Does This “Hunger Games” Summer Camp Encourage Violence?

August 8, 2013  |  
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Summer camp was about games and making friends. But a camp in Florida doesn’t want kids to be friendly; campers compete against each other “to the death” in a “Hunger Games”-style competition. But the game isn’t really winning all the parents over.

Country Day School is catching quite a lot of heat for the camp activity that’s said to promote violence and fly in the face of camp values like friendship and cooperation. Clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Toler told Tampa Baby Times, “When they start thinking and owning and adopting and assuming the roles, it becomes closer to them. It becomes less egregious.”

But camp counselors say dying in their “Hunger Games” tournament isn’t any different than the way kids can die in any of their video games and then come back to life. There’s no actual violence in their game. The kids talk about arrows and killing each other-they’re granted fake weapons–but really, they just have to snatch flag belts off each other. So is there any harm being done? According to the camp’s website, kids also learn some important lessons:

After careful consideration, we decided to offer a camp for middle school students centered on ‘The Hunger Games’ in response to adolescent interest in the popular book trilogy. Our decision was predicated on the development of a curriculum that replaced any subjects of violence with positive themes of character development and team building.

Parents never want their kids to get into a “Lord of the Flies” situation, but this seems pretty harmless. It seems even at 12 years old, kids can understand can understand that taking someone’s life in a game is a lot different than actually hurting them in real life. What makes it different from capture the flag or other war games? Weigh in: is this a harmless fun or strange and dangerous?

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  • Kali

    I don’t think it is that bad. What I read about the camp sounds like fun. There are a lot worse things out there that kids can be doing.