As movie fans await the upcoming release date of The Hunger Games 2 - Catching Fire on November 22, 2013, a youth day camp has been criticized for incorporating a mock version of the Hunger Games into its summer programming. The real-life Hunger Games camp has reportedly resulted in the young children talking about "killing" one another, and has been labeled "disturbing" by some professionals and parents.
Inspired by the tremendous popularity of the Hunger Games books and movies, camp administrators at Country Day School in Largo, FL, decided to incorporate elements of the series into its schedule. The focal point in the Hunger Games story is where 24 children fight to the death while the entire nation watches on television.
In the Country Day School version, counselors decided to introduce a similar event that would still follow the survival of the fittest rules, but where kids would "kill" others by pulling flags worn around the waist.
Despite this precauation, a Tampa Bay Times reporter who visited the camp did not find the event to be sanitzed from its violence, quoting students making threats to one another and openly discussing violence. Talking before the games, one girl told her friend, "I don't want to kill you."
Her friend did not feel the same way. "I will probably kill you first," she said. "I might stab you."
Posters the girls created for the actual event read, "Losing means certain death."
While counselors denied any actual violent expressions, it was unclear how comfortable they felt as the week went on.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, talk of killing and death got so intense that head counselor Lindsay Gillette tried to switch the focus of what the kids were trying to achieve; it was later announced that instead of trying to "kill" one another, they would be "collecting lives" by obtaining flags from opponents.
The Country Day School website currently has several blog posts acknowledging its use of Hunger Games theme curriculum, but also claimed that the media coverage failed to highlight the more positive parts of the camp.
"As a school, we believe editors chose to eliminate all of the wonderful coverage of the camp and then elected to lead the reader to believe that the focus was on violence. This misrepresentation and the suggestion that a child was hurt while in our care could not be further from the truth," Country Day School explained on its blog.
"Country Day School is proud to be at the forefront of important discussions on youth and violence… We look forward to actively promoting our viewpoints in seeking intellectual elimination of violence through open and proactive discussions," another blog post read.
The Hunger Games series to date has sold over 36 million copies of the first book and the 2012 Hunger Games movie grossed close to $700 million worldwide.
The international trailer for the second movie, Catching Fire, was released at San Diego's Comic Con last month.