21 People On The Campfire Story That Scared Them Half To Death

There’s nothing better than listening to ghost stories around a blazing fire. Of course, some of them are so terrifying that they’ll make you toss and turn, even while you’re snug in your own bed. If you think you can handle the horror, you should read through these scary campfire stories from Ask Reddit.

1. A ghost played tricks on the new recruits

“In camp, we have a buddy system, you’re supposed to bring a buddy if you have to go away from the group for say, going to the bathroom. Even if it’s in the middle of the night.

So this recruit was awoken by his buddy in the middle of the night, saying he wants to go to take a shit. The guy wakes up and crawls down the upper deck of the bunk bed as his buddy went ahead to the bathroom first. When the recruit got the the bathroom, he saw of the row of toilet stalls only one was closed. He knocked on the door and called out to his buddy to tell him to double time because he wants to go back to sleep. His buddy shouts back ok.

Fifteen minutes go by and the buddy is still in the stall. The recruit gets rather impatient and goes to bang on the door. The buddy inside shouts back that he’ll be done soon so stop pestering him and let him shit in peace. The recruit then tells him to hurry up and goes back outside to wait.

Yet another ten minutes go by and the buddy hasn’t come out yet. How long does a guy need to take a shit? The recruit goes to bang on the door again

But this time, no reply.

He bangs on the door again.

Still, nothing.

The recruit starts to get worried that something might have happened, perhaps the buddy has fainted or something. He bends down under the door of the stall to see if his buddy is okay. Oddly enough, he didn’t see anything. Not a pair of legs, not anything. Thinking his buddy is playing a prank on him, he climbed up the walls of the next cubicle only to see an empty but still locked cubicle. Just then he sees the locks undo itself as a disembodied voice says, “It took you so long to realize I’m not your buddy?”

The recruit ran all the way back to bunk, only to see his buddy still sleeping in his bed as the sound of laughter fills the night from the bathroom.

It was later learnt that a decade ago, a recruit killed himself in that very toilet stall.” — veryfascinating

2. A man lured campers to their death with decapitated heads

“There was one I heard a while ago and I think MrNightmare covered it on YouTube, that involved a father and his kid hunting in the woods. After a while the father realized they were being watched by a man who would occasionally pop his head out from behind a tree to look at them. The father and son moved to different spots about 3 times and the man was still watching them from behind a nearby tree every time. Eventually the father walked the kid to their car and then went to face the man to see what his problem was, when he went to the last tree he saw the man at he found a disembodied head.

Turns out there was a serial killer on the loose luring campers to their deaths with decapitated heads. The police said the man probably only escaped with his life because the assailant clicked on that he was armed.

That shit fucked me up first time I heard about it.” — killingjoke96

3. The babysitter saw someone holding a bloody knife

“This one was told to me by a friend the night before I was to babysit alone for the first time. This girl was babysitting one night, the parents were out on a date night. The baby was in bed and she started to hear something from the basement. So She went downstairs and looked in the window and saw a man standing outside with a bloody knife. She ran upstairs as quick as she could grabbed the baby and ran to the neighbors house and called the police. Later that night when talking with the police she was telling them of the man she saw in the basement window. The mother overheard her story and said “There are no windows in the basement… only mirrors.” To this day I hate babysitting alone. I heard that when I was 14, I am now 21 and it still gives me the heebies.” — tidytoo

4. Little girls were stolen from their tents

“I went to Girl Scout camp every summer until I was 12 or 13. Every year older girls would tell the story of the Girl Scout murders. It usually went that some crazy person dragged two or three girls out of their tent in the middle of the night and brutally murdered them. They weren’t found until the next morning and they had never caught who did it. That story used to scare the shit out of me. One day, I was browsing some unsolved mysteries and came across the Girl Scout murders. Turns out that story was fucking true.” — StudentArchivist

5. A man in disguise tried to murder my mother

“My mother once told me this:

In the early 90’s, she worked second shift at a plant. Shift ended at midnight and quite a few of them would go hang out at the local Waffle House afterwards.

This particular night, she had hung around the diner until about 2 a.m. She decided to swing by the post office and check her mail before heading home. We live in a (then) rural southern town (US). There is less than zero traffic at that time of night and the post office is fairly secluded.

