Camping Out Overnight Down Back

Days spent at the old swimming hole Down Back in Derby, Maine, often went from morning to dusk for my childhood friends and me as youngsters. As night approached one summer day back around 1959, a few of the guys suggested spending the night camping out overnight in the grassy opening overlooking swimming hole rock. Make a quick trip home less than a 1/2 mile through the woods and we could gather what we needed.

This was a new idea, and sounded like a great adventure. Down Back was always our daytime playground. Sleeping bags and tents were for the backyard or family vacations. We decided to leave the fishing gear for some early morning fishing the next day, yet a volunteer was needed to watch over while others went home for the camping gear.

I volunteered! Later in life I understood why you never volunteer for anything, especially in the Army. Within 30 minutes it was pitch dark except for the campfire, and I was alone in the woods left to wonder if the great adventure was really a practical joke. If you have never spent much time outdoors, trust me. The daytime sounds are very different from those at night. When you’re 10 years old, sounds at night and alone become even more exaggerated when its at night, alone, and in the middle of the woods!

To make a long story short, the friends did eventually arrive loaded up with gear for spending the night. I greeted them from 50 feet away and out of range from the light coming from the dwindling campfire, yet this ending is no tall tale. I could have spit on ’em from my vantage point as I was clinging to the top of a pine tree 50 feet straight up near the edge of the clearing.

Jim's handwritten signature


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