Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dash for Cash

I can safely say that leading a youth camp is one of the most terrifying things anyone can do. In our youth group, we like to play a game on camps that we call Dash for Cash. Simply put, the leaders have cash prizes duct taped to their shirts, and the kids keep the money if they can pry it off the leaders. The leaders can keep the cash if they survive the onslaught for ten minutes.

It was my first time leading on a youth camp and I knew this game was going to be played. But it wasn't until I was being taped up that it really hit me. All the kids were waiting for the starting horn, nearby, but out of sight, while all the leaders were taped up with amounts ranging from $10 to $50, and a whole lot of "Bad Luck"s and "Try Again"s in the middle.

The reward for tackling me to the ground, pinning me down, and ripping my shirt to pieces was 100,000 points to their team. Which in some people's opinion was better than cash. Of course, the kids didn't know who had cash and who didn't, so for all they knew, I could've had the $50.

All of a sudden the other leaders sprinted off into the forest, leaving me behind like a stunned animal. Panicking, I ran off into the bush. It felt like I had stepped into a scene from the Hunger Games. We all sprinted off into the wild, knowing that our lives may well depend on us not being caught by bloodthirsty teenagers, who in my opinion are really only playing the game for the chance to tackle us to the ground while we fight them off.

I think it's worse when you play the game for the first time knowing what can happen. I once saw a leader come back after playing this game with his shirt hanging off him in shreds, bleeding at the chest with what could've passed as a bear's scratch across his body. We'd sent two kids to the hospital the previous day with heads split open, and that was only a game of British Bulldogs.

Being on the side of the prey is a whole new experience. I'd played the game as a predator before, hunting down leaders through the bush, jumping on them, and ripping their shirts to shreds, trying to get an envelope with a note saying I had won money. I know how ferocious the kids can get, and how they will stop at nothing before they have their prize.

All this went through my mind as I ran through the bush in silence, jumping over logs, through bushes, and around trees, all this with the sound of footsteps and snapping branches behind me. The leaders had split up and I was on my own. I didn't know where I was going but I just kept running in a straight line, not daring to look back.

It wasn't long before I found myself at the edge of the playing field, with nowhere left to run. So I took a more stealthy approach. Pulling down the sleeves of my black jacket, and pulling the hood over my head, I became invisible. I quietly began searching for a place to hide. In the distance I could hear muffled voices talking, I heard people screaming, and I heard footsteps approaching.

I picked a log nearby and crawled in under it. There was just enough room for me to lie in there and still see out into the bush. Voices faded in and out, footsteps approached and went away. I knew what it was like to be Peeta Mellark from the Hunger Games, hiding in the bush, camouflaged, while the games go on around me.

I must have been lying there for about five minutes - which felt like an hour - when there was a moment of silence. Everything was still for just a moment, when completely out of the blue I hear "There he is! Get him!" I nearly jumped out of my skin. The voices couldn't have been more than fifty metres off, and just out of view.

My heart began to race, I assumed they had seen me, but I couldn't get out and run, just in case they hadn't seen me and I was going to blow my cover. But with all the commotion around, someone was probably going to see me anyway, and if I rolled out and jumped up, I could be running into the bush within a second or two. I decided it was time to make my move, either way.

I was a split second away from rolling out from under there, when all of a sudden, five pairs of feet run past me, centimetres from my face. One, two, three, four, five. It was like a stampede, each footstep was like a pounding drum, I could taste the dust come off their shoes as they ran past. I didn't dare breathe the entire time. They ran off into the bush, I stayed still.

My heart was beating so hard I thought it would come right out of my chest. I barely blinked for the next few minutes. Until at last I heard the horn of the end of the game, and I cautiously rolled out and ripped the tape off my shirt, and the lucky 100,000 point prize with it.

I survived the Dash for Cash.

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