She pulls in the parking lot and under the streetlight, can make out a very old car. Her description seems to be a model a which she claims is “close, but not quite it.” Someone is sitting in the car, but this is small town America, so she doesn’t think a thing of it. She retrieves her mail and walks outside, sorting through it.

Just as she is about to get back in her car, she hears a voice that seems “deceptively weak – it was quiet but carried far.”

“Excuse me dearie, could you help an old lady?”

She hesitated, it was a small rural town where nothing ever happened, but she also says it felt “not right.”

She could see a person in the car, a tall, thin person. Wearing an old, forties era dress that hung loose on the frame. A pillbox hat, complete with a veil, hid the face, which was further obscured in shadows. The hands were covered in gloves. Her brain said this was a frail older woman, but her gut insisted that something was wrong.

The figure held up it’s hand, curled into claws and gestured toward the dash.

“I have arthritis,” the falsetto weak voice said, “and my mail has fallen in the crack.”

My mother could see the envelopes that sat where the windshield met the dash. To reach them, she would have to lean far into the car. A small dog yapped as the “woman” carried on in her falsetto voice, “I just can’t seem to reach it…”

She swayed for just a moment before spinning and booking it to her car. The car window had been rolled down, so even after slamming the door, she clearly heard the falsetto voice as it rose into an angry baritone, “Where are you going, you god damn whoring bitch!

She spun put of that parking lot faster than she’d ever driven and peeled rubber for the local sheriff department.

She claims headlights followed her until she made the final turn into the sheriff’s parking lot.

She gave a statement; over the years she’s heard that several people have seen this man dressed as an older woman, usually seen and avoided. But no one else has ever interacted with him and reported it… perhaps none of those survived.

Anyway, 100% true according to my mother and the best I’ve got.

Note: my mother isn’t a prankster type. The night she told me this she was pale and shaking by the end. She truly thinks she barely avoided a Ted Bundy level serial killer. Maybe she did?” — aeboco

6. A phantom officer spoke to a soldier

“Not really a campfire story but a military camp story that’s been going around for ages.

So this batch of new recruits are a week into their enlistment. This one guy wants to win the best recruit award and is trying his best to shine at every opportunity possible. Bootlicking included.

So it was past midnight in the wee hours of the morning, and the recruit is somehow awoken from his sleep. His bed is right next to the window. He begins to hear footsteps coming from outside the window, drawing nearer. He sees an older man in uniform walk past his window, a face he has never seen before. Assuming it was the duty officer making his rounds in camp, in his grogginess but still wanting to look good in front of all commanders, he sits up and greets the man, “Good Morning, Sir!” The officer stops in his tracks, turns around, looks at him and says, “Good morning soldier. It’s still early, go back to sleep.” The recruit smiles and says, “thank you sir,” and lies back down to sleep.

Only at that moment did the recruit realize something – his bed is beside a window, and his bunk is on the 4th floor. There’s no way a man could be walking outside the window, four stories up, in mid-air. Who exactly was the man outside his window?” — veryfascinating

7. A babysitter came across a clown “mannequin”

“This teenage girl was asked to babysit for a couple while they went out on a date. She had just put the baby to sleep and its around like 9 or 10pm and the babysitter decides to go upstairs to watch TV. On the chair in the corner of the room is a clown “mannequin” sitting down. Being creeped out by it she decided to text the homeowners and asked if she could move it to the closet. The homeowners texted back saying “We don’t have a clown.” So the babysitter walks towards it and sees it’s breathing. She runs downstairs to the baby’s room and dials 911. Turns out some guy had escaped from a pshysicatric hospital a few days before and hadn’t been found yet. He snuck through the master bedroom balcony thinking it was his mom’s house and wanted to surprise her because his mother had taken him to the circus as a child.” — Nik_tortor

