Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Dr. Gwynn Powell

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Bixler

Committee Member

Dr. Teresa Tucker


Varying opinions exist among camp professionals regarding whether ghost stories should be shared or prohibited in a summer camp setting. Summer camps offer a controlled and safe environment for campers to challenge limits and conquer fears (Ventrura & Garst, 2013). Ghost stories can be used as a method to hook campers into the program and build community within the camp (Higgens, 2008). However, not all campers may be emotionally equipped to handle ghost stories resulting in perceptions of the camp being an unsafe and scary environment (Ellis, 1981). The purpose of this study is to explore attitudes, philosophies and policies about ghost stories at camp in order to stimulate an explicit discussion of the rationales behind the professional judgment used when determining if ghost stories should be shared at camp.

A paper survey and a focus group were used to explore perceptions about camp policies, professional philosophies, ghost story settings and definitions. Using a convenience sample, a total of 87 professionals in the camp field were surveyed. Findings suggest three overarching philosophies regarding ghost stories at camp: Prohibited, Tolerated, and Actively Allowed. A three-tiered ghost story definition tool that is centered on emotional impact was developed for camp professionals to use when determining their stance on ghost stories. Findings from this study can to be used by camp professionals, alongside Evidence-Informed Practices, to assist in professional judgment when determining whether or not ghost stories are appropriate for camp, it w. To aid in this judgment, a decision tree was developed using camp specific questions to provoke conscious thought before permitting or prohibiting ghost stories at camp.