A campfire is many things - warm, safe, and comfortable all being adjectives commonly associated with them. It's undeniable that sitting around a fire with your friends and family is one of the great things about camping trips - and it's for this very reason that telling some scary stories has an extra effect when told around the campfire. When you can only see the people surrounding you, you begin to realize how vulnerable you feel being surrounded by complete darkness. While there is nothing to fear in reality, Halloween is approaching, and scary stories are always a great way to get a rise out of your fellow campers. Keep in mind however, people have different tolerances and fears, and our goal is not to scare someone away from the outdoors entirely - especially younger children. Instead, treat it as a fun activity to get some jump scares and laughs, as those are much more memorable! While you may have some of your own stories, or takes on popular stories, the ones I will highlight below are traditional tales that many of us may have heard before.
The Vanishing HitchHiker
This is a common theme of a ghostly hitchhiker, but a more child-friendly version of similar tales, such as the Lady in White. The general premise of the story is the same, but with a non-violent ending.
A couple driving home after a long trip finds themselves upon a long, dark road. An eerie fog covers the road, with their high beams being the only light source for miles. They see a young woman on the road, who noticed the approaching car and sticks her thumb out, hoping to flag the car down and hitch a ride. The couple obliges, stopping and allowing the girl into their car. They ask what she's doing out so late on her own, and where she would like to go. The woman tells them that she was on her way home, but had troubles getting there. She provides an address close by, so the couple decide to take her straight there. After finishing their discussion, the couple turns their eyes forward, talking to the girl as they continue driving down the road. A few miles down the road however, the woman stops responding to their questions. Thinking that she was simply tired, the couple drove silently to the destination, arriving a few minutes later. They turned again to wake the girl, but the backseat was empty. Confused, the couple approaches the door, ringing to doorbell. An elderly couple opens the door, and when asked about the young girl who asked for a ride home, told the couple that there were no young women living with them, but they did lose their daughter in a car accident several years ago - a few miles down the road, when she was on her way home.
An Open WiFi Connection
Not all stories need to be passed down, and for younger children especially, many of those older stories may not resonate as well. This particular story comes from the reddit r/nosleep thread, and is written as a true story by user rumcake. You can read their full original story here, but I will summarize below.
A group of friends went for a camping trip in the Tar Hollow Forest. After arriving at their campsite, the writer realizes there is an open wireless network within range of their campsite. Thinking nothing of it, the boys check their social media notifications, happy to see that they were able to connect to the internet while being so deep in the forest. After they were done checking their notifications, the boys decide to try and locate the source of this wifi signal. Heading in different directions, the boys determined that the signal was only available a few hundred feet away from their campsite, eventually finding the strongest source of the wifi signal some one hundred feet away from their site. Unable to find a router or any blinking lights, they figured it could be a wifi hotspot left behind by a previous camper. Unable to locate the source, the boys head back to their campsite - that's when the wifi signal disappeared. The sun had begun to set as they made their way back. When they arrived at their camp, they realized they had been robbed. However, the thieves didn't steal their laptops or cameras - only their food was missing, their tents toppled over. The boys crammed their equipment back into their truck and made a dash to leave the forest. But then, one of the boys noticed the wifi signal was back, and at full strength. Checking their phones, a chill ran down their spines as they saw the name of the network - RUN, BOYS, RUN.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident
One of the great mysteries that many outdoor enthusiasts may be familiar with is the Dyatlov Pass Incident. In 1959, a group of 9 Soviet trekkers died in the northern Ural mountains, with the state of their bodies and evidence surrounding their deaths being a hot topic of debate. With a recent conclusion of an Avalanche as the cause, many outdoor enthusiasts don't necessarily believe that could be the cause for such experienced Trekkers. As no one on that expedition was a novice to surviving the harsh Russian wilderness, the mystery surrounding their deaths has allowed for all sort of additions - from supernatural to extraterrestrial elements playing a role. The real bones of this story though, come from the conditions in which the group was found.
Igor Dyatlov, a 23 year old radio engineering student at the Ural Polytechnical Institute, led 9 others on a skiing expedition. While one of the trekkers would leave before the incident, they would be the only survivor of what would become known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident. As the rest of the group continued on their trek, harsh weather conditions made it difficult to hold their course, eventually ending up much further west than they intended. Realizing their mistake, the group set up camp on the slope of a mountain, which was to be their final, and most fatal mistake. Their tent was found, cut open from the inside, with nine sets of footprints left by people wearing socks or barefoot led to some nearby woods. At the edge of the forest, the first two bodies would be discovered wearing only their underwear. The other bodies would be found after further investigation, each of them wearing minimal to no clothing, with some of them having suffered traumatic internal injuries, with no signs of external force. Each of them had died within 6 to 8 hours of their last meal, with trace amounts of radiation being detected on one victim.
Could an Avalanche have caused such a panic amongst such experienced hikers? Many say that only something paranormal could have caused such a fright for the group of 9 hikers, causing them to cut open their own tent and run for the hills, without proper clothing or any equipment at all. Only 1.5 kilometers from their tent, the group would slowly perish to hypothermia. Now, this true tale is used as a cautionary story to experienced and new outdoorsman alike. While some of us can accept an avalanche as the explanation, there are many others who believe that something happened. We may never know for certain, but, with a little speculation, the Dyatlov Pass Incident is a perfect campfire horror story.