Hunger Games III

August 8 & 9 found us hosting our third Hunger Games here at Dahlem.  As usual, Friday is the day we spend training the participants in a variety of outdoor skills, which they must demonstrate with a certain level of competence the next day in order to acquire food, water or bug spray.

We had 22 kids, ages 11-17, sign up, and a whole passel of volunteers (and staff) to help make the games a success, either teaching and testing the skills, or walking the perimeter of the Arena on Saturday.  These are the unsung heroes (and heroines) who make so many of our programs possible, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

Bob spent the first part of the morning teaching basic knots, knife safety, and first aid.

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Then we headed outdoors, where Michael did a wonderful demonstration of how to set a couple different types of snares.

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This was followed by a hands-on demo on fire-building, both with a bow drill and a hand drill.  The kids found out it isn’t quite as easy as it looks!

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From there we moved on to shelter-building.  Each team had to build a weather-proof shelter.  Some were more successful than others, but they all had a good time, especially when we had them tear them down afterwards.

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Our next stop was a visit with Pat, who demonstrated different techniques for gathering water.  It’s a good thing we had water available for the kids, because if one had to count on these methods, one would probably get very thirsty waiting for enough moisture to collect to fill one’s mouth.  Still…it is a great skill to know…just in case!

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We taught them how to make cordage.  We cheated a bit, though, by starting off with raffia, rather than having to gather fibers directly from plants.  Still, many of the kids found this to be quite challenging.


Those who were return players couldn’t wait for the camouflage and sneaking training!  It seems to always be very popular with the girls…not so much so for the boys.  Go figure!

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Some REALLY got into it!


When Saturday arrived, we started off with a group shot…everyone nice and clean and eager to begin.


We had a new Arena this year, which had a lot more open space.  The starting point, the Cornucopia, was in the grassland.  The six skills stations were scattered through the Arena.  At the beginning, everyone was 50 feet from the Cornucopia, and when the horn blew, the charge began!


I did not get many shots of the action this time around…I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I got one video, and it will cause motion sickness if I post it, so you will just have to use your imagination, picturing people in pink running through the woods and fields trying to keep their bandanas from being captured by their pursuers!


Halle does her best to demonstrate snares.


Bob tested both knots and first aid.




Gary ran the cordage station…and watched birds.


The fire skills station was so well hidden that Holly only got one person to stop by for testing!  Pat’s water station, also in the grasslands, had a good number of visitors.

This year we ended up with five “winners,” whose names all went into a hat and one was drawn as THE winner.  Congratulations Maddie Girard!

DSC_0161We’ll be doing the Hunger Games again next August.  Hope to see you there!


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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