8. A ghost pushed cars into the water

“There’s this infamous local spot on a country back road named Crawford Rd. And at one point in the road is this bridge nicknamed “Crybaby Bridge.” Rumor has it (and there’s plenty of them) that back in the day, a black woman holding her baby was being chased by the KKK and she eventually ended up at the top of the bridge. She threw her baby off and killed it so that they wouldn’t get a hold of it. Another story is that a witch was hung from that bridge and you’ll have a body drop as you drive under the bridge. There’s also rumored to be an abandoned insane asylum off the road into the woods. If you turn off your car directly under the bridge, then it will be pushed (we tried this by putting baby powder on parts of a car where you’d grab in order to push it. Bumper, back sides, hood, back window etc. It was only later once we exited the road and under lighting that we saw hand prints on the bumper). A “ghost” car will chase you off the road. In the 70’s, a cop was killed while patrolling that road, and it’s been reported that people have been followed by an old school patrol car and it’s doing so to get you off the road. The creepiest one for me, is that the road never ends. You get caught in an infinite loop of that road like from Grave Encounters.” — Licknuts

9. We had one too many people with us

“There was once in field camp in the middle of the jungles, at nightfall, doing a headcount as we hiked through the forest. You know, the one where you start from the back of a single file and if you hear the person behind you shout, you shout the next number.

We had 20 people in our detail. We counted 21.

We counted again. 21.

And again, 21.

We stopped counting and pretended nothing happened. We did another headcount at our next checkpoint and it was 20.” — veryfascinating

10. The decapitated head spoke to them

“I have serious doubts about this but it’s still super creepy: one of my friends in college dated a guy who knew a deputy sheriff. The story goes that the deputy was dispatched to an accident one night that occurred just seconds away from where he was. When he got there, he found that one of the drivers had been decapitated. As he looked at the severed head, the lips started moving and it spoke to him for a few seconds before becoming lifeless. Take it however you want but that story kept me up for a week!” — seamurphy4576

11. He owned deformed dolls made of human flesh

“In a simple town, an old man lived on the outskirts in an old green house. He always sat on his porch, inviting people in with eerie smiles, but no one ever went in. Until Olive. She was young and very gullible. She was walking home from school when he invited her into his old home. She thought nothing of his odd smile and agreed. He laughed loudly and ushered her inside. Inside, it was still in shambles, but otherwise clean. He told her to go down to the basement, and she agreed. He also mentioned she looked like his daughter, Rose, and upon saying the name, he shuddered. Olive thought nothing of it. In the basement was a table with a few chairs and some cups. It looked like he set up for a tea party of some sort. He told her to sit down; he had to fetch the other guests. And when he came back, he brought in large burlap sacks with a sort of face design smeared on sloppily. They were stuffed inside odd and torn clothing like oversized dolls. Dolls for Rose, he said. Olive screamed and tried to run, but he caught her and then shoved her in a sack and wrapped a rope around her neck and choked poor Olive to death. He took some mud and drew the face on her burlap-covered head and tore the clothes off the corpse and stretched them onto the sack. Olive was the perfect addition to his dolls. That man’s house was filled with his choked victims, made into weird deformed dolls. All for Rose. She wanted to play. It was the only way to calm her soul. The only way to appease the demon. And with Rose silenced for the moment, he went back upstairs and out to his porch. Come inside, he called out. Come inside for tea.” — Quizzika

12. A man with a weapon was hiding in the house

“Heard this from a friend and I don’t know how true it is but it gives me shivers to this day. His aunt had come home from grocery shopping one day and was putting the food in the fridge when she heard the washing machine start. Knowing she hadn’t started the machine but hesitant nonetheless, she walked to the basement door and put her hand on the knob. Something felt seriously wrong.

She called 911 and the police roll up to the house, enter, and head down to the basement. Minutes later, they return with a man in handcuffs who had been waiting with a knife.

