Summer is quickly approaching, and with it comes many individuals who are eagerly planning camping trips across the United States. Along with hiking and swimming, most people intend to build campfires during their trip. While you grill hot dogs or toast marshmallows, you may want to liven the party up with scary campfire stories. Here are five that are guaranteed to make you and your fellow campers’ knees buckle in fear.
1. Brass Buttons – The Little Sailor Boy
In 1889, a young couple’s dream came true. They were finally able to purchase a house, a house they had always wanted in Stuyvesant Square, a prominent neighborhood in Philadelphia. Their six-year-old daughter was not particularly happy about the move, but became much more excited when she was told that the entire attic of the house had been previously converted into a playroom. The house itself was in rough shape, and the young couple spent several days trying to refurbish the walls and floors. As they ran around, they instructed their daughter to stay up in the attic, so she wouldn’t get hurt. The attic itself was in great shape, save for a boarded up fireplace in the far corner of the room.
A few weeks passed, and the house was finally finished. Once the young mother felt she could breathe again, she felt guilty about her daughter. She felt she had been neglecting her little girl for far too long. The mother tried to spend time playing with her daughter, but the six-year-old seemed disinterested. All she wanted to do was return to the attic alone. Frustrated and hurt, the mother eventually asked her daughter what she enjoyed so much about the attic. The girl replied that she was having fun playing with the little boy up there. Puzzled, her mother asked, “what little boy?” to which her daughter replied, “the one with all the shiny buttons.”
Convinced that one of the servant’s children had snuck up into the attic to play with her, the mother climbed the many stairs to the attic to see for herself. But there was no little boy in sight, and all the servants denied that their children had been up there at all. Thus, the mother began to believe that her daughter had purposefully lied to her, and that she should be punished for behaving so badly. When the girl’s father questioned her about the incident, she burst into tears but remained adamant about seeing the little boy. She went into more detail about the boy’s attire, claiming he wore a blue jacket with several shiny buttons on it. The father realized she was describing a child’s sailor suit, which was always blue with brass buttons.
After their talk, the father began to inquire about the former owners of the house. He learned that a large family used to live there, complete with two boys and a girl. The youngest boy was mentally slow, and while the neighborhood all doted on him, the boy’s father was ashamed of him, and tried to keep him away from public events at all times. As a result, the boy would often sneak out of the house and visit a nearby river. One day the neighbors heard that the boy had visited the river by himself and had fell in and drowned. The family moved not long after.
More curious than before, the father went to visit his daughter in the attic and asked her to show him where the little boy appeared from. She immediately pointed to the boarded up fireplace. With the help of servants, the father removed the cement and mortar of the fireplace, and they discovered a small corpse within. The body was clad in a blue jacket with brass buttons, and the back of his skull had been crushed, as if someone had hit him very violently with a blunt object. Sometimes the best scary campfire stories don’t just involve ghosts … they involve murder.
2. A Man’s Best Friend – A Girl Alone
This is one of those scary campfire stories you may not wish to repeat in front of young children. There once was a young teen named Julie who hated having babysitters whenever her parents decided to go out for the evening. Not long after Julie turned fourteen, her parents decided to attend a party at a friend’s house. Julie pleaded with them to let her stay at home by herself. She told them that she could take care of herself, and that the family dog would alert her if any strangers came near the house. Her parents finally agreed and left the house. Feeling brave and excited, Julie ran to the television and immediately began to watch a scary movie.
As the movie progressed and it grew steadily darker outside, Julie began to grow a little scared. Whenever she felt that way, she would reach down to pet the dog. The dog, in turn, would lick her palm, and Julie would be comforted. Julie eventually crawled into bed, but grew scared again, not wanting to sleep in the house all alone. She often reached her hand out in the dark to let the dog lick her palm. Eventually she fell asleep.
A strange whining sound woke her up sometime later. She briefly worried that her dog was warning her that someone untrustworthy was nearby, but when Julie reached her hand out by the edge of her bed, the dog would lick her palm. She did this several times before she was finally able to sleep again. The following morning she woke up to the sounds of her mother screaming. Shocked, Julie ran to the bathroom, where her mother and father stood crying. On the tile floor was their dog, who was dead. On the bathroom mirror was a message, written in the dog’s blood: PEOPLE CAN LICK TOO.
3. The Beautiful Bride – The Most Macabre of Scary Campfire Stories
One day, not long after a boy had grown into manhood, he began to notice a young woman who lived in his village. The young woman was shy, but incredibly beautiful, and it didn’t take long for the man to develop a courtship with her. Every time they met, he was enchanted by her large blue eyes, and the pretty black ribbon she always wore around her neck. The young woman didn’t have any living family members, but that did not deter the young man or his family from approving the courtship. A few months came and went, and the happy couple decided to get married. The young man’s parents purchased a small cottage for them on the outskirts of town.
Time passed and with it the couple grew more accustomed to married life. The young man was once blindly enamored with his bride, but soon grew curious about her little quirks and nuances. He was particularly curious about the black ribbon, as he never once saw her without it. He had heard strange and scary campfire stories about black ribbons as a boy but never bought into them. When he finally mustered up the courage to ask his wife about the ribbon, she suddenly grew quite stern. She told him that she would not tell him the reason why she wore it, and that she must never take it off.
Confused by this elusive response, the young man grew more and more agitated by the black ribbon. He simply had to know why she felt she must wear it all the time. One morning he woke up and found that his wife was still fast asleep beside him. Quietly, he tiptoed across the cottage to her sewing box. He grabbed a pair of scissors and stood beside his wife’s sleeping form. With deft fingers, he cut the ribbon off.
