“I don’t want to kill you,” one twelve-year-old girl says to another. “I will probably kill you first,” the other girl replies. This is the scene at Country Day School’s Hunger Games Camp, where 26 kids train for a week leading up to a simulated deathmatch at the end. Capital idea. Couldn’t go wrong. Where is this paradise anyhow?
Oh. Right. Florida.
Camp director Jared D’Alessio told the Tampa Bay Times he felt they could cut out the violence by structuring the games like flag football. Because remember when we played flag football as kids and totally didn’t trip, elbow, and clothesline each other, then remind the kid crying on the ground that his mom was dead? (Sorry, Timmy.)
Hunger Games Camp head counselor Lindsey Gillette says she found the violence expressed by the kids to be off-putting. To remedy this, she told the kids two days before the scheduled deathmatch that taking flags didn’t mean you were “killing” them. It just meant you were “collecting lives”. Yeah, that’s less creepy…
So how did the deathmatch — er, I mean, the collectinglivesmatch turn out?
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 Andrés 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.
Who could have possibly seen this outcome besides everybody?
Anyway, I liked Country Day School’s idea better when it was my classmates and I re-enacting Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal”. It was all about teamwork at first, but things starting getting a smidge out of hand when we hooked chickenwire and a car battery to the rug covered with quarters and then gave out a scholarship to Clown College for the kid with the most quarters. We didn’t have very good reading comprehension.
(Banner image via Luis Louro / Shutterstock.com)