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.