Context: BM is my friend at school and he let me know that he had a good story from his summer camp to tell me. BM is from New York originally, but he has lived in Philadelphia for longer. The camp where he heard this story is located in Maine and it is an all boys camp. A common practice at this camp was for counselors to tell scary stories to the campers. This story is located at the camp’s central lake, in which there is an island where campers would take overnight trips.
BM: So at my camp the campers would do an overnight at the island in the middle of the lake nearby. So when we went our counselors decided to tell us the story of the hermit on the island, and we were not prepared to say the least.
Basically I don’t know the word for word story but it goes a little like this: The Hermit (which is based off of a real hermit in Maine) was an old counselor at camp and he was a very disgruntled guy, he was a maintenance guy. Maintenance guys lived on the outskirts of camp and they were always grumpy kinda guys. This guy had some grudges against the kids, against the counselors, for whatever reason. One night decides to light some fireworks under one of the bunks, Bunk 13 (which no longer exists). It was a horrible move obviously, but thankfully only one kid was in there and he turned out to be OK, but [the Hermit] lit the fireworks and he lost his whole right hand cause he didn’t pull it away fast enough and he was in agony and everyone was running and the cops were coming, so he swims in the lake with one arm, and a half, and he makes it to the island. He chops some wood down, because he found an axe, and he built a house, and he made a life there. Sometimes there would be kids that would go on the island while water skiing, and he would go and he would take the kids. He lives on the island, Its his island, he doesn’t live on the house anymore but he’s got places to hide.
And then one of the counselors came from the darkness around the fire, pretended to be the Hermit, and gave us all a scare, nobody slept that night.
This narrative indicates the presence of nature and wilderness in the context of a rural Maine summer camp. Hermits and woodland peoples are common themes of stories, but are most scary when told in a scenario when the audience is also isolated. At the end of the story, it was a tradition for camp counselors to scare the campers by pretending to be the Hermit and running around the campfire. This story also is telling about American cultures idea of societal outsiders. Those who live outside the confines of what would be considered normal society are often demonized and made out to be evil.