Archive for the ‘Abandoned Summer Camp’ Category

As Our Campfire Fades Away

The Abandoned Camp Mooween

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.” These were the first lines of the last song we always sung around the campfire on our final night of summer camp. It was an annual tradition. Somehow, it almost always brought a tear to my eye. It was sung softly, after a night of s’mores and jolly tunes. When it was over, we all somberly went back to our tents for the night. We all knew full well that the next day, we’d all be going home. And a few weeks later, we’d all be returning to school. So I guess you could say, these lines always signaled the beginning of the end. Summer camp was always very important to me. I was in the Scouts from First Grade all the way through my Senior Year of high school. It truly made me the person I am today. And every year, summer camp was always the best part.  But no matter how hard you tried, it was always over way too soon. And sadly enough, many summer camps do not last forever either.

This place was once known as Camp Mooween, located in Lebanon, Connecticut. Fun fact: the peculiar name is actually the Mohegan word for “Bear.” Which is cool. First opening in the early 1920’s, Camp Mooween was a summer camp for boys from all around New England. Nestled right on the banks of the gorgeous Red Cedar Lake, the camp featured all of the classic summer camp activities any young youth could ever ask for: boating, camping, ball fields, rope swings, and bug juice. For decades, it was a staple of the local community and a place of great joy. Sadly, the camp was abruptly closed in the 1960’s. I have scoured the internet for a reason why, but have yet to find one. Though there were efforts to revive it, the camp remained abandoned for many years. It wasn’t until decades later that the area would re-open as a state park. Luckily, it was through the efforts of former campers to preserve their old stomping grounds and christen it as “Mooween State Park.”

I had honestly never heard of this place. In all of my research throughout the years across the area, nobody had ever covered Camp Mooween. One summer day, we were heading to a family dinner in Lebanon. Since it was later in the afternoon, we decided to try squeezing in a quick hike before our cookout. After a quick search of parks in the area, this one caught my eye. And it was honestly a nice surprise. What many people do not know is that the town of Lebanon is bloody huge. It is honestly one of the biggest towns in Connecticut. And getting to the abandoned Camp Mooween ended up being quite a journey. But when we finally did reach our destination, it was well worth the trip. After a short walk in along the banks of the Red Cedar Lake, you are greeted right off the bat by an old abandoned car. It is a bit hidden, but still very much alive. Do not ask me the make or model. I have no idea because this thing is bloody rusted to Hell, and damn near buried in the foliage.

To the untrained eye, this park is just another nice wooded area for a quiet hike. You honestly have to do a little digging to find the abandoned remains of Camp Mooween. There are many rogue fireplaces with chimneys left standing in random corners of the woods. There are overgrown ball fields and vacant lots scattered across the park. Junk of all sorts rots into the fertile forest floor. But the star attraction of the abandoned camp is undoubtedly the remains of the great hall. If you’ve ever been to summer camp, you know this is where bloody everything happens. Meals. Announcements. Skits. Everything important happens at the great hall. Lying off the beaten path, you are suddenly greeted by this former installation. The concrete framework still stands. The stone hearth is crumbling. An old staircase leads you into what was once the kitchen, where plenty of old equipment has been left behind. As someone who spent many hours working in a summer camp kitchen once, it was pretty cool to see the old stoves were still here.

But sadly, aside from the great hall, there really isn’t too much to see here. Old reminders of what once was still haunt this quiet forest. And it honestly feels like a treasure hunt sometimes. You never know what you’re going to find off any of Camp Mooween’s winding trails. It could be some random piece of camp equipment, or another foundation of a building. I wanted to write about this place because I can really relate to those that have tried to preserve it. Though she now lies in ruin and despair, this place clearly once meant a lot to these people. You can still feel the love as you walk through these now empty woods. And I can honestly really empathize with that. Summer camp was always a place of magic for me. It was a time and place where you could escape from your parents and home life for a brief time. Whether it be for just a week or the entire summer, the memories and friendships made here last a lifetime. But it always ended with those fateful lines of that somber campfire tune: “Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.”

