Youths compete in Hunger Games-inspired survival challenges

HOLIDAY-At the South Holiday Branch Library, nearly 30 students prepared to duke it out in survival-themed competitions inspired by the popular young adult book trilogy and movie, the "Hunger Games.""May the odds be ever in your favor" was scribbled on the whiteboard in black ink as the kids gathered around branch manager Ashley Johnson as she explained the rules."We are acting like this is the early stages of the arena when people formed alliance," Johnson told them. "You're not trying to kill anybody, OK?"The book takes place in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, in which the Hunger Games take place. The games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death.In the small meeting room inside the Holiday library, however, students would compete in survival challenges before an all-out water balloon fight outside."It's definitely better than just regular library stuff," said 13-year-old Skylar Sarmek.There would be four challenges. Each team of five would work together to build a tent and take it down; make paracord bracelets; answer trivia questions; and use face paint to camouflage teammates against a swampy backdrop."You don't have to have your face painted but if everyone else has theirs painted, you won't look like you're as much fun," Johnson teasingly told the group.Excitement flared as teams struggled to put the tents up without instructions and make their teammates faces blend into the swampy wall scene with painted green palm fronds and puffy white clouds.Laurel Rochovansky brought her children in to check out a few books when her daughter, Hunter, noticed the Hunger Games event about to take place. The 12-year-old Seven Springs Middle School student is a big fan of the books and asked her mother to hang out for a bit while she participated."My kids are avid readers but these activities get them even more involved with the library," Rochovansky said.Johnson said the event is part of their summer reading program, where activities are designed around popular books the kids are reading. While budget cuts make planning events challenging, Johnson said library employees work together to bring in or donate items for events. The tents are owned by Johnson."We really only had to buy the face paint and paracords for this," Johnson said. "Sometimes you have to be real creative."After the teams completed their survival challenges inside, they moved outside for a water balloon fight, popcorn and snow cones. Scheduled events include "Zombie Tag" after hours in the library on June 28 and "Grave Digger's Delight" on June 29, at which zombie brain cupcakes and other grotesque edible treats will be created.
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