An SU student's perspective on ghost hunting:
“Spine-chilling,” “horrifying,” “bloody.” These one-liners typically litter a horror movie's review page. While fact and fiction are often differentiated greatly, ghost hunter and Salisbury University junior Robin Beauchamp claims that Hollywood's depiction of paranormal investigation couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stating simply “They aren’t accurate,” Beauchamp — along with her fellow ghost hunters Joe, Kimberly and Olen — have been searching for the supernatural together for about two years now under the title “Dead of Night Paranormal Investigation.”
The group combs up the Eastern Shore into Pennsylvania looking for what they hope to be more than natural. Perhaps a better word would be detecting; the group always sends out with four cameras, an electronic voice phenomena device, which detects sound through both AM and FM frequencies, a recorder and a K2, which Beauchamp swears by.
The K2 is simple to use and it detects energy in surrounding areas by way of a color-coded rating system. Green indicates that there is no reading, and red signifies signs of energy uptake. When the electrical power to the house is killed, the K2 device is Beauchamp’s choice because of the simplicity for those, she joked, "that aren’t color blind."
The group commonly finds themselves in similar locations so they can familiarize themselves with certain “hubs” of paranormal activity. They visit Bube's Brewery in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, along with Bahoukas Antique Mall in Havre De Grace, Maryland and the Ocean City Life Saving Museum quite frequently to increase their chances to prove their claims.
Beauchamp says they choose the sites based on a combination of history and anecdotal evidence primarily, and they revisit the sites that have some promise associated.
All the members of the group have their own impetus for trying to search for the paranormal.
“For Joe, he saw his grandfather after he passed. Olen was possessed; he stood rigid on film for five minutes without having any recollection or understanding of what happened,” Beauchamp said.
But for Beauchamp herself, her first encounter was at the antique mall in Havre De Grace. As she described the experience, she didn't note the inevitable fear and anguish typically associated with the paranormal — she described the situation in a calming, almost therapeutic fashion.
“Joe and Olen were on the other side of the house as I was scanning the rooms with my K2 detector," Beauchamp said. "I then turned down the hallway and walked down the stair and felt a tug. I turned around and no one was there.”
Beauchamp says she wasn’t scared, but simply aroused. Another experience followed a similar path, yet she claims it could have had a more sinister outcome.
“I was almost possessed at Bube's Brewery,” Beauchamp said with a certain level of giddiness. “I was in the catacombs, which is really just a fancy term for their fine dining section, exploring an apparent female spirit which haunts the brewery. The spirit told me it wanted to jump in me, which basically means possession, and she was holding my hand, and I could feel her hand rub up and down my arm.”
Beauchamp found this instance “weird" because she was "calm and collected.”
This sense of calm did not last though, for as soon as the interaction ended, Beauchamp found herself physically shaking.
I continued to question her quizzically. I followed up by asking if the ghost would follow her, and she replied nonchalantly, “It can, but they usually don’t.”
When to comes to the religious basis for these investigations, Beauchamp explained, “It really depends. If you ask a priest, then yeah, we have a priest that comes with us sometimes and he believes it has to do with angels and demons, but we see it as people who are stuck here roaming around.”
The mechanics of the situation seem to resemble that of the scientific method: the group begins by researching the area to find sufficient reason to inquire, then they go find the evidence themselves and conclude as to whether it’s worth it to revisit.
Beauchamp even mentioned, “Skepticism is what makes a great ghost hunter.” These practical recounts of encounters with the paranormal have blown up the commercialization of ghost hunting. Shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Most Haunted” are featured on the SyFy channel publicizing and videoing allegedly real encounters with ghosts.
Ghost hunting tours are boosting tourism in Cincinnati, and podcasts, including Beauchamp’s personal one titled “The Ghost in my Room,” are expanding.
SU junior Lexi Kirkey is also interested in paranormal activity, but specializes in giving tours of haunted places.
Kirkey works for “Chesapeake Ghost Tours,” which was founded by Mindie Burgoyne, a novelist who has written six novels on both the histories and hauntings of the Eastern Shore. The tour company is highly commercialized, as it gives tours in 11 locations around Delmarva, selling merchandise, keychains and other knick-knacks you might find in a gift shop.
Kirkey joined the team to expand her resume and give her some experience with website development. However, she mentions that she "hasn’t seen anything supernatural" prior to each tour.
Recounting some of her experiences giving tours with not much to offer other than a typical historical city tour, Kirkey's most exciting experience is guiding the Pocomoke River tour, which runs at night in the Pocomoke Forest.
The river runs through the forest at ten feet wide and 45 feet deep, yet retains no ambient light because the cypress trees leak sap that pervades into the water. The water's low visibility can disorient an experienced swimmer, causing drownings.
“It's really just spooky," Kirkey said. "Nothing out of the ordinary happened, but I would never go in there by myself.”
Kirkey mentioned that even children are welcomed, although she warned that it can often be too much for a young child, but anyone who's intrigued by the paranormal is welcome.
Ghost hunting is a careful subject for some, and more of a pastime for others, but it’s safe to say that the amount of revenue brought in by ghost tourism and personal ghost investigations is on the rise.
By JARED SHEMONSKY
Graphic by Amy Wojtowicz.