Pufferfish Story Part 5
THE ABUSIVE SCOUT CAMP
By Pufferfish (not my real name)
This is my account of the abusive treatment I received as a 12 year old boy scout at the summer camp operated by the Boy Scouts of America.
The truth is that all I accomplished afterward was through a veil of pain. There was post traumatic stress disorder, flash-backs, depression, unwanted emotions (projection), emotional rigidity, communications barrier and social isolation.
As a 12-year-old boy, I went into repression or dissociative amnesia after the abusive event. This means that I somehow shut conscious memory of it from my mind. It was as if I “forgot” the matter for many years. When I finally remembered the events, it was during a vacation in which I saw a boy who looked very much like someone at the scout camp. This started the memory tumbling back into my mind. When the memory of the event returned to me, it came back with incredible force: It was as though I was seeing in my memory in a recorded DVD with full sound of voices of the events as they unrolled from somewhere in my mind. This return of memory was accompanied by the very strong emotions I experienced at the time of the event, including sexual emotions and terror. The return of the memory was so forceful that I actually felt as though I was 12-years-old again with the fresh experience of these traumas. The problem of post-traumatic stress syndrome became very real, as I saw certain people in my environment who physically reminded me of the perpetrator. I would experience the strong surge of emotions of fear and anxiety and even sexual emotions that I experienced as a boy many years earlier, as though these emotions and memories had been locked in a box just waiting to be rediscovered. I became very depressed and dysfunctional in my job. My wife was supportive and we stayed married. However as the problem wore on and on, she become somewhat tired of it. I was very troubled by flashbacks. I was seeing professional, licensed counselors from the beginning and that helped a lot. I once visited a nationally-recognized counseling clinic where they advised me that due to the nature of the abuse, my counseling would have to be a long-term proposition. Although health insurance picked up some of the costs, I have spent enough of my own money on counseling fees to have bought a fine luxury car. I have two adult daughters who were teen-agers during this time of my returned memory. Needless to say, I was not a very effective father during that time.
I describe here what I went through as a 12-year-old boy at the camp. This description was written soon after I remembered the events.
Summer camp session accommodations were rough. Boys would sleep in tents on retired military bunks on their own sleeping bags. There was a central dining hall where all of the boys ate 3 times a day. For breakfast they would serve (dried) scrambled eggs and toast with small boxes of breakfast cereal and milk and sugar. For lunch there were baskets of commercial white bread with peanut butter and lunch meat; sometimes with hamburgers or hot dogs. For dinner, we had platters of chicken or sliced ham or roast beef with bowls of canned vegetables. We drank what we called “bug juice” which was cool aid with lots of sugar in various brightly colors served in aluminum pitchers. There was also a small wooden medical building and an administration building.
I was 12 years old. My nickname was Pufferfish. I was 4 foot 8 inches tall. I was intelligent but an underachiever. I was also a late-bloomer and young for my age. I did not experience puberty until age 14 ˝. My physical appearance was reminiscent of some of the child stars seen in the movies. My parents sent me to summer camp. It was my first experience of being away from them for any length of time. I was an insecure boy and a loner. I did not feel secure in my parent’s love and I didn’t have any friends in the camp. When we arrived at the camp we all lined up outside the medical clinic and stripped to our shorts. We were then required to parade before the doctor where we had to lower our shorts while he inserted his index finger into our scrotum as we coughed. This was to make sure that we didn’t have a “rupture”. A number of adults were standing there watching this whole thing.
We then went to our assigned camp grounds. Most of the boys arrived with their own scout troop. Since my parents had scheduled our family vacation at the time of my troop’s scheduled camping, I came as a loner, assigned to a camp with other boys who were not part of a particular troop. We had a leader assigned to watch over this group of boys without a regular troop. This leader proved to be the perpetrator of my abuse. Although I have his name in mind, I will refer to him here as “Leader-X”. The boy scouts I was with were in a large tent containing perhaps 10 boys. The tents had rough wooden floors. We slept on double-decker cots of military type. Other boys slept in smaller tents designed for 2 occupants. Leader-X had his own tent. Thus, I didn’t really know any other boys there. This was “Eagle Camp” toward the far extremity of the camp off of a narrow dirt road. Forest surrounded the camp on all sides. There was a swimming area with a sandy beach on the Chesapeake Bay.
Leader-X sat at the head of our table during meals. He was gruff, silent, and caustic. He was probably over six feet tall. He had dark blond hair. He kept himself neatly groomed. He took us on a tour of the various activities available at the camp. This included the rope-tying event where we could learn to make neat knots with ropes. He demonstrated this and then took us on up the trail, giving us the names of various trees. One was the slippery elm, he said, and added, “I wonder how it got slippery”. I made the mistake of laughing. He was probably sizing us up to see who to pick on. I was wearing my scout shirt to meals. My kerchief was bound with a large ring I had made at home with artificial wood putty. He told me “Take that g - - d - - - - thing off. It looks like a piece of s - - - - . I complied with this and took it off. This was probably another mistake as he was giving me a test to see if I would comply with his orders.
