Archive for the ‘story’ Category


Halloween is almost upon us. Soon there will be little spidermans, princesses, and a variety of monsters knocking on my door looking for whatever treat I decide to offer this year. Halloween is also the time for scary movies and stories. Like most Boy Scouts, the boys of Troop 68 love to hear a good horror or ghost story while sitting around the campfire. The story of the wolfen has been a troop favorite for nearly twenty years.

I began telling the Scouts about the wolfen soon after I read the novel by Whitley Streiber. I did not tell the tale like a typical campfire story. No, I told it more as a warning of a newly discovered creature that all campers need to be made aware of while camping in the wilderness. The story is usually told when new campers are attending the camping trip.

The story may begin with a warning about storing food in the tents overnight. I talk about the local animal pests, the skunks, raccoons, chipmunks, bears, and coyotes. Then I begin the description of a new animal that has been discovered within the last few years. When I notice the Scout’s flame-lit faces watching my every move then I know they will be listening to every word.

I tell the campers that at first appearance this creature looks like a large wolf. But if you get close enough to get a good look at its face, and hopefully you never will get that close, you will discover one of the ugliest animal faces that you will ever see. It will be a face to haunt your dreams for years to come.

I explain that this creature is as fast as a cheetah, can track scents better then a bloodhound, has acute hearing that rivals any other animal, and can see heat radiation, thus being able to see in the dark of dark. Instead of paws simular to a dog or wolf, this creature has longer digits that end in razor sharp claws. The powerful jaws latches onto its prey’s throat so quickly, and the claws kill so rapidly, that the scream of its prey is literally torn from its throat. This creature is nature’s best killing machine. (Of course, sitting around the campfire I will go into more detail then I will as I write this article.)

The most important and dangerous characteristic of this creature is its ability to to think and rationalize. It is intelligent. It can and does learn. It has a form of communication through which it can “speak” with others from its pack. It has been theorized that this creature know as the wolfen is the basis for the legend of the werewolf.

Of course, after I tell the campers about all these abilities of the wolfen, I end by telling them the most important thing of all, the one thing that will protect them as they go to bed, the one thing that will keep them from being attacked this night or any other. That is that they must realize that the wolfen is… a fictional story. They do not exist. They are not real. They are creatures from a fictional novel.

At least, I do not think they are real. I hope they are not real. (Insert nervous laughter and the howl of a distant wolf.)

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    Telling stories around the campfire has been part of Scouting since the first Boy Scouts went camping. Boys and adults love hearing a good story while sitting around a crackling campfire surrounded by the darkness of the wilderness.

    As my troop gathered around the campfire during the first night of a week long summer camp one year, I opened a book of short stories that I had brought along, and told the boys that I would read them a story each night before heading off to bed.

    The younger boys were enthusiastic about hearing the stories. The older boys complained that they did not want to sit and listen to stories being read to them. I told them to sit back, relax, and listen. And I read them a different story each night.

    Our last night in camp finally arrived, Friday night. We had just arrived back at our campsite after attending the closing campfire. It was late, everyone was tired. I thought the Scouts would want to go straight to bed. I was wrong.

    I was surprised when the older Scouts asked me if I would be reading a story yet. These were the same boys that did not want to listen to stories earlier in the week. I smiled to myself and grabbed my book as the troop gathered around the campfire ring one last time.

    Campfire storytelling is what I call the “mind’s television” for the Scouts when they are camping. It does not matter if the story is comical, serious, scary, or has a moral to it. If the story is told well it will hold the boy’s attention and have them using their imaginations.

    I would suggest that every troop have at least one storyteller, be it an adult or an older Scout. The storyteller should have fun telling the stories, putting a little emotion into the tales, changing his voice a little for each character. The more the teller does with the story the more fun it will be to listen to it.

    So next time your troop heads out to its campground do not be afraid to grab a good short story book and bring the magic of the mind’s television to your campfire.

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      In the previous blog entry I wrote about scary campfire stories. This time I would like to share with you a couple of experiences regarding the Wolfen story. The first time I told the Boy Scout about the wolfen was over 25 years ago. The troop was attending a camporee and we had a few Webelos Scouts staying with us. We were sitting around the campfire Saturday night when the boys first heard about these creatures.

