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Sometime ago I worked at as a camp counselor in northern Wisconsin. For those who don’t know, Wisconsin is an interesting place that contains few large cities that have much farm land in between them. But the populations become more sparse in the north woods. It is filled with small towns, most having populations barely exceeding a thousand. Since there isn’t much to do most people tend to drink a lot. We sure have a reputation. Apart from drinking and watching football, the outdoors is where most people spend their time.
There are many patches of pristine land, barely developed and make for great campgrounds. The isolation and quiet can be very relaxing and let us get away from the big city life. It can also be quite unsettling, from time to time. Being alone and miles away from anything resembling civilization. We once had a fire on camp, and the staff had managed to extinguish it before the fire department could even arrive to the entrance. That should give a sense of just how far we were from the nearest town.
I was employed for the Boy Scouts of America at a camp in these north woods. The camp opened in the 1960’s and was full of its stories, myths, legends. I’ve heard nearly all of them. Most are quite amusing, pranks played on nearby camps, the follies of unexperienced campers, which adult leaders were assholes, and of course, the legend of the Hodag. The Hodag was a mythical creature concocted by Eugene Shepard as a hoax in Rhinelander, Wisconsin during the 1890’s.
Our camp operated only during the summer months where troops would come up on Sunday morning and leave Saturday morning. After all troops had left the staff would be given down time, when most shenanigans would occur. Typically drinking at the bar or screwing around camp. However, it was not uncommon for adult leaders to either come up a day early or stay behind for another day to enjoy the camp free of kids. Who can blame them? This is mainly when we could enjoy our few hours of freedom before we’d have to constantly work for another week.
One week during the 1970’s, a few adults had come up on Saturday to enjoy a few beers and quiet before the remainder of their troop would arrive the following day. They had showed up in the late afternoon when the staff was out to town. They just figured when someone arrived, they’d see them or be seen and they’d tell them they were there. The site was at the other end of an open field from the lodge, what we called the admin building. The staff was aware that they were coming so there was no major concern.
After setting up their site and settling around a campfire, a noise came from the woods behind their tents. When the leaders had looked, two men, each in matching white jumpsuits emerged from the tree line. They looked like they were in their early to mid twenties, not an unusual age for a camp staffer. A look of surprise on the adults’ faces soon went away as they had heard of the camp's mischievous behavior and brushed it off as some kind of prank on the younger staff. Soon the awkwardness was broken when one of the leaders let them know that they had been waiting for someone on staff to show up. One of the men told them that they were the only ones at camp and not in charge, but would inform their boss when he got back. The other had a look of concern but then thanked the adults, reminded them not to litter and to have a good time. After their brief conversation the two men walked up towards the lodge and were not seen for the rest of the evening.
For the remainder of the night, some of the leaders had said they had a feeling of unease. Due to the silence of the woods, any sound is amplified. A noise such as deer walking sounds much louder and can make one’s imagination go wild. Just picture your reaction if you heard a twig snap. Still, they thought of how strange their encounter earlier had been, but they just assured themselves that it was just a prank by someone who was unaware of the leaders’ plans.
The following day one of the adults had gone up to the lodge to talk to the camp director. Some staff had gotten back late in the night while the adults were sleeping. This had accounted for some of the noise, seeing as some of them were drunk. When he had found the director in his office, the director was pleased to see him and told him that he saw the tents but didn’t want to disturb the leaders. He then said that the entire staff had gone to the movies and a festival in a nearby town. The leader looked at him with shock and explained the events of the previous day. The director, now confused, informed him that no one on staff fit that description. Then he handed over a newspaper from the previous day to the leader. On the front page there was an article about an escape from a local mental health hospital. The picture was of the men who had escaped. Both wearing matching white jumpsuits.
It’s been roughly thirty to forty years since this took place, and the camp has never seen an incident regarding these men. Few people had brought it up in the time I had spent there. I never really worried about any of it. Part of me thinks it's just a story meant to freak out the younger staff. Part of me thinks it could be true. But regardless, the one thing that I had always wondered was, where did they go?
Written by LeCremeDeMerde