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Backpacker Magazine – October 2005

Tell a Great Ghost Story: How to Scare People and Win Friends

Wouldn't it be cool if you could turn your friends into mewling, terrified--I mean, wouldn't it be cool to be able to tell a great ghost story on your next camping trip? Here's how.

by: Steve Friedman

(Photo by Anthony Cerretani)
(Photo by Anthony Cerretani)

TERROR IN THE TREES
Read one of the scariest stories ever told right here.

1. PICK A GOOD TALE Does it creep you out? Would your friends object if you told it to their 11-year-old kid? Yes? Then you’ve got a winner. Still unsure where to find the perfect tale? Ask every person you know who’s ever been to summer camp what the scariest story he or she has ever heard. Then make it your own.

2. TELL A TRUE STORY “This is a true story” is okay. “This is a true story and the person who it happened to is in the Maine hospital for the criminally insane now, a total vegetable” is better. “Cable news hadn’t been invented then, but you can look it up on microfilm at the Mendocino Public Library” is the best. When’s the last time anyone actually looked up something on microfilm?

3. KEEP IT SUBTLE
When the story gets to the really, really, really scary part, clam up. You don’t want to go on. Your voice gets softer. You’d prefer not to talk about what happened next. You don’t even want to think about it. But you will. You owe it to your audience.

4. USE VISUAL AIDS
Your appendectomy scar? Who’s to say Neville Flange, the machete-wielding marauder of the Smoky Mountains, didn’t cut you there? Hold on to bandanas with camp names: They’re priceless.

5.BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO Scary stories are fun, and thrilling, but told to the wrong person, at the wrong time—well, sometimes that can have tragic consequences. I was telling the story of the Mendocino Moaner a few years ago to friends on a weekend trip to Yosemite. Everyone was pretty freaked out—especially because it was a true story—but nothing happened that night, and we all woke up the next day refreshed and ready to hike. All except for my friend Jack. Who knows how it affected him, or why? All I know is that Jack wouldn’t say a word that morning. All he would do was hum and shake his head and wave his arms, which was really a drag, because we had to drive all the way to Reno, where we were going to catch a plane. They wouldn’t let Jack on the plane back to New York City, though. He was grunting and waving his arms. We had to take him to the Fresno County Hospital. Eventually they transferred him. To the Nevada State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. It’s been five years and Jack’s still at the asylum. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t even like to think about it.

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READERS COMMENTS

cat
Oct 04, 2012

you are loser

KARINA MARTINEZ
Jan 31, 2012

FUCK ALL OF U GUYS CAUSE THOSE SCARY STORIES ARE FAKE I GOT BETTER ONES SO HA HOES GO SUCK A COCK GET A LIFE IF U THINK U CAN TELL SCARY STORIS BUT U CNT LOSERSSS...!!!!1

Anonymous
Oct 31, 2010

Geez

Jeremy
Oct 29, 2010

Dude, it was a joke.

mili
Sep 14, 2010

SORRY I DIDN'T FINISH.So they walked toward him and saw that he didn't have a nose,two eyes,the mouth was opened and they saw that he didn't have teeth.They were starting to freak out.They heard a chain saw and saw the little girl holding it in the left hand and a knife in the right hand. she had locked the door that lead the kitchen to the baseman. they tried to opened one of the windows but was glued shut.AND I THINK YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.... TO BE CONTINUED?!

mili
Sep 14, 2010

I have a story to tell.OK. So once there were 5 friends. that went to check out an abandoned house while the others were in the front yard one of them was in the back yard all alone but thats what he thought he saw a little girl that looked freaky he ran back with the others in the front yard. He told them there was a girl with a white dress and was holding a doll.they came to the back of the house they saw nothing. they told him that he was seeing things or just making it up to freak them out. two days later they went to a party that was close to the house. At the party they all got drunk.When they where going out of the club they notice that the dude was miss they went back in but they couldn't find him.They just had the idea of going to find him in the abandoned house they went inside this time. It was a dark inside.One of them went in the living room. Another went in the kichen.Two of them checked the rooms and bathroom.They didn't find him.Then they got together in the living room they saw the girl that there friend told them about.they were freaked out so they ran to the basement which was a stupid idea.When they were running down stairs they saw there friend sitting there.Facing backwards.They where telling him to get up and telling him to go home and not being in the freaky house.But he wouldn't stand up or talk he would just sit there.T

spookysecret
Aug 08, 2010

Huh?

?
Aug 08, 2010

poopy head (sesbastian)
May 01, 2010

Once there was a stupid boy named poopy head (sesbastian) and he ran and got his head cut OFF! THE END true story

Anonymous
May 01, 2010

Tell me a scry story peples.

Anonymous
May 01, 2010

blah

leighann
Nov 02, 2009

i have had stuff happen to me and my friends we were in the bathroom at our school and we heard footsteps so we ran out. later we went back in there with my friends and one brought there DSi and we recored questions and when we listened to them later we heard something. when i said whats your name it said hannah then we learned that a family died on the property and we also learned that there last name was huffstetler so is there something here tell us your opinion.

Steve
Oct 29, 2009

Scary stories can be fun and the dark outdoors can make it more that way. But be aware of your audience and be smart about it. A wise Scout Camp Director warned us staffers that ghost stories can have the effect of scaring a kid out of the woods - for good. He pointed out that was the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish.
I remembered this after my daughter begged to go home on our first night out on a recent backpacking trip. Evidentally, a couple weeks prior, her camp counselors scared the wits out of the girls in their cabin one night. (You know, the old 'escaped convict story', the power shuts off and another counselor outside scares everybody...a classic prank. Only they drew it out way too long and made it too interactive). Needless to say, it was a long night. How many of our friends & family don't go backpacking with us simply because somebody scared them to death?

maria
Jul 10, 2009

one time my brother took a picture outside of kpt and then when he took it we look at it and there was one man looking at 15 floor .He only had his head and we still have the picture. that really freak me out

Genny
Oct 31, 2008

But Mark, not everybody knows that, so to those of us who don't, all those details and names just makes it more real.

Brad
Oct 31, 2008

Very funny.

Mark from Oct 30th, might be one of those mentioned in #5.

Have a Happy Holloween!

Brad
Oct 31, 2008

Hugh
Oct 31, 2008

Nothing better than a great imagination and the love of scaring people.

cybibear
Oct 31, 2008

very funny! especially the end. gave me quite a giggle. thanks.

mark
Oct 30, 2008

Lol. Very good. But, from Fresno County Hospital to the Nevada State Hospital for the Criminally Insane? Quite a jump for someone who lives in New York, who went to a California hospital, going to a hospital for criminally insane in another state. Good story, but you should probably keep it simple. People don't go to state hospitals for criminally insane unless the commit a crime and are court ordered to go there. And, they wouldn't go from one state to another state's hospital, unless he lived in the other state.

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