The abuse began Wednesday or Thursday. It was evening time after dinner, near dusk. He entered the tent with a group of scouts returning from an unscheduled activity. He asked in a demanding voice, “Which one of you has been farting all night?” All the boys in succession replied: “not me, not me, not me” except that I made no reply. So he told me roughly, “OK, you’ve got to suck my cock” I told him “NO”. He approached me menacingly. I was sitting on my bunk. He grabbed my arm. I pulled away, landing on the floor and cutting my finger on his nail. He told me I had to suck his cock right now. I refused, and he started kicking me hard in the back. I started insisting “No, no, no”. He replied heatedly: “You g - - d - - - - little s - - of a b - - - - -, you’d better get up here before I kick the shit out of you”. He kept kicking me hard in the back, producing much pain. Finally I relented. He instructed me in how to do what he wanted. He also told me how to use my tongue and to put my arms around his legs while kneeling as I did it. Afterward, he told me: “OK, now you’ve got to suck the cock of every boy in this tent. The boys formed a looped line waiting their turn. Afterward my briefs were wet with slime. I threw myself on my bed, and buried my head in the pillow and went to sleep. I felt humiliated and degraded.
The next day I slept through breakfast and lunch until the afternoon. I did not join in the days activities. I felt humiliated and did not want to join the other boys. I got up and brushed my teeth. Nobody was around. My scout shirt had been badly messed up with stuff from the night before. I decided to visit the camp infirmary. I got the camp doctor to put a band-aid on the cut from the night before. I told him that the leader in my camp had made me suck his cock. He asked the name of the camp area (Eagle), and said he would take care of it. Another adult (in a leadership position) was listening to this conversation. Then I went to the camp snack bar and purchased two candy bars and a T – shirt bearing the logo of the camp, “Camp Theodore Roosevelt”.
At dinner time I went to the dining hall but was careful to sit at a corner table out of sight of the leader who had hurt me the night before. That night as we were getting ready for bed, he came in the tent and said he wanted to see me in his tent. I went over, thinking that perhaps the camp doctor had spoken with him and that he wished to apologize. However, when I got there he was lying nude with a full erection. I hesitated and started to leave. He cursed at me. He wanted me to undress and sit on “it” and go up and down. When I did it, the procedure was painful and made me feel like crying. He then masturbated me to the point of orgasm (I did not know this word then). When this happened, my upper body went backwards onto the bed. I returned to the boys tent and went to sleep.
The next day, I tried to assume normal activities with the other boys: crafts, nature study, swimming in the Chesapeake Bay with the sea nettles. I continued eating at the corner table, avoiding the toxic Leader-X. That evening there was a large campfire event attended by all the boys. After returning to our Eagle camping area, Leader-X summoned me again to his tent. I did not comply, but rather went to sleep in my own bunk in the tent with the other boys.
Later at some time during the night he lifted me out of bed and took me to a different unoccupied tent away from the others while I was still asleep. I awoke naked (he had removed my briefs) as I was being tied with rope to the bunk bed; one arm to each corner and each foot to the other end of the bed. There was a red kerosene lantern hung on a nail in a tent post overhead for light. He stuck the point of his hunting knife against my chest and demanded, “Are you going to tell what happened to you here, boy?” He jabbed me with just the tip of the blade against a rib and said, “If you ever tell anyone, you’re going to die, boy!” He repeated this routine of threats several times, sometimes adding, “If you ever tell, I’m going to find you and kill you.” This routine happened many, many times during the week. Sometimes he would ask me, “Are you going to tell?” I would answer, “No”. He then turned off the light and got into the bunk bed with me from the other end. He started fondling my penis and inserted his penis into my anus while slowly masturbating me. He continued this for a very long time, perhaps an hour. This developed strong arousal in me and made my muscles contract. When he was finished he urinated in my face. During the night I was assaulted sexually again several times. The next day I awakened late. He was gone. I was still tied to the bunk and naked. I heard the other boys returning from lunch and going out to the afternoon activities.
He returned after all was quiet, after what seemed like a long time. He had a peanut butter sandwich and 2 candy bars and a coke for me. This was the last food I would have for the duration of this “camping adventure”. He untied me. I asked if I could get dressed now. He said “We gotta do something first.” He raped me again. There was a gallon can in the corner for using as a toilet. I was naked. My clothing was not there. Sometimes I listened to other boys going to or from their tents. I peeked carefully outside the tent flap. I was ashamed and afraid to go out. I spent most of the time sleeping when not being abused. He left me tied by a rope around my ankle. I felt unable to try to get away.