Within seconds, the man realized why his wife always wore the black ribbon. As the cloth fell from her neck, his wife’s head fell clean off her body and rolled across the floor of the cottage.
4. Ghost Friend – Death at the Pond
In 1972, a seventeen-year-old girl learned that a friend of hers had drowned not far from his house. Gary’s mother owned a large farmhouse and had several acres of property she tended by herself. In one corner of the property were two large ponds that sat very close together. Often times, Gary, the girl and their friends would spend summer afternoons lounging and swimming in the ponds. One morning, while Gary was swimming at the ponds with his cousins, a freak accident occurred and Gary wound up drowning. The girl had not been there at the time, but was completely devastated and felt terrible for Gary’s mother.
A few days after the funeral, the girl was surprised to receive a phone call from Gary’s mother. She hated to be in the house alone at night, and asked the girl if she would be willing to spend a couple of nights in the house and keep her company. Out of respect for Gary, the girl agreed to go. Gary’s mother was delighted when the girl arrived, and suggested that she stay in Gary’s room. The girl found this idea to be quite unnerving, as everything was in the exact same place as how Gary had left it. Instead, she decided to sleep in the guest room, which was directly across the hall from Gary’s bedroom.
That night, the girl had a very vivid dream about Gary. It was nighttime, and she was walking along the road that led from the house to the ponds. The moon was full and bright, and as the girl walked she could see the outline of someone approaching from the other direction. As the figure got closer, the girl realized it was Gary. She called out his name, but Gary did not respond. Instead, he kept walking, with his head down, staring at the ground in front of him. As he passed her, the girl realized that she could have reached out to touch him, but intuitively knew that it was not a good idea.
She watched as Gary passed by her and walked towards his mother’s house. In the light of the full moon, the girl realized that Gary’s hair was wet, but there was no evidence that it had rained. Suddenly, the girl woke up and realized that she had been dreaming, and that she was at Gary’s house. She turned around on the bed and realized that Gary was standing in the open doorway, smiling down at her. She realized that his hair was wet and that he was wearing the exact same outfit she had seen him wearing in her dream.
The girl sat up and smiled at her friend, but that smile quickly faded as Gary began to move towards her. That is when the girl realized that his feet were not touching the floor as he walked, and that her friend was, in fact, dead and had been for several weeks. Terrified, the girl clutched at her blankets and threw them over her head. She waited, certain that at any moment Gary would reach out and touch her. But that moment never came. Carefully, the girl removed the blankets and saw that the room was empty. She leaped up and pounced across the wood floor to switch on the bedroom light.
A few minutes later, Gary’s mother appeared in the hallway, wearing her nightgown. She asked the girl what was wrong. Not wanting to tell Gary’s mother that she had just encountered his ghost, the girl promptly lied. Seeing the girl’s pale face and frightened expression, Gary’s mother suddenly burst with laughter. “You saw Gary, didn’t you?” the woman said. “I can tell by the look on your face. He won’t hurt you. I see him all the time.” This only made the girl more scared. Eventually both returned to bed, but the girl slept with the light on and the blanket over her face.
The following morning when Gary’s mother asked if she would spend the night again, the girl quickly refused. She spent the day with Gary’s mother, but was much too frightened to sleep over ever again. Decades have passed since this terrifying incident, but every time the girl encounters scary campfire stories, she dreads hearing her own tale told back to her.
5. The Hitchhiker – The Girl in the White Dress
Every version of the hitchhiker scary campfire stories are sure to go down in history. This particular tale is of a young man named Tom who decided to leave a party around 12:30 at night. It began to rain as he drove along the dark, deserted road. He hadn’t been driving for very long when he came across a figure walking along the side of the road. Normally, Tom would never consider picking up strangers by the road, but once he saw that the figure was a pretty girl close to his age, he decided to be chivalrous.
Tom pulled over and offered the girl a ride back to her house. She agreed and quickly got into the passenger seat. Seeing that her long white dress was completely soaked, Tom took off his jacket and handed it to the girl. She smiled in return and draped it over her shoulders. In between directions to her house, the girl and Tom spoke about the weather and trivial things about their town.
As Tom pulled into the girl’s driveway, he grew suddenly nervous. He stared straight forward as he asked the girl if she would like to go out on a date sometime. When the girl didn’t respond, Tom looked over and found that the girl had already left the car. He peered out of the windshield, but he could not see her through the dense rain. It was only after he had gotten back home that he realized that the girl had not given him back his jacket.
The following morning was bright and sunny. Tom hopped in his car and drove back to the girl’s house, determined to get both his jacket and the girl’s phone number. Upon knocking in the door, an older woman answered. When he explained about the ride and the jacket, the woman’s face morphed into confusion. She told Tom that he had the wrong house. When Tom described the girl’s pretty features and her white dress, the woman immediately burst into tears. She told him that he had described her daughter’s exact features, and that her daughter had died ten years prior, coming home from her high school prom. She then told Tom where her daughter was buried and shut the door in his face.
Shaken up, Tom decided to find the cemetery and see the girl’s grave with his own eyes. When he found it, all of the hairs on the back of his neck rose. Draped over her headstone was his jacket.
Terror and Tents
Many people may argue that such scary campfire stories are nothing short of legends, and nothing to be afraid about. But all legends are born from some kernel of the truth. Ghostly spirits and apparitions are seen all across the globe on a daily basis. So who is to say the boy with the brass buttons wasn’t murdered? Who is to say the woman with the black ribbon never existed?