HARDWICK TWP., NJ – When a film crew uses your rural Boy Scout camp to make a gory, slasher movie where frisky teenagers are knocked down one by one, you get the most out of it.
The most of Friday 13, a classic horror movie released in 1980, was filmed at Camp NoBeBoSco, a Boy Scout campsite about 100 miles north of Philadelphia in Warren County. The 387-acre camp opened in 1927, making it the oldest continuously run Boy Scout camp in New Jersey. Every summer, hundreds of children go there to learn how to shoot archery or paddle a canoe. Many know Jason, the masked hockey killer who, according to the original film, drowned in the lake as a boy.
“It’s hard not to know at this point,” said a camp worker.
Intrusion from film fans has become a bigger issue as the internet and social media have grown, so in 2011 the Boy Scouts followed the example of many museums and historic buildings: they embraced a little horror. Crystal Lake Tours was a surprise fundraising boost for the Boy Scouts.
Tickets range from $89 for a short visit to $159 per person for the long visit, and all sell out quickly. Camp Crystal Lake has hosted sleepovers in the past. The gift shop, which guests visit before and after the tour, offers a dizzying array of souvenirs that few hardcore horror fans can resist: a bottle of lake water, campfire ashes, paddles of canoe and even vintage flashlights for $120. According to a camp employee, donations given for photo opportunities near the Camp Crystal Lake sign have raised more than $21,000 for a cancer charity.
Given the nature of the movie (10 people are killed, including a young Kevin Bacon) and the real purpose of the camp over the summer, it’s not shocking that the North Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t want talk about their tour a lot. After repeated calls and emails to the council and Crystal Lake Tours, the scouts ultimately declined to comment.
The Inquirer did the trick anyway.
On Friday, September 30, the first official tour of 2022 kicked off around 12:30 p.m. with half a dozen cars lined up along the quiet, winding road that led to Camp NoBeBoSco, renamed Camp Crystal Lake for the following month. There were nine fans, including this reporter. The tour does not allow professional photography, but a nearby restaurant also in the film let The Inquirer take a photo. Most of the tour guests had on a t-shirt with Jason’s signature hockey mask, which surprisingly doesn’t appear until the third film.
Husband and wife horror fans came from New Hampshire with an encyclopedic recollection of the film and all of its dialogue. One fan was from western North Carolina and was impressed with the rurality of New Jersey. A couple traveled from Berlin, Germany for a horror-strewn east coast vacation.
“We visited the site for part 2 [in Connecticut] because it was on its way. I do a lot of research,” said Alex Schumann, 41.
None of the three tour guides wanted to give their name. Each of them had a long history with the camp, both as children and later as volunteers, and keeping Camp NoBeBoSco running for generations to come is their priority.
“Please watch out for bears and rattlesnakes,” one told visitors.
All of the guides catch up to – or catch up to – all the legends, secrets, and hidden people involved in the movie. They must be. Superfans notice the continuity issues, the distances from one murder scene to the next, or the tire mark of a replica Jeep.
“Anyone wanna guess how much we got paid for the location? It’s alluded to in the movie,” a guide asked the group.
The extended tour lasts approximately four hours, with a one-mile walk that includes uphill trails to the archery range. Each location on the tour, including an old workshop, generator room and the legendary canoe, came with a sign showing a scene from the film. Guests used them to orient themselves and get the best photos. The Generator Room, where a character is murdered in the film, was open to tourists for the first time.
“There are employees who haven’t been in this building for 20 years,” a guide said.
When guests came to other familiar places, they often missed the accompanying dialogue.
“We won’t put up with any weirdness here,” they said, mimicking Officer Dorf in the film.
Crystal Lake Tours, over the years, has incorporated many props – snakes, arrows and a machete – into the set and has even recreated some filming locations from empty cabins. They try to pay attention to detail, looking for vintage Monopoly games, old gauges for the generator, or the right shade of yellow to match old New Jersey license plates. Movie stars toured and participated in events including overnight stays. Kevin Bacon hasn’t returned yet.
“But he didn’t say ‘no’,” said a guide.
Towards the end of the tour, the film’s most iconic image, a lone canoe floating on the pond, emerged. The guides refused to tell a guest how he got there and why the water was bubbling, ever so slightly on this cool fall day.
“It’s Jason,” was all they would offer. .
There are more filming locations in Warren County outside of Camp NoBeBoSco. At one, the nearby Blairstown Diner, images of Jason Voorhees were everywhere, along with flyers for Friday the 13th events.
“There are people coming in and out of here all day to take pictures,” waitress Erin Karolchyk said. “You have to embrace the weird.”