Spooky Vacay

Summer is in full swing and unfortunately this year we won’t be planning any big trips. Just our usual camping and fishing trips. I have camped and fished my whole life. The many weeks I spent doing this activity as a kid are among my biggest and best memories of growing up. Now as an adult, it really is my favorite pastime. There is just nothing more relaxing than to be the only human for miles, listening to the wind in the trees, cooking over an open fire, heavenly.

I know that for many people this just isn’t their cup of tea. Bugs, wild animals, creepy forests, the feeling of isolation, and the all the rest. I admit that on occasion I’ve been a little nervous for some of those reasons. I’ll even go so far as agreeing that nature can be dangerous.

I grew up in Alberta, Canada. They have bears there, lots of bears. We have had several close calls with them, like the time a mama bear came sniffing around our campsite, including the tent we were sleeping in. The sun was just rising and we watched her shadow lumber past followed by two little cubs. One of our party had a pick-up and camper, she went around to their rig and placed her paws on the hood, stretched up and tried to peek in the upper bunk bed window. That’s how big she was. When the coast was clear we ran to the cars, luckily she wasn’t interested in us.

We’ve had a pack of coyotes so close to our camp you could just make out their silhouettes as they ran around us just outside the light of the campfire. That was a little worrisome, healthy coyotes are usually too afraid of humans to get that close.fire-3312_640

I’ve heard weird sounds in the woods that I was never able to identify. I’ve had the occasional feeling of being watched, but I usually chalk that up to mountain lions. I’ve even had the fleeting thought of an ax-wielding maniac stumbling into our camp with help many miles away. So I can relate to why some people would rather scrub outhouses with toothbrushes than go camping. But even with those problems, I absolutely love it.

Maybe you are one of those people who are not at all frightened by the woods and seek a more extreme experience. Ghost stories around the camp fire are all well and good but not nearly enough for you? I ran across an article that may provide the answer. Out in California, on the Alameda Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, there will be a wilderness camp that is geared for the more adventurous camper.

As far as I know, this is a first, “The Great Horror Campout” will be held in July. You get to watch horror movies, roast marshmallows, and choose to hang in a less scary area or go all out in an interactive game. The game involves “scare actors” and very spooky challenges. Don’t worry you can make it all go away by saying: I want my mommy! It sounds like fun. I won’t be able to go but if you go, come back and tell us about it! I could see franchise opportunities here.

Pretend scares still not good enough for you? Read Missing 411 by David Paulides before you enter the woods. He discusses mysterious and weird disappearances of people from National Forests. Some of the stories are so disturbing that you won’t want to let anyone from your group out of your sight. You may even think twice about visiting the woods yourself.spookylake

I’ll be lurking out there in the woods this summer, just like every summer. Happy trails to everyone who is going on vacation and remember, Never Turn Off the Lights. However, that could be difficult if you are camping because your flashlight battery will die and you will be left in the dark and who knows what may be lurking with you.


Haunted Schools


I have worked in many schools over my years and one thing I can tell you is that they are all rather creepy when students have left for the day. At one school there were many reports of the sound of doors opening and closing down the hallway when you knew you were alone in the building. I experienced it for myself one Saturday afternoon when I came in to get some extra work done.

I was in my office working away when I heard the distinct clickety-bang of a classroom door opening and closing somewhere down the corridor from me. I peeked my head out and peered down the darkened hallway, no one. The second time I heard it I called out, no response. By about the fourth time, I figured I’d done enough work for one day.

I was in such a hurry to get out of there that after I called the security office to tell them I was leaving I realized that I had forgotten my purse in my office. Rather have to call security back and retrieve it, I spent the rest of the weekend without it, driver’s license and all! At this same school the motion sensitive hand towel dispenser in the teacher’s restroom would disperse hand towels to a supposedly empty room.

Good times.

Here are five more schools from around the US that will make you forget to dry your hands, your purse, and your bravery.

Metz Elementary, Texas

The old Metz Elementary School building before demolition. [Metz Elementary School], Photograph, n.d.; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth125274/ : accessed January 23, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

The old Metz Elementary School building before demolition.(http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth125274/ Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Built in 1916 this building served the community for many years before it was decided in 1990 that a new building was needed. The school had no reports of strange occurrences until the demolition began. Bulldozer would inexplicably stall as they approached the school. Worker’s reported tools disappearing and many had small accidents while on site. Mysterious writings that would suddenly appear on the remaining blackboards and apparitions in the bathrooms forced many workers to abandon their jobs. This finally, allegedly, forced the contractor to seek an exorcism on the site. Shortly after this ritual a wall collapsed tragically killing a worker.

A new school was built on this site and reports of child ghosts around the area  and phantom laughter are still being told.


Ethel Dwyer Middle School, California

Ethel Dwyer Middle School Courtesy of Orange County Archives

Ethel Dwyer Middle School
Courtesy of Orange County Archives

Ethel Dwyer attended the school as a child and returned as a teacher for many years after. Witnesses report strange flashing lights inside the school visible through the windows at night when the building is empty. Moaning and whispering are rumored to be heard coming from the boiler room. Poltergeist type activity plagues classrooms with opening drawers and  cupboards and missing supplies.

One teacher reported an outline of woman that appeared on her projection screen during class. It was allegedly witnessed by her entire class of stunned students.


Matthew Whaley School, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Mary Whaley opened a school for the poor after her son Matthew, who was born in 1696, passed away at a young age. The school was named in honor of her son. Although many different buildings have been erected on the site it is rumored that Mattey’s ghost can be seen around the area. Some reports of a second boy have also been recorded; it is thought this is the spirit of a slave boy that died around the same time as Mattey.


Corriher Lipe Middle School, North Carolina

Sometime in the 1940’s a janitor named Larry was killed at this school in a boiler explosion. Witnesses claim to hear Larry’s heavy footsteps and clanking keys in various areas of the school. Reports of disembodied children’s laughter and ghostly apparitions also plague this site.


Ranch View Middle School, Colorado

Ranch View Middle School

Ranch View Middle School

The first homes in the Highland’s Ranch development were built in 1981 making it relatively new. The area was a working cattle ranch for a part of its history and began as home to Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Native American Indian tribes.

At the school it is reported that the sounds of laughter, crying, and talking can be heard in the empty halls after school has dismissed for the day. In particular, the bathroom behind the stage is home to disembodied laughter and crying from unoccupied stalls. The lights have been known to flicker and water faucets turn on by themselves in this same restroom. The elevator displays electrical anomalies and on the stairs by the gym you can hear what sounds like an equipment bin being dumped over only to find no such thing has happened.

And you thought school lunch was the scariest thing at school!  Ever had a creepy experience at school? Feel free to share, I’d love to hear it! Share here in the comments or email me at joy@joyyehle.com and I might feature your story on this blog or you might just end up in one of my books!

And remember kids, never turn off the lights!