03/13/2012 at 01:00 PM EDT
It's Game time!
After months of anticipation, endless fan discussion and a pandemonium-producing premiere
, the first Hunger Games
film is finally arriving in theaters on March 23. The fans are ready – but are the stars?
"It still hasn't sunk in," Jennifer Lawrence
, who plays series' heroine Katniss Everdeen
, tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.
The 21-year-old actress
also shares how she bonded off-set in North Carolina with leading men Josh Hutcherson, 19, and Liam Hemsworth
"One day we went down to a creek to catch a crawdad, 'cause Liam didn't know what it was," recalls Lawrence. "I saw one and was like, 'Catch it!' Josh did and it got stuck to his hand. It was a leech! Then we went to Walmart and bought slingshots."
Adds Lawrence, who also spent time with her cast mates listening to costar Lenny Kravitz play music back at their hotel: "It was like some weird summer camp."
For much more on
The Hunger Games, including behind-the-scenes stories from the stars, Effie's outrageous wardrobe and fan reaction, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday