Summer evenings mean outdoor fun, campfires, and yes, ghost stories.
As long summer days end and the shadows grow darker, campfires, bonfires, and fire tables carry our evenings into darkness. Sitting around a fire is a primal experience. We huddle close with family and friends, as the orange glow dances across our faces. The growing cacophony of the night becomes the perfect background soundscape for telling spine-chilling ghost stories. Since you might be in this position soon, we’ll prepare you with three well-known stories and some essential scary storytelling tips!
How to Tell a Scary Story
The heightened awareness we gain by sitting around a fire is perfect for slowly building suspense as a storyteller. The power of campfire ghost stories is in their slow, purposeful delivery and how authentic they are for your listeners.
To tell a good campfire ghost story, you need to know how to build a simple story, garnishing it with just the right amount of detail, until you have the audience right where you want them. That’s when you deliver the scare! This final scare can be an actual jump scare or a detail that makes the ghost story hit home…
Choosing a Story
You can either pick an existing story or create your own. If you choose a story that already exists, like an urban legend, try to include details that make it more vivid for your audience. This might mean setting the story in a location near where you tell it, adding additional elements to the story to bring it to life, or updating details to give it a more relatable context. Here are three stories to get you started:
Also known as the Vanishing Hitchhiker, this story begins with a couple driving home just after sunset. They notice a young woman on the side of the road, thumb raised, looking visibly upset.
Slightly reluctant, they agree that she looks harmless and pull over to offer her a ride. Hair in her face, her voice soft and distant, she thanks them and quietly gets in the backseat while uttering an address. As they pull back onto the road in increasing darkness, they punch the address into their phone and begin the short drive to her destination.
When they approach the address, they turn around to discover the woman isn’t in the backseat. Confused, they pull over at the house and decide to knock on the door anyway. A tired woman answers. When they explain the strange occurrence, the woman visibly tenses up and tells them that her daughter had died on that road a few years prior.
In this story, a new couple spends some alone time together, in a parked car, located in a dark, remote location. While they’re hanging out, they start to hear a strange sound in the woods. A few moments later, they both notice lots of people posting online about a killer with a hook hand running loose in their area. A few friends even message them, telling them to stay safe. That’s when they start to hear a noise that sounds like it’s coming from the back of their car.
One of them is terrified by the sound and insists they leave. The other, unafraid and annoyed their date is over, decides to start the car and drive away. When they finally park the car and get out, they see a large hook hanging from the passenger side door handle.
This story begins when a babysitter is offered a great new babysitting job. She’s excited because the kids seem well-behaved, it pays well, and the family has a large home that she loves the idea of hanging out in after the kids fall asleep.
As her first night of babysitting starts, everything seems fine. The kids are good and fall asleep early, but as the night goes on, something seems off. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but she feels like she’s being watched. She heard some sounds on the stairs earlier but just assumed she was hearing things.
Their parents told her she could watch their 85” TV in the upstairs family room, so she heads up, hoping the creepy feeling subsides. While watching TV, she starts to feel like someone is watching her.
That’s when she notices a life-sized statue of a clown in the corner of the room. She jumps and lets out a stifled yell. What a strange thing to keep in the house! It seemed especially strange that this family would have something like it in their home. They didn’t seem like the type.
Her phone beeps and she jumps again when the parents text her to see how everything is going.
“It’s fine,” she texts back, “but the clown statue in the corner of the family room almost gave me a heart attack a second ago. I just came up here and saw it, lol.”
After watching the parents type a reply for longer than she was comfortable with, the three hovering dots finally turned to text: “What do you mean? We don’t have a clown statue in the family room.”
Tell Your Own Story
If you don’t want to tell well-known stories or urban legends that people might already know, you can also tell your own scary stories. Most of us have a creepy house in our neighborhood or a friend’s house that we always knew was haunted. Maybe you’ve heard something in the woods at night or seen something in the sky that you couldn’t explain. These mysterious or spooky personal experiences make the scariest and most compelling campfire ghost stories. You can completely bring these kinds of stories to life for your audience because they’re authentic, and when the story is over, the authenticity will continue to haunt them.
What are your summer plans this year? Are you going to tell any ghost stories around the fire? What are some of your favorites? Email us some of your favorite stories at email@example.com