; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Horror in the Apple Orchard

I received an email last evening that describes an encounter in a location I am very familiar with. The narrative was forwarded by Joe, who was a camp counselor at Camp Nawakwa (Adams County, PA) in 1972. I spent several Summer weeks at this particular camp as a child in the mid and late 1960's. Camp Nawakwa is owned and operated by the Lutheran Church and is still going strong today. Since this was a church owned facility there was only so much 'nonsense' that could be initiated or talked about, including paranormal activity and spiritual energy...which, I will admit, I sensed on occasion. Anyway, here's Joe's story:

Hi Lon - my name is Joe and I currently live in Myerstown, PA. I would like to share an incident with you and your readers that happened in 1972 while I was a counselor at Camp Nawakwa. I understand from a friend at my church that you had spent some time there as a boy (I wonder who this 'friend' was...Lon). I was there for a few seasons between 1967-1973 so we may have bumped into each other at some time (it's possible, but doubtful...Lon).

As you may remember, we would take the kids on a hike through the back woods and apple orchards to the clearing on the hill. There we would build a campfire and spend the night in sleeping bags. I liked it because it was the only time we could spend time with the female staff from the camp (well, that's not quite how I remember it. The counselors where sneaking in and out of their cabins every night...Lon).

One night several of the counselors were sitting near the campfire and bantering about. One of the counselors, whose name was Paul, was reciting certain passages from the Bible and discussing related religious subjects. He was a theology student at the Gettysburg Seminary. At one point a female counselor asked him if he believed in the afterlife and ghosts. Paul didn't hesitate in giving her an answer as he said "there are spirits and I have witnessed many." He then described apparitions of soldiers he had seen at the Seminary. Before long, every person in the group was creeped out.

It was getting late and all the kids were already asleep. We decided to get into our sleeping bags and get some needed rest. Usually one or two of the counselors would stay awake in shifts and watch over the area. After a few hours I was startled out of my slumber when someone started to shake me. It was a female counselor who was frantic. She had noticed that one of the 10-year-old girls from her cabin group was not in her sleeping bag and she couldn't find her. One counselor stayed behind with the kids while the rest of us started to meander through the orchard looking for the girl.

We were searching for hours and dawn was beginning to break. We had been in contact with the camp director by radio to see if the girl had returned to camp. There was no sign of her. Then suddenly, the girl appears from the orchard. She was hysterical and crying. There was two gashes on her back and several scratches on her arms and legs. We immediately called the camp for medical help. Paul and myself rushed the girl back to the camp which was about a mile or so away. While I carried her on the trail she told us that an 'ugly man' had grabbed her from her sleeping bag and carried her to a house. She said that she had fallen into a gully after she had gotten away from the man and had hurt her back. When we reached the camp the police and ambulance were there waiting for her.

We gave our statements to the police and told them the girl's story which they totally disregarded. To be honest, I didn't believe her story either but Paul was convinced something odd had happened. That was the last overnight sleep-out for the Summer though the season was ending the next week anyway.

The incident had always bothered me and there was never any resolution since the police said that the girl had wondered off and got hurt while trying find her was back to the site. Well, that changed a few weeks ago.

I was contacted recently by Paul, who is a Lutheran pastor in New Jersey. We had kept in contact off and on for the past 40 years. The incident with the girl has always been in the back of our minds since then. He said that he had some information to tell me.

He had received an email from the daughter of the girl at the camp. She was contacting Paul because she had found a card with his name in her mother's confidential papers. Her mother, whose name was Cathy, had passed away a few months previous to this contact. There was also a letter written by her mother detailing her experience that night at camp. She wrote that she was kidnapped by the ghost of an old man and that it had tried to lock her in the cellar of an old dilapidated farmhouse. When she broke free, a wolf-like being attacked her. She was able to get away after it had pinned her down and she hit it in the muzzle with a rock.

Paul told me that Cathy wrote that she had been in therapy ever since the incident but that no one ever believed her. Cathy also wrote that a wolf-like spirit would appear and harass her day and night. She had written Paul's name and other contact information on a card with the instructions "contact Pastor Paul - he knows the truth".

That's about all I have to tell you. Paul is deeply troubled by this revelation and feels somewhat responsible that he didn't help Cathy earlier - though Cathy never sought his help at any time before her death.

Do you believe that a ghost could have physically kidnapped Cathy? What are your thoughts on the wolf-like spirit? You have my permission to reprint this if you wish. Joe E.

Camp Nawakwa 1960's

Pennsylvania's Adams County Ghosts: Gettysburg, New Oxford, Cashtown, and East BerlinSupernatural Books)

Nawakwa: 75 Years At the Camp in the Woods