      I must have done a very good job of telling the boys about the wolfen. Shortly after I got home from the camporee I received a phone call a parent of one of the Webelos Scouts. He was a little upset that I would tell such a story to young Scouts who would become so scared they could not sleep during the night.

      Okay, the lesson was learned. Do not send the boys to bed when they think there really is wolfen that could attack them during the dark night hours. So I changed the end of the story. Now, after I tell them all about the wolfen and how viscous they are, I look the new listeners in the eyes and tell them that the most important thing to remember about the creatures, the one things that will save them from being attacked during the night, is to remember that they are not real, that they are fictional creatures from a book I read.

      There always seems to be the sigh of relief and maybe a nervous chuckle, from the new boys after I tell them the wolfen do not exist.

      One winter, while we were at Parker Scout Reservation, we invited another troop that was also there that weekend, to join us for a campfire program at our building. We had a large fireplace so it would give us a little of that outdoor campfire feel to the skits and songs.

      The program ended with me telling the Scouts from the other troop about the wolfen. I also told them, at the end of the story, that the wolfen were not real creatures. The boys laughed and told me they knew all along that I was just telling them a story.

      But yet, when the other troop left us to return to there own building for the night, the boys were huddled together tightly around their scoutmaster. My troop giggled as we watched them from our windows.

      A few years later, that scoutmaster told me just how much the boys in his troop were frightened by the wolfen story. As his boys prepared to go to bed that night one Scout needed to visit the latrine outside of their building. He did not want to go out there by himself so he asked a buddy to go out with him. His buddy did not want to be standing outside all alone so it was finally decided that the boys would go to the latrine in groups of three. No one wanted to be outside alone, just in case that the fictional wolfen were not truly fictional.

      It appears that even though I tell the Scouts that there is no such thing as the wolfen, their imaginations do not always get the message.

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        As Halloween approaches I cannot help but think of the “scary” stories told around the campfires during the last twenty five years of Boy Scouting. The first campfire “ghost” story I remember was from when I was a Boy Scout myself during summer camp at Parker Scout Reservation in central Minnesota. I made the mistake of sitting right in front of the storyteller, a staff member of the camp. He was quite good. When he screamed and lurched toward me at the end of the tale I literally jumped onto the Scout who was sitting behind me.

        It was a great story! I wish I could remember it.

        Now, I am the scoutmaster, the adult staffer. It has become my duty to tell the troop’s favorite stories at the campfires. I do not mind. When they are told well, a good story will hold a Scout’s attention as well as a television show or a video game. That is my goal while storytelling.

        Over the years there have been three stories that have become the favorites of the Boy Scouts of Troop 68. The “Purple Gorilla Story” is one we first heard at summer camp. It is a story about a traveling salesman who’s car breaks down during a bad thunderstorm in the “middle of nowhere”. The story takes place in the days before cell phones. An elderly farmer, who lives alone, befriends the salesman and invites him to spend the night, but the farmer warns the salesman not to go into the cellar.

        The story can be quite long as the farmer attempts to discover what the farmer is hiding in the cellar. It is a good story that can be very suspenseful, but not too scary or gory for the younger campers. In fact, the punchline of the story is really a…. Well, I would hate to ruin it for you.

        The “Black Forest”, on the other hand, is a graphic horror story that ends with a short poem. It tells the tale of a family that inherits a cabin located in the Black Forest. During their first trip to the cabin a violent thunderstorm hits the area. One by one, the four family members are killed in mysterious ways.

        The troop’s favorite campfire story is not really a story but more of a lengthy description of an animal that has been recently discovered by man. The creature is thought to have been around since before the dawn of mankind. This creature, the Wolfen, is thought to be the animal from which the legends of the werewolf evolved. The wolfen is nature’s ultimate fighting and killing machine, a natural hunter known to prey on mankind. Scouts usually do not want to go to the latrine by themselves during the night after hearing about the wolfen for the first time.

        Of course, the real fun comes with the telling of the stories. Even a bad story can be pumped up and made more frightening with a little creativity from the storyteller. The Scouts have the imagination to create the images better then any Hollywood moviemaker could ever put on film.

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