Information for Parents
“When we arrived, I witnessed the happiest and most radiant smile I had ever seen on my daughter’s face. We were greeted by her new best friends, watched and listened in awe as they all hugged and hugged and hugged until they could finally depart from one another.” Tamra -second Mockingjay Camp 2016
These are non-combat courses which are safely held by experienced professionals and yet also an exciting adventure where teenagers can emulate their heroines and heroes from the Hunger Games books and films they love. A unique and magical time in nature, far from computer screens, gaming and mobile phones; the teenagers over the last two years have had a fantastic time learning new skills through adventure, fun and teamwork and making new friends. Immersed in the wild woods this promises to be a truly amazing and unforgettable experience
Where do the Tributes sleep? For the duration of the camp the Tributes (12-16 year olds), staff and instructors mostly sleep in tents in our base camp (which we call the Training camp). Either in tents they have brought themselves, or tents they have hired from WildWise and which they share with someone of the same gender or which they sleep in on their own if they'd prefer. There is an opportunity ,which we encourage, on the third night of the camp, to sleep in a self-built same sex shelter in groups of approx 6 , out of branches, sticks, leaves and bracken. For many this exciting and magical experince of sleeping under the stars in a shelter they've made themselves, is their highlight, with many choosing to sleep the final night of the camp in the shelter again. For some though, usually around a quarter of the Tributes, it is a step too far, and they choose to sleep in their tents on the third night, which we honour as a decision. We make sure there is no stigma attached to this, and they often enjoy hanging out for the evening with the others around the shelter, before they go to their tents to sleep. Please note you must contact the office if you want to hire and reserve a tent.
Pairing Up: For safety reasons we make sure all Tributes are always in a pair whilst in the Arena. Tributes are happily paired up with someone they feel comfortable with (usually of the same sex unless they have come with a friend) so it's not a problem if teenagers (or 12 year olds) want to come on their own, as we create a easy environment to meet others. With over a hundred Tributes having passed through our camps over the last two years we have never had a problem with forming pairs who get on and support eachother in the Arena. Of course Tributes are also free to pair up with a friend or brother/sister they have come with.
Fun: As well as the excitement and fun of being a Tribute in the Hunger Games, we all have a lot of fun with games, activites, music, and hanging out round the base camp before and after the Games . Above all else the Tributes who join us have a great time and laugh, meeting new people and spending time outdoors.
Staff: “Your staff, particularly Robin, have been a positive influence for my young man and are helping to shape his thoughts about future careers and other adventures. I couldn’t ask for more, thank you" Demelza about Evan, 2015
All WildWise staff are DBS checked (formally CRB). The lead instructor Robin Bowman has worked with teenagers in the outdoors for 16 years (see his biog on each camp's page) and has two children of his own. We have a large staff to child ratio. On last summer's Hunger Games camp we had 15 staff and on the Mockingjay camp we had 25 staff. We have between 4 and 6 adults on a pastoral care team for each camp alone. Some of the staff will be qualified in outdoor First Aid.
Camping equipment: please see General Camp Information.
SEE ARTICLE on intention behind these camps
Frequently asked questions
Why are you running a course based on the Hunger Games? Isn't it a violent film?
Nature Deficit Disorder and getting teenagers out into Nature
It's been well documented recently that many children in the West suffer from what Richard Louv in the US has coined 'Nature Deficit Disorder', the condition of spending too much time indoors, in front of computers or television screens; and not enough time in the fresh air, exercising and exploring the natural world. Recent surveys have revealed a sharp decline in teenage mental health and problems such as anxiety and depression have increased by 70% among adolescents. There is a growing realisation that the physical and emotional well being of teenagers is greatly enhanced by spending time in nature.
It would be preferable if all teenagers were self motivated to explore the natural world and get outdoors (and some are) and that it didn't take a trilogy of books or films such as the Hunger Games, which are violent in parts, to act as the catalyst for many of them. But the reality is the books and films do inspire and encourage them, and can act as just the hook needed, to coax many teenagers into participating on a healthy outdoor based camp with bushcraft and wilderness skills, which they might otherwise not be attracted to. We have to meet teenagers where they are at.
Positive female role model
The Hunger Games is also very important as the heroine of the story is a teenage girl Katniss; strong, empowered, with good morals. Stories, especially blockbusters and bestsellers, that portray young women in this light are far too few and far between. But the Hunger Games has led to an increased enthusiasm amongst teenage girls to learn these skills and spend time in nature, which has often been primarily the domain of young men; because they now have a heroine like themselves to emulate.
What safety measures are in place?
Since 1999 Wildwise has been delivering high quality programmes for teenagers with a proven blend of nature awareness, bushcraft and storytelling, with the Wildwise Hunger Games our latest venture. Having worked with children and teenagers for 16 years we take their safety and comfort very seriously. Although its important to give the teenagers an authentic and edgy experience with challenges, if they so seek, we will strike a balance between this and keeping everyone safe. The whole camp including the Arena will be closely held by the staff. Stationed throughout the Arena (the woods) will be an invisible team of adult staff keeping a close eye on them during the Games, making sure all their basic needs are met, that they are enjoying their time, and are kept safe.
There is a definite rule of no close or hand to hand contact between different pairs of Tributes, to ensure everyone's safety. The 'weapons' are nerf guns which fire two inch rubber nerf pellets. Even though these have a fantastic range and accuracy and are great fun to use for the teenagers, they are completely safe and harmless. They don't hurt at all if they hit you and even if in the unlikely worst case scenario of someone getting shot in the eye by accident (which happened last year as someone was looking down the barrel of the gun whilst he fired a pellet by accident!) then there is at worst a slight eye stinging for a few minutes but no long lasting injury. We also put child friendly water based poster paints on the pellets which primary schools use and which both my toddlers have got in their eyes at various times with no ill effects. No bows and arrows, sticks, spears, knives or any other weapons, or anything that could be used as a weapon are allowed in the Arena. All these rules will be strictly enforced by the staff.
All Tributes are in a pair which can't break up, so no one is on their own. The site / Arena has been carefully chosen as there is a very clear and obvious natural boundary, which added to several boundary walks before the actual Games begins, prevents any chance of getting lost. Added to all of the above are many small and on-going safety measures which we put in place at varying times.
What are the benefits for the teenagers?
Teenagers are often looking for edgy and challenging experiences to prove themselves or just to have fun and an adventure. This experiential hands on course facilitates this in a held environment, which is both liberating yet supportive.
These programmes require the teenagers to respond to a demanding (and enjoyable) sequence of tasks in an unfamiliar setting.
The activities can have a positive impact in the following areas: Organisation, Integrity, Planning, Teamwork, Observation, Problem-solving, Tenacity, Awareness, Communication, Responsibility, Attitude and Leadership.
The likely outcomes from participating in such a dynamic interaction with the natural world are an increased enthusiasm, energy, feeling of self-worth and motivation. Many teenagers haven't been camping before or slept out in the woods in shelters or made fires with fire-lighting funghi. These experiences empower the adolescents with new skills, to deepen their relationship to nature and breed a new confidence to continue to discover it for themselves. Most importantly of all, the course is designed to give the adolescents an exciting, meaningful and fun time in nature!
This course is unofficial and is not authorised, approved, licensed or endorsed by Suzanne Collins, her publishers, or Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation. 'Hunger Games' is a registered trademark of Suzanne Collins.