With the Hunger Games DVD release this Saturday, your teens may have Panem fever all over again. This guest post offers just one way to celebrate the games before Catching Fire hits theaters.

On July 18, 2012, Stamford teens became tributes as they participated in a library summer event celebrating all things Hunger Games. We offered four teen summer programs this year (the others were a chocolate program, mendhi and ballroom dancing) and all were popular, but the Hunger Games event seemed to generate some special buzz among our teen volunteers and to attract some teens who aren’t regular program attendees. In the run up to the event, a number of the volunteers asked what the party would entail. When I gave them a summary of the planned events (and told them jokingly that no one was going to be killed), they said it sounded like fun, and a number of them registered to attend. An anxious Mom called the day before the program asking if it was too late for her daughter to participate. When she was told that we were happy to have her daughter join in, the mom was grateful and relieved, saying how much her daughter loved The Hunger Games and how much she was hoping to be able to come.

Of the 40 who registered, 28 showed up at the program (not a bad percentage in our experience), to be greeted as they entered the library’s auditorium by music from the Hunger Games movie, a librarian dressed in a Hunger Games tee shirt, a wild hair ornament and Capitol-style makeup (me), and other librarians and volunteers wearing badges identifying them as “Capitol Citizens”.

The teens were gathered and told they would undergoing a Reaping, not to determine who would be a tribute (they were all tributes), but to assign them to a district. Papers were available in a bowl, two strips with each district number. Extras were available so that additional teens could be accommodated. With 28 teens present, we ended up with 14 districts, two more than the 12 in the books. Pairing the teens in this random way meant that they couldn’t work with their friends, and when some of them protested, they were reminded, in the spirit of the Hunger Games, that tributes do not get to choose. As they received their district assignment, each teen was given a nametag, labeling them with the district number and the letter A or B. This became their identity for the Games.

The first activity was a ten-question trivia quiz. As the papers were distributed, the teens were told that we needed to test their knowledge of the history of the Games before they would be allowed to compete. The questions were multiple choice, so that teens who were less familiar with the books and movie would be able to guess, and would not be embarrassed by blank answers. It turned out that the questions were quite easy for the
serious fans; in fact ten of them got all ten questions correct. But there were some, less familiar with the series, who only got a couple of correct answers.

After the quiz, the tributes were assembled and told that their next task would be to style themselves for their parade in the Capitol. While they did this, volunteers graded the quizzes. The two tributes from each district had to coordinate their look and the tributes were reminded that it was important to impress the “Capitol Citizens.” Assisted by the volunteers and librarians, the teens had a lot of fun decorating themselves with the items provided; lipstick samples, garish eye shadows, face paints, glittery stickers, plastic leis
and inexpensive hair ornaments. Photos of citizen of the Capitol from the movie were on hand to give the teens ideas if needed. Even some of the boys got into the act, draping themselves in leis and swiping bars of color on their cheeks.

After much giggling and serious makeup application, the tributes were lined up by district and paraded around the auditorium, and then onto the public floor of the library. The five volunteers who assisted with the event and a number of the Youth Services librarians who stopped in briefly cheered wildly as they passed, and the looks on the teen’s faces ranged from sheepish to shy smiles to big grins.

When the teens returned to the auditorium they were told to gather around a grouping of 8 ‘½ x 11inch photographs clustered on the floor. The photos were of bread, knives, matches, rope and other things that could help a tribute survive during the Games. This area represented the Cornucopia, and the activity was called Cornucopia Challenge. It was adapted from the Cornucopia Competition created by Gail Huitt, Reading Consultant
at Amity Middle School (and available online). Slips of paper with each district number were placed in the Reaping bowl, and as each district was randomly called, one of the tributes from that district selected an item from the Cornucopia, not knowing which were valuable. After all of the items were chosen (with some districts getting two items while others only got one), the librarian read the accompanying script, which covers three days of the Games.
In the script, as various items are shown to be useful, the district in possession of them received points. The volunteers kept score.

After the Cornucopia Challenge, the tributes were divided into two groups for the next activity, which they competed in as individuals, not districts. One group went to the Tribute Target Toss area, while the other lined up to do Poison Berry Picking. After everyone had a turn, the groups switched.

The Tribute target was made from a life sized cardboard box. Pasted on the box was a blown up picture of the teen girl who appears on the library’s 2012 Teen Summer Reading Club materials. In four places, large circles of Velcro (from children’s Velcro ball toss games purchased as a dollar store) were stapled to the box. Each tribute was given five Velcro covered balls, which they threw at the targets. The ball had to stick to earn points. Once again, volunteers kept track of each teen’s score.

On the other side of the room, four teens at a time participated in the Poison Berry Picking Challenge. Each was given a small paper plate filled with berry-shaped jelly candies, and half of a thick straw (the kind used for smoothies). The object was to see how many berries could be moved from one plate to another plate in 30 seconds, inhaling on the straw to create suction. The winner moved 29.

After everyone had a chance at these two activities, the teens were reassembled for the last competition of the Games. This was a hot potato game called Pass the Bomb. In addition to being “out” if the music stopped while a teen was holding the object, we added a few rules to keep rowdiness to a minimum. Teens were also “out” if they
dropped the object or threw it. Even with these rules the game got a little wild, with eliminated contestants hanging around the circle cheering their friends. The solution was to invite teens who were no longer competing to get a head start on the snacks that were laid out on a back table.

As the teens munched on potato chips, goldfish crackers and fruit leather, the volunteers compiled the scores from all of the challenges. One teen had the most points overall, and the group was gathered one last time while the winner was announced and cheered, and given a paper crown, a package of Hunger Games bookmarks and a package of Hunger Games pins. While a teen summer library employee interviewed the winner on videotape, everyone was thanked for coming, encouraged to participate in other library events for teens and dismissed.

With all of the snacks devoured, the teens left the auditorium, still wearing their decorations and big smiles. Dropping random hair ornaments and stickers throughout the building on their way out, they left the imaginary world of The Hunger Games in the library and emerged into the reality of a steaming hot summer’s day in downtown Stamford, Connecticut.

Posted on behalf of Barbara Klipper, Youth Services Librarian, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT.

About mk Eagle

I'm the librarian at Holliston High School, a bit west of Boston. In my spare time I advise my school's yearbook and Gay Straight Alliance, write about food, and root for the Red Sox.

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