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Hardscrabble Farms is a farm and campsite which Greg Heffley and his whole class head to for a week-long field trip in Old School.

Rodrick traumatized after his trip to Hardscrabble Farms.

It aims to educate kids about nature and hard work however it is notorious to make kids miserable, and even traumatized some. This occurs with Greg's brother Rodrick as after his whole experience at the camp, he creeped into his bed and stayed there for the entirety of the weekend. One of the main causes for why people are disturbed by the camp could be Silas Scratch who allegedly inhabits near the farm after being evicted off his land he had while working at the farm. It is claimed that he survived by consuming slugs and berries and became deranged, still slithering around the grounds of Hardscrabble Farms. At the end of the book, Silas Scratch is disclosed to be a rumor started by Frank to elude people away from the maintenance shack, which contained a proper bathroom and shower unlike the camp.

History[]

A collection of notes written by Rodrick during his time at the farm.

Once the trip was announced, Greg initially avoids going to Hardscrabble Farms as he prefers the ease of the modern world and has heard horror stories from students who headed on the trip. Rodrick's letters he sent while at camp and his whole experience further prompted him to avoid it.[1] However this changes when Greg accidentally shifts Frank's car forward and crashes it into a ditch. This causes the fender to be extensively damaged and Greg ultimately decides to head to Hardscrabble Farms for a week as by then Frank would've calmed down. Susan was exhilarated by the news and she locates Rodrick's old duffel bag which had everything required for the trip. Greg crams in a few entire containers of Freshies and Susan drops him off for the trip.

A kid from a previous school holding up a sign reading "BEWARE OF SILAS SCRATCH".

Instantly, Greg realizes that he was unprepared for the trip; everybody else had packed a ton of gear and Greg felt like he underpacked. After a lengthy bus ride to Hardscrabble Farms, Greg and his whole class get introduced to Silas Scratch by a student holding up a sign entitled “BEWARE of SILAS SCRATCH”. Greg finds the rumor unsettling and starts to wish that he just stayed behind and took his probabilities with Frank. After everybody finished unloading the bus, they headed to the main lodge where Mrs. Graziano, the person who was administering, was. Mrs. Graziano lectures everyone about the camp rules and she makes the chaperones search everyone's bags to make sure that nobody was sneaking in anything forbidden. Right after, Greg and his whole class eat lunch and Mrs. Graziano escorts the girls to the opposite side of the camp to head to their cabins. Everyone else stays behind and patiently waits to receive their cabin assignments; since Greg enrolled late, he was assigned to a group of leftovers. Greg is pleased that he was assigned into the same cabin as Rowley but is unhappy that Robert Jefferson was the chaperone. Everybody begins picking their beds and Greg picks the top bunk because he didn't want to risk being underneath Julian Trimble; however to his dismay Robert bunks with him.

Greg's group failing to do the trust fall.
Greg and his cabin-mates (horribly) attempting the rope obstacle course.

After Greg's cabin mates finished packing, they start executing some “team building” pursuits; the first one was a “trust fall” where one guy tumbles and everybody else attempts captures him. Jeffrey Swanson is appointed to tumble down, however, he is too heavy and he causes Rowley and Gareth Grimes to collapse and ram into each other. Gareth's front tooth gets stuck to Rowley's forehead and he is dismissed out of Hardscrabble Farms to get it checked out. The next exercise they tried was the “bucket brigade” where everyone creates a relay line to traverse water all the way to the cabin. Greg and his team consistently spilled almost all the water every time so they eventually just gave up and twisted their sweaty clothes. The final pursuit was binding everyone's wrists together with scarves and attempting an obstacle course made of ropes; however with regard to physical exercises, Greg and his team were appalling.

Only a taste of Hardscrabble Farm's horrid food; Jordan Lankey finds an old taco shell in his stew.

By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted and when it was finally time for dinner Greg was exhilarated; Greg passes on the stew and is incredibly grateful when he spots Jordan Lankey pull out a taco shell out of his bowl. After dinner, everybody checks their cabin mate for ticks; Julian retains a tick on his neck and Robert takes him to the nurse office. While they were absent, Greg's cabin mates roll around on the grubby floor and by the time Robert arrives they were filthy. As a punishment, Robert forces everybody to go to bed early on the first day despite Greg not even being involved.

Greg used Freshies to clean himself as Jeffrey Swanson knocking on the bathroom door
Greg and his cabin-mates carrying haybales as part of their day's assignment.

