Top Tips for Telling Memorable Campfire Stories
Since the beginning of human history, people have gathered ‘round a fire telling stories in some shape or form. Back then, it was necessary as a way of passing knowledge to other people and down to the next generation. Today, it is a fun activity to do around a campfire.
Telling campfire stories brings together family and friends and is an ancient craft that must be practiced and carried on. If you are faced with the opportunity, follow these tips to give you a great start to perfecting the perfect story around the fire.
When we think of telling stories around a fire, we tend to envision everyone sitting down. But try to get in the habit of standing up when you are taking center stage and telling the story. Your listeners can see and hear you better that way. Also, standing up allows the person to project their voice more effectively.
Telling the perfect story around a fire requires more than just oral savvy – it requires the use of body language. Make good use of hand gestures to convey key points in the story. This can turn an otherwise dull tale into a compelling and active story. Pretend like it’s a sort of charades with all manner of gestures, only with the sound of your voice to accompany.
Keep the Fire Going
While you’re telling the story, charge someone with stoking the fire. Nothing says a humdrum story than when the light is dying out and people struggle to see you in the darkness. A hot roaring campfire is the perfect addition to any good story while also providing a relaxing atmosphere.
Use Props if Possible
A good campfire story is enhanced by as much visual stimulation as possible. Perhaps the most popular prop is the classic flashlight. Along with a hot roaring fire, a flashlight provides a spooky element to any story – especially if it is of the ghost or horror-themed variety! Use the time-honored trick of shining the light under your face as you talk. With any luck, you and your group may hear a mysterious sound in the woods that will only make it spookier.
Besides a flashlight, feel free to bring any other props to make your story more active.
Make Eye Contact
Don’t forget to look each and everyone around the campfire dead in the eye, even for a few moments. Research shows that eye contact exudes a sense of confidence and authority. You will have your audience enthralled, and they will subconsciously believe your story – even if it’s not real. The key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t focus eye contact on any one person for too long. You don’t want to freak them out (or maybe you do!)
Research Campfire Stories
Not sure what story to tell? Google is your friend. Or better yet, create a story yourself. This may take some time depending on your skill level of storytelling, but it’s fun to develop a compelling story. Perhaps choose bits and pieces of different classic stories, put a modern twist to them, and just have fun with it. Check out this website for some good ones.
If it’s ghost stories you prefer, research ghost stories in the local area where you’ll be staying. Add your own unique touch to any story you tell, this will allow you to better connect with your audience. A classic opening is always good, such as “Once upon a time,” “Legend has it,” or, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Keep it Short, But Not Too Short
The length of your story is directly related to your ability to keep your audience engaged. If the story is too short, it will lack substance and depth. Too long and your audience may become bored and lose interest. While there’s no set length, make sure there’s some action or monumental happening at every point in your story. Also, read your audience. If you see anyone displaying boredom or attention drifting away, it’s best to wrap it up quickly and concisely.
Wait Until Sundown
This should be a given, but any campfire story is made more dramatic after dark with only the campfire illuminating the scene. It just makes for better storytelling all around. And when objects are illuminated (meaning you, the storyteller) they’ll focus all their attention on you.
Invite Others to Share Stories
This is not a solo performance. Everyone who wants a turn at storytelling around the campfire should get one. Make it a game and have a grab bag of different stories or topics to tell around the fire. This can make the fun last long into the night. While you should ask everyone to share a story, just remember not to pressure anyone into doing it. Some people are born listeners instead.