Moomah the Magazine
Classic Campfire Ghost Stories

Classic Campfire Ghost Stories

- Lisel Ashlock

The most prominent of my childhood summer memories are those of The Lake. Every July, we piled in the car and drove two states away to my Grandma's cabin at Diamond Lake in Washington State. For three lawless weeks, our days were filled with wild adventure, often going all day without seeing an adult unless we needed food. We'd take canoes into the swamp, unearth treasures on the beach and run barefoot down trails through the woods. There was endless swimming, exploring, and Mac-n-Cheese for breakfast- rules seemed to go out the window.

Our days would end exhausted, with nothing left to do but make a campfire in the woods behind the cabin and tell ghost stories. We'd bundle up, the grown-ups would arm us with makings for 'Smores, and off we would go into the night. It was here, with the sound of the lake lapping in the distance, that my cousin James would weave stories of tremendous terror; horrible, petrifying, nightmare-inducing ghost stories meant to permanently scar us little kids, just before bed.

He would tell legends about the abandoned summer camp across the lake, haunted by the Headless Boatman, who circles the waters in the dark, waiting for midnight swimmers to dip their toes into the black shores. There were tales of Big Foot sightings just on the other side of the highway, and how to explain the sound of scratching branches and mysterious whistling after everyone has gone to bed? Well of course, it's the ghost of my grandfather doing his twilight rounds. So convincing were his stories that to this day, the walk from the woods to the cabin turns to a sprint at night.

There is something about summer and the tormenting thrill of evening ghost stories that go hand in hand. We reached out to our favorite group of childrens book experts who brought us our Classic Book Round-Up, and asked for the best collection of Ghost Stories for children, along with a few of our contributors who shared their all-time favorite urban legends. For the brave souls who revel in delight from fear, or those who just want to get back at those that instigated nightmares into adult years (you're going down James!), arm yourselves with a few of these stories and you're sure to compete with the best of the Campfire-Ghost-Story Masters!

Bone Chilling Collections

These scary collections feature all-time classic folklore and urban legend pieces, adapted for kids to read, memorize and retell. With nightmarish images and all-to-realistic scenarios, the stories within these collections will be ingrained into children's minds for years to come. CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO PURCHASE THE COLLECTIONS >>


Horror-inducing tales

These singular tales are sure to bring chills down any spine around the campfire. Creepy and enthralling stories of dark nights and screeching noises will remain classics for years to come. CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOKS >>


a creepy bedtime film

Tracey's all-time favorite ghost story, and we could all take a few notes on the narrators story-telling skills. This short film would act as a replacement for bedtime stories for her own kids when growing up. Over and over they would watch, always wondering: Why does Jennie wear that green ribbon all the time?


petrifying, paralyzing Urban Legends from our contributors

Some of our Moomah contributors are ghost story tellers in their own right - whether they've been known to tell them themselves, or have heard them over again from their camp-counselor partners. See if you recognize any of these creepy tales from your camp-fire days.

THE Hand...



I'll never forget the dark, stormy night when I was fifteen and had the scare of my life!  My sister and I were home alone, studying quietly and diligently. Usually we were more than happy to be left alone, but on that particular night there was something in the air; we sensed a peculiar eeriness. The wind was tossing the tall elm trees about in the yard as though they had minds of their own. We could see the shadows moving across the curtains, backlit by the light on the garage out back. We both jumped when the lid to the metal garbage can was blown off onto the patio.  

Suddenly I thought, "Did I lock the back door?" I jumped up from my desk and ran into the nearby laundry which had a sliding glass door to the porch. I started to lock the door when on the other side of the glass I saw… A HAND. Clear as day I saw A HAND which was touching the doorknob from the outside, as if trying to get inside. In sheer panic I darted back into the bedroom. My sister looked up to see horror in my eyes.  

"Gail!!  There's a man outside with his hand on the back door!!"  I screamed.  "Someone is trying to break in!" 

"I'm calling the police!" she declared and frantically picked up the phone. She was shaking as she said. "Operator! Get me the police. It's an emergency!"  Within minutes she was talking to the city police department.  I heard her say, "Someone is trying to break into our house. Yes!  My sister saw it. She saw a hand on the doorknob."  

It was then she looked up at me and said, "He wants to know exactly what you saw. Can you describe it in more detail? Do you still see someone outside?"   

Screwing up all my courage I peeked around the corner to see if I indeed saw someone. Though it was a full length glass door, I saw no one. But I know I saw a hand; I saw it so clearly!  

"I can describe it perfectly," I yelled to my sister on the phone. "It was kind of thin and bony... actually it was a smallish hand, brown in color kind of...looked like MY HAND!"  

In an instant I knew there was no intruder, but I had actually seen the reflection of my own hand. How mortifying! Fear quickly turned to stifling hysterical laughter. Embarrassed by my own imagination I yelled, "Gail!! Hang up!! It was my hand!"

My horrified sister couldn't get off the phone with the police fast enough and shamefully blurted out, "Never mind, officer, it was … just my sister's hand." 

We both collapsed in hopeless laughter and relief.  And to this day, we both love telling the story of "The Hand" to anyone willing to listen.



A girl was babysitting for a family she didn't know very well, who lived in a two-story house down town. After putting the children to bed, she sat down in the living room to watch tv. After a couple of hours, the phone rang. When she picked it up, the person on the other end laughed hysterically and then hung up.

The girl thought it was strange, but figured it was a prank call, and didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later the phone rang again, and the person on the other end said, "Check on the children." She asked, "Who is this?", but whoever it was hung up.

