Strange Things at Camp Orr
By William Leeper

This story is comes from the personal experience of a Camp Orr staffer. (Names have been changed to protect identities)

In the summer of 1995, the staff of Camp Orr had gone to Branson, MO for a staff trip. When they came back toward Harrison, Mike (who was driving) decided to stop off at a steak house instead of the burger joint where everyone else had stopped. After supper it was beginning to get dark, but the five staffers who were riding together decided to go "Hang Out." After going to a pool hall and being smoked out (in a literal sense--Mike is allergic to smoke). They were informed that in Harrison, everyone hangs around the Junior High. At that point the five of them went across town to the junior high to talk and play a little basketball before they went back to camp. At about 8:30 in the evening, everyone left and back to camp they went.

They drove from Harrison back to Jasper--about a 19-mile drive over steep hills and sharp curves. As they entered Jasper, they turned right from Scenic 7 on to Hwy 74 toward the camp. When they finally reached Mt. Sherman, a small community of about 500, They started down the dirt road to Kiles landing, and Camp Orr.

These 5 friends were seldom quiet (to put it nicely). So it was rather unusual when it began getting quiet, as they were heading down the hill to camp, but they all figured they were just too tired to talk. As they made their final turn into Scout-owned property, they were riding in total silence. It was as if they were waiting for something to happen, but no one knew quite what.

When they finally went through the front gate, they noticed that all of the lights in the ranger's house were off. The ranger, being 76, had probably just gone to bed. Also, power failures were very common, but the street lamp was still on.

As they passed under the lamp's glow and rounded the next curve, the archery field came into view. The staffers witnessed one of the most beautiful phenomenons of the Buffalo River, the field was covered in lightening bugs. There were so many of them, you could not see the ground. Since they were all uneasy, they didn't really appreciate the beauty, and it would become even less beautiful later.

They decided not to think anything of it and continued up the hill to the staff area, as they were tired and ready for bed. As they went up the hill, they still felt the tension building, but no one knew what to expect--most likely they were tired and had the jitters. But as they topped the hill they noticed all of the lights in the dining hall were off. This was extremely weird, because these lights were, at the time, left on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The dining hall was the camp's "safe haven" from storms and such. Still thinking nothing of it, they took a left just before the dining hall and traveled the 100 feet to the staff area.

When Mike finally parked the car, all 5 passengers simultaneously locked the doors of the car. Then they sat, and waited for someone to say something. Finally Mike broke the silence with "Let's get out of here..." He then proceeded to do a "T-Bone" maneuver and go back down the hill. As he reached the bottom of the hill, instead of turning right to go back out of camp, he went left, feeling as though he was being followed. He then broke the camp's number one rule--don't drive across the fields. He headed right across the middle of the lower fields, back toward the rangers house. As they approached the archery field they could see a red lightening bug flash among the many green ones.

They car passed the archery field and got back on the road. When they got to the ranger's house, they encountered a set of headlights coming into camp. They stopped, but no one got out of their vehicle. Finally the ranger came out and told them to turn around because they were going the wrong way. They did turn around, and also told the others what had happened. Of course no one believed them--except for two people, the camp chaplain and another staffer who had experienced near the same thing when he was alone. After they went back up the hill, the sense of something being there was dissipating, and they went back to their tent. But none of them went to sleep, so the chaplain sat down with them, and they prayed. Eventually, everyone managed to go to sleep and woke the next morning.

Others have told similar stories about the camp, usually 1 or 2 times a year, but only in Spring or Fall, never in Winter and only occasionally during summer camp, and then only on weekends. So if you ever go camping at Orr, arrive in the daylight and be in your campsite by dark...




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