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Are Minnesota summer camps scared off from telling scary stories?
Tales about haunted cabins or woodland monsters can be considered emotionally scarring, so some camps are banning them.
For many Minnesotans, summer camps bring back a certain kind of nostalgia — memories of campfire songs, outdoor activities and creaky bunk beds remind current and former campers of childhood adventures. But one thing you might not find at camps in 2020? Ghost stories.
Some say classic stories about haunted cabins or woodland monsters can be considered emotionally scarring to campers, and tall tales over late-night campfires now might be few and far between.
Attitudes at camps are mixed. A study of 86 camp professionals across the country found that 31% of camps prohibit ghost stories, while only 13% encourage them.
“I think all of these stories were designed to build community in different ways. And one way to do that is by sharing a scary experience, while … still keeping kids safe in their bunks at night,” she said.
Telling legends of lost campers to keep children from wandering off isn’t the only purpose of gathering around the campfire.
10 Real-life Haunted Houses
The Whaley House in San Diego was originally built on the execution grounds of James Robinson, nicknamed Yankee Jim. In 1852, Yankee Jim was convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to death by hanging. The hangman set the noose improperly, allowing Jim’s feet to graze the ground, prolonging the hanging process. In 1856, Thomas Whaley bought the land where Yankee Jim had been killed and built a house for his own family. The youngest Whaley daughter, Lillian, said she could hear the sound of boots clomping through the house and suspected it to be the ghost of Yankee Jim.
Today, the Whaley House is a registered historic site and museum. Visitors and employees have reported seeing or hearing the ghosts of former owners Thomas and Anna Whaley. According to staff and guests, Thomas’ ghost usually resides near the landing at the top of the staircase, while Anna’s stays downstairs or in the garden. Television host Regis Philbin is among those who claimed to have seen Mrs. Whaley’s ghost. Scents of cigar smoke and perfume have also mysteriously arisen at times. Because of the frequency of such ghost sightings, the Whaley House has been cited as one of the most haunted houses in the United States.
Annie Palmer, known as the White Witch, lived in Rose Hall in Jamaica where she seduced slaves and lovers and then killed them.
ROBERT HARDING/GETTY IMAGES
The tales of the murderous Annie Palmer of Rose Hall still frighten children in Jamaica. Built in 1770, Rose Hall was a sugar cane plantation and home to Palmer and her husband. Palmer grew up in Haiti and learned voodoo from her nanny, which would later serve her in her dastardly schemes.
When Palmer became sexually unsatisfied with her husband, she began sleeping with slaves on the plantation. In order to keep them quiet about the affairs, she either killed these men or ordered other slaves to do so. Wanting to gain sole possession of her husband’s wealth, she poisoned her first husband and later married and killed two other men [source: Belanger]. Her sexual escapades continued as well. In case she encountered a man unwilling to pleasure her or a slave trying to escape, Palmer had a pit dug 16 feet (4.8 meters) below the house where she would banish these people [source: Belanger]. As her nefarious reputation spread around the island, she became known as the White Witch.