Short Scary Campfire Stories That Inspire Fear In the Bravest of Souls

Tell these original campfire tales to give your audience the goosebumps.

Updated April 27, 2023
Friends telling scary stories around a campfire at night

Never is the mood more perfect for a scary story than when you're gathered around a firepit or classic campfire. With the flames dancing, the shadows flickering, and the darkness just within reach - these creepy, spooky, short, and scary campfire stories will have you huddling a little closer to your flashlight.

A Cursed Doll

Doll wearing blue dress with strawberry blonde pigtails

Suzy loved dolls. In fact, one entire wall of her bedroom was dolls. Shelf upon shelf, she had two dozen dolls that she named and loved. One day, while out shopping with her mother, they passed a new doll shop. The store window was filled with dolls - all dolls Suzy wanted. But the best doll of all was sitting by herself in the corner. With curly strawberry-blonde hair, pale blue dress, and black shoes, she was definitely the prettiest.

Try as she might, Suzy's mom didn't want to buy her the doll or even set foot into the shop. Shop after shop, Suzy's mom looked at endless shelves of vases, paintings, and boring clothes.

That night, when she got home, she wished that the doll could be hers and only hers. She'd give anything. The next morning, Suzy woke up to find that the strawberry blonde doll was sitting on the shelf - only no other dolls were touching her. As though they were afraid of her. She ran into the kitchen to ask her parents when they bought it, but nothing greeted her except silence. In her arms, she heard the doll softly giggle.

The Motel Keyhole

Old neon motel sign at night

After traveling all day for the fourth day straight, the man decided he'd had enough, and he was ready for bed. While he was hoping for a nice hotel, he was ready to call it quits and was more than happy to check into any motel - no matter how dumpy and rundown.

He regretted that thought, as the next motel was only six rooms and couldn't have been updated from when it was first built back in the 40s. The motel clerk looked up at him in surprise when he rang the service bell in the make-shift one room lobby that was also home to the coffeemaker and day-old bagels and doughnuts. On second thought, that coffee looked a few days old too.

The small clerk handed him a key to room four and told him to call down if he needed anything during his stay. She'd be there all night.

As the man walked past the first room and the second room, he realized his car and the clerk's car were the only ones in the parking lot. Which was odd, considering that as he approached room three, he saw the light flick on. He peered through the keyhole and saw a woman walking away from the door and into the bathroom soundlessly.

Unlocking his own door, he was happy to kick off his shoes and flop onto the bed. He heard soft crying from the room next door, but it didn't last long, and nor did he. He quickly fell asleep.

Around two in the morning, he awoke with a jolt, although he couldn't say why. There had been no noise and yet, his heart was racing. Deciding to clear his head, he stepped outside to go for a quick walk.

The light to room three was still on, and he once again peered into the keyhole, curious about this mystery guest. All he saw was a dark red. Strange, he thought, perhaps they hung up a towel.

He headed down to the lobby to see if maybe there might be a food to satisfy the need for a midnight snack. The clerk and her stale bagels were all that he found in the lobby. He started to leave but his curiosity got the better of him. "The guest in room three, is she okay?" The clerk looked confused, "There's no guest except for you tonight." The man swallowed slowly, while the clerk had a giggle, "Although some of the townies claim that a woman's ghost inhabits that room. I've never seen her though. But they claim she has blood-red eyes."

The Missing Camper

Silhouette Man Standing By Bare Tree In Forest

(You'll want a partner to yell Terry at the very end to give the group a good fright.)

One summer, at a camp in the Adirondacks, a young boy was excited for his first sleep-away camp. Ready for adventure and to make friends, the first week flew by. Terry wrote home, telling his parents and brother of all his cool new friends, his archery skills, and how fast he could swim the dock in the middle of the lake now.

During the counselor's usual bunk checks around midnight, Cole flashed his light through bunk eight and saw Terry's bed was empty. Cole quietly left the cabin so as not to wake the other campers and headed to the counselor's cabin. "Guys," Cole said breathlessly, "Terry is missing." The group grabbed their sweatshirts, boots, and flashlights and head into the woods. Cole yelled, "Terry! Terry! Terry!" over and over. His voice grew quieter until it was nothing more than a distant whisper.

Another group of counselors found Terry behind the cabin, sleeping soundly after a sleepwalking journey. Cole never returned, but some say you can still hear him looking for the camper to this day.

"TERRY!!"

The Secret to Telling a Scary Campfire Story

Telling a scary story well is simple! Follow these tips and you'll have everyone yelping with fright.

  • Use varying volumes with your voice. Draw your listeners in with a whisper, then make them jump with a small yell.
  • Don't be afraid of adding in sound effects using your voice, stomping your feet, or clapping your hands.
  • Flicker your flashlight or suddenly aim it off in the distance to distract your listeners. That's a good time for a jump scare.
  • Skip too many jump scares in a story. Otherwise they'll be ready for the next one.
  • Sometimes, the best scary story is told in a whisper that'll live in their imagination - even without a jump scare.
  • Grab a friend to help you in your scary story telling! Have them creep around, make sounds, or even jump in with a few unexpected lines.

Classic and Popular Short Scary Campfire Stories

There's a dark, spooky world of classic campfire stories. From urban legends to books that make you afraid to sleep with the lights off, these are the classics.

  • The Velvet Ribbon - A little girl grows up, telling everyone around her she cannot, under any circumstances, remove the ribbon she wears around her neck.
  • The Big Toe - Foraging in the forest, looking for ingredients to add to a stew, a young boy finds a hairy mushroom to add to the stockpot.
  • The Hook - A couple finds themselves subjected to eerie taps and scratches when they're parked on a dark Lover's Lane.
  • The Clown Statue - A babysitter finds herself unsettled by the life-sized clown statue in the house.
  • The Vanishing Hitchhiker - It's late at night, after prom, and two teenage boys see a girl their age on the side of a country road. They give her a ride home only to find out things aren't what they seem.
  • The Smiling Man - Insomnia has the best of a young man, and he goes for a late-night walk around his neighborhood. Only, he isn't alone. But perhaps the eerie four-minute short film will equally spook everyone - including you. Beware the jump scare!
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - The peak of scary stories, this book and its sequels will keep you and your friends up until sunrise.
  • The NoNap Podcast- From the people who brought the NoSleep stories to life, these won't leave you with nightmares.
  • Urban legends make for excellent stories to tell in the dark.

It's the Most Fun in the Dark With Scary Stories

Allow the spooky darkness to be your fellow storyteller in your scary campfire stories. Tell a new story to give everyone a fright, or keep it classic with an urban legend or even a creepy clown statue. You're going to want to make sure your flashlight has fresh batteries.

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Short Scary Campfire Stories That Inspire Fear In the Bravest of Souls