The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places

Written by: Wilk

So two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site covering the Top 10 Movies to be set in abandoned places. It got a shit ton of views. So last year, I wrote a sequel: the Top 10 Movies filmed in abandoned places. Now, comes part three. I love movies. I love watching them, talking about them, and being in them. But ones that involve abandoned places always interest me. Its always fun to compare fictitious abandoned places to real ones. What sets this list apart from the last one is that those were movies where the main action took place in an abandoned setting. These films only explore them. So without further ado, I bring to you – The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places.

#10 – The Ripper’s Ambulance – My Soul to Take (2010)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0872230/

We start this list with a movie that I was in, as is tradition. I know its petty and egotistical. But it’s my list. So give me a break. In fact, this was the first professional movie that I ever acted in. Directed by horror movie master Wes Craven after a near decade long hiatus from the genre, this film could’ve honestly been a lot better. If you watch the deleted scenes/alternate ending, you can see why. Eighteen years after his alleged death, disturbed local serial killer “The Riverton Ripper” seemingly returns to his hometown to hunt the seven children mysteriously born the night died. Every year, these seven children commemorate the date by throwing a party at the now abandoned ambulance where the Ripper was last seen. Though it is only a brief set piece, I’ve always found it to be one of the more memorable parts of the film. Plus, some really cool visuals come into play here.

soul-to-take

#9 – Camp Crystal Lake – Friday the 13th (2009)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758746/

Truly, I am going to try my best to keep the horror movies to a limit here. We could honestly do a whole list of just horror movies. Anyway, I know this was the remake, which not too many people were thrilled with. But I liked the remake. Maybe it was because I actually got to see it in theaters when I was a teenager…unlike the other films in this franchise. It just has a totally different experience. We all know the story. Only this time, the summer camp where Jason Vorhees tragically drowned is now abandoned. Or is it? Having closed after all the nightmarish events of the previous films, the resurrected hockey mask killer now calls this derelict wasteland home. And he will slay anyone who sets foot into what is now his domain. This includes the usual gaggle of hapless teenagers and burned out TV actors. But personally, I think the abandoned setting makes for a wonderfully creepy backdrop to a passable horror remake.

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#8 – The London Underground – V for Vendetta (2005)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/ 

Whether you love it or hate it, this film certainly is unique. It’s style, story line, and performances are all quite different from your average comic book adaption. But, admittedly, it’s not for everyone. Just like Natalie Portman’s questionable attempt at the famous London accent isn’t for everyone, either. Set in a dark dystopian future where Great Britain is ruled under a fascist government, a mysterious freedom fighter named V aims to take down the regime and restore freedom to the nation. With the help of his new protege Evie, the masked V begins to inspire the people of London to question authority and rise up against evil. The film’s climatic end fight scene take place in the abandoned London Underground train system. With its shadowy lighting and creepy aesthetics, it really brings the scene to life. Plus, there is some bloody good action that follows here.

vendetta

#7 – Parrish Shoe Factory – Jumanji (1995)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113497/ 

This was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up. It’s just a very well-paced and enjoyable flick for all ages. We even used to play the actual board game on particularly hot summer days. One of the late/great Robin Williams’ finest roles, Jumanji tells the story of a magical board game that brings the world of the mystical jungle into our own. And when Allan Parrish (Williams’ character) emerges from said board game, after spending 26 years lost in the jungle, he finds the world he once knew long gone. And the most memorable stop on his journey is his father’s now abandoned shoe factory. Learning just how far his home town has fallen, and just how hard his father tried to find him after his disappearance, is damn near heartbreaking. Regardless of how you feel about the reboot, watch this film.

