Can a "Hunger Games" effect get more people outdoors?

The first film in the bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy opens today, having set records for advance ticket sales. In addition to it being good news for Lionsgate film studio, could a young adult tale about a post-apocalyptic society inspire more people, especially kids, to get outside? Might it make outdoor survival skills and self-sufficiency cool for girls and boys?

Pre-games District 12 scenes with Katniss and Gale were filmed at Coleman Boundary in Pisgah National Forest (photo:

North Carolina, where Hunger Games was filmed, is hoping for an increase in visitors. VisitNC has pulled together a list of 12 Places To Experience The Hunger Games (presumably not under threat of a fight to the death).

Katniss fans can explore DuPont State Forest, its 10,000 acres of waterfalls and forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains home to the Hunger Games arena. Or hike Craggy Pinnacle Trail with views of the North Fork Reservoir, which acted as the lake beside the Cornucopia for Katniss and Peeta. In Pisgah National Forest, District 12 pre-games scenes with Katniss and Gale were filmed at Coleman Boundary.

The film didn't use Nantahala Outdoor Center, but you can hone your survival skills in its wilderness survival school and workshops (via Gadling). Might we see more people working on their tracking, trapping, wilderness medicine, and archery skills due to a Hunger Games effect?

While survival and the skills to do so are major themes in post-apocalyptic literature, often nature is presented with a dreary view. It's dangerous, violent, off-limits, or even gone. Not a source of enjoyment or peace, like you or I likely find outdoors.

But, 13-year-old environmental activist Miranda Andersen shared some thoughts on that topic in her recent blog, "Miranda and the Apocalypse," with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

Andersen wrote:

DuPont State Recreational Forest, aka The Hunger Games arena (photo: Patrick Shepherd /

So what could writers write about that shows an alternative future? A future that’s not just about overcoming to survive but overcoming to actually create something better? As Richard reminded me, it’s not enough to just survive.

I think we need more books and movies out there to kind of inspire us to make a positive future happen. But in some ways the dystopia books are good because they scare kids about what the world might look like and then scares them into doing something to make the future better. Maybe writers could also inspire them with images of a better future.

Andersen, who is making a film on nature-deficit disorder, is scheduled to give a TEDx speech on the topic. She's already made 10 short films and has been named one of five "Amazing Canadian Kids.”

Pretty inspiring stuff, from a real kid in our own imperfect world.


102 reviewer rep
2,974 forum posts
March 23, 2012 at 4:11 p.m. (EDT)

Social movements that require lifestyle changes need a lot more than a movie to impart a significant, lasting, influence on society.  The hippy era-back to nature-ecology movement-health awareness craze of 1960s-70s created a outdoors activity related sub culture, at least in one generation, but the influences driving that revolution were much more pervasive than a movie. Sure movies create followings – Rocky Horror, Harry Potter, and that Twilight thing – but these are fleeting cults, a passing stage for most participants.  Hunger Games may bump individuals with survivalist urges or inspire a few with a lust for adventure to get out there, but many of those perturbed would probably find their way out back anyway.  Most people will otherwise will settle for a tread mill with Google maps, or if demand is sufficient, watching a reality series with a catchy name like Man Versus Wild, or something to that effect.


Tom D
38 reviewer rep
1,902 forum posts
March 24, 2012 at 2:50 p.m. (EDT)

People go to New Zealand to see where Lord of the Rings was shot, but I doubt seeing the locations encourages them to go backpacking unless they already have an interest in doing so. This might be different, but as I understand it, the books and film are about a "fight to the death" contest among teenagers, so whether that is a message the industry or states wants to promote-that the woods are full of people who want to kill you is pretty doubtful.

280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
March 24, 2012 at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)

Starting with this attraction based on teenage activity it might be starting subljminally, an interest.

0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
March 24, 2012 at 4:51 p.m. (EDT)

All this programming is controlled to the max and yes, hunger games is being presented as a "educational" tool to prepare us, (those who look a little deeper) for an event that may pit us against each other for real for basic things like food, shelter and protection.  Other programs, too.   That's just my two wafflestompers worth...

14 reviewer rep
318 forum posts
March 24, 2012 at 9:10 p.m. (EDT)

If the movie can't get them out there the apocalypse will.

0 reviewer rep
48 forum posts
April 1, 2012 at 12:53 a.m. (EDT)

God I hope not.  The Hunger Games, in my opinion, absolutely bites.  First Collins book I ever read and I only did it because of the hype - sorta' got sucked in, curiosity took hold of me and then, after a moment of unconsciousness apparently, or temporary insanity maybe, there it was on my Kindle.  Pretty flimsy apology I know but its the only one I can come up with.  And I've been working on it for a good while.

The Good News is that I have already forgiven myself for buying The Hunger Games, though certainly it will take longer to forgive myself for reading it.  However, I intend to remain patient and will work diligently toward such forgiveness. 

Collins, of course, is not eligible.

Whatever, kids killing kids for the entertainment of the Ruling Class is not a story that is going to engender a properly reverent approach to wilderness in anybody; and the presentation of wilderness as The Scary Woods is clearly poor incentive to tourism.  Beyond that, there is nothing in that book that fits together to make any useful, sensible statement whatsoever. 

Predictably it is a commercial success.

Now, The Thousand Mile Summer is the kind of book that put people into the mountains and encouraged self-reliance and respect for oneself and a deep personal committment to the dirt upon which one tread.  That book is not science fiction/fantasy/horror, contains no reference to gizmo's or genetically engineered wasps and rodents, no mention of 12G communications technology or heatless fire, no swords and no magic potions. 

And it has no Apps.  Forgot to mention that.  And you can't Like It on Facebook either.  Forgot that too.  I'm old, it happens.

The Thousand Mile Summer is/was a literary success and a commercial failure and is thus at least a full step above Collins' dubious achievement.  And though Fletcher's book fanned my smoldering interest in wild places into a flaming enthusiam for white stars against black night in high country no kid would read it today.

There it is.  I don't think any book or movie or song or fantasy is going to get today's kids into the woods, period, and especially anything as trivial as Collins' The Hunger Games.

But I'm pretty confident that I do know what will, and that it's the only thing that will, and that it cannot be purchased at Amazon, that it cannot be purchased anywhere else either.

The only thing that will get kids into the woods today is your outstretched hand.

That is a fact.

And leave the Smartphone in the truck.


102 reviewer rep
2,974 forum posts
April 1, 2012 at 6:57 p.m. (EDT)


I saw Hunger Games the other day.  The outdoors aspect of the movie is a minor element, merely a backdrop to a plot almost entirely about the mindscape of living under a totalitarian regime – think 1984 with a pastoral setting.  I think a visit to the zoo is more likely to inspire a city slicker to explore the out of doors than this movie.


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