Monday, June 25, 2012

Bulding a Summer Camp out of District 12...

Ever since I was a little kid, I wondered if I was best suited for a small town lifestyle. I tend to thrive when I'm a big fish in a little pond, but seeing as how I've always lived in cities, I've never been able to test the theory. During a random marathon of Hollywood Treasure that I found on Syfy VOD today, though, I learned that the actual town that served as District 12 in The Hunger Games film is available for sale. Joe Maddalena and Profiles in History will be auctioning the property, complete with little ramshackle homes that serve as creepy movie cabins but wouldn't work for a permanent place of residence without some major fixing up. And I have decided I need to buy it.


The property is in North Carolina, on seventy-two acres of land, surrounded by woods identical to the ones the film production went deep into for filming. Sure, it is a tourist spot now, with random drivers by pulling over, trekking in, and taking a photo (usually posing with a loaf of bed or bow and arrow) in front of the building that still reads "_ASTRIES." Sure, it will probably always be a tourist spot, what with The Hunger Games Tour that takes people around to the various locations used during filming. But I have a dream. That land is perfect for a themed sleepaway camp (one which I promise all of the kids will actually survive), and if I had a spare million and a half dollars lying around, I would scoop it up in a second and start my new life as camp proprietor. 

I wasn't the biggest fan of The Hunger Games as a movie, but I can see so much potential in that location-- a rarity simply because it is one complete, still standing place, rather than one free-standing structure duplicated through CGI. To give those die hard kids a real experience, I keep seeing a week or two long stays for kids who want to live like Katniss (but with more plentiful snacks and less fighting to the death). They can learn archery in the woods, play more current games like Capture The Flag on the lush grounds, make Mockingjay pins in arts and crafts, and crush over their own versions of Peeta and Gale in their cabins at lights out.

 And naturally, there would be s'mores every night!

Maddalena is a movie buff and a fan first, and that is why he started his company, but Profiles in History is very much a business, and there is no doubt in my mind the spiel he gave the current land owners about wanting the property to go to someone who had a deep emotional or otherwise personal connection due to the films. They'll take the highest bidder, as anyone in any real estate deal ever would be inclined to do. I respect that. But I have to admit I fear for what that land-- and the town outside it-- may turn into depending on who purchases it. Will it become a theme park, complete with overpriced snacks and reproductions of the film's more classic props? Will they allow fans to experience what life in District 12 would have been like with overnight stays in the tiny, not-well-insulated structures? Or will someone come in and bulldoze it all, not caring about the part of Hollywood history it has now become and instead simply seeing its worth in the development possibilities for condos or hotels or both? 

You don't have to be super into The Hunger Games at all to enjoy this kind of camp experience. Really, I just think the property is the perfect setting for summer freedom. It's certainly the kind of place I would have wanted to check out when I was a kid! The movie tie-in is a bonus for those who are into it, but excess capitalization on the lucky Lionsgate connection would not occur on my watch. 

So, if you want to get me a belated birthday present, consider bidding on District 12 for me here!

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