The next day, Robert arouses everyone at the crack of dawn to take showers; the shower was outside and employed the water everyone had traversed during the bucket brigade into a metal tub. Only Greg remembers that the water was unhygienic and he instead decides to cleanse himself with the Freshies he had packed for the trip. Breakfast was pancakes that were described as being hard enough to shatter someone's teeth; Emilio dispatches one to his mom so he could show her how dreadful the food at camp was. After breakfast, Mrs. Graziano informs everyone about the plan for the day; they were going to replicate the chores that kids growing up in farms carried out long ago. Greg and his cabin mates begin in the barn and their task was to transfer hay bales to the opposite end of the building. Once everybody finished, they felt an enormous sense of achievement however it was ruined when Greg's group switched stations and Mr. Nuzzi instructed his group to transfer it back.

Greg's group finding a rock which they believe is the grave of Silas Scratch.
Albert Sandy talking about Silas Scratch's series of underground tunnels.

For the rest of the day, Greg's group continued doing chores such as painting a fence, restoring a stone wall and piling up firewood outside the main lodge. After lunch, Gareth stumbles over a rock that scratches all over it and Jefferey claims that this is probably Silas Scratch's gravestone and they are now cursed because they disrupted it. Greg attempts to speak some wisdom to his cabin mates by informing them that this isn't his gravestone because he would've had to conceal himself; however this only escalates the commotion and everyone starts perceiving Silas Scratch as a farmer who will never die. At dinner, Silas Scratch's “grave” is all anybody talks about and Albert Sandy stimulates it by claiming he learnt that Silas Scratch has a network of tunnels under the cabin. This causes students to be too anxious to head to the bathroom and some state that they are going to hold it until they arrive home.

Some of Greg's cabin-mates looking at a fish they had just caught.

The next day, after Greg and his cabin mates completed their farm chores, they were awarded free time to enjoy themselves. Greg decides to take a nap but Gareth, Jeffrey and Jordan had different ideas; they were tired of eating stew so they were going to endeavor to capture a fish. Greg thinks that was an ignorant idea because they didn't even have a fishing rod but just as he is drifting off, they disrupt by darting through the front door. Gareth and Jordan actually managed to capture a fish by scooping one up with Jeffrey's shirt. However now that they had caught one, nobody had the intent of consuming it so Greg alerts them to deposit the fish in water quick; Gareth swiftly carries the fish by its fin and chucks it into the toilet. Greg starts to leave so he could fetch a bucket and release the fish back into the river but right as he is about to, Robert enters the cabin. Everyone freaks out and slams the door shut; Greg attempts to play it discreet and Robert asks him to call everyone else out for mail call at the main lodge.

Mr. Jefferson finds a fish in the cabin's toilet.

Right as Robert leaves, Greg's cabin mates drop the lid on the toilet so the fish couldn't flop out and join the rest of their group. Mrs. Graziano hands out mail from home to everyone who received one. When Greg obtains his letter from Susan he breaks down, however he doesn't feel the same for Rodrick's letter. Graham Bertran receives a huge box crammed with tons of supplies and back at the cabin, he discloses that he dispatched the box himself; Graham shares the load of snacks he hid in with Greg and his cabin mates. Suddenly, Emilio spots Robert heading inside the cabin and everyone conceals Graham's box under the blanket but unfortunately Robert enters the bathroom where the fish was left. Robert gets irritated and thinks it was a practical joke; he perceives Greg to be the guy involved. So during the night, while everyone else was eating s'mores and chanting songs by the campfire, Greg was stuck inside the cabin with Robert.

Melinda Henson purposely eats the stew to get herself ill.
Julian Trimble leaving Hardscrabble Farms early.

After everyone received their letters from home, most of Greg's classmates started feeling homesick. The chaperones inform them that the sole way they can return back home is if it is a medical reason; they immediately rue telling them that however as Greg's classmates start deliberately attempting to get sick. Melinda Henson swallows three servings of stew but after spending a few hours at the nurse's office, she was dismissed to rejoin her group. Julian goes further, however, and consumes half a stick of deodorant; however once Julian's mother arrives to collect her son, Julian seems to have recovered. This inspires Greg's cabin mates to do the same but swiftly before they could, the chaperones gathered up all the deodorant. This is unfortunate for Greg's cabin as with the dirty clothes and sweat water, the deodorant was the sole thing halting the smells from reaching poisonousx levels. If it reaches that point, everybody will be forced to go home; that might be great for everyone else but it isn't for Greg as he'll have to confront Frank.

Rowley returns to Hardscrabble Farms.
Rowley accidentally tosses poison ivy into his group's campfire.

