DECATUR — It’s not everyday you see Girl Scouts armed with bows and arrows hunting hyenas and bears and other wild critters on the manicured grassy quads of Millikin University.
Eight-year-old Nadia Massie from Decatur was finding it all hard work. Zeroing in on one of the faux animal targets — this one a leopard — Nadia’s arrows kept dropping short. If faced with hunting for real, she wasn’t sure she could pull it off. “I’m not that strong,” she added. “And these bows are heavy … but this is fun.”
Welcome to the Girl Scout Games, one of the most unusual and fun ways to collect food and money for worthy causes while letting the girls earn a badge. The event was themed on the “Hunger Games” books and movie except, happily, everybody went home alive.
The games were organized by the Eta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, and the $2 price of admission included a donation to the Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation, which brought along eight dogs (kept well clear of the flying arrows) for everyone to pet.
The Girl Scouts, more than 50 of them from as far away as Shelby County, also brought canned goods donations of both human food and animal food and a combined total of more than 400 pounds of these was collected for Catholic Charities.
Blessed with sunny, warm weather, the Miller Quad area of Millikin was awash in young archers, gamboling dogs and lots of smiles. Food was provided for the kids, too, along with a bouncy castle, games and activities and even camouflage face painting. Travis Neese, a 21-year-old double major in theater and human services, was the Eta Epsilon member who dreamed up the event.
“I knew the ‘Hunger Games’ was really popular, I loved the movie myself, and it was like well, this is spring, and we should just do it,” said Neese, from North Carolina. “Let’s have fun.”
Eta Epsilon president, Rebekah Carlson, said the fraternity requires a “youth service” project every spring, and the chapter regularly partners with both the Girl Scouts and the Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation. “It’s great to bring everyone together,” said Carlson, 22, a senior from Decatur studying biology. “Service opportunities like this teach our members how to build and organize large-scale projects and execute them.”
Volunteers from Decatur Archery Club instructed students in how to oversee the archery event, provided the targets and stayed to make sure everything went smoothly. Pheasants Forever donated the use of the bows and arrows.