If you can’t find a ghost hunting group that meets your interests or schedule, you may want to start your own team.
Don’t rush into this.
First, ask a few friends to join you on investigations. Go on an investigation or two, and see how well the investigations go.
Try this at least four or five times.
Each time, vary the mix of people. That’s the only way to tell what kind of group you like, how large it should be, and the mix of people to include.
It’s not just about getting along. For example, consider balance. What if you have four people with EMF meters, but no one who records EVP? In that case, you can either form a group that specializes in EMF, or you can add a team member who’ll focus on EVP.
When you’ve feel that your group has shared interests and long-term interests in ghost hunting, ask if they’d like to organize an actual ghost hunting team.
If too many of them say no, look for more interested people. If enough say yes, plan an organizational meeting.
Your first formal meeting
Someone should take notes and, at the very least, the group should have something like a mission statement: What’s the purpose of your group? What do you want to focus on, for now? (You can always change this later, if your goals shift.)
Discuss the team structure. Will there be one leader, or do you prefer co-leaders? Who speaks for the group when dealing with the media? If money changes hands, who keeps track of that? If you’re doing private investigations, who will speak to the homeowners? Who will be part of the “reveal” when you’re accountable to the person (or people) who own or manage a site?
Is your group informal, or are you more comfortable with assigned responsibilities?
How broad are your team’s interests? Will you accept clients? Will you organize events the public can sign up for? Will you make presentations to groups at clubs, the public library, or the media?
Start small, but have a pretty clear idea of the directions you’d like to expand into. If you’d like to become a professional team, assign responsibilities — with clear titles — from the start.
Those can include:
- Lead EVP investigator.
- Lead EMF investigator.
- Lead psychic investigator.
- Team historian.
- Lead photographer, and Lead videographer.
- Media (or PR) contact person.
- New member contact person.
- Investigation coordinator.
- Lead evidence analyst.
- Event manager.
- Business manager.
Different teams will assign different responsibilities. Your team is unique. You may need someone in charge of first aid, someone who makes sure every car has the GPS coordinates and a printed map, one person who’s in charge of team-owned equipment, or someone who arranges for the babysitter who watches everyone’s kids in one member’s home.
Also, go through the same issues discussed earlier in this lesson:
- The types of locations you’ll investigate
- How to handle issues related to spirituality
- The schedule you’d like to work with
- If you want to have regular organizational meetings
- What you expect from members, and so on.
Don’t expect to agree on this and settle everything in one meeting. You may not need to, anyway. Most groups start out with very general goals and plans, and develop a clearer picture of where they’d like to go, later.
Keep it fun and interesting. Don’t feel as if you have to rush into a formal structure for your group… not at this point, anyway.
One topic should be discussed early, and that’s liability insurance. Your group may not need it. Many groups don’t bother with it. Instead, they individual members carry their own insurance. People may want to insure their ghost hunting equipment, too.
Of course, your team should never visit high-risk sites or do anything that endangers members. Every team should have a first aid kit, but hope never to use it.
This field is fraught with risks. Start with the financial ones.
If you are going to conduct private investigations, chat with an insurance expert about liability issues. It costs nothing to get advice early, and that conversation may give you a fresh outlook on your team’s risks.
There are two sides to this.
First, you may want to protect your team against injuries (physical, mental, or emotional), in case the homeowner doesn’t carry adequate insurance, and didn’t adequately warn you about the risks.
If you’re working in low-light conditions and the site looks like something out of an episode of “Hoarders,” accidents can occur.
Also, some outdoor settings have natural risks such as snakes, irregular depressions at unmarked graves (yes, even in backyards of private homes), and broken pavement.
Be prepared if the homeowner makes wild (and expensive) claims about damage your team caused. (He may have known all about that weak spot in the attic floor, which a team member crashed through, putting a hole in a bedroom ceiling… but now the homeowner sues you for damages.)
While situations like these are extremely rare, discuss them ahead of time.
Liabilities – Health and Safety
In addition to the kinds of risks insurance covers, be sure you discuss safety issues.
Every team should have a first aid kit, and at least one member with current first aid training. (Find out if anyone in your group works in the healthcare field, or has a background in first aid or EMT work.)
Every team member should have a mask that filters out bacteria. (That’s different from the free masks at health clinics, which keep germs in.)
This topic came to light in 2012 when Sara Harris died after what should have been a routine and fun ghost investigation. She and her team were visiting a site that many other groups had investigated, and no one got sick.
Sara and her friends had no reason to feel concerned… until she started having breathing problems during and after the investigation.
And then, even with prompt medical care, she died.
So, have your own mask. In addition, carry a few extra a P95 or N95 masks in your backpack or ghost hunting kit, for anyone who didn’t bring one. That’s especially important at “haunted” former hospitals, as well as any site where you may have mice, rat, or other rodent droppings.
This is an odd field and unusual, unexpected things can happen. Be prepared.
With those liabilities covered, you can relax and focus on finding ghosts.