The next morning, Rowley returns to Hardscrabble Farms after being absent for a few days; Rowley had returned during a difficult time as everybody was preparing for the final night at Hardscrabble Farms. Greg is sort of waiting for it as they are spending it outside away from their poisonous cabin however he's hesitant that his group can endure sleeping outside. Robert attempts to teach everybody on how to construct a shelter and light a fire for the last day but he is just as futile as everybody else. Robert breaks the “no electronics” rule to learn how to assemble a fire but before he could even learn how, his battery dies. Robert manages to learn a little bit about how to set a fire up and he instructs everyone to collect kindling; everybody was puzzled as to what kindling was so they just collected anything they thought would burn. Rowley gathers up what seems to be a bunch of weeds and unloads it onto the fire however it actually turns out to be Poison Ivy and the next morning Rowley wakes up covered in spots. Robert evidently also seemed to have inhaled the fumes of the poison ivy as he struggles to breathe. The nurse calls Linda Jefferson to pick them both up and now Greg's group is missing a chaperone; this is incredibly terrible timing for Greg's group as it's going to rain and they haven't even began building their shelter.

Boy Scout pointing at Greg

Greg attempting to get some tips from a group of Boy Scouts.

Greg holding Emilio's glasses

Greg successfully makes a fire using Emilio Mendoza's glasses.

Greg attempts to observe a group full of Boy Scouts to obtain some tips for their base but he gets caught. While Greg's group was setting up camp, another group raided their cabin for Graham's snacks; the robbers also purloined Greg's baby wipes which they depleted and attempted to flush down the toilet. This caused the toilet to overflow onto Greg's duffel bag and the only thing that wasn't drenched was the book Grandpa handed him. Greg was infuriated but as he flipped through the pages, he realizes that the book was actually useful. Greg attempts the trick of lighting a fire without matches in the book utilizing Emilio's glasses and it actually eventually ignites; Greg's group celebrates however they accidentally crush Emilio's glasses in the process. Back at the cabin, the stench of the cabin was evenly increasing and so Greg's cabin mates decide to head on a raid for the girls deodorant.

Hiding Your Numbers page

Emilio was the most thrilled however everybody alerts him that it was too risky for him to join them since he couldn't see; Emilio states however that he was needed since he has an exceptional sense of smell so he was included. Just before Greg's group was about to start, Mr. Nuzzi checks up on them and warns them that they will be in significant trouble if they creep out. Mr. Nuzzi claims that Silas Scratch was skulking around tonight and he pours baby powder all over the cabin so they couldn't depart. Just as Greg's group thought they were busted, Greg recalls a chapter in Grandpa's book about following in the exact same footsteps of somebody deceive people. The issue was that Mr. Nuzzi's footsteps were larger than everybody else; however luckily Robert left his hiking boots under his bed and they were the precise fit. Everyone manages to get out and they trail through the woods directing towards the girl's cabin however they immediately get lost; everybody starts freaking out and Jeffrey escalates it by asserting that Silas Scratch was going to eat them alive.

Greg is shocked to see Frank joining the camp at Hardscrabble Farms

Frank becomes Greg's cabin's new chaperone.

Everybody thought they were ruined but out of the blue, Emilio scents a girl's cabin around 50 feet away. Greg and his cabin mates utilize their team building skills to reach an open window where everybody was asleep. Greg manages to successfully get inside but once he realizes that the cabin was full of Girl Scouts, he decides to cancel the raid. But before he could, Graham accidentally alerts the Girl Scouts to their presence. This causes Greg's cabin mates to rapidly trample each other outside the girl's cabin and bolt right into their cabin treading on the baby powder. Greg thought the raid was a total failure but Graham actually managed to purloin a bag from the girl's cabin; Greg's cabin mates unload the bag however it doesn't appear to be possessed by any girls their age. Suddenly, they discover that it was really possessed by Mrs. Graziano who was standing right inside the doorway. Mrs. Graziano identified them because Emilio was staggering outside in the dark and she apprised them that she was going to recruit an emergency chaperone. Greg figures that whoever was inclined to drive out during night time wasn't going to be pleased about it and it unexpectedly turns out to be Frank.

Gregfindstheshed
Frank reads a book while Greg and his cabinmates helping out

Greg gives Frank a basic analysis of the camp however he already seemed to be aware about everything Greg informed him; when Greg notices one of the chaperones address Frank he realizes that he actually has headed to Hardscrabble Farms before and that's why he wasn't pleased to be here. Greg and his cabin mates spent most of the day assembling the camp for overnight while Frank didn't bother assisting them at all. During dinner, some kids were befuddled as they discovered an old shack that they were sure was possessed by Silas Scratch; Greg expects Frank to assure everybody that Silas Scratch was just a hoax but instead he claims that he once spotted a few kids forage around inside the shack and they were never seen again. That was worst thing Frank could've said before they were intended to spend the night in the woods and it caused people to plead to sleep inside; however Mrs. Graziano informs them that they needed to do it no matter what. Greg and his cabin mates had gotten the fire started earlier however it was gradually dying so they needed to collect kindling; however once it turns dark Greg's cabin mates were to anxious to leave the fire so Greg proceeds deep into the woods for kindling by himself. Greg swiftly gets lost and discovers what he believes to be Silas Scratch's shack.

