Memory Lane: Campfire Tales

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This cold weather makes me think of summery things: to wit, tales around the campfire at YMCA summer camp, where I spent two weeks when I was, I think, eleven years old. These tales were told at night, in the woods, around a roaring fire, by a counselor gifted in the art. Here are three I still remember.

“The Creeping Sand” was a patch of quicksand with a malevolent mind of its own. It crept (of course!) up on you and suddenly attached itself to you, and you couldn’t shake it off and it slowly engulfed you–which made it grow. I don’t remember how they got rid of it.

“The Hairy Kid” grew into what we would call a Bigfoot, nowadays. He grew a lot faster than the other kids and was covered with thick black hair from head to foot. He had a very nasty temper, and eventually he ran away to hide out in the woods, where he preyed on hikers and campers. At the climax of this tale, another counselor leaped out of the dark with a roar and freaked us all out.

“The Hairy Hand”–they had a thing about excess hair, these counselors–was somehow severed from a murderer and went on murdering without him. The hand was really good at silently sneaking up on its victims and suddenly seizing them by the throat. This little tale gave me a couple of whooping great nightmares, but again I can’t remember how it ended.

For all I know, the hairy hand, the hairy kid, and the creeping sand are all still out there, lurking in the woods around the Y camp. (Shudder)

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

8 responses to “Memory Lane: Campfire Tales

  • joshuamakotoswanson

    Ooo… That’s scary! I’m sort of a fan of Bigfoot. 🙂


  • thewhiterabbit2016

    I loved YMCA camp and went for many years. The campfires at night were always the best part as we were taught about Jesus and learned Christian songs. The scary story I remember was about One-One, a man who had one good eye and one good arm. Some of the kids in my cabin were too afraid to go out to use the rest room during the night.


  • Marge Hofknecht

    I never had a chance to go to a Y camp. Summer evenings were spent sitting on the front steps of our rowhouse with friends and neighbors. On many a summer evening my friend, Diane, and I would sit on the steps long after my parents and their friends parted for the evening and went inside. Diane could tell some of the scariest stories. Her brother, Philip, a teenager, used to tell her creepy stuff to spook her and she passed the spooky stuff onto me and then afterwards I’d lie in bed, scared stiff, trying so hard to erase the scary words so I could go to sleep. And then, we’d be back on the steps the next night spooking ourselves all over again.


  • Unknowable

    I never got in on camp, and very little in the way of scary stories. I feel deprived. 🙂


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