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This is the third part of the seventh lesson in your free course, Ghost Hunting for Beginners.
- Lesson 7a: Tours and Ghost Hunting Events
- Lesson 7b: Joining a Ghost Hunting Group
- YOU ARE HERE – Lesson 7c: Starting Your Own Ghost Hunting Team
- Next: Lesson 7d: Course Summary and Conclusion
Starting a ghost hunting team
To build a good ghost hunting group, go on several ghost hunts with a few interested friends.
Do they work well together? Does anyone try to take charge?
It’s natural for people to want to help out. And, in this field, it’s normal for people to want to be in control. (After all, a lot of paranormal research involves creepy things we can’t control.)
But, be cautious if the chemistry between team members leads to conflicts, or one person dominates almost every conversation.
Likewise, pay attention if someone seems like a spectator, rather than an active part of the investigation.
Maybe they’re psychic and need a lot of quiet, personal space to observe the energy (and any ghosts) around them.
Or, maybe they’re uneasy about a fellow team member… or about haunted places, in general.
Watch for personal interactions, especially romantic ones. A couple that’s dating now may split up, later. That’s fine if they remain friends. If not, it can fracture any team.
In addition, check the list of local sex offenders.
I know how preposterous that sounds, but in 2009, we learned that a major ghost hunting personality had been arrested (and convicted) on sex-related charges… twice.
Most of us were shocked. The man had seemed like the most charming, honest “country boy,” ever.
I’m not sure if he’s still active in ghost hunting; many of us won’t go near him, or attend any event where he’s a speaker or a guest. I haven’t seen his name mentioned in recent years, so he may have moved on to fields with more gullible members.
Of course, watch for anyone who has to be right, always.
In ghost hunting, it’s easy to decide something was definitely a ghost, when it wasn’t.
It’s equally easy to brush off a genuine anomaly, and later realize – oops! – it may have been a ghost.
Either way, can your potential team members accept when they’re wrong? Arguments and hard feelings can result.
If someone remains sullen or adamant about a mistake, the issue is likely to explode, sooner or later. They probably don’t belong on your team.
But, allow people to get used to ghost hunting. At first, everything can seem overwhelming, confusing, and awkward.
In time, they may respond more gracefully to mistakes.
Frankly, even seasoned investigators are wrong about some phenomena, regularly. Sometimes, that’s awkward. Most of the time, we laugh at our blunders and try to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
After several ghost hunts with a variety of people, consider balance.
Getting the right balance
What if you have four people with EMF meters, but no one who records EVP?
You could form a group that specializes in EMF. Or, you may add a team member who’s good with EVP.
What about gender or other factors? If your team is predominantly male, or one nationality, or most of them grew up together, will others feel uneasy?
Today, it’s easy to draw tribal lines after a misunderstanding. Keep all kinds of balance in mind.
When you’ve found a group of people with shared interests and a long-term interest in ghost hunting, discuss forming a formal team. If enough people are interested, schedule an organizational meeting.
It’s best to do this in person. If that’s not possible, try an online collaboration – a private forum, a hangout, a Facebook group, a Google Drive document, or something like Slack.
(Keep in mind that if you can’t find a common time for an in-person meeting, scheduling investigations may be even more challenging.)
Cover the basics at this meeting. For example, discuss the types of locations you’ll investigate, and issues related to spirituality.
Decide the best investigation schedule. Discuss distance or expense limits. Talk about what you expect from members, and so on.
You might have something like a mission statement. In other words, why you’re involved in ghost hunting. Start with something general. The group can modify it later.
It’s okay to model your team after an existing group, or people you’ve seen on TV or YouTube.
Discuss the group’s structure.
Will there be one leader, or do you prefer co-leaders? Is that a permanent, rotating, or elected position?
Also, who speaks for the group when dealing with the media? (You’re likely to have more contact with the media than you expect. Plan ahead.)
Who does what?
Everyone should have specific responsibilities.
You could choose titles, so each person understands who focuses on what. Or, you may decide that’s too formal or even silly.
With or without titles, everyone should feel important, but not overwhelmed by responsibilities.
Possible titles could include:
- Lead ________ Investigator (EMF, EVP, cold spots, triggers, etc.)
- Team Historian
- Lead Photographer or Videographer
- Safety & First Aid Specialist
- Media or PR Contact Person
- New Member Contact Person
- Investigation Coordinator
- ____________ Analyst (photos, EVP, etc.)
Also, identify anyone who prefers to be the base team.
Sometimes, base team members are interested in ghosts, but uneasy in dark locations.
Or, they have allergies or asthma that prevents them from investigating dusty or moldy sites, especially during hay fever season.
Of course, it helps if they’re tech-minded.
The base team – two or three people – may be in a separate, lit room or outside in a van. They’ll stay in contact with team members via walkie-talkies or phones, and perhaps monitors if those are in your budget.
They may supervise evidence analysis, too.
Don’t rush these decisions. It’s okay to start with a limited structure (or nearly none at all). Then, modify your team as needed.
But, a few points should be addressed, early. One is your liabilities. The other is your new member policy.
Will you conduct private investigations? If so, ask an insurance expert about liability issues.
There are two sides to this.
Find out what to someone charges your team with damage after an investigation. For example, if a team member breaks something at a haunted hotel or museum.
Also, a private home with malicious or demonic activity, it’s far too easy to make things worse. So, what happens if they sue you?
This is especially important when a client or homeowner withholds important information from you. That happens more often than you might expect.
Some homeowners are quick to tell you their worst fears.
Others may be afraid that you will think it sounds crazy. Or – at the other extreme – you’ll be too frightened to help them.
Every investigation is unique. Be sure you’re covered if the site owner makes a claim against you.
Then there’s the safety of your team.
What happens if a team member (or guest) has an accident, or even causes one?
People can stumble or run into objects in low light conditions, especially in old buildings.
Outdoor settings present different problems. For example, at cemeteries, you may encounter snakes, irregular depressions in unmarked graves, and broken pavement. (I think everyone on my team has fallen or twisted an ankle, at some time.)
Ghost hunting is scary enough.
A good insurance agent can prevent financial nightmares.
In every group, team members come and go. A member might take a job in another area. Or, his school or work schedule changes. Now and then, personality conflicts emerge and one person leaves the team.
Your group may also expand its size and scope. If so, you’ll need new members to support growing demands and responsibilities.
Decide how and when to include new members and guests.
Also consider if founding members must approve new members, and if it should be unanimous.
Even informal groups should aspire to professional standards. This is especially important if you’ll interact with the public or media.
Most groups choose a name. It should be completely different from any other group, especially in your area.
Your group may want team T-shirts or business cards. You might launch a website and a YouTube channel, or schedule events, lectures, and media appearances.
Unless you form a legal partnership, one individual owns the rights to the domain name, YouTube channel, Facebook page, etc.
Discuss this early, perhaps with an attorney who specializes in copyright law and intellectual property.
And then, put it in writing.
You’re nearly at the conclusion of your Ghost Hunting for Beginners course. I hope you’ve learned a few things, and have a lot to think about as you continue in this field.
Now it’s time for a brief summary, and my last-minute advice.