Hey kids, are you BORED with your summer vacation? Do you want to get out from inside of your house, away from where you mom can nag you about doing your CHORES? Do you wish you lived in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic NIGHTMARE in which a totalitarian government forces young children to fight to the death both as punishment for their people’s attempted revolt and for the sheer amusement of those in power? Well ch-ch-ch-check out this Hunger Games camp in, uh-no duh, Florida! From the Tampa Bay Times:

The first day of camp brought girls with lunchbags and suntans and swimsuit strings hanging down the backs of their shirts. They smiled and jumped up and down, excited to see each other; many were classmates at Country Day School, the host of the summer camp. It was this friendship that made Rylee Miller, 12, feel a little conflicted. “I don’t want to kill you,” she 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.”

The boys had gathered away from the girls, across the room. Eli Hunter cocked an elbow and pointed the fingers on his other hand, explaining that he was a sniper in a tree. He gunned down Liam Cadzow, a tiny blond boy in a bucket hat.

Coooooooooool! I only wish I had my own precious baby to send during some of the most influential years of his or her life! Can you tell me anything else about it?!

At the end of the week, the 26 kids expected to compete in a real-life Hunger Games tournament. They’d spend the next few days training. Then they’d fight to the “death.”

“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.”

“What’s your specialty? Ours is primarily weapons,” said Frances Pool-Crane, the youngest camper at 10 years old.

“Ours is, like, half weapons,” said Briana Craig, 12. “Alliance?”

“Sure,” Frances said. The girls were decorating posters for the Games. “LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH,” Frances wrote.

“But if you actually sit down and talk to them and they say, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ they don’t understand what they’re saying. Death for this age isn’t a final thing. It’s a reset.”

Susan Toler, a clinical psychologist specializing in children’s issues and an assistant dean at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, called the camp idea “unthinkable.”

When children read books or watch movies, they’re observers, removed from the killing. “But when they start thinking and owning and adopting and assuming the roles, it becomes closer to them,” Toler said. “The violence becomes less egregious.”

On Wednesday morning, the camp’s head counselor, Lindsey Gillette, told the campers there would be a rule change to Friday’s Hunger Games tournament. Instead of “killing” each other by taking flags, the campers would instead “collect lives.” Whoever had the most flags would win.

Gillette told the campers she changed the rules so that no one would get out early and have to sit on the sidelines. But privately, she said the violence the kids had expressed was off-putting. She wanted the camp to focus on team-building activities.

Cooooooooooooooooool, again! Being a kid sounds neat! Total bum-bum they switched from a less murder-oriented platform, but there have got to be a few other places out there that care enough to get it RIGHT, right? Make your mom do a google search about it! (Via Uproxx.)

Comments (38)
  1. How many of these kids signed up just so they could hang out with Jennifer Lawrence? Like 60%? 65%

  2. I can honestly say that as a 12-year-old I would have been stoked for this camp, and furious at the touchy-feely rule change.

    Maybe kids today are different? But I can tell you much of my childhood in the 1880s was spent running around with a toy gun playing war, killing relentlessly and dying melodramatically. So camp sounds fun!

  3. “I Went To Hunger Games Camp And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt After Being Gunned Down By Eli Hunter’s Sniper Rifle Even Though I was Wearing an Invisible Bullet-Proof Suit Of Armor And Already Threw A Bomb Made Of Sharks At Ian Before He Tried To Shoot Me And Also My Foot Was Totally On Base.”

  4. This sounds like when you would go camping and wander around in the woods with you friends and then think that maybe you were lost so then you’d have to start discussing who you would eat first. I was never eaten first because I know how to use a compass. Thanks, Girl Scouts!!!

    • Do you also know trail signs? Many people use them all the time, so it would be helpful if you could decipher that pile of rocks for us.

      • I used to! I’m sure I could pick it up again easy. I also make a pretty mean baggie full of gorp, but I guess if we’re talking about eating people, the gorp is moot.

