In Portland, Oregon, you can attend Hellboy summer camp

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If I happened to be an adolescent Oregonian, my head would be exploding right now. For Summer 2012, Dark Horse Comics and Mike Mignola have collaborated with a wilderness training organization to offer a Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense camp for kids 9-17.

The weeklong program is designed to teach youth the baseline skills B.P.R.D. agents require (pyrokinesis notwithstanding):

We immerse you in tactical training of all forms, including survival skills in any environment (both earthly and non), martial arts and self-defense specific to praeternatural entities, hand to hand weaponry (we train foam swords, bows and more) and forensic investigation.


It's unclear what the campfire songs will be, but we can hazard a guess. The 10-to-11-year-old recruits are trained in the city's greenspaces, whereas the older cadets stay at sleepaway camp for a few days.

Both groups investigate the legend of Adolph Aschoff, a real-life German homesteader whose biography has been Hellboyified for camp purposes:

Born in 1849, Adolph Aschoff grew up learning how to hunt and track from a poacher in Hanover, before the German Empire ever came to be. His first brush with the supernatural was when he came upon a village burnt to the ground by what locals claimed to be demonic forces. This piqued his curiosity, leading to a lifelong study of the occult.

When Prussian soldiers invaded, Aschoff realized their interest in the town was more than a military land grab. The soldiers were part of a secret order within the military called the Order Nem-ett Ethem, which according to Professor J.H. O'Donnell worship one of the sleeping Ogdru Hem. Aschoff believed that the Prussians were there to wake a sleeping god who lay beneath the town. In fact, their target in Hannover was a tablet in the ground marking one of four points spread across the western hemisphere. The Order of Nem-Ett Athem sought to unearth and activate each point in order to raise the Ogdru Hem that they revered, whose location they did not know.

Forced to flee through the swamp, Aschoff failed to stop the Prussians in Hanover, but managed to steal one of three ancient compasses the Order used to pinpoint the position of the tablets. On the annual Fall equinox, the compass locks onto an azimuth (direction) of each tablet. The first equinox he traveled far and wide to triangulate the four locations. Aschoff discovered a ritual that would seal the tablets, preventing the Order Nem-Ett Ethem from releasing their god. Since maps were relatively inaccurate in 1866, Aschoff couldn't nail down the location with much precision, so he would have to return to a general area over the course of a few years in order to try to pinpoint the site of the tablet. His travels took him to the Far East, South America, and the American Midwest. While he was pursuing this quest, the Prussians were busy doing the same, and with their two compasses were better able to track the tablets down. Twice Aschoff pinpointed a location too late, only to find the tablet removed.

The remaining point was somewhere in the Pacific Northwest of the continental United States. Aschoff made his way there, knowing it was the final location, and set up permanent home outside of Portland, Oregon. Over the course of a few years, he located the tablet beneath a small way station along the Devil's Backbone portion of the Oregon Trail.

Aschoff was thwarted in his attempt to seal the tablet by local spirits known as the Aplas. These demonic spirits prey upon both humans and animals, rendering their victims undead slaves, leaving them as mindless zombies when they're done with them. The Aplas were under the direction of the Order Nem-ett Ethem, who were still trying to pinpoint the tablet's location.

Aschoff was saved from the Alpas by another local legend: a great hairy beast, and one of the most famous bits of folklore of the Northwest. Ashcoff had been exploring the area's forests for years by this time, and had been aided more than once by this "Bigfoot," who he found to be very useful as a temporary ally in any situation.

As the Sasquatch held the Alpas at bay, Aschoff lay his seal over the site of the tablet, preventing the Order Nem-ett Ethem from opening the final point and freeing the Odrgu Hem. He founded the town of Marmot in order to maintain and guard what had become his life's work. He and his wife Dora raised a family there and worked a toll portion of the Barlow Trail. Aschoff and his wife and the other early settlers of Marmot were buried in a pioneer cemetery that was long ago reclaimed by the land.

Recently, strange goings on have been reported around the site of the Trackers Summer Camp, on the old site of the town of Marmot. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense have been called upon to find the hidden cemetery, and to solicit the true history of the town from these spectral informants. Agents will conduct research at the Historical Society of Sandy, Oregon, along with good ol' fashion tracking and forensics, looking for the grave site itself.

From there Agents will get the true story of Aschoff, seek out the compass he stole from the Order Nem-Ett Ethem, and finally unearth the tablet Aschoff sealed in the earth. Agents will learn that there is a flaw in the seal, and realize that only they can repair it before the Ogdru Hem is raised through the efforts of his returning minions. In our camp recruits must uncover the clues about how to reseal the breach once and for all.


Much like Punchdrunk's live-action Doctor Who play for children 12 and under, this is an occasion that makes me curse my wizened years.


[Trackers PDX via Bleeding Cool]