Sends us your email and ideas

We have more than 300 emails for camp alumni, but over the last couple of years some of you have moved or changed your email accounts.

Please send your new email and emails of other alumni to so that we can update our list of camp alumni.

If you have an idea for a blog entry or wish to contribute other material like letters, recipes, diary entries, trip maps. . .send them my way.

If any links are broken, please tell me.

And don't be bashful. It's OK to comment. Really. It's OK.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Night of the Skulker

The rec hall as it looked in 1958. On the roof on the left is the bell tower
By Don (Steemer) Plant

If we did it today, they'd call in the social workers and then the lawyers.
Heck, maybe even the cops.
There we were in 1975. A bunch of long-haired CITs who’d soon have total control of Copeland Island - well, control for one evening, anyway. The counsellors would soon be taking a well-deserved night off in Kenora.
We upstart brats who couldn’t even shave yet were the mentors who campers, some barely younger than us, had to aspire to. Or at least sing the same songs we belted out badly in the old rec hall.
We had to impress them. We had to make our mark. So we put our heads together and came up with a plan – the perfect plan.
We’d scare the living be-jesus out of them. We’d give them a thrill they'd never forget.

One of us drew a blood-soaked note and stabbed it with a broken arrow to the wall of the rec hall the day before.
"Beware the Midnight Skulker," it said, red paint dripping off the page.
Another note was pinned in the old biffy, the Eight Holer: "The Midnight Skulker rises again."
The Skulker had haunted camp for generations. He was known for launching fireballs through an open door in the log cabin, or dropping fireballs down the chimney of the rec hall.
In the 1920s he was known as Scotty’s ghost. During evening camp fires in the old rec hall campers heard his moaning and hissing coming from down the chimney.

One night some campers got so spooked they ran outside to chase him away. Little did they know the voice behind the moans and groans was a counsellor who had to scoot off the rec hall roof quickly to avoid being seen. He thumped across the rec hall roof so hard he shook loose a stack of dishes in the back kitchen, sending them crashing to the floor.
Years later, Scotty’s ghost became known as the Skulker. In earlier appearances the Skulker dragged counsellors out of their beds, hung them from the front of their cabins and paddled their butts.

This night, we planned to rig the dinner bell above the rec hall with an extra rope. We’d attach it to the clapper and run it down the old roof through a hole in the adjoining back work shed. That way one of us could ring the bell without being seen.
Everyone figured I was the best one to climb up and do the deed. I was the lightest and least likely to fall through the dry-rotted roof.

One of us stood inside the rec hall, watching the bending depressions in the ceiling as I climbed up, yelling directions to another guy outside when I strayed too far from the supporting timbers.
The clapper was quickly tied. I scrambled down without falling through the shingles. The other rope end was looped on a nail in the back work shed.
We giggled like school girls at how clever we were.
The big event came the next day.

Word had spread. The kids quietly buzzed about this Midnight Skulker. The counsellors were going off-island that evening.
We CITs pretended all was normal. But tonight was going to be different.
We arranged for a camp sing-along inside the rec hall. One of the counsellors, bless him, decided to forego the night-off dinner binge in Kenora and secretly stay behind to help us.
He waited in a cabin until his cue.
The rec hall was full of bustling kids seated on the old wooden benches. The CITs took turns leading silly songs the campers all knew.
The old bell rope hung above the floor as usual, away from everybody.

After half an hour or so, the appointed song began: that old chestnut, "When It's Lamp Lighting Time in the Valley." I told my cabin of junior boys I had to go for a pee.
Stealthily like a Ninja, I made my way to the back of the rec hall and into the work shed. When it came to the quiet part of the song, when everyone hums as the leader speaks those profound lyrics – “When it's lamp-lighting time in the valley” – I yanked with all my being on the secret rope.

Inside the rec hall, the singing stopped.
I heard later that everyone stared wide-eyed at the old bell rope.
It hung there. No one was pulling it, yet the bell rang again and again and again and again.
Then came a collective gasp and the first cries of terror.
A dark figure dressed in a trench coat bounded through the front door wearing pantyhose over his head, his hands on fire!

The kids scambled to the far side of the room, screaming. The Skulker let out an ear-splitting, maniacal laugh, threw the burning gloves on the floor and made his escape out the same door, howling into the distance. The gloves disintegrated and burned out.

Little did campers know the fiend had doused his rubber gloves with lighter fluid seconds before he burst in on the camp sing-song.
The kids were beyond terrified. More like frozen with fear.
I returned after my 'pee' to a cabin-full of boys who latched onto me like I was Moses in the middle of the Red Sea. Some were sniffling.
Even the seniors were wide-eyed and trembling. I kept a straight face and asked what happened.
The sing-along was over. The campers decided there was safety in numbers and it was better to have two cabins of kids sleeping under one roof. But we still had to make it safely to our bunks.
Would the Skulker return? Would he terrorize us again?

As we stumbled down the trail toward our cabin, each boy grasped my clothes with at least one hand. Some curled their fingers around my belt loops. No one let go.
We crowded into the cabin without incident and held a support-group session. It seemed like hours but everyone eventually went to sleep, two to a bunk.
Little did anyone know the Midnight Skulker was close by -- closer than anyone thought.
But some campers were ready.

Kelly Richards had hours earlier been on a day canoe trip to Sultana Island and the abandoned gold mine. He brought back a souvenir, a big chunk of rock. And he’d take no chances with the Midnight Skulker haunting the cabin line. He tucked his rock under his pillow.
Then the crazed Skulker struck. Right there, right then in Richards’ cabin. Richards swiftly bounded out of bed and whacked the intruder over the head with his rock.
Dazed and confused, the Skulker and his accomplice fled the cabin. The Skulker was seriously wounded and had to be carried down the cabin trail away from the fired-up and now in-pursuit campers.

The next day, Camp Director
Punch Jackson suggested the Skulker had made his last appearance on Copeland Island.
Kerry Renaud, nursing a big lump on his head, and his accomplice Paul Jordan gratefully agreed.
Today, almost 33 years later,
Kelly Richards' memory of that night is this and only this: “Those years were amazing. It was a cool camp.”

Where are they now:

Don Plant lives in Kelowna, B.C. with his wife Barb Pullan and two children. Don is a senior reporter at the The Daily Courier. (Camp Stephens 1972-77).

Kerry Renaud lives in Winnipeg. He is married to Stephens-Manitou alumnus Joanne Dufort. They have two sons; Taylor, 20, and Matt, 23.
Kerry is the Chief Operating Officer for Scootaround Inc. a U.S. company providing mobility rental services to travellers requiring wheelchairs and scooters at hotels and resorts throughout North America. (Camp Stephens years 1964-75).

Paul Jordan also lives in Winnipeg. Paul is the Chief Operating Officer at the Forks Renewal Corp. He has four sons ages 16 to 22. His cottage looks on Lone Pine Point. (Camp Stephens years 1965-76).

Punch Jackson lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Punch, now retired, is the former Executive Director of Public Library Services forthe Alberta government. (Camp Stephens years 1956-76).

Kelly Richards lives in Winnipeg. He is a carpenter with Manitoba Hydro and travels the province working on various projects. (Camp Stephens years 1971-75).

No comments:

Post a Comment