Christian Juth

My Favorite Summer

Published: 01/16/2017

It was a summer night at Winnebago camp reservation, and the sun had just set. Crowded around a fire pit was a group of CITs very focused on building a fire for their campsite, and amidst this group was me. Everyone debated about how we should build the fire which distracted us. We did not realize who drove up.

His name was Derek, and his face was covered in stubble that looked very nonuniform. He was wearing a hat pulled down over his face, so it was hard to see his eyes, and between the stubble and his hat, you could see a scar running down the right side of his face. There were many stories about where he got that scar, but when questioned all he did was glare. He was accompanied by the smell of smoke from the cigarette in his hand. Derek lived at the camp year round, and as far as anyone knew he had no family. The isolation turned him cold and sour, which drove people further away leading to more isolation. He was not someone to be messed with. He patrolled the woods in his ATV looking for anyone he thought disrespecting his woods. On this evening his unfortunate victim happened to be us. He got off his ATV and slowly walked up to us with this scary look on his face.

Derek looked around for a second to see if there was anything he did not like. He fixed his gaze on me, and I felt like my stomach turn upside down. All he said was, "Your fire is too big." He glared the others around me for what felt like an eternity, and I thought the eerie silence would never end. He left without another word, like something out of a horror movie. We all gave one another a look of terror, and I think Riley peed himself. After that, we all lost interest in the fire.

It was the end of a long day, so I started getting ready for bed. Since the rest of the camp was packed full of campers and we were CITs, we were stuck in the run down lean-tos. They were like two abandoned cabins each missing a side. The lean-tos themselves weren't that bad, but what lived under them was unpleasant. They were full of cobwebs and other unidentifiable creatures, and one of them had a family of groundhogs living under it that would make strange noises at night. The missing side left us exposed to the rest of the camp with no privacy. There was a latrine a couple hundred feet away, which was really just a toilet and a sink in the middle of the woods, which the camp had graciously given to us.

I grabbed my toothbrush and my flashlight, to get ready for bed. I turned to face the open side of the lean-to, and a chill ran down my spine. All I saw were dozens of glowing eyes fixed on me. I froze in my tracks. Everyone else was in the other lean-to trying to scare away the groundhog, and I was left alone. I focused on the creature nearest me and tried to think of which animals had eyes like that. Was it an animal I wanted to be visited by, in the middle of the night? I tried to catch a glimpse of the beast, but my flashlight was all but burnt out. My eyes strained to make out the furry shape of a raccoon only a few paces away, and all I could think of were those eyes staring back at me. I turned the light off and jumped into my bed. I tried not to think of those eyes still fixated on me. Despite being watched, I was pretty tired and, I fell asleep quickly.

Some time later I awoke to the sound of Drewve calling my name in a hushed voice, "Christian, Christian, get up." His voice was quiet yet stern. I pretended to be asleep in hopes he would go away, but I was about to lose it.

"Christian there is a raccoon under your bed!" he said in a much louder tone than before. At this point, I did not really care what was under my bed - unless it was Derek that would be scary and kinda weird. I kept on ignoring them and tried to go back to sleep. I dozed off for a couple of minutes until Deven got the bright idea to poke the creature with a stick. Horrible noises began to escape from under my bed that would have sent chills down even the bravest man's spine. I sat up and looked at them in a state of confusion.

"What are you guys doing!?!" They had a startled look on their face like they were just now considering how bad of an idea this was. It is amazing how an idea can seem so smart one second then so stupid the next. I look around the cabin trying to see what was going on. My eyes finally got used to the small amount of light in the lean-to, and I saw an open cooler full of Arizona Ice Tea just sitting there. That was the final straw.

"WHAT WERE YOU GUYS THINKING! NO WONDER THESE CREATURES KEEP COMING BACK! YOUR COOLER IS LIKE A BEACON TO EVERY ANIMAL IN THE FOREST!" We were all distracted and did not see the second raccoon creep into the cabin. Just as it caught my eye, it grabbed Drewve's bag in its teeth and bolted. Everyone was laughing hysterically except for Drewve who darted right after the raccoon. The only way to hunt down a raccoon is to become raccoon yourself. He chased that thing into the forest like his life depended on it. He was gone for several minutes until out of breath, and gasping Drewve finally came back panting, with his bag in hand. After that, the raccoons left us alone. Maybe they gave up or had mercy on us, but most likely they moved to the next campsite to torment their next victim.

We all learned a valuable lesson that day. We learned why you do not keep Arizona Ice Tea in the middle of the woods. I know you were expecting some deeper life lesson, but seriously never keep Arizona Ice Tea in the middle of the woods! Despite our stupidity that night this was the best summer I have ever had, and looking back, I would not change a thing.