Hunger Games 2015

This last Friday and Saturday (Aug. 7 & 8) we had our fourth Hunger Games – Dahlem Style.  It was a busy two days, with 23 kids participating this year!
We spend the first day in training, teaching the kids a variety of outdoor skills.  Many of the skills we teach them will be “tested” the following day, while others are actually practical skills that they can use to help their chances in winning.
What do we teach?  This year, in addition to compass use, we covered knot-tying,


fire building and primitive fire starting (hand and bow drills),




ways to acquire water (solar still, bags on leaves, and Indian well),




camouflage and sneaking,



and how to set a snare.






Saturday dawned overcast, and became rather humid, but we all started off clean and eager, everyone wearing the “regulation” blue shirt (so no one had a color advantage).

We hiked out to the Arena, an approximately 40-acre section of woods on the Dahlem property, where the Cornucopia of supplies was set up.  Each Tribute stood on a carpet square about 30 feet from the Cornucopia and waited for the signal to start.


When the signal was given, chaos ensued!  Some years the players all take off to hide, but this year most of them made the mad dash into the center to get supplies.  Each one has a bandana tucked into a belt loop or pocket.  If you lose your bandana (someone swipes it), you are “dead” – out of the game.  Those who get out make their way to the edge of the Arena, where they become part of the Perimeter Patrol.



This year only one unlucky Tribute got out during the initial mad dash.  (Not to worry – she got to go back in later.)

They were allowed to form alliances of no more than four people.  This way there was a little safety in numbers…at least for a while.  Toward the end, all alliances had to break up.

Throughout the Arena we had five different Skills Stations set up:  knots with Bob,

fire with Carrie,

water acquisition with Pat, snares with Michael, and compass with Ellen.  At each Skill Station Tributes were safe while they took the time to demonstrate the skill being tested.  If the skill was demonstrated successfully, the Tribute had a choice of “prize” (food, water or insect repellent), and got his/her skill card marked for passing.  If the skill was not demonstrated successfully, the card was marked as a “not passed.”  Each Tribute was required to have three successful demonstrations in order to qualify to be a winner.  If, at the end, we ended up with, say, six Tributes who still had their bandanas, then the one with the most successful skill demonstrations would win.  In other words, it paid to know the skills we taught the day before!

I was able to catch one or two good chases in action.  The Tribute being chased here was able to get away from both his pursuers.  In fact, all three of these kids made it to the end.


Some used the camouflage and sneaking skills we taught to good advantage.

About an hour before the Games ended, all those who had gotten out were sent back in as Mutts.  They were required to stay together as a group and to bark or howl the whole time so the others knew they were Mutts.  Mutts are allowed to get the other players out, but they don’t have a chance to win themselves since they are already “dead.”

Here they all are after the Games ended – some a bit muddier, and all a bit more tired and sweaty than when we started.

We had a pizza party afterwards, and everyone received a certificate of participation.

We ended up with five or six players who did not get out.  Most had the required three Skill Station passes, but two had successfully completed four, and they were our winners.  Congratulations Renae and Alec.  They each won a $15 gift certificate to our Nutshell Gift Shop.


And, of course, this program would not be possible if it weren’t for the help of staff and volunteers!  Many thanks to Ellyn, Rick, Pat, Michael, Carrie, Kathy, Bob, and Gary!

We have been on the fence about doing this program again, but the kids are really still quite keen about it.  If we can get enough volunteers to help out next year, we will probably do it.  If you would like to help, please give us a call!  You can even plan ahead – if we do it in 2016, it will be August 5 & 6.

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