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#6 – Planet Morag – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/ 

I really don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I used to when it was first starting out. I just feel like it has grown too large. That said, I absolutely love this movie. I sometimes wish that Marvel would just keep the Guardians separate from the rest of the MCU. Anyways, an unlikely group of intergalactic misfits/jackasses are forced to team up to save the universe from certain destruction. Director James Gunn (as always) brings a fabulous soundtrack, memorable characters (except for his annoying brother), and a great story to life. One stop, in fact the first stop, on this grand adventure is the abandoned planet Morag. We never find out why an entire planet is abandoned, but it’s still really cool. It may be just a pit-stop in the overall film, but its still a very unique location. Plus, we get a nice call back to it later in the series during Avengers: Endgame.

Morag

#5 – Mexican Smelting Plant – Logan (2017)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/

The last hurrah for everyone’s favorite X-Man, and a film that many consider to be one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. While I think they had a little too much fun with the film’s R-rating, Logan is an absolute classic and a more than fitting end to such an iconic character. Following Wolverine/Logan/Jimmy/Weapon X/Whatever on what will be his final adventure, the film opens with the titular character living in hiding with Professor X in an abandoned smelting plant down in Mexico. He drives a limo for money, and keeps a low profile after the near extinction of all mutant kind. But it isn’t long before the bad guys show up and all kinds of action ensues. But this abandoned backdrop sets the stage for what is honestly one of the most humanistic films ever made to come out of the superhero mythos. It’s a damn shame we never got a Liev Schrieber cameo, though…

Logan

#4 – Jurassic World – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4881806/

After the massive success of its predecessor and the three films that came before that, it really isn’t surprising that we got an even bigger sequel. And this one looked even better. After the bloody disastrous events of the first film, the Jurassic World theme park is now abandoned. Imagine that. Tourist shops decay after years of neglect. Trams and trolleys have been destroyed. And the dinosaurs now roam freely once again. But when a volcano threatens to destroy the island once and for all, our heroes must rally together for a rescue mission. Seeing the once captivating resort park of the first film in such a state of decay gives this film a really cool vibe. Unfortunately, this was only a precursor to a very plodding and straight up awful film. Seriously. I hated it. I thought it was worse than Jurassic Park III. But…the abandoned Jurassic World setting is really really cool.

Jurassic

#3 – Dol Guldur – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

Maybe I am being a little too negative with this piece. But when you try to turn a three-hundred page book into three three-hour long movies, things don’t usually come out so good. And that’s coming from a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. I know it’s not Peter Jackson’s fault. But still. This trilogy was a mess. Now that that’s out of the way, the first chapter in this story tells of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins before the events of the original trilogy. Offered a spot in a mysterious company of dwarves, the young Hobbit ends up whisked off on an adventure to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor. Along the way, the wizard Gandalf makes a trek to the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Evil spirits now haunt the empty corridors (including a rather infamous Dark Lord), and this place become a backdrop of villainy for the entire trilogy.

Dol_Guldur

#2 – Sector 13 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454841/

One of my personal favorite horror films. It is just so damn intense. A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic, The Hills Have Eyes more or less proved to the world that remakes of horror films can actually be good when put in the right hands. Director Alexander Aja takes Craven’s original premise and puts a very unique twist on it all. The story follows the Carter Family, traveling across the western desert to California on vacation. After a wrong turn, they are eventually set upon by a dangerous group of people living in the radioactive hills of New Mexico. All sorts of bloody carnage and barbaric madness follows suit. Towards the end of the film, our hero winds up in an abandoned nuclear test site from the Cold War. And it is really spooky. Ghostly mannequins, derelict buildings, and old cars make this ghost town a terrifying setting.

HHE

#1 – The Shrieking Shack – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” One of my personal favorite films in the Harry Potter series, this story follows his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A dark figure from Harry’s past and convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban, and is coming after him. With the help of his friends and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry Potter goes on quite an adventure. One of the key sites of that adventure is the notorious Shrieking Shack. Believed to be the most haunted building in the country, this abandoned house plays a major role in the film’s climax. With an outstanding soundtrack, a darker tone from the previous films, and some wonderful new additions to the cast, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a must-see.

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And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Let us hear about it in the comments below!