This interview took place as follows:
Me: So you said you have camp ghost stories?
M.G.: I have one. So this campground is in Rancho Los Flores which is a desert. It was a Boy Scout camp. I heard this story from the Boy Scout patrol leader of troupe 450. Every time the boy scouts go camping there we always took the younger scouts on a snipe hunt. A snipe is a bird that can’t fly but doesn’t exist in this part of the country… so it’s a goose hunt.
Me: Wait I thought it was a Snipe hunt.
M.G.: Ha-ha…very funny.
Me: Okay sorry, back to business. So basically, no one is ever going to actually catch a snipe on the hunt. Go on.
M.G.: So one night the troupes had taken 3 or 4 cubs out and three of the scouts went with them and they came back with two cub scouts and the other two were missing. They searched all night to find them and couldn’t. It was about 3am when one of the cub scouts came running back and had informed the older boys that the other scout was gone. So they took the one Cub Scout and went out looking in the area where they had lost the Cub Scout. They searched to find a trail of some kind and one of the boy scouts had found the neckerchief of one of the cub scouts and then they found other pieces of his uniform further down the trail…a hat… a compass…the compass was pointing south which was the opposite direction they’d come from so they had pretty much begun to give up and go back and then they began to hear this whimpering. They followed the sound and as they got closer the whimpering turned into sobbing. When they got to the source they looked down and found this little girl who was covering her face. The boy scouts told the Cub Scout to go back and when they turned around he wasn’t there anymore so they turned back to the little girl asking questions and she just kept crying. One knelt down to her and the sobbing turned into this creepy hysterical laughter and he said “what’s wrong?” and she said “I killed them” and they said “killed who?” and she responded “your friends.” So all of a sudden they heard a loud scream from the two boys… and after that they were never heard from again.
Me: So what/who was this girl in the woods?
M.G.: Whatever she was…she wasn’t good. There was enough physical manifestation of her for these boys to think she was human…or alive in some way. I think the point of the story was that while you’re looking for kids lost…you find another kid that’s lost…but this story is just purely to scare the kids and the snipe hunts are real and when you’re a kid and you hear these older boys talking about this stuff and the whole point is you’re never going to catch a snipe! They don’t exist on this part of the country! It’s a ritual. They trick you consistently into thinking you’re going to catch one. It’s a tradition. The horror story is part of that. The idea is that weird stuff happens at this specific camp ground. It’s just a scary story for the kids.
Me: Right, is this legend or story supposed to be true, or is it supposed to be fun fiction in the woods?
M.G: This is supposedly a true story. It’s told only to scare the kids but not enough so they never want to come back, it’s for fun. We had an experience where we went out snipe hunting with the older boys and we all split up and you don’t travel far from the group and we all came back but the boy scout that had told us the story…well they came back him and his cub scout said “oh when we were out there I saw a girl out in the field and she kind of just disappeared” and we thought oh maybe he had told the kid to say this but we weren’t that far from each other so somebody would have heard him egg the kid on and the reaction the older boy scout had seemed pretty genuine. He looked pretty shocked. After that I sort of remember everybody kind of immediately going back to their tents not really wanting to stay outside.
Me: So is this area known for being haunted?
M.G.: I don’t think so…although that weird personal incident makes me think otherwise, but the story is only told by the boy scouts every year as a Boy Scout tradition. I’m sure they’d tell it no matter where they went camping. So whether or not the story is true or whether or not the girl is in the woods, the boys are going to tell the story to scare the kids no matter what just to keep the tradition alive, it’s part of the fun of being a boy scout.
Me: Yeah I loved being a boy scout…
M.G.: Good one.
As emphasized in various cultures and texts regarding ghost stories, this one seems to emphasize the importance of ghost stories as a cultural ritual. There is a sense that we often tell ghost stories for the sole purpose of sustaining traditions in our culture and passing these rituals down through the generations. I am not sure I necessarily believe the truth behind this story, considering the ambiguity of the ghost girl’s existence, even as a ghost (non-existence?), but I do know that this story holds importance and prominence in a sense that without it, the boy scouts would be without a whole tradition. The telling of this story, and even the snipe hunt are both a bonding experience—the story probably provides a bonding between the scouts in fearfulness and nervous excitement while out on the camping trip with the other boy scouts which provides for an overall exciting retreat and a feeling of camaraderie as a team. There is perhaps a sense with this story that they are strengthening the bond between the members, and initiating the young ones into the club allowing them to build their bond with the older members, bringing them all together. In a way, this story is more about building relationships and life-long companions through upholding traditions, than it is about the ghost itself.