Florida camp brings ‘The Hunger Games’ to life

We understand the fascination with “The Hunger Games.” We’ve obsessed over Katniss, Peeta and the rest of the tributes – but would we ever take part in a real-life “Hunger Games” competition? Probably not.

But a summer camp in Florida is offering kids a chance to take part in a real-life version of the elimination challenge, and as expected it’s raised a few eyebrows.

For those unaware of “The Hunger Games,” first a best-selling young adult book then a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, the story is about a group of children, or tributes, picked each year from 13 districts to compete in a dystopian competition for the chance to survive. Only one tribute makes it out alive.

Bottom line: It’s a story about kids killing other kids, often in a violent manner.

Lisa Gartner, a Tampa Bay Times staff writer, spent a week at the camp. The 26 kids in the tournament spent a week training, then competed in the games “to the death.”

“If I have to die, I want to die by an arrow,” Joey Royals said. “Don’t kill me with a sword. I’d rather be shot.”

Other things muttered by the kids during that week were “I will probably kill you first” and “I might stab you.” You know, things you really wouldn’t want kids saying.

The camp tried making the games a little less violent: Head counselor Lindsey Gillette revised the “killing” aspect to “collecting lives” by snatching flags form one another.

Despite the counselor’s attempts, it seems like killing was a central part for the kids, as some girls decorated posters with the words “LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH” — with glitter, of course.

Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant


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