Updated: Oct 19, 2020
"Her hand trembled as she pointed past the campfire into the darkness behind me. The other small campers turned, fear growing on their young faces as they slowly got to their feet, backing away from the very thing that fed their vivid imaginations. With a sudden, shrill ear-piercing scream, children began crying and running blindly away from the safety of the firelight, into the night”
Volunteering as one of the chaperons for my ten-year-old son's school class camping trip in the Pacific Northwest, was fun and adventurous, to say the least. With the outdoor craft classes, first aid lectures, and shelter building lessons, there was never a dull moment.
But one night, in particular, stands out above the rest...
I was put in charge of keeping an eye on the group, as the other chaperones attended to the duties of preparing the next day's camping activities.
Now it should be noted, with my very active imagination, a slight tendency to overreact … in certain situations ... I wouldn't have put me in charge of anything at night!
“It was an overcast, chilly night. were all sitting around the campfire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, while the little campers took turns telling their best spooky ghost story.
There was one particularly talented young storyteller named Marky, who had the entire school group in a trance-like state. Every camper was staring wide-eyed, with wonder and fear written all over their small faces, as he spun his tale of horror and misery.
Meantime as he told his tale of grim and doom. I began to get a chill across my shoulders from the cool damp night air that always seems to accompany the Pacific NorthWest.
Silently slipping off unnoticed into the shadows, being careful not to distract Marky or his dedicated listeners in my sneaky departure. I headed down the dark trail to my cabin to get my old worn out, green army coat and clapidated fishing hat.
Throwing on my coat and hat, I quickly set out returning to the storytelling campfire. Not wanting to interrupt Marky, or disturb any of the focused little listeners. I decided to distance myself and sit cross-legged just outside the edge of the flickering campfire light.
Few minutes in my new spot, I knew I'd made a mistake on account of the small rock not wanting to share its real estate with my backside. So I leaned forward and started moving slowly on my hands and knees towards the campfire.
Settling down into my new acclaim spot, I saw a small girl named Brittney that seemed to be, staring across the flames of the campfire over my shoulder into the darkness. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as she whispered to the camper next to her, and that camper whispered to the next camper, till there was a fair amount of hushed frantic whispering going throughout the group.
Brittney gazed in my direction, slowly raising her arm, her hand trembled as she pointed past the campfire into the darkness behind me. The other small campers turned, fear growing on their young faces as they slowly got to their feet, backing away from the very thing that fed their vivid imaginations...but I couldn't help wondering what they were pointing at behind me...
Had something followed me back from my cabin and is now creeping up behind me, in the dark!
Now it's my vivid imagination working overtime!
I spin my head frantically, searching the darkness behind me. Not seeing anything, but still not taking any chances, I fumble in a half crawl, half stumble clumsy motion, getting to my feet and ready to run, moving fast, away from the monster cloaking, the darkness behind me, towards the safety of the campfire.
Suddenly, with a shrill ear-piercing scream, giving up the safety and comfort of the campfire light, hot dogs and marshmallows sticks flung high into the air, kids began running into the dense black woods in total mayhem, running each other over, shoving each other out the way, blindly tripping over sticks and branches, smacking into trees! fighting to gain ground, trying to distance themselves any way they can from the terror behind them!
heart-pounding, adrenaline coursing through my veins, not wanting to get caught by whatever it was Brittney saw, I ran past the campfire, into the dark woods at full speed stumbling fighting to keep my footing, leaping over fallen tree branches, barely dodging low hanging limbs at the last second. All the while. hearing the other campers ahead of me on the dark trail, crying and screaming pleading for someone to save them as they ran blindly into the night! All I could think was
“We're All Gonna Die”
SMACK! I ran into a tree and bumped into another camper knocking him to the ground. Gaining my senses about me, I reached down to help the kid up. To my surprise, he let out a weak whimper, while kicking and backpedaling into the brush trying to get away from me. I asked him if he was ok?
Letting out a sigh of relief, he stopped struggling and lay back on the ground breathing deeply, catching his breath. Telling me he thought “I” was a Monster chasing them into the woods.
After some coordinated efforts from the other chaperones, all the campers were safely rounded up around the safety of the campfire once again, with a few new scratches and skinned knees. But overall, everyone was in one piece,
As it turned out, what had happened was nobody saw me leave to get my coat and hat from the cabin. More importantly, they never saw me return to the campfire site and sit down. I was finally seen after I had sat down on the ground.
Sitting further back in the dark, I had placed myself much further back from the campfire than I thought.. just beyond the range of the campfire lite. As it turns out, I was partially silhouetted by the night, just enough to appear as a large, round, shuffling, moving thing with no discernible features.
It was at that moment I was noticed by Brittney, when I was slowly crawling, to my new sitting spot. That's when she started whispering to the camper next to her, that she saw something scary over there, slowly moving towards them. They didn't know who or what I was. Just that I must have appeared out of nowhere from the edge of the woods, and started crawling towards them.
I explained to the group. When Brittny was pointing at me, I thought she was pointing behind me into the darkness. If something were coming up behind me, like a bear or something, I wasn't sticking around to get eaten!
We all had a good laugh. Though uneventful, the kids never quite looked at me the same for the rest of the camping trip.. also, by a strong but polite suggestion, by my fellow chaperones. I was encouraged to help with preparing the next day's activities, not to be the next day's activity!