James Camp (jamesc@NIC.DDN.MIL)
Mon, 25 May 1992 09:51:11 EDT
Like many of you, I was brought up with the ghost story by the
campfire. We waited anxiously to hear another _good one_.
(I must say that this was before such movies as Freddie came
on -- Movies weren't that bold yet.)
Being on the other end of the campfire, I find myself mixed. When
a SM must stay up all night with a new scout because the story was
_too real_ puts it in a different light. Now, don't get me wrong.
Out of the two troops that I've been associated with, both _love_
the ghost stories.
However, we have adopted a philosophy in telling the stories.
When the audience is populated with young scouts, we add parts to the
story that break the mood somewhat, yet still give the thrill that
the scouts seek. Then as the Scouts mature, work them into the good
As an example, I've enclosed a story that I've had good results with
in many groups. I'll just hit the highlights here, then expand a little
at the end.
---------------------- story -----------------------------
A Troop sets camp in a secluded area by a lake in the mountains.
Just at the edge of the clearing stands an old trapper's cabin.
As all SM's do at the campfire, this SM tells the following tale:
Many years ago this land was sacred hunting ground for the
( pick your tribe ) Indians in this area. The game in this
field was always plentifull -- until the white man came and
built that cabin. The tribe elders were enraged at this
encroachment, and sent their best warriors to oust the
The leader of the raiding party had seen this intruder, and
knew him to be an old man with little spirit, so instead of
harming him, they decided to scare him out. The Indian
krept up to the house and gently _wrapped_ on the wall.
This attracted the attention of the home owner, but finding
nothing there, he went back to his work. Again the Indian
_wrapped_ on the wall. This cat and mouse game went on
for the majority of the night. The white man was becoming
afraid of this mystery noise, so he reached for the
shotgun he kept over the mantle. The next time the Indian
_wrapped_, the man was prepared and de-capitated the Indian
with a single shot.
The tribe elders, on seeing how easily the white man conquered
their best, banned all people from setting foot in their
sacred hunting ground. To insure this, the medicine man
called on the spirit of the be-headed warrior to guard the
land. It is said that on dark rainy nights, the warrior
can still be heard prowling around the old home.
Once the story was told, the SM bade the boys good night and all
As can happen on spring nights, a thunder cloud began to build
and soon the campers found themselves in a wind that was taking
the tents away, and drenching them with cold icey water. The
leaders decided that the safest thing would be to seek shelter
in the old house. The boys eagerly moved into the old house,
except for the troop cook -- he was thinking of that old Indian
and really didn't want any part of the house. So, just in case
he took two of his biggest pans with him for protection.
The storm raged on, but the boys had settled down inside the cabin.
Suddenly, a faint noise could be heard, _wrap, wrap, wrap_.
Most of the boys didn't hear it, but the cook heard it well.
Soon all the scouts were up listening to the _wrap, wrap, wrap_.
The SM went over to the side where it appeared to be coming from
and the noise stopped.
( A number of cycles here to build up the suspense. However, the
cook was given pans for a reason -- he's the skittish one of the
group and is liable to swing at anything.)
The noise has grown in volume and intensity, and the SM has realized
that he must go outside and fix whatever is loose on the house.
He takes the senior scouts with him, which unfortunately is the
cook. (Suspensefully) they walk around the house and find that the
_wrapping_ noise is coming from a hole in the stone fireplace. The
SM carefully inserts his hand into the hole and removes a roll of
wrapping paper going _wrap, wrap, wrap_.
-end of story-
Now to expand on the concept.
1. The corny ending will take the stress off of the story, helping
reinforce the thought that it is not real. Besides a laugh is
a good thing to create at a campfire.
2. The whole story can be spiced up to make it as thrilling as you
want. It won't take too much imagination and a little acting
to keep them on the edge of their seats.
3. The cook is a pressure release in the story. He is very
high strung and can swing at anything from his own shadow to
the scoutmaster. Use him in humerous ways to take the edge
off of the story as you go.
4. Taylor the story to your group. If your group is young and
gullible, use the cook a little more. If they are seasoned
campers, pour on the suspense. We usually find a good mix works
wonders. Keep in mind that young boys/girls can fix their
minds on someting like this very easily and they will not
sleep in the wood, especially new Scouts.
You'll know you did well when you hear that catch phrase
_wrap, wrap, wrap_ echo around the camp for the next few days.
As a side thought, we are building a story based on the Jim Stafford
song _Black Water Hattie_, and are anxious to try it out.
Also, if any of you can't find the book mentioned in an earlier
mailing, _CAMPFIRE STORIES ...Things That Go Bump In the Night_,
I just picked one up at Hermann's Sporting Goods.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City