        • Ya gotta get the gorp out there ahead of time, that’s how you survive being eaten. “Who me? No, I have some assorted discount serials and raisins and stuff in this little baggie, have at it. Then eat Sheila.”

    • ME too, I had my silver award and everything, but i gtfo before gold

  5. I have a feeling the next time I read about this camp in the news it’s going to be more tragic than funny.

  6. Oh, yeah, “collecting lives” is way less creepy than “killing.” Gotta collect ‘em all!

    • Winner gets to wear the Grim Reaper costume for a whole day!

      • “We determined that “collecting lives” still had connotations some people found unsettling. While we don’t understand this, we changed the term once again to accommodate the sensitive parents and psychologists. Children will now be “harvesting souls” at the 2013 All Star Reaping.”

  7. Meanwhile, the Battle Royale camp had to close for lack of funds.

  8. I want the camp to focus on team-building activities… so I based it around a game which will only have 1 winner which means any alliances formed must inevitably end in betrayal. The only problem before was that kids might be eliminated too early, and thus have no chance to take sweet revenge on traitors. Oh and something about violence being… bad? – Head Counselor, Lindsey Gillette

  9. It would be a cool idea if they taught wilderness survival skills and how to shoot a bow and arrow and gut a fish or whatever. So, like, the scouts basically. Only making it sound cooler so the kids would want to participate? It’s definitely an interesting study in child psychology, and hopefully not one that will damage these kids for life lololol

    • The Girl Scout camp I went to was pretty intense, but I also grew up in a suburb of assholes and my troop was especially brutal. I tried to learn survival skills in 5th or 6th grade — THE GODDAMN ACTIVITY — and they made fun of me because they said I’d live alone in the woods forever or something equally as lovely. And I wasn’t even in the bottom 5 of kids getting picked on. Tweens, man. Tweens.

  10. My summers consisted of:
    A) riding my bike around and eating as much candy as I could get my hands on, playing flashlight tag, and some NES
    B) That one miserable week I spent at a sleepaway camp where I couldn’t get any decent sleep because the other boys kept climbing in and out of the window next to my bed to go on “panty raids”

    Which I suppose prepared me to be:
    A) A redneck Meth addict
    B) A nerd who hates frats.
    Neither of which, I suppose, do you want to go into unprepared…

  11. I love archery, but as a novice I’ve only done it a handful of times due to legalities of and locations for archery in NYC. However, when the Parks & Rec Dept. offers free archery, all these kids go thinking it’ll be like The Hunger Games. You have no idea how many children and adults do not take it seriously. At least twice I have narrowly, at the closest second avoided injuring a toddler or a child walking onto a live range. Like if I had worse reflexes, the bow would’ve struck their heads or pierced other vital organs.
    I went to a professional archery place, and the people working there couldn’t agree more.

    • Yeah, it is very disturbing when people do not understand that they are holding a DEADLY WEAPON.

      We went to a gun event one year because they had a lot of different stations where you could shoot black powder rifles, shotguns, WWII guns, and archery. Archery is great, and unfortunately for me, that always has the longest lines.

      Pretty cool except you didn’t need any kind of training to attend and shoot, so I watched a CHILD shoot a black powder rifle, and she hurt her hand because the guy “supervising” wasn’t doing a good job.

      Also, I kept thinking, “All of these people are holding weapons, and many don’t know anything about them, and this is an insanely dangerous event.” I don’t plan on ever going again.

      • Holy crap! I would be hyperventilating in a corner if I were you. That sounds crazy scary!

        • It didn’t seem scary at the time because everyone was just standing in line, taking turns shooting at the targets. It was after we left that I thought how all it takes is one idiot or one crazy person. I suppose that’s true anywhere. I mean, think about how careless people are driving cars for example.

          But yeah, not going to go back to that event. I am considering taking some archery lessons because I really enjoy it, and I think I’m actually pretty good considering I don’t have much experience.


  13. May the POGS be ever in your favor!

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