BACKGROUND: My informant, ES, was born in the US. Her parents are mostly Irish and her mom is part-Cuban. ES has worked as a camp counselor for a few years now. This piece is a bit of folklore from her specific camp, told to her by past camp counselors. It is encouraged for the counselors to share the story with the campers and is considered an essential part of the unofficial camp history.
CONTEXT: This piece was brought to my attention through a casual conversation with my friend who is currently a camp counselor at a camp in North Carolina.
ES: So Camp Henry in like 1800 was this thing called Sunburst. And it was like a timber yard, like a whole like huge business. And, um, there’s this woman who lived there named Annie (mumbles) Annie went missing and it was believed that she was taken by this man called the Boojum.
Me: Who’s that?
ES: Boojum wasn’t really a man. He was like this old decrepit, uh, human, like person. [Had a] huge beard and the tail of a cat. (laughs) Um, he lived up in the woods by camp or by Sunburst and, um, he would collect gems, diamonds and whatever was in the river from all of the timber stuff, I guess. So, um, basically when Annie went missing there, her family was certain that the Boojum took her. But the Boojum was very — no one knew where his cave was and some people didn’t believe he was real.
Me: Do you?
ES: (laughs) Apparently if you walk along the river at night, you can hear yells like “Annie where are you?” Oh! And apparently the Boojum was in love with Annie. That’s also an important piece of information. (laughs) I’m telling this very poorly.
Me: (laughs) No, you’re good, you’re good!
ES: But the main parts are: Annie is missing, her (ghost?) family yells “Annie where are you?”, and the Boojum’s in love with her and collected like gems and diamonds. And she was one of his “diamonds”. So now allegedly the Boojum is still there. He just like chills out. Sometimes the kids see him. Um, we have like our hangout spot for the, for our counselors is also called the Boojum. Um, and it also means vagina. I think, like, the counselors use that as like the, um, code word.
Me: (laughs) Wait really? What?
ES: Yeah, he’s not like a scary guy. He’s actually kind of nice.
THOUGHTS: I think it’s interesting that almost every camp I’ve visited or talked about with friends has some version of a “camper kidnapped story” in order to keep current campers in check. In most cases, it’s a way to keep campers from wandering off the site, staying on the trail, or not tampering with potentially dangerous areas. But something that struck me about this story is that the Boojum isn’t necessarily a scary creature or something to be feared. The way ES presents him is as a mostly harmless resident of the camp.