunger Games story, be it from the books, the movie or in playtime. When my kid is ten, I hope she is still playing with her dolls and watching cartoons, not getting in touch with her inner Katniss.

Would you ever send your kids to a Hunger Games camp?

Photo Source: Amazon

 

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