When I was a kid in San Diego, all the sixth graders in the county went to 6th Grade Camp. It was one week of free camp at Mt. Palomar for public school kids during the school year. I started looking forward to this in 2nd grade, when my brother went to school one morning in the Fall of 1982 with a backpack and sleeping bag and came back a week later with filthy hair and a sly grin.
My turn was in the Spring of 1987.
Sounds like a Battle Royale sort of situation, but it was just your garden variety camp stuff. We hiked, visited the Mt. Palomar Observatory, and made crafts out of rocks and wood (and it looks like they still do it all the same way, right down to the talent show). And, at night, the staff gathered us in the dormitory’s common area and told spooky stories. Stories about how Doane Pond got its name, what lived in the little stone building on the Weir trail, and the various creatures that lurked in the woods.
In daylight, these stories weren’t scary at all. But, in the dark in a strange place, surrounded by a mountain forest, hearing nighttime nature sounds a suburban kid has never heard before….those stories were scary as $h!t.
It bills itself as “slightly bone-chilling” right on the cover, so I wasn’t expecting sheer terror. Headstones and Monuments isn’t horror as we’ve come to know it. The stories therein are subtle and have an innocence to them that remind me of those days when a simple story about a half-wolfen mad scientist in the forest could leave a kid wide awake in an uncomfortable bunk.
Headstones and Monuments seems like a good read for a younger tween who’s starting to get interested in the macabre or just for an adult who wants to be young again.