Camp in winter

We passed the terrestrial flotsam of a derelict Scout camp while on a walk last week. Among the ruins are an infirmary, a workshop, a pump house, and three capacious bunk houses. If my understanding of local history is correct, the place was abandoned and then vandalized after hurricane Agnes did its worst in the flood of June, 1972. It struck me that most of the damage was of a particular sort. Sure there are signs that kids had forced a few locks, but the majority had been wrought by the weather and by any number of living things. There are collapsed walls and roofs are waterlogged and infused with mold and other fungi. Floors are deep with the evidence of rodents. There is something about the tooth and claw marks in the exterior walls that tell of the work of other, larger, four-legged creatures intent on access to the relative warmth and shelter of these places. Mattresses, bed springs, chairs, and desks are all around. Silent. Neglected. Although damaged, I wonder why these otherwise sound and potentially useful structures were so quickly abandoned? It seems a shame to have let go and to acquiesce to the slow and patient work of entropy. When negotiating the halls and spaces of these buildings I was surrounded by eerie silence. I don’t know why I found it so for I do not think that I expected somebody or something to emerge from out of one or another dim recess. Temperature sensitive nerves help us discern subtle movements in the air around us and as I raised my camera to compose each shot the neurons lining exposed skin at the back of my neck and ears were primed to respond to movements of the invisible. My ears strained as my attention was drawn from my surroundings to concentrate on my subjects. The click of the shutter provided welcomed relief, allowing me to lower the camera and turn my attention elsewhere. I suppose I am a study in contrast for I do enjoy places such as this, but I am disquieted by them as well. Although the camp sets on private property I do not believe it was the fear of trespass that worried me. What was it then? It fascinates me that I do not know.

17 thoughts on “Camp in winter

  1. This is another batch of interiors that I love though not as fancy as the old farm house! You really did them justice with the addition of minimal color on the black and white. VERY VERY interesting. You have an eye for composing the most interesting shots!

  2. I’ve been enjoying your pictures on SmugMug – they look fantastic in this set up. This one particularly caught my attention – the abandonment seems so sudden – it’s the stuff to get us creative writers going! I love what you have done with the colourings – so clever.

  3. Lovely atmospheric shots David, and the sense of creepy seeps out of your shots. The word eerie is hanging in my head, and I suppose there is something very intimate and vulnerable about seeing a place, a mattress where a warm living person slept … covered in decaying debris. As others have reflected the decay of time is something uncomfortable to most of us … but the feeling of sudden abandonment in these pictures is what haunts me … who was there, did they all get out … and the tooth and claw marks you mention can’t have helped!

    • Hey … there you are Lemony! How are you! We’re pretty darn cold up here north of you! Thanks for the thumbs up. Captivating someone like you is my challenge … I’m glad I succeeded today. Here’s to a Happy New Year to you as well. I see you’ve started it off with a new Gravatar. I like it … mysterious! D

  4. I have am loosely following the Facebook site of a photographer who specializes in “abandoned places”. So this appears to be a “market”/”target group” and many people seem to share this fascination and probably the lack of explanation thereof. Me, too! Is it maybe the course of time (some decades) layed out at once “in space” so to speak? We feel/see “at once” how time has passed.

    • Sure … perhaps there is something about seeing a story all set out in front of you. We see the end and can perhaps imagine the beginning and intermediate stages. George (below) has pointed out that these places are disquieting and we don’t like them because they force us to reflect upon our own ultimate demise? Depressing thoughts! I just think these places are cool! D

  5. I’m with George. Most organized things are the work of a small group of dedicated individuals, people for whom the organization is “their thing.” Sadly, if that group is small or, as is often the case, the product of a single individual’s passion, then the organization’s future is tied to that of the leader (or leaders). My guess is that the camp was already in a state of decline because of the departure (or ill health) of its driving individual and the flood was just the catalyst that led to the end. Sad, like you said, and a stern reminder to all of us of how transient our own effects can be. We need to get out there and enjoy each precious moment! As you clearly did đŸ™‚ Now – have you shot this place before? I recall a similar set from last year. Still worth the look though!

    • Thanks for the observation. You are probably correct in that the camp was the ‘child’ of one or of a couple of folks and when they were no longer around to ‘nourish’ and support the project it simply faded away. And, you are correct that the place was the subject of a post last year about this time. One of the photos (the one from the bunk room) appeared there. I ran it through Lightroom this time … was working with GIMP when I presented it previously … and think it did a better job. The other three photos are new this time around. You have a good eye and even better memory! D

  6. Hi, D! Nice editing. The opposite of life is death. Something “died” here. We recoil from abandonment, death, endings. When we are in an abandoned building where there is evidence that humans were there once and left for some reason, we are uncomfortable. We don’t like disorder, decay, ruin. I think such evidence reminds us of our own frailty. We will die, end too. What will happen to the life we left behind? All of those instinctive fears lie close to the surface. Things are not supposed to go wrong, are they? đŸ™‚ I always find myself wanting to know the story. What happened. We always sense that the story did not have an acceptable ending. I always wonder why “they” didn’t just demolish the thing, whatever it is! I like my demises to be clean.

    • What a thoughtful and well considered response George – thank you. I believe you have hit upon lots of valuable ideas. I agree that there is something uniquely human which tends to avoid endings of any sort. I do not claim to understand this – what’s wrong with endings? Does avoiding one deny the others (ours)? I like your idea of instinctive fear lying close to the surface … yes. Perhaps that dictates lots of what we do and what we tend to shy away from. I also like order of all sorts … loose ends drive me nuts … I don’t care of I don’t like the outcome, I simply want the outcome and the closure it brings. Seems like great minds think alike! Thanks much for taking the time to set all of this out in words. D

  7. You probably are curious about the people who frequent such places as such thoughts fire the imagination of creative people such as yourself. What a story you could write.

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