Excepts from the Camp Chicken Diary...
That first fall, our friend Kathy wanted to come and help us and stay at camp. Now Kathy was not used to the woods at all and I don't think she slept one wink that first night at camp. Pop-up campers are really just a tent on wheels and you can hear every twig snap and noise from outside.
Now I hadn't really spent much time in the woods since I was about 13 and I was now in my middle 40's. The night noises at camp kept me awake also. I never knew that the woods could be such a noisy place at night. Don't these animals ever sleep?? There were coyote howls, brush cracking, twigs snapping, crickets chirping, some terrible screeching that Arlene said was an owl and all kinds of other noises.
But, for that September, we went to camp every single weekend. We fell into a sort of routine. We would get there on Friday night and hustle to get the pop-up set up and everything unpacked before dark. Mom and Dad would usually pull in right behind us and give us a hand. We would drag an old truck rim that Arlene found out of it's hiding spot and build a fire and cook some dinner. Sometimes we just had cold sandwiches.
Saturdays were spent hacking brush and trying to reclaim the camp clearing. We worked like dogs. Mom and Gram would come up for a visit every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Every night Arlene would sleep like a baby. Kathy wouldn't sleep at all and I slept with one eye open, alert for any sound. Kathy and I were sure that a big bear would sneak up on us and grab us in that pop-up camper. The camper didn't seem to offer much protection against a squirrel let alone a bear.
When we went to bed at night, we would turn off the Coleman lantern and set it on the picnic table which was right by the camper.
One particular night, at about 2:00 AM, I could hear some rustling outside. Suddenly, there was a huge CRASH, BANG and the sound of breaking glass.
Kathy and I sat up in bed and faced each other. "Was that noise inside or outside?", I asked. "Outside," Kathy replied. "I'm not going out there to see," I said. "Neither am I," she replied.
We both crawled back under the covers and pulled them right up over our heads.
Now, unknown to us, Arlene was awake and heard the whole exchange.
When morning came, we went out to investigate the sound. Something, probably a raccoon, had knocked the Coleman lantern off of the picnic table and it had fell onto the seat and then onto the ground, shattering the lantern glass.
The next afternoon when Mom and Gram came up for their visit, Arlene said, "Welcome to Camp Chicken, Gloria!" With much glee, she related the story of how scared Kathy and I had been by the midnight intruder.
And from that moment on, "The Forty" became "Camp Chicken".
Arlene painted a sign and even found a piece of wood that she carved to look like a chicken to hang from the sign.
So, now you know how Camp Chicken got it's name.