Greg and Frank screaming each other in the maintenance shed bathroom

All this time, Greg really didn't believe the Silas Scratch rumor until now and he was petrified. Greg notices that the lights were on in the cabin and it didn't make sense that a deranged farmer who eats slugs and berries had electricity; Greg was curious as to what was inside and so he enters through the back door which was unlocked. Greg discovers that this actually wasn't a shack and was instead a maintenance shed which wasn't shabby; Greg explores the place and he locates a modern bathroom full of high-quality toilet paper. Greg was astonished and just as he was about to inform his cabin mates about it, he unexpectedly bumps right into Frank. Greg was bewildered as to why he was here and Frank explains that when he headed to Hardscrabble Farms, the bathroom circumstances were way more inferior. There was only one outhouse that everybody shared and to remain hygienic, they had to cleanse themselves in the river. One day while assembling firewood, he discovered this maintenance shed which had a proper bathroom and in order to possess it all for himself, he decided to fabricate the story of Silas Scratch. When he returned to Hardscrabble Farms, he was amazed that the hoax was still spreading and he decided to go along with it just so he could retain the bathroom to himself.

Greg's version of Beware of Silas Scratch

Greg is reasonably very irritated at Frank starting the Silas Scratch rumor but he acknowledges that he would do the exact same thing himself. Greg and Frank return back to the campsite where it was thoroughly raining and the fire was entirely out; Greg's cabin mates had depleted the entire shelter for firewood to keep the fire going, however, it was futile. Frank wasn't too troubled about the camp guidelines and so he sneaks everybody inside away from the pouring rain. The next morning, everybody escorted their bags into the parking lot and Greg's group were the only ones that were reinvigorated. Greg's cabin mates were extremely relieved that they survived Silas Scratch for the whole week and Greg was tempted to reveal to them that it was hoax; however, Greg assumes that one day he might get stuck chaperoning at camp and he'll need to occupy that bathroom himself. Frank offers Greg to ride back home with him and Greg ultimately scribbles a note to alert everybody about Silas Scratch. [2]

Trivia[]

  • Greg's grade he was in, in the 10th book, at his school, has been going on an annual trip to the place for about at least 19 years since Mrs. Graziano says she has been to Hardscrabble Farms for 19 years. The annual trip for the grade may have started long ago, since Frank (Greg's dad), and another chaperone (who is unnamed) had both been there as kids when they were in Greg's grade. Mr. Healey was a teacher and chaperone who had also been there when he was in middle school.
  • The supply list for this place includes bug spray, hiking boots, raincoat, canteen, day pack, jeans, plastic bag, sunscreen, toiletries, and wool socks, while junk food, siblings, refreshing drinks, pillows, grandparents, Tobias mascots, baby wipes and electronics are strictly prohibited.
  • The food at Hardscrabble Farms is atrocious and from each meal, and all the leftover food is scraped into a pot which creates a stew that is served as part of the meal the next day. That method has been used at Hardscrabble Farms for over thirty years.
  • From Greg's words, the meal eaten for Lunch is Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, and Stuffed Peppers. Which are sausage stuffed bread, Beans in ketchup, and bell pepper with salt respectively.
  • The meal they ate for dinner was Chicken Patties, Corn on the Cob, and Stew, which are basically Burger Buns with Chicken, Sheaf of Corn on a Stick, and a vegetable side dish respectively. Every leftover items are scraped into a huge pot which is mixed and cooked into a stew.
  • The meal they ate for breakfast was pancakes, which were as hard as rocks, and could break your teeth if you bit into them. Emilio Mendoza sneaked a pancake in his pocket to show his mom how bad the food situation was, while another threw one like a Frisbee.
  • Hardscrabble Farms is actually the name of a Wholesale plant nursery in 45 Hardscrabble Rd, North Salem, NY 10560, USA.
  • Despite the very blatant health code violations (i.e., the lack of sanitary water), it is unknown how Hardscrabble Farms is still operating.

Appearances[]

Gallery[]

See Hardscrabble Farms/Gallery

References[]

  1. Old School, pages 45-47
  2. Old School, pages 123-217
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