Just when I got caught up with the A-Z Challenge, I got behind again. We went camping for two days and just returned this afternoon, so I’m back to trying to catch up. Anyhow, here we go…
S is for Scary Stories
As mentioned above, we have been camping for the past two days. One of our favorite things to do is tell scary stories around the campfire at night. My two sons and their friend, Maggie, insist I tell them a spooky story every time we go. On our last camping trip I came up with a pretty good one! I know it has to be good because it was very effective in scaring the kids, but not so much they will be traumatized forever. They also request to hear it again and again, so they must really like it.
Here’s a little bit of background for you– we love camping in the mountains not too far from where we live. Palomar Mountain State Park is located in north San Diego County. It’s where my family used to camp when I was very young. It’s now where I bring MY family to camp. I love the place! Palomar Mountain is widely known for its observatory, but the camp grounds and hiking trails are also excellent.
The campground we go to is located near Doane’s Pond, a very small pond that is mostly used for fishing. The story I made up for the kids is called “Catherine, the Ghost of Doane’s Pond”. The gist of the story is that a man named Obadiah was trapped when the gold mine he was excavating on the mountain caved in. His young bride-to-be (Catherine) was so heart-broken, she drowned herself in the pond. Her ghost still wanders the pond and surrounding area today, calling out to her true love, Obadiah. On some nights, you can even hear the trapped miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside as the sound echos through the valley.
The first night I told the story, my younger son insisted we walk the short distance to the pond to see if we could see Catherine. We did, but we didn’t get very far because we heard a loud “snap” off in the trees ahead of us. He was sure it was the ghost and I was sure it was a mountain lion, so we turned around and ran back to our campsite as quickly as we could go. After we explained why we were out of breath, my older son decided he needed to check it out. So, down we went again– my two sons and me. We didn’t even make it as far as the first time before one of our flashlights started to flicker and turned itself off. At the same time, my younger son swore he saw a white, glowing figure over the pond.
It was hilarious to see two boys (ages 8 & 11 at the time) squealing and running in fear. They were loving it, though! They were positive the flashlight acted up because of Catherine’s electromagnetic field. It became a legend in their minds and their recounting of our experience got scarier and scarier each time they told it.
This last trip, my boys’ good friend wanted to visit the pond area at night so she could try to see Catherine. She even brought her GoPro to document it. The boys were scared, Maggie was scared, and I was hoping they would get freaked out (yep, I’m that kind of mom). About halfway to the pond area, Maggie’s flashlight started to flicker. The creepy shadows cast by our lantern seemed to grow longer and become more active. Even my phone, which I was using to “document” the kids’ reactions, started to act strange. The screen saver page wouldn’t flip up to allow access to the camera. It actually got stuck in a strange, broken up pattern I’ve never seen before. Weird coincidence! I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried! Even my younger son’s camera supposedly stopped working. Then, Maggie (12) and the boys (now 9 & 12) all said they saw something over the pond. This ended in another frantic, squeal-filled run back to our campsite. And they loved it!
That same night, as the kids were trying to settle down in the tent, a pounding sound filled the campground. It was probably someone chopping wood or pounding in a tent stake, but in their minds, it was Obadiah and his fellow miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside.
I will never tell them I made the story up. I’m sure they will figure it out when they get older. For now, I’ll let them enjoy those moments of being just a little afraid. They are bonding experiences and make for great memories.