This story is probably the only way I can still justify checking behind the shower curtain when I’m home alone!” — modtrax

13. We saw shapes hidden in the woods

“I am quite the anxious person, and get easily paranoid, so upon hearing a strange noise in the woods nearby where we were chilling at late one summer evening (one of the small playgrounds near a school, about 2-3 am. we were all entering freshman year of high school) my friends did not oblige. They probably thought it was an animal of some sort, which is understandable. We then continued talking about “the usual” (girls and that sort of real talk) until I repeated that I heard something, and that we should move a little bit closer from the school, and a bit further away from the woods. So we do! We sit at the bench that’s near the school, and for a while we are fine. More talk, and more drinking of surprisingly delicious off brand soda. That’s when one of us (out of our group of four) heard a noise towards the forest. We all shut up and listen. What we heard was some sort of repeated “EYUGH” noise from the forest. They’d do it every 15 seconds or so. We look at the entrance, and wait to see what is making that noise. We see two humanoid shapes and the shape of an animal—possibly a dog. We stare at them for 30 seconds or so, trying to determine what we should do. We’ve never seen anything so bizarre before. They continue making their weird ass noise, and we decide that this was our cue to GTFO. As we made our exit through the street, we looked back and saw what we originally thought were 2-3 guys were actually 8-11 people, the rest of them we presumed were all hiding in the woods. Scariest shit that we’ve seen.”  — Samtuscus

14. My father saw mothman in person

“My dad is a science teacher and he once told me a story about a camping trip he took with some 7th graders. One morning, two tents reported to him that they saw a creature digging through a trash can the night before. My dad checked the trash and found that some hotdogs had been eaten. Even though the adults thought it was a bear, the locals joked with the kids and told them it was mothman. My dad told me this story and also mentioned that the students on the trip had emailed him so many pictures that he hadn’t looked at all of them yet. A few weeks later, my dad’s computer was asleep and was playing a slideshow. It started showing pictures of the students on their camping trip: marshmallows, swimming, etc. All of a sudden, one photo came up that showed a four foot tall ape-like creature with glowing yellow eyes baring its teeth at a group of teens poking their heads out of a tent. I didn’t realize it at first, but I saw later that it was taken at the same as the camping trip where the kids saw “mothman”. When I told my dad about it, he said he hadn’t seen that picture before and thought it was a bear, but I knew what I saw. His computer crashed soon after that so he never got a chance to see all the pictures and explain to me what the ape thing was. Even so, thinking about that glowing-eyed beast still sends shivers down my spine a decade later…” — Hao_Xiao_Mao

15. Two girls were murdered in the cabin

“I was a head counselor and organizer one year for a leadership development camp. We had a meaning a few months before the actually camp and the sponsors and adults told us not to mention “cabin 1″ essentially two six year old girls were murdered in that cabin. It wasn’t because it wasn’t true it was because they didn’t want to us to scare anyone. So naturally I tell it anyways to shut my cabin up.” — travmo26

16. He threw his wife’s lover down a well

“When I was about 11 my dad leased a ranch in south Texas where we would hunt. One night the owner of the ranch came over and told us the story of the original landowner. Story is about a young couple who lived out on the ranch the man was of course a farmer and a cowboy and the wife was a stay at home mom. However one night he went to his neighbors ranch to catch a few drinks and when he got back to his house he discovered that his wife was laying with another man. He was infuriated and he ended up killing the man and threw him down the water well; his wife begged for forgiveness but he threw her down as well without killing her. Every night she would cry for forgiveness until she eventually passed. I was never able to spend the night after that being that we would set camp up about 20 yards away from the water well and barn owls would nest in there screeching through the night.” — exoilfieldguy

17. He heard a creature in the middle of the night

“This story takes place at a Youth Centre in the countryside. School parties go on holidays there and it is also used by a local cave rescue team, so there are a lot of facilities there. Following a (unrelated) spooky incident one school party was telling of ghostly encounters around the campfire. By chance the Warden of the Centre was there who had his own story to tell.

One night he was alone at the centre, checking over all of the equipment and facilities to make sure they were all working properly. He was an ex-Marine who didn’t scare easily so he wasn’t too bothered about being there on his own, but soon realized it was going to be a long job and decided to stay the night at the centre. He finished his work and bunked down on the bed in the sick bay.

A few hours later he was woken up by the sound of snuffling outside, like that of a fox or badger going throught the forest. He didn’t’t think much of it and tried to go back to sleep, listening to the animal as he did so. After a short while though he suddenly realized that the snuffling had moved and was now actually coming from downstairs, inside the Centre itself. The Warden was, naturally, a bit concerned by this as he had made sure to lock all of the doors. He though about going downstairs to investigate but was too tired and decided it can find it’s own way out if it got in so easily.

