Theatre Camp Haunting

A, an improv enthusiast, spent many of her summers growing up at a theatre camp in Pennsylvania. She now dabbles in improv at university, but we met one evening to talk about my immersive theatre project I had just wrapped. She asked if I had any sort of background in the field. I said no, and she began talking about her times at theatre camp.

A: Camp Starlight, that was the name. It was this camp for all the theatre nuts who were interested in trying to be in different shows. You’d go when you were about thirteen or fourteen to make new friends. I wanted to get out of the city so I made sure I went each summer. Like most summer camps, you got scary stories. Our resident haunting happened to be in the main theatre house. It was always associated with the main stage and anything bad that happened on opening night.

L: Do you know the ghost story behind it all?

A: Her name was something like Mary, wait no, it was Elizabeth, but we all called her Lizzie for some reason. She haunted the main stage because on her opening night there was a massive accident. She had the lead role, but was not well liked because of how good of an actress she was. Some of the other actors decided to play a prank on her, but it went too far. She died right before the start of her show. I don’t remember which show she did, but I can imagine if we did know the camp would never put it on.

L: Was the camp aware of the story?

A: Yes of course; the counselors always talked about Lizzie. They even told us to stay in our rooms because sometimes you could hear her banging all the doors open and shut in the main theatre around two or three in the morning. Some of my friends heard screaming when they wanted to wait up and see if they could see who she was and maybe talk to her.

L: Did you ever try that?

A: No I think I was too scared, but I’m not sure if I believe it now. In retrospect it seemed like a lot of hype about nothing.

L: So why was this story so important for the camp? I went to a summer camp in Virginia, but we had a boy who drowned in the lake who haunted the cabins. I don’t think he ever had a name, but it was a big part of the culture. We would go have campfires and try to scare each other with his story.

A: It was similar to that, but again this was a while ago for me. The story seems pretty generic, but it did appear to be an integral part of going to Camp Starlight. She was said to have died in 1940. Also, something always went wrong during each opening night of the shows. However, I am unsure if that is because of her or inexperienced thirteen year old actors.