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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Girl's Camp Terror

It doesn't matter how many times I read or tell or listen to ghost stories, I always manage to scare myself. When I was a teenager, I would attend Girl's Camp for our church. We were the older girls, and were given the farthest campsite away from the main lodge that year. That meant, if we needed anything, we had a good mile or more hike to get to headquarters and leaders that could help us.

One night at camp, a neighboring camp leader came to visit. We had started telling ghost stories- a little early given it was still light out. She pitched in with stories of her own.

Boy, those were some stories.

These were not your average run-of-the-mill-everyone's-heard-these-a-hundred-times ghost stories. These were stories that had really happened to her. She told about a night she woke up to find a woman and a boy standing at the end of the bed staring at her. She told about the boy and how he would run through the living room, and vanish. She told about the poltergeist activity that followed with things vanishing and then turning up later in bizarre locations. I listened with my jaw dropped and my eyes wide open.

When she was finished, it had gotten dark, and she needed to escort her younger sister back to her camp. Nobody at my camp had thought to light a fire, we were too busy listening to stories. It was REALLY DARK. Instantly, several people volunteered to go with her, and everyone left. There were three of us left- my friend Sheila, another girl, and myself. No other leaders stayed. We lit a lantern and did what any group of girls would naturally do. We kept telling ghost stories.

We worked ourselves into a seriously frightened state. We tried to break things up by telling jokes, but it always came back to telling more ghost stories. Suddenly, the other girl in our group, who had been playing with the lantern, gave a scream, and started pounding my friend Sheila on the back! We didn't understand her strange behavior until she said, "Guys, I burned my fingers!" She had touched the metal knob at the top of the lantern, and when she showed us her fingers, they had been burned white. This was serious stuff. We quickly got her fingers under some cold water, but it quickly became apparent that she needed to see a nurse.

Who was at the lodge. A mile away. Through a very dark and scary forest. After we had freaked ourselves out telling ghost stories. We grabbed the lantern, and holding on to one another, we stumbled out onto the twisted trails that were not frightening at all during the day, but now seemed horribly oppressive. I couldn't look at anything but the trail at my feet because the dark between the trees was just too much for my panicked brain to handle.

We hadn't gone far when we ran into the rest of our camp coming back. They'd had even more adventures because their flashlight had gone out on the way to drop off the leader's sister. They had managed to shake it into giving off a tiny dim bit of yellow light, but that was it. When the leader saw our friend's fingers, she said, "I'll take the lantern, and get her to the nurse, you take the flashlight and head back to camp." The mostly DEAD FLASHLIGHT!!! All of us clutched onto each other like some big amoeba shape, and oozed our way back up the horrifyingly dark trail. The flashlight died completely twice, and was coaxed back to life to provide absolutely no help whatsoever. I was in tears by the time we got back to camp, I was so frightened.

We had to crawl into the big dark pitch black tent to find our own flashlights- images of crazy killers or ghosts that could lurk in tents to the doom of campers entering the tent. We had to get ready for bed- IN THE DARK. We had to lie there in the tent with all the flashlights OFF- the whole night! It was one of the longest nights of my life. I know I didn't sleep a bit.

Apparently, I didn't learn my lesson, because I'm still telling ghost stories, and spending at least one night every Halloween season with my lights left on to keep away the spooks.

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