My daughter has been going to the same summer day camp since kindergarten. She loves it, particularly the two field trips per week, but the highlight has always been “Harry Potter Week”.
Evidently adolescent wizards are no longer cool, because the week of Hogwarts-themed activities (including each camper being sorted into a house, Quidditch tournaments, and viewings of the first two films) have been replaced by … The Hunger Games.
As soon as I saw the summer calendar activities, I realized that the camp was setting itself up for potential trouble. In other words, they were either very brave or very stupid.
Why? Because there is a contingency of parents–a vocal minority that I fear is, unfortunately, growing–with the notion that imposing their own morals on the greater community is perfectly okay.
My daughter was strongly discouraged from reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for her free read book in her third grade class. Teachers have been censured for leading students in games like Mafia. Books ranging from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to Lois Lowry’s dystopian Young Adult masterpiece The Giver have been banned from school libraries, never mind classrooms.
I once had a fairly lengthy debate with a parent who was concerned by the use of the word “ni****” in To Kill a Mockingbird. This was an intelligent city woman, the last parent I expected to have an issue with her child reading the book in English class. In a nutshell, she didn’t want her child exposed to such a terrible word. I get that, I totally do. I am, after all, a mother before I’m a teacher, and both of my daughters have told me on numerous occasions that I have issues with being overprotective. What I finally told the parent–a woman I like and admire very much, I might add–is that pretending the word, not to mention the hate behind it, never existed was doing a disservice not just to her child but to a classroom full of them. I think To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important books ever written, and the message that words of hate were once commonplace–and not too long ago, when you stop and think about it–is one that everyone can learn from. She ended up totally cool with it (I gave her my lesson plans in advance), and life went on.
But The Hunger Games at a summer day camp may be somewhat different …
I want to make very clear that I personally do not have a problem with The Hunger Games. My nine-year-old has seen the movie numerous times and is reading the book as I write this (of course, she’s also seen Mean Girls…her older sister thought it was totally fine to watch while babysitting one day). We’ve talked about it at length, the emphasis of our chats being on the dystopian factor. In other words, this is why we have to be careful in how we live our lives and what we let our society become.
There are already rumbles of discontent from some of the camp parents. They are not happy that this terrible book where kids kill each other to win lots of money, bragging rights, and lifelong comfort is being forced upon their little campers.
To me, this is just another example of some parents trying to make judgments based on their own opinions, and I have a real problem with that.
Of course, if I ran a camp, I wouldn’t have touched The Hunger Games with a ten-foot pole for precisely this reason. It’s not a can of worms I would want to go anywhere near.
In the name of full disclosure, we are going to be in New York City during “Hunger Games Week”. I will miss the fallout, whatever it is.
I find this something of a relief, to be completely honest with you.