How to Tell The Best Spooky Campfire Stories Ever

Children hearing spooky campfire stories around the fire.

Get Ready to Tell The Best Spooky Campfire Stories Ever

Telling spooky campfire stories is a classic part of the camping experience.

Who doesn’t love sitting around the campfire, enthralled in a chilling story, waiting on the edge of your seat to hear what happens next?

And it’s not just a Halloween thing, either. Spooky stories are great around a campfire at any time of the year.

We brought you some great tips for telling campfire ghost stories in the past. Now we’re here to give you even more amazing advice, just in time for Halloween.

Ready to channel your inner Vincent Price and become the ultimate scary storytelling master?

Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for telling the best spooky campfire stories and scaring the pants off your friends and family!


Friends gathered around a campfire listening to scary stories

Research Some Scary Stories to Tell Around the Campfire

You don’t always have to make up your own campfire ghost stories. Sometimes you just need to take a look around the Internet, or flip through a book.

Here is a list of some kid-friendly ghost stories that won’t give them nightmares. However, if you want to take it up a notch and think they might be ready for some more chilling tales, try this list.

When you’re using someone else’s story, make sure you have it memorized. Remember, it’s supposed to sound like it happened to you or someone you know. It just doesn’t have the same effect if you keep stopping to remember the next line.


Make Sure the Area is Quiet

This one’s pretty obvious. But you need to make sure everything is quiet so you can really get into the zone and make sure everyone listening is focused on you.

No one wants to be in the middle of a scary story when the RV next door fires up their generator. Or when a loud family next door starts blasting Katy Perry on their radio.

If everyone in the campground is following the right campground etiquette rules, the area should be quiet by 10pm. This gives you just enough time to get that spooky story in before bedtime.


People gathered around a campfire. Learn the best ghost stories for camping.

Be as Dramatic as Possible

When telling a campfire ghost story, you can never be too dramatic. Always add your own flare and emphasize everything to create a buildup that will be perfect when the action hits.

Take a cue from John Lithgow. In the video below, the actor is featured in a segment on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where he and actress Anna Kendrick tell ghost stories written by real elementary school children.

While the stories are what you would expect from elementary school children, Lithgow’s dramatic flare is the perfect way to really sell the story.


Body Language is Key

Use that dramatic flare and make sure you throw in some exaggerated body language. Get into the story and act out some of the actions as you say them.

Don’t be afraid to duck and dodge with the characters in your tale to really keep the attention of your audience.


Having a campfire on the beach.

Keep it Realistic

There’s a reason that horror movies like The Blair Witch Project and The Exorcist have scared more people than King Kong or Godzilla. It’s because they’re more realistic and actually involve things that, in theory, could happen.

When people hear a story about a fictional monster that could never be real, even for a second, they aren’t as scared because they know it’s fake.

Fear comes from the idea that this story could happen to you. And that’s a powerful thing.


Act Like The Events of The Story Just Happened

As Glynn Washington, expert storyteller, says this in a Buzzfeed article:

“if it happened once upon a time, it’s not scary. If it happened last week, it is.”

The closer the events seem to take place to the present day, the more of an effect they’ll have on your audience. Tons of horrible things have happened in history, but if it happened more recently, it has a bigger impact.


Family telling scary campfire stories.

Add a Sense of Urgency and Warning

Make your story feel as though it’s serving a purpose- to warn others that this could happen to them, too. Deliver it like a cautionary tale about what happens when you misbehave or do something bad.

Parents use this technique a lot when trying to teach their kids what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

If you don’t want your kids going through other (empty) campsites at night, make it about that so they’ll be too scared to do so.


Make Sure Your Audience is Facing You, Not Beside You

A story just isn’t scary when it’s being told by someone sitting to your left. You can’t see their face, so it’s just not the same effect.

Be sure to sit facing your audience so you can see their reactions, get a feel for their energy, and play off their reactions.


Use Features Near Your Campsite in Your Story

Take in your surroundings and use them as the setting of your story.

For example, if your campsite is near a beach, tell a spooky story that involves a beach. You could even take it one step further and make it about that specific beach.

This helps you make your story more relatable to your audience. They’ll know exactly where you’re talking about and they’ll freak out because it’s right there. 


Girl listening to a campfire story around the fire.

Don’t Let the Campfire Get too Big

It’s a source of pride to be able to get the campfire going to blazing heights. For many of us, standing around admiring that heat can be a real highlight of the camping trip.

However, this is not only dangerous but won’t help your ghost story at all.

A huge, roaring fire is just a distraction and doesn’t give you the atmosphere you need to really get into a spooky campfire story. No scary story should be told shouting over the cackling of a fire.

What you really want is a low burning campfire, flickering gently in front of you.


End the Story Just After the Height of the Action

This goes against many storytelling techniques you learn in school, but a really spooky campfire ghost story doesn’t need a long conclusion to wrap up the plot.

The most effective way to tell a good ghost story is to end it right after the action happens. All you need to do is establish what the lesson is and you’re done. Don’t draw it out because you want to end with a BANG or a laugh to leave the emotions resonating in your audience.

Another reason for this is you want to leave the lasting impression that maybe your story isn’t over. Maybe that ghost is still lurking in the woods somewhere…


Sitting around the campfire at the campground.

Don’t Use a Flashlight With Little Kids

Every television show or movie shows someone telling a ghost story with a flashlight under their chin, shining up at their face.

The reason people do this is because it’s creepy. We’re used to the light coming at us from above, like lights on the ceiling or the sun in the sky. So when it’s shining on us from below, it’s abnormal and spooky, as if the light is coming from Hell.

Since this is such a common practice, it almost loses its effect because it can be gimmicky if you don’t do it properly.

Skip the flashlights if you’re telling the story to young kids. Most of the time they just end up getting distracted and playing with the flashlights instead of listening to your story.


Take The Experience One Step Further

If you really want to make sure your kids can’t sleep that night, you can use certain objects to create sound effects in the background.

When no one’s paying attention, hide something in the bushes you can control with a remote to make noise.

For example, you could hide a remote controlled car and keep the remote hidden inside your shirt. When you press the button to make the car go, it’ll sound like something’s rustling around in the bushes.

Another tactic is have someone in the audience, preferably another parent or friend, in on your story. Let them know what you’re going to tell and when the big moment will come, and get them to make a huge noise from the back of the audience at the perfect time.

Sit back and watch how high those kiddos jump out of their camp chairs!


Tents at a campsite. The great location for good campfire stories.

Find the Perfect Campsite to Tell Your Story

If you don’t pick the right campsite with the best atmosphere, your story won’t have the effect you want. That’s why planning the trip is so important! is the ultimate secret weapon to finding the perfect place to pitch your tent and build your campfire.

We do all the hard work for you, so it’s easy to start your next adventure. There’s plenty of time to get a last minute reservation in before Halloween!

Download the app or make reservations online now!

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This entry was posted in Campfires, Camping, Kids, Outdoors, Uncategorized.