Death Valley Plants
Campfire Songs
Book Five in the Black Turtle Series
Quick Summary:

Children go on a campout with an ex-con and a polygamist. Law enforcement and the media find out about it. Are the children more likely to be harmed by the bad guys or the so-called good guys?

More information:
Campfire Songs at LULU.com
Campfire Songs at AMAZON.com
Back Cover Blurb:

     Why is it that nowadays everything is so complicated? It's gotten to the point where you can't even go camping without people getting all suspicious that you might be up to something illegal or immoral or otherwise worthy of scrutiny. Campfire Songs is about a group of nine boys who go on a campout accompanied by three adults. Twelve people on a campout shouldn't be any big deal, but for some reason this simple outing winds up attracting the attention of law enforcement and the media. As a result a simple campout becomes transformed into a sensationalistic news story complete with all the obsession and paranoia that comes along with all that media attention.

     How is it that insignificant events can become disproportionally magnified in such a way? Why is it that people become emotionally involved in misrepresentations of innocent events? You'd think that people would automatically do a little reality checking before investing themselves emotionally in stories that have been skewed by the media to be as sensational and scandalous as possible. You'd think that people would be skeptical of these types of stories and yet it would seem that a certain portion of the population is in some way addicted to such ridiculous news stories.

     Despite all the media attention, somehow the boys on the campout manage to remain oblivious to all the outside interest in their situation for most of the story. The world is going crazy all around them and yet they just go about the business of having fun while camping out in the middle of nowhere. All good things come to an end, however, and eventually the boys realize just how crazy the world really is, but that doesn't necessarily stop them from continuing to have fun!

(WARNING: Some content may be somewhat inappropriate for children under the age of fourteen.)

More Information:

     Would responsible parents knowingly allow their children to go camping with an ex-con, a polygamist, and -- shudders and gasps -- a single, male teacher? Given our modern understanding of the prevalence of child sexual abuse, the only reasonable thing would be to run a thorough background check on anyone that our children come into contact with. Anything less would be uncivilized! Or would it? If we reverse the spin, an ex-con could be someone who was convicted of possessing marijuana, a polygamist is nothing more than someone who has multiple sexual partners, and most teachers, male or female, are single at some point during their career and what difference does marital status make anyways? After all, more children are harmed by married than by unmarried individuals. Why are we so afraid of and suspicious of individuals who subscribe to alternative lifestyles or who are different in some way?

     A lot of the blame can be ascribed to the news media which feeds the flames of moral panics in a quest to gain and hold the attention of viewers, but moral panics occurred long before we had twenty-four hour news channels. It's hard to know what factors contribute most to the development of moral panics, but it does seem to be the case that people are somehow predisposed to become captivated by exaggerated fears that someone is out to do something bad. Can anything be done to fix this sad state of affairs? Is it possible for the rational mind to overcome the tendency to become emotionally obsessed with irrational fears provoked by ambiguous events?

     If a group of children were to actually go on a campout with three adults who happened to be an ex-con, a polygamist, and a single, male school teacher, what is the likelihood that anything bad would happen to any of the children? Would the chances of something bad happening to these children be any greater than would be the case if the three adults had more statistically normal backgrounds? Is it the case that most adults have done something in the past that could be seen as a risk factor that would make them likely to harm a child? Most of us have done something that could be misinterpreted as an indicator that we are predisposed to do something of an anti-social nature and so it would probably be a good policy not to exaggerate the perceived defects believed to exist in others since they really aren't so different from us.

Alternate Version:

     Children go on a camp out with an ex-con and a polygamist. Law enforcement and the media find out about it. Are the children more likely to be harmed by the bad guys or the so-called good guys?

     Campfire Songs can be read as a lighthearted comedy or as serious social commentary. Explanatory text is included which provides background information necessary to appreciate the serious side of this novel. However, the reader is free to dismiss that aspect of the story and just enjoy the fun and adventure inherent in a tale about a camping trip.

     Also included are the lyrics to a bunch of songs that the campers sing around the campfire. Nothing like some fresh mountain air and some good times around the campfire. However, like anything else in contemporary society, enjoy it now, because it's likely to be illegal in the not too distant future!

Suggested Reading:

    At the end of Campfire Songs a list of recommended reading and viewing materials is presented. Here are some links to help readers find these items quickly and easily!

  1. Ceci and Bruck, Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony, 1995.
    View info about Jeopardy in the Courtroom by Ceci and Bruck at Amazon.com
  2. Ewing, Justice Perverted: Sex Offense Law, Psychology, and Public Policy, 2011.
    View info about Justice Perverted by Ewing at Amazon.com
  3. Jenkins, Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America, 1998.
    View info about Moral Panic by Jenkins at Amazon.com
  4. Nachman and Hardy, Witch Hunt, 2009.
    View info about Witch Hunt by Nachman and Hardy at Amazon.com
  5. Oellerich, "Identifying and Dealing with 'Child Savers'", 1998.
    Read this article at IPT Forensics
  6. Rabinowitz, No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times, 2003.
    View info about No Crueler Tyrannies by Rabinowitz at Amazon.com

Added February 2016:

  1. Lancaster, Sex Panic and the Punitive State, 2011.
    View info about Sex Panic and the Punitive State by Lancaster at Amazon.com