A Note About the Tents

For people who study the murders at Camp Scott, the tent logistics are a source of confusion and speculation.

The Kiowa Unit had one tent for the three counselors and seven four-person tents for the campers. During the pretrial hearing, Counselor Dee Ann Elder drew a diagram of the unit and labelled the campers’ tents one through seven. Tent seven was Denise, Lori, and Michelle’s tent. Surprisingly, there’s a book called Tent Number Eight, which is a reference to the same tent. I don’t know where the author’s numbering system came from, but he apparently counts the counselors’ tent. As far as I know, Elder’s numbering was consistent with how the staff referred to the tents.

There were supposed to be 28 campers in Kiowa Unit, but there were only 27, and there was an empty bunk in tent seven (or tent eight, if you prefer). According to the lore, somebody was supposed to be the fourth tentmate in that tent. At least one person has claimed to be the fourth tentmate, and perhaps others are haunted by the thought that they might be the one. In reality, no one in particular is the fourth tentmate.

Before the campers arrived, the counselors had a list that assigned each camper to a specific tent. However, the assignments weren’t mandatory, and the counselors in Kiowa Unit let the campers choose their tents. All the campers who were assigned to tent seven happened to choose other tents. Any four campers in Kiowa Unit could have ended up in tent seven.

The campers were grouped by age, and Kiowa was for the youngest campers. One girl who was the age of the Kiowa campers ended up in Cherokee Unit with older girls. The counselors planned to move her to Kiowa, but they were going to wait until the next day.

Sources differ on whether the girl in Cherokee Unit was originally assigned to Kiowa. According to Dee Ann Elder’s testimony, the girl in Cherokee Unit was assigned to Kiowa but had gotten mixed up when the campers arrived. Other sources say she was assigned to Cherokee beforehand, due to a mixup in paperwork. At least one source says that a girl who was assigned to Kiowa Unit didn’t show up at Camp Scott. If that’s true, then the mixed-up camper presumably would have stayed in Cherokee if the other Kiowa girl had been there. In any case, if a 28th camper had arrived in Kiowa Unit at the same time as everybody else, she would have changed the selection process for everybody, so there’s no reason she would have been in any particular tent.


Leave a Reply