“So this is a ghost story that I heard when I was probably ten years old at girl scout summer camp. Basically, there was a little girl who went to the girl scout summer camp, and one night while she was sleeping, she heard a loud bang outside and it woke her up. Then she heard it again, and when nobody else woke up she took her flashlight and went outside to see what the noise was. Now, what she didn’t know was that there was an ax murder who had escaped from jail and had wandered into the same woods the camp was located. While she was wandering around outside, he found her and cut her up and threw her body parts in the lake. Ever since, she’s been stuck here and will try to lure girls out of their cabins at night so the ax murderer can cut them up too. I know it’s kind of dumb, but imagine hearing this when you’re like ten and staying in supposedly the exact cabin the dead girl stayed in. It scared me so bad I refused to go anywhere alone the rest of the week.”
E is a nineteen year old from Southern California. She, as mentioned above, heard this ghost story while at a weeklong summer camp designed for girl scouts. It was told to her while her bunkmates were telling ghosts stories before going to bed. She retold the story to me over the phone.
This ghost story was specifically generated to scare the audience. It is also important to note that the audience is essential in this narrative. It is a story about a girl scout told to other girl scouts. It would not hold nearly the same impact if it was told in a different location or to a different group of people, especially considering the role those elements play in the story. It is also important to note that no one claims to have seen the ghost, but just that she exists. She is also designed to be the same age and type of girl (a girl scout) as the audience. The performance of the story was strong enough to convince these girl scouts that the ghost was real. This piece of folklore is very contingent on the culture it was created in and is not as impactful outside of that culture. The narrative is also designed specifically to scare the teller’s peers, so it has a hoax-like element to it, told to scare than as a fact or honest belief in ghosts.