But the snufflnig didn’t go back outside. Instead, as the Warden listened, it started to come up the stairs and he could hear the snuffling and scratching as it got closer, until it was right outside the sick bay door and snuffling at the foot of it. The Warden was by now, understandably, alarmed by what was happening but the snuffiling suddenly stopped, to be replaced by a sound which the book says is like a doormat being squeezed under a door, before the snuffling started up again, only now in the same room as him and slowly approaching the bed. The Warden, terrified, wrapped himself in his sleeping bag and tried to remain as still as possible, but when the snuffling reached him the bed suddenly started to rock violently and he felt something fall on top of him he grabbed something in the dark and fought to stay upright as the bed continued to lurch back and forth. The rocking stopped just as suddenly and as the Warden listened the snuffling went back to the door, squeezed back under it, then went back downstairs, then outside before disappearing into the night.

Somehow, the Warden fell asleep again and when he woke up in the morning he found that what had fallen on top of him was plaster. The bed had been rocked so violently that chunks of plaster had been ripped from the wall. What the warden had grabbed was a cable that had been torn from it’s fittings.” — EarthMas16

18. They heard excruciating screams

“My brother once had a job laying footpaths in the highlands of Scotland. It was tough work but his crew were good guys; they all lived near the work site on an old cottage, eating and sleeping together. They place was really remote and the nearest house was a couple of miles away.

One night they’d all had dinner they’d sent one of the guys on the long drive to the nearest shop for beer. They were just sitting around talking shit. It was dark outside.

After a while they heard an engine and headlights showed on the curtains. They waited but no one came.

Then out of the dark there was a horrible scream. Everyone in the room froze. The scream went on and on for about fifteen seconds, not an animal, the screams of someone in excruciating pain.

The guys in that house were big tough boys. Well used to working risky jobs in isolation. But none of them had the courage to go and see what was making that noise.

When the beer arrived they all drank themselves unconscious. The next day they looked and only found tire tracks. None of them spoke about it after that. No one wants to know something horrible happened and they were too afraid to act.” — lux_roth_chop

19. A masked man stared into my windows

“It was Halloween night and I (as usual) was watching horror flicks alone until late. I heard banging on the kitchen window (at the back of the house, which is in a housing estate with two locked gates & a high wall surrounding it), and I assumed it was my sister back from her boyfriend’s house and she didn’t wanna wake up our parents upstairs by ringing the doorbell and tried getting in the back door (which I’d locked already).

I went into the kitchen and the lights were out but I could see what I assumed was her silouette outside the window lit by the motion activated light on the back door (it was fairly dim), so I was walking straight to the back door to let her in, but turned on the kitchen light first so I could see where I was going. I kinda only glanced at the window on my way to the door, but holy shit thank God I did. I was looking straight at one of those joke laughing Scream masks with a bloody knife (which I’m since assuming was a cheap prop one, but I wouldn’t have noticed at the time). He wasn’t that scary in retrospect, considering he just flapped his arms around after I saw him and ran away like an idiot, but he scared the living fuck out of me at the time, I turned off the light and sprinted up the stairs and got into bed with a baseball bat beside me.

There were no murders or attacks or anything, but apparently all around the town , he’d just been knocking on windows and jumping around outside them before running away. I guess since he didn’t really harm anyone it was just some good Halloween spirit, but still, fuck that guy.” — eoinster

20. The goatman was inside of the camp

“I’m a Scout leader in Australia, I’ve started telling a shortened version of the Goatman story around the campfire, mysterious noises reported by one scout when they go away from the campfire to the toilet, an extra body showing up in the frequent headcounts, and a shadowy figure seen by me and another scout leader, slowly moving among the sleeping scouts around the fire. Surprisingly I haven’t given them nightmares. Yet.” — yogorilla37

21. The hillcrawler attacked campers

“My grandpa used to tell a story every time we went camping about this thing called the Hillcrawler. Basically, it was a human creature thing that had one normal sized leg and then one super long, crooked leg so it could walk around the circumference of steep hills with no struggle. Almost in a splits-like position. I didn’t think much of it as a kid but now that I’m older It kinda scares the shit out of me.” — jaxiecat Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection.

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