Over the past few months, I have been working on several paintings of Portsmouth’s beautiful Camp Oyo. Located on the West Side near the Shawnee State Forest, Camp Oyo is a wonderful summer camp that has several cabins, a dining hall (which has been featured in several arichtual magazines), a tennis court, a swimming pool, and an area for worship.
I was commissioned by the camp to create a series of postcards to help celebrate their upcoming anniversary. To get a better idea of what the camp was like, I asked to have a tour. The welcoming staff walked me through the entire grounds and told me about the camp’s history. They even told me about the camp’s legendary Big Foot sightings and also shared several camp ghost stories!
I was told about a mysterious appearance of a blue light that was often seen traveling through camp. Many believe the light signals the presence of a ghost. Some have claimed that on certain nights the light can be seen floating throughout the camp and that it seems to peer through cabin windows. Some even believe it to be the ghost of a Native American chief who once lived there.
I also learned about the tale of Old Man Grouch. The guide explained that at one time near the borders of Camp Oyo there lived an elderly man who did not like children. Campers sometimes would annoy him by exploring a little too close to his property and the old man would shout and throw rocks at them to drive them away. The old man eventually became known as Old Man Grouch. Even after Old Man Grouch’s death, campers still report strange noises that seem to come from Old Man Grouch. To appease Old Man Grouch’s spirit and to ensure a good summer, campers made it a ritual to place a stone on Old Man Grouch’s property. Today the pile of stones is enormous!
In creating these pictures, I wanted to capture all of the wonderful scenery but also wanted to retell all of the lore and history that is also apart of the camp’s charm. I made sure to include Big Foot tracks, a ghostly blue reflection of the Native American Chief on a cabin window, and a large pile of stones marked with a “G” to represent the tale of Old Man Grouch. I also included the camp’s pet dog named Angel Biscuit.