This is the second part of lesson seven in Hallowfield’s free course, Ghost Hunting for Beginners.
- Previous lesson: Lesson 7a: Tours and Ghost Hunting Events
- YOU ARE HERE – Lesson 7b: Joining a Ghost Hunting Team
- Next: Lesson 7c: Starting Your Own Ghost Hunting Team
- Then: Lesson 7d: Course Summary and Conclusion
It’s time to get out and investigate even more. This course has covered the basics. No doubt you’ve also learned from TV shows.
Real-life ghost hunting can be very different. It’s so varied, every investigation will be a unique challenge, and you’ll discover more about ghosts and ghost hunting.
If your area has a team of ghost hunters, you may want to join them.
Pros & cons of ghost hunting groups
Before joining – or starting – a ghost hunting team, consider your options.
First, think about your likes and dislikes.
What are your priorities?
Is your schedule limited?
Do you need a team that’s local? Or, are you willing to drive for an hour or more?
Do you want a group that’s mostly fun and social, or a team of skilled, steely-eyed professionals?
And so on.
In other words, have a clear idea of what you’re looking for.
Maybe your ideal team already exists
Next, find ghost hunting groups in your area. Friends may have heard about local ghost hunters.
YouTube is another good resources; search for the words “ghost hunting” and your town or county name.
Still no luck? Look for groups mentioned in news reports from around Halloween.
Maybe you know someone in a ghost hunting group. Perhaps you’ve gone with them on a few investigations.
Don’t assume that you know all of the group’s policies, beliefs, and practices. You might be in for surprises.
When you contact a group that’s accepting new members, ask questions. Be clear about things like:
- Research locations
- Spiritual issues
- Investigation schedules
- Membership requirements
- Social compatibility
What kinds of haunted sites interest you? For example, do you like (or hate) cemeteries?
Are you eager to investigate famous, local haunted houses? Or, do you prefer to explore new haunts?
Do you want to help frightened people living in haunted houses? Or, are you uneasy in private residences?
Ask which sites the group prefers to investigate. Also ask about sites the group definitely won’t visit, and why.
What about travel? If you need to stay within, say, 10 miles of your home or office, make that clear.
Do you have a car? If not, be sure most investigations can be reached using public transportation. Otherwise, ask if team members routinely offer lifts to sites.
Most ghost hunting teams don’t discuss religion or make it part of their research. In fact, they avoid potential conflicts that could divide the group along religious and doctrinal lines.
Others are open about their spirituality. For example, most members might proudly belong to one particular church… and it might be the church you already attend.
Ask about this.
Go on several ghost hunts with any group you’re thinking of joining.
If your beliefs, practices, and attitudes are compatible with theirs, that’s great.
If not, keep looking.
When are the team’s investigations and meetings? Do they fit your schedule?
For example, do they usually research at night or during the day? Do they meet on weeknights or weekends? How long are most investigations?
Does the group keep a strict schedule? If you value punctuality but the team tends to run late – or vice versa – that can present problems.
Is it okay if you arrive early and stay late, or vice versa? Does anyone else do that, so you’re never on your own?
Be sure you always have companions at haunted sites. Never investigate by yourself. (Bad people, living and dead, can prey on loners. Don’t be a victim!)
What’s expected of team members? Are some investigations and meetings mandatory? How frequent are they?
Is there a training requirement? Who is teaching and what are their qualifications?
Must all team members closely follow the training advice? Or, are you free to use what works best for you?
Annual, quarterly, or monthly dues may be reasonable if they cover things like the group’s website or liability insurance.
If the group offers tours, plans events, or does private (paid) investigations, ask where the money goes and whether all members have access to the records.
Get everything in writing before you join.
If money is involved and anything seems odd, ask to see the group’s recent financial report. All members should have access to that, on request.
Ghost hunting teams must get along. In fact, compatibility can be the make-or-break point for any group of ghost hunters.
An assertive or even boisterous ghost hunter may seem impressive at first.
After a few ghost hunts, their constant comments can become annoying.
That’s another reason to go on several ghost hunts before agreeing to join.
Are team members too chatty, or always silent, and are you okay with that?
Are you comfortable with how much time they’re in lights-out mode? Does anyone seem too clingy – or even “flirty” – in the dark?
Do any members treat individuals differently, based on race, gender, age, spiritual background, weight, disabilities, education, favorite TV shows, and so on?
Those issues can be subtle but significant.
Some ghost hunters think it’s okay to have a beer or two before an investigation. Some might smoke at the site. Now and then, someone might bring their small, fussy children to an investigation when they can’t find a babysitter.
If something makes you uneasy now, it may annoy you more, later. Address these issues before joining the group.
Or, if you’re already part of the team, raise the issue before it becomes… well, an issue.
The decision is yours
Spend time with the group before committing to membership. See what their interests and standards are, under pressure at investigations.
Here’s a worksheet that may be helpful: Joining a Ghost Hunting Group – Evaluation Worksheet.
If you find a good team, join. Ask how you can be helpful, especially during investigations.
Above all, be active! This field needs more enthusiastic, dedicated researchers.
But, if you can’t find a team to join, you may want to start your own.
… Or not.
If you do start one, all of the issues we’ve talked about… they’ll become your responsibility.
Think about that carefully.
Be realistic about your resources, especially how much time you have.
Being a team leader can require many hours of extra work, in addition to the time spent on investigations.
That’s covered in the next part of this lesson, Starting Your Own Ghost Hunting Team.