An Open Letter to the Teens I Won’t Get to Kill This Year at Summer Camp

May 2020, From the abandoned cabin across from Camp Pinewoods

Hello, youths. It’s me, the killer who lives across the lake from your sleep away camp. I am writing to you with great sadness. Camp is cancelled this summer. With Memorial Day come and gone, and schools across the country wrapping up their year, I was so looking forward to seeing all your terrified faces again. I am comfortable with the camp being empty nine months out of the year. I’ve grown accustomed to the silence, but only in juxtaposition to the inevitable screams that will echo through the pines for those eight sweet weeks every year. But, alas, this summer, it is not to be.

Normally I use the peace and quiet of the off season for plotting. This year has been no different. I tried staying positive these past few months, despite everything going on in the world. What? You’re surprised? I live in a cabin in the woods, not under a rock. I never miss Rachel Maddow. Even with all the statistics I was seeing, I remained hopeful. My axes were sharpened. My binoculars were hung by the door at the ready. My mask was sewn (I’ve been wearing a mask since before it was mandatory). At first, the news looked bad, then worse. Still, I hoped. I thought surely by summer it would all be okay. I just wanted the world to be safe enough for camp to begin as usual, so that I would be the only thing killing teens.

I waited until the official announcement from the camp counselors before I gave up hope entirely. Now, they’ve made their decision. I’ve been reading online how it’s not necessary for me to accomplish anything during this time, and how it’s ok if I am just able to survive. I’ve made that my mantra. My unfinished novel has stayed stashed in my desk drawer. My cross stitching remains undone on my coffee table. I keep telling myself I don’t have to “make the most” of my free time right now. I just have to survive so that next summer, you won’t be able to.

I’ve made it a point to indulge in some me time. These days rather than mapping the quickest route from the girls’ bunk back home through the brush, I’ve caught up on the past few seasons of The Bachelorette. Before, I could never find time for it, but now I’m absolutely hooked. Can you believe Luke showed up at the rose ceremony after Hannah had already sent him home? Take a hint, buddy! Even I know when it’s time to go… usually after everyone is dead or when the sheriff shows up. But, come on, man, read the room.

So don’t worry about me. I’m hanging in there. I’ve come to accept reality as it is. From my window, I see the skeletons of a season that will never be. Mess hall shuttered, bunks empty. My dear teens, I will miss so much about our now-dead summer. I’ll miss watching you scamper back to your cabins with your poorly assembled bird feeders. I’ll miss betting myself which of you I would save until the very end (believe it or not, it’s always a tossup!) I’ll miss grinding my teeth to the beat as Chet plucks the chords of “Wagon Wheel” on his beat-up acoustic for the nine-thousandth time. I’ll even miss Chet. This may have been the year I finally killed him.

Chet really thinks he can wail

Please stay safe out there. Observe social distancing. Wear your masks. Believe me, I know how cumbersome they can be, but they really work if you use them right. I’ll be here, across from your beloved Camp Pinewoods, ever watchful and worrying about you out there in the big, scary world. Take care of yourselves.

I’ll see you next summer!

The Killer Who Lives Across the Lake



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