Gather ‘Round:

How to Tell Ghost Stories that Will Spook Anyone

As the sun sets at your campsite and bedtime nears, it’s the perfect time to tell spooky ghost stories that take advantage of the scary ambiance and solitary feeling that only camping in the woods can bring.

Like with any story, how you tell it will make or break it (and in this case, spook your audience). Here are some fun tips to captivate your listeners and make it a memorable fright:

  • Use your surroundings. Base the story on the nearby cemetery or the rickety boat dock, or around a local festival or legend in your hometown.
  • Incorporate sound effects into your story. Make a squeaking sound when someone opens a door, breathe rapidly when describing running, or hoot like an owl.
  • Draw in your listeners by stating, “The little boy who was murdered was just about your age.” As you point to one of the children. Or say, “The murderer had a beard even longer than Grandpa’s, but it was matted with blood and dirt.”
  • Use body language while telling the story. Cross your arms to depict anger, stomp on the ground when describing heavy footsteps, or glance around quickly like you are frightened when you say the villain is still alive today.
  • Finish with an emotional ending like laughing like a hyena when the crazy villain escapes to terrorize other villages or some other intense emotion.

Spooky Story Ideas

Need some inspiration? Here are some classic scary stories for various age groups to get you started on your next camping trip:

Describe a boy alone in bed who hears a dripping sound in the dark and comforts himself by reaching his hand down so that his faithful dog can lick him. Build up to a scene where the boy wakes up the next morning and goes to his closet to get dressed. He discovers his dog hanging by his neck and dripping blood, with a note attached to the carcass saying, “Humans can lick, too!”

For adolescents, describe a teenage couple driving down a long country road and pulling over to the side to smooch a while. Suddenly, a bulletin comes on the radio, announcing that a murderer is on the loose and can be identified by a hook on his left hand. Describe the teenage girl freaking out and begging her boyfriend frantically to leave. He finally gets mad and spins out as the car tires gain purchase on the muddy road. When they arrive home, she discovers a bloody hook hanging off the car door handle and screams!

For younger children, describe a dark, scary road in the country with a spooky house at the end of the road. Continue to describe tall, steep, unlit stairs; a dark, spooky hallway; a dark room with cobwebs hanging everywhere; and a rough-looking box in a dark corner. When the person finally gets up the nerve to open the frightening-looking box, scream and say, “He found a YELLOW Jelly Bean!!”