We Spent Friday the 13th at the Real Camp Crystal Lake in New Jersey
“Welcome to our Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco… and *your* Camp Crystal Lake.”
One of the coolest things about Friday the 13th: The Game has been the ability, for the very first time, to (virtually) visit the iconic locations from the various films in the series. Sure, it’s a blast going around killing people as Jason Voorhees, just as it is trying to survive his wrath as a counselor, but it’s the highly detailed maps that really make the game a treat for longtime fans of the franchise such as myself. The maps allow you to explore locations like Camp Crystal Lake and Higgins Haven in a way you’ve never been able to through watching the films, which has been a real gift to me personally. After all, stepping inside a movie you love is one of the greatest joys you can experience as a fan.
But there’s virtually stepping inside a movie like Friday the 13th and then there’s *physically* visiting the iconic campground, the latter of which has long been an impossibility. Located in Hardwick, New Jersey, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco played the role of Camp Crystal Lake for the original Friday the 13th, and it’s an active Boy Scouts camp today just as it was when Sean Cunningham stumbled upon it back in 1979. In other words, it’s entirely closed off to the public… *except* on the occasional Friday the 13th.
Celebrating its film legacy in a way that benefits both the camp and horror fans, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco has for the last few years been opening its doors to Friday fans on various Friday the 13ths, with the camp offering up its sixth tour to date this past Friday, April 13th. Tickets were sold through a random lottery earlier this year, with a couple hundred fans being given the opportunity to tour the campgrounds over the weekend. Two tours took place on Friday the 13th itself, and yours truly was among the lucky attendees.
Yes, my girlfriend Kim and I spent Friday the 13th at the real Camp Crystal Lake, taking part in a tour of the campgrounds provided by “Crystal Lake Tours.” Real No-Be-Bo-Sco employees – including a couple who were at the camp when the movie was filmed back in ’79! – and various volunteers graciously escorted us around their No-Be-Bo-Sco and our Crystal Lake, taking us to nine key locations that were utilized in the movie.
The bulk of Friday the 13th – aside from scenes filmed in Blairstown, NJ, not far from the camp (the still-operational Blairstown Diner is a must visit) – was filmed inside Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, and most of the structures still stand where they did back in 1979. The cabin Steve Christy is repairing at the start of the film is sadly no longer on the premises, but funds from the very tour I attended are being used to construct a brand new Trading Post at that location. And that’s really the beauty of these tours, as they directly benefit the camp and ensure that it’s preserved for both Scouts and horror fans for years to come.
The guided tour of Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco made pit stops all over the grounds, including the beach where Mrs. Voorhees was beheaded, the lake where Alice was pulled underwater by young Jason in a nightmare sequence, the generator shed that Bill’s body was pinned to the door of, the archery range, and even the storage building that was featured in the 1958 portion of the film.
The tour guides, who were all clearly happy to be there and who had extensive, highly impressive knowledge of the film, introduced each location with stories and fun facts, and then allowed us to spend 15-minutes at each stop, encouraging us to take pictures and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience to literally be inside of horror history. Coolest of all, they even had blown-up stills from the movie at each location as well as props, allowing us to compare “then vs. now” and recreate our favorite moments.
And then there’s Adrienne King, who attended the tour along with us fans. For King, it was the first time she had been at “Camp Crystal Lake” in nearly 40 years, and she seemed genuinely excited to be back where it all began. King showed up at the start of the tour, clad in a familiar-looking yellow raincoat, to greet us, and we were later offered the opportunity to meet her face-to-face inside the cabin where the infamous snake scene went down. Inside, King was autographing photos and selling her Friday the 13th paintings. Later in the day, she returned to the scene of the Mrs. Voorhees slaying to take photos inside a canoe with fans who had previously purchased that photo opp.
There was even a gift shop on the premises, offering up various goodies as a means to raise additional funds for the camp – a good cause, if there ever was one. The shop, which can also be visited online year-round, was selling everything from bottled “Crystal Lake” water to picture frames made out of the wood from the original cabins, as well as “Crystal Lake Tours” t-shirts and specially made Friday the 13th cookies. In the same building, a photographer was on hand to take pictures of us standing next to the iconic, film-used Camp Crystal Lake sign (seen in this article’s header), which is somehow still in pristine condition.
Tickets for the No-Be-Bo-Sco Friday the 13th tour went for just under $200 apiece, but I mean it when I say the experience was worth every single penny. Kim and I spent four hours inside of Camp Crystal Lake, and there were still a couple hours left of activities (including dinner in the mess hall) to go at the time we bailed in favor of dining at a nearby bar that was pouring “Camp Crystal Lake Water” and “Slasher Stout” beers. Every single person on the staff and all of the volunteers really went out of their way to make the experience as special as possible for us all, clearly understanding how much it meant to us to be invited inside a place none of us ever imagined being allowed into – a place that, in all likelihood, each of us paid our first and last visit to this past weekend.
I realize tickets don’t come easy, but if you live anywhere even remotely close to New Jersey, make sure you at least try to get them the next time one of these Friday the 13th tours is offered up – and I assure you, I’ll be writing up articles here on BD each time I find out about an upcoming one. I promise that the camp and all of its staffers will ensure that the trip and the money spent allows for a next-level experience you’ll never forget.
Needless to say, revisiting Friday the 13th will, from this point forward, be a cooler experience to me than it ever was before. So thank you for that, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.