“The Water Fountain Ghost”

Genre: Folk Narrative – Ghost Story


“At the summer camp I went to as a child, we were told a ghost story about a woman who roamed the grounds at night. The director of the camp sat down all the campers on the evening of the first day and told us that long ago, back in the earliest days of the camp, there was a camper who decided to leave their cabin in the middle of the night to explore. They decided to go to the water fountain by the pool, but because it was so dark outside, the camper couldn’t see where they were going and they tripped and fell into the water and drowned. The ghost of this camper, now a grown woman, is seen haunting the camp grounds at night, particularly in the area near the old water fountain. If she sees any campers wandering around outside where they are not allowed after dark, she will drag them into the pool so they can join her as a ghost.”


“I first heard this story when I was six or seven years old, and I was terrified! I totally believed it, and every night, I would look out my cabin window and look for the ghost lady. It took a few years for me to stop believing it, and it was really only when I had to go to the nurse’s office during the night and I was too scared to go because of the ghost, and the counselor told me that it wasn’t a true story and just something they told to scare the campers into staying inside the cabins. Later on, when the directors of the camp changed, they stopped telling the story which made me kind of sad, because I felt like it was part of the camp lore and kind of another rite of passage in growing up there as a camper.”


I agree with the informant’s realization that the story was something made up in order to scare the campers into staying inside their cabins during the night. In such a rural location, it would be likely that campers leaving their cabins during the night would get them hurt, either by their own actions or by a wild animal. It also discourages campers from engaging in misbehavior that wouldn’t be appropriate in a children’s camp setting, like meeting up with other campers during the night. I think, as the informant experienced, that this is probably a fairly successful method for the younger campers who believe the story, as scaring them into obedience probably has a higher success rate than telling them a seemingly arbitrary rule.

This ghost story reminded me of the story of La Llorona, who is a character from Mexican folklore who also takes the form of a wandering woman. La Llorona is found near bodies of water (just as this ghost is found near the water fountain/pool area) and is said to drown unfaithful men (while this ghost drowns disobedient children).