Today…well, today was a great day. Today was tribalpalooza! Instead of activities, the guys played evening activities all day. Yes you read that right, EVENING ACTIVITIES ALL DAY.

The morning began like any other mystical camp morning. The sun rose and the bells tolled. The campers, still in a sleepy daze, hungrily strolled down to breakfast. Unbeknownst to them would their day start so electrically. Once the tables were cleaned and the boys were about to make their way out of the Tuck, the infamous “and nowwwww,” signaling the announcement of the evening activity, was yelled. In a flash of excitement and confusion, all eyes were immediately on the Sultan of Fun Winston H.

A loud, “Tribalpaloozaaaaa!” was followed by deafening cheers from the campers. This tribalpalooza, however, would be unlike any other. It would be historic.

For the past year, the thought of creating an eventing activity based on the book/film series ‘The Hunger Games” has been taken to the drawing board over and over and over again. Last week the details were finally worked out, the go ahead was given, and the staff couldn’t wait to introduce the event.

Here is everything you need to know about the first ever “Timberlake Games.” The game is an all day affair. The Greybearders are the “tributes,” and if the cabin is unequal when it comes to tribes, the tribe with the less amount of people is allowed to elect however many upper cabin guys as it takes to make the teams even. For the inaugural game, the tributes were Tyler S. (GB), Tommy B. (GB), Gabe V. (GB), Garrison B. (GB), Miles B. (GB), Parker K. (BS), Logan B. (GB),  Ryan O. (LS), Jake L. (GB), David F. (GB), Thomas W. (GB), Owen S. (GB), Khari D. (GB), Thompson B. (GB),  Jonah O. (GB), and Leonardo R. (GB). While the “tributes” play, the rest of camp would play other evening activities that count towards the banner.

When the campers met at the Mark this morning to start Tribalpalooza, they were split into three groups. Lower cabins, upper cabins, and Greybearders. When the groups were made, the Greybearders were pulled aside and briefed about what their day would hold. In their meeting they learned that they would be blindfolded and be given flag football belts to start the game. They would then be placed in individual circles on the beach facing the cornucopia of “weapons.” Weapons of great power in fact. Weapons such as battle balls, socks, trash can lids (shields,) archery tag arrows, and pool noodle swords! They also learned that they would each have a backpack with some supplies right in front of them. The game makers, Andrew D. and Connor A. then explained the rules and how one could be eliminated. Eliminations were fairly simple. If one was either A: hit with any of the weapons, B: had their flag pulled, or C: did not make it to any checkpoint on time, they would be out. Checkpoints were staggered throughout the day. When it was time to go to a checkpoint, an announcement over the PA system was made and the contestants then had one hour to reach that checkpoint or they ‘died’. Checkpoints included, a water station, a lunch station, and the final battle grounds. At the water station, the contestants had to show counselors they had water in their bottles. At the lunch station, the objective was to go grab a sack lunch from the Mark…luckily for some guys, sack lunches were placed in their backpacks, but they still had to signal to a counselor that they were nearby. At 4:15pm, the announcement would be made to instruct all remaining players to make their way to the beach for the final battle royale.

As the tributes were learning the game, the rest of the upper cabins were then sent off to play various games against counselors in order to win ‘sponsorships’ for their tribe. Sponsorships are extra supplies for the contestants backpacks. Some of the supplies campers could win were walkie talkies, sack lunches, and noodle swords. When a camper won a sponsorship, he was able to then pick which supplies he wanted a tribute to receive. While this was going on, the lower cabins were playing a big game of capture the flag in order to win points towards the banner, as well as walkie talkies for their tribes tributes.

At 11 AM, everyone made their way down to the beach to watch the start of the game. Cheers rained as the blindfolded tributes were led down the hill to their starting positions on the beach. Once everyone was in place, a countdown signaled it was time to begin. The tributes took their blindfolds off and quickly decided what to do next. Some tributes fled the scene to go hide as soon as they grabbed their backpacks. Others raced towards the weapons. As Seminole Garrison B. knelt down to grab supplies, a battleball wielding Thompson B. crept from behind and eliminated his target. The crowd went wild. Thompson B. then looked right and found his next Seminole target, Logan B. It was only a few seconds later that Logan B. had been eliminated with the same battleball that took out his fellow Nole. Two cannon shots sounded over the intercom followed by the name and tribe of those eliminated. Within the first few moments of the game, the spectators had already been given quite a show. As the Iroquois took control of the beach, the remaining Seminoles scattered across camp to find a place to catch their breath and think of their next move.