A few minutes later, the phone rang again. It was the same caller. "Check on the children!" he ordered. The babysitter was sure it was just someone playing a joke on her, so she asked again who it was. The voice told her to check on the children once more, and then hung up.

By now, the babysitter was getting scared. She thought about checking on the children as the caller ordered, but she was too frightened, so she convinced herself that nothing was wrong.

The man called again. This time he was yelling. "Check on the children!" The babysitter slammed the phone down, and called the operator, who she asked to trace the next call.

Pretty soon, the man called back. The babysitter kept him on the line long enough to get a trace, and as soon as she hung up, the phone rang again. It was the operator. "Get out of the house!" she ordered. "Those calls are coming from the upstairs line! The caller is in the house!"

The girl ran out of the house, and a moment later the police arrived. When they went in the house, they found that the man was waiting for the babysitter in the youngest child's room, an axe in his hand.

the keyhole


A man went to a hotel and walked up to the front desk to check in. The woman at the desk gave him his key and told him that on the way to his room, there was a door with no number that was locked and no one was allowed in. Especially, no one should look inside the room under any circumstances. So he followed the instructions of the woman at the front desk, going straight to his room, and going to bed.

The next night, his curiosity would not leave him alone. He walked down the hall to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough it was locked. He bent down and looked through the wide keyhole. Cold air passed through it, chilling his eye. What he saw was a hotel bedroom, like his, and in the corner was a woman whose skin was completely white. She was leaning her head against the wall, facing away from the door. He stared in confusion for a while. He almost knocked on the door, out of curiosity, but decided not to.

This disinclination saved his life. He crept away from the door and walked back to his room. The next day, he returned to the door and looked through the wide keyhole. This time, all he saw was redness. He couldn't make anything out besides a distinct red color, unmoving. Perhaps the inhabitants of the room knew he was spying the night before, and had blocked the keyhole with something red.

At this point he decided to consult the woman at the front desk for more information. She sighed and said, “Did you look through the keyhole?” The man told her that he had and she said, “Well, I might as well tell you the story. A long time ago, a man murdered his wife in that room, and her ghost haunts it. But these people were not ordinary. They were white all over, except for their eyes, which were red.”

"tails" from the african bush - the boys who cried "lion!!"


Growing up in South Africa, we had the privilege of going on Safari since the tender age of seven.  One memorable trip had my brother and I very excited for two reasons: It was the first time we got to stay in our very own tent, and we each were given brand new flashlights. 

Our tent was setup within earshot of mom & dads tent. Of course we were so excited to be staying in our very own tent that we couldn’t contain our excitement; Two rowdy brothers making animal noises and playing with their flashlights. All of the noise prompted dad to shout a very stern warning: “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU TWO AGAIN! GET TO SLEEP NOW!”

But the noises were prompted themselves: "Dad, there is something scratching outside our tent." 


"But we can really hear something growling," we yelled back.


We stayed up most of the night, frightened out of our minds not knowing what was scratching outside our tent. The next morning when we woke up, we discovered Lion paw prints in the soil and their claws had ripped the tent we had slept in. Never again did they doubt our words.

rap, rap, rap - a cute ghost tale to keep young'ens on the edge of their seat


Once upon a time there was a boy named Matt. Matt was on vacation one summer with his family in northern Maine. On the second night of the vacation, Matt awoke to a rapping sound rap...rap...rap...

He went outside of the cottage where he was staying with his family, and heard that it was coming from a large, abandoned old house down the lane. The house was way deep in the woods, far, far away from any roads, and surrounded by a thick forest.

Rap... Rap.. Rap... The sound seemed to be pulling him towards the house. It was dark out and all that Matt could see were shadows all around him.

When he finally made it to the door, he hesitated. Rap...Rap...Rap... Should he go in? What could be inside there? Could there be someone in there?  Maybe a ghost?  Maybe, Matt thought, I should go back and get my dad.  But, he hesitated, it's late and he'll just get upset with me for leaving the cottage on my own.

Rap...Rap....Rap... Matt pushed through the door, which CREAKED loudly as he walked through. Suddenly, he heard a loud "SCREEEEEE!" as two bright green eyes jumped out in front of him! "ARRRRGGGGGH," he yelled. But to his pleasure, he realized it was just a black cat who had been sleeping behind the door.

Rap... Rap... Rap... Matt calmed himself down and started into the house, brushing away the cobwebs that tickled his face.
Rap... Rap.... Rap... Up the steps he went, following the noise that seemed to be coming from another floor. Each step he took creaked on the old boarded steps.

Rap... Rap... Rap... Matt continued up the stairs while pushing cobwebs away and listening carefully for any other strange sounds.  "Maybe I should turn back now? But no, I better to see what's up," he thought.

Rap... Rap... Rap... Finally, Matt got up to the attic, and behind the closed door the sound was louder than ever.
Rap... Rap... Rap... As he pushed the door open, there stood an old, dusty dresser with a broken mirror on top. The room was so dark he could barely make anything out. A moonbeam shined through the window, giving him a little bit of light.

Rap... Rap... Rap... Matt gathered up his courage. He walked over and opened up the drawer.

"OH NO!"... Rap... Rap... Rap...

There, in the bottom of the drawer, Matt was something black and red... all tangled up...

What was it?... It was... a wad of wrapping paper!

Wrap, wrap, wrap!

Posted in: Discover & Learn   

Share |

<< previous article

next article >>

Recent Comments

No one has commented yet... be the first!

Join the conversation!

Subscribe Now

Get each new issue of

Moomah the Magazine

delivered to you every fortnight

For Free!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • RSS
skip to site