Later that evening Leader-X returned again. I was again tied spread-eagle to the bed. He rolled up an athletic sock and stuffed it in my mouth. He stuck the point of his hunting knife against my chest and demanded, “Are you going to tell what happened to you here, boy?” I shook my head “No”. He jabbed me lightly with the point of the knife and said “If you ever tell anyone, you’re going to die, boy!” This knife routine was repeated several more times. He then said, “This is what it feels like to die.” He then stuck the coke bottle up my rear end. I screamed into the sock in my mouth. My muscles clenched spasmodically. This entire sequence was repeated several times, as in "psycholgical conditioning". Sometimes he said, “If you ever tell anyone about this, I’m going to find you and kill you.” After this torture session with the coke bottle, he started masturbating me and inserting the bottle slowly up my anus. It didn’t hurt so much when he did this, but it generated sexual arousal. This was followed by the usual sexual activities. This type of activity was repeated every night.
Several nights later a boy came into the tent in the evening. He had a roundish face, freckles, reddish hair, and a bright smile. He seemed at first to be a cheerful sight and as a possible compatriot. He seemed however to have come at the request of Leader-X. Leader-X had him remove his clothes. He then had us assume a 3-way sexual position which I didn’t understand (I still don’t). Afterward, he stuck his dick deep down into the throat of the other boy. It looked to me afterward like the boy was dead. The leader picked him up and said to me, “Look what you did: you killed him.” He carried the boy out of the tent and I never again saw him. I believed that the boy would show up as a victim of drowning, perhaps in the swimming area.
The next night, Leader-X stuck his dick deep down into my throat like he did to the other boy. He did this with sexual stimulation of me. I did not understand this and I could not breathe. It was terrifying but I experienced a feverish sexual high. I did not know what this was all about and experienced panic and weird feelings. I passed out. When I awoke I had goop all over my face. Other usual nightly activities followed this. This meant several rapes per night with one or two in the afternoon. Evenings were highlighted by Leader-X with a special activity like torture or the other boy coming in, etc.
By Friday, the day before we were supposed to leave to go home with our parents, my mood was extremely desolate. I was very lonely. I had the feeling of complete abandonment to these torturous activities. I felt like garbage. I was disoriented. I was in great misery. I was not sure I would be alive much longer. He came in the afternoon. I asked him weakly, “Are you going to kill me?” He replied, “We’ll see.” That evening after the usual brain washing, the torture involved experimentation with novel objects he had rounded up from the kitchen or somewhere else. He had acquired tongs and pins. Since my mind was not so clear, I don’t have distinct recollection of these things. I think he stuck kitchen tongs up my rectum. There was some other method of torture involving squeezing something, either inside me or outside, I’m not clear. He finished by shitting in my face.
Saturday we were to meet our parents who would take us home. I could hear the other boys talking and carrying their stuff up to the parking area to meet their parents. He kept me there naked and raped once again. I was despairing of being let loose to go home. Everything in the camp ground had grown silent. I asked if he was going to kill me or if I could go. He told me to go over to the shower area, visible from the tent, and take a shower. He watched. When I returned he told me that I could go to the tent I originally slept in and get my clothes and get dressed. I went over and found my things in my pack, neatly arranged. I dressed and dragged my pack up the dirt road to the parking area to see if my parents would be there. To my surprise and relief, they were there. They were waiting for me. Everybody else had already left. My Mother said, “Where have you been, Pufferfish, we’ve been looking all over for you.”
On the way home in the car I asked if my Dad would buy me a hamburger. I hadn’t eaten in about a week. He did buy me one, but I fell asleep after taking a few bites. I awakened on Monday morning. My Mother said I smelled badly, and complained that I hadn’t even used the fresh bar of soap in my pack. She had unpacked it already and washed the dirty clothes. I was very ashamed that she might have found my defiled scout shirt and figured out what happened. But she had already washed it.
Here's the doodle I made every morning when I went back to school. Can you guess what it meant?
Here's what I looked like 2 weeks after the camp was over:
After the “camping adventure”
Several months later, Leader-X brought a leather scout badge to my house and left it with my mother while I was at school. I was troubled by this. I assume he made an inquiry about me. This meant that he knew where I lived and that he was checking on me! I never talked and I never told anyone!
Resulting Symptoms in boyhood
Drew pictures in 7th grade symbolically depicting the abuse
Difficulty concentrating in school (I was intelligent enough to pass)
Extremely low self esteem
Began a chain-reaction of withdrawal from family and friends
Projected a “façade” to cover the shameful self
Became a “bad boy” in school, interrupting class to be the class clown. (Being class clown brought a temporary shot of exhilaration). Until crushed by disciplinary action.
Loss of normal colonic motility
Language became very profane
Some minor stealing from stores in 7th grade
Suppressed large blocks of my personality, especially in areas of affection, ability to laugh and enjoy.
Would retreat into a “fog” in certain situations
Mother noticed a personality change
Communication freeze, finally resulting in a loss of voice at age 13.
More of an underachiever than before
Some kind of a semi paralysis of my eye muscles, looking like exotropia
Became an unhappy, joyless, hopeless boy with no sparkle in my eyes.
Anger with family members
Mother proposed sending me to military academy at age 15