As the rest of camp headed to the Tuck for lunch, the tributes continued their battle. During lunch, two more cannon shots sounded, followed by the news that Seminole Gabe V. and Iroquois Tommy B. had been eliminated.  At the end of lunch, the Sultan of Fun revealed that the rest of camp would be playing battleball after freetime.

As the day went on, the checkpoints were announced and cannon shots rang through camp. Towards the middle of freetime, the gamemakers released the hounds. Not actual hounds, but counselors whose job was to go run and find tributes. If a tribute got tagged by a hound, he was eliminated.

Eventually the other gamemaker, mother nature, decided to throw in a quick thunderstorm. An announcement was made to pause the game, and for the remaining tributes to make their way to the Big House. When the tributes arrived, it was made known that four Iroquois and two Seminoles remained. The six guys, Khari D. Thompson B. David F. Jonah O. Miles B. and Tyler S. talked and laughed in great camaraderie about what they had been through and where they had been hiding. A few minutes later the game was back on and everyone was on their separate ways. A short while later the cannon shot rang out again signaling that Tyler S. was eliminated, leaving Miles B. as the only Seminole remaining.

At 4:15 the announcement was made for the last of the tributes to proceed to their final battle grounds. The whole camp was there to watch the outcome. Thompson B. and Miles B. were the first two to arrive, and almost instantaneously the battle began. As the campers cheered from the side, the two battled it out. Throw after throw, dodge after dodge, the two depleted their supplies. At last it was Thompson B. who had a pool noodle sword that struck Miles B. in the leg. As the sword was swung, the three remaining Iroquois made it to the beach.

Though the Iroquois had already won the banner point, a winner was still to be crowned. The rain began to fall and, after a brief pause, the final four began their last battles. Every man for themselves. Iroquois vs Iroquois. Two, one vs one, matches began. The crowd’s eyes were darting left to right to make sure they didn’t miss any detail. David F. defeated Thompson B. and Khari D. fell (quite literally doing a barrel roll on the sand) to Jonah O. As Jonah O. and David F. began to circle each other, the rest of camp was on their feet jumping up and down with excitement. Then all of a sudden the first move was made, then another, and another, and another! After a few minutes of dueling, Jonah O. made the final move and defeated his opponent. As the rain poured onto the beach, so did the campers in great array! Both Seminoles and Iroquois were jumping with joy at the sight of the first ever Timberlake Games winner! Everyone ran up and hugged Jonah O. and told him how amazing the day had been!

Everyone was then sent to the Tuck to hang out! The campers applauded as all the tributes made their way through the doors and to the staff table. The tributes then were able to describe their takes on the game in front of everyone. It was no surprise that everyone had a great time, even those who didn’t make it off the beach. The guys were asked to tell their favorites parts of the game and what they learned. Garrison B. and Logan B. both described in laughter that they learned not to trust Thompson B. Thompson B. then described that his favorite part was when the two thought they could trust him to not eliminate them. Laughter erupted amongst the campers. Seminole Med-Man Owen S. said his favorite part was when he ran into Jake L. and convinced him not to eliminate him. The general consensus of everyone was that the epic duel on the beach was the coolest thing ever. I think so too, and so do a bunch of the other counselors. Former campers turned counselors like myself have become very jealous that we never got to play. Henry M. wants to know when the staff game is?

Even cooler than the final duel, was the excitement of the rest of camp. Campers who were unable to play were so eager to go ahead and be in Greybeard so that they can play! LucasO., brother of Jonah O., said that one day he hopes to continue the legacy his brother started by winning it too! James S. said that he can’t wait to grow up and play, and when he does, he knows he is going to win! Shade J. said that it was awesome and just like the movie. He too wants to play it when he’s older!

The game was such a success,  I think the guys in Big Slaty are already planning their strategy for when they are in Greybeard next year! Director John M. said that it was the best new activity he’s seen during his tenure. Finally, creator Andrew D. said that after a year of development he was proud of the games success, but even prouder of the sportsmanship and camaraderie shown between the tributes. There was nothing but encouragement throughout the whole day.

So there you have it, the inside scoop on the first ever Timberlake Games. It was certainly one of the greatest things I have ever got to be a part of in my ten years of Timberlake. This really is a special place. At the end of the day, Timberlake is a brotherhood, and we’re always here for one another no matter the cause.

Now for rest, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Signing off,

Nick Leonard

Proud Seminole