One question I get asked a lot is how to form a group. I’ll start with how mine started…
In 2013 I saw something that intrigued the living hell out of me. It would be easy to call it a ghost, but there really is no other word to describe it where everyone can get a sense of what it was. When I say I saw a ghost everyone immediately knows what I’m talking about. But, even though it did in fact happen I hate being quoted as having “seen a ghost.” So for the sake of this story, let’s just call it activity and leave it at that. Who’s to say it’s a ghost, it could just as easily been Bigfoot, some kind of inter-dimensional alien from the future, or a glimpse into an alternate dimension. In fact the more labels I put on it, the nuttier I sound. But, it just doesn’t feel right to define it without some real data to back up that claim.
So in December of 2013 I experienced activity, profoundly and first hand. I always thought in the back of my mind that as intrigued by the idea as I was, that I would never really want it to happen. I always figured I would be afraid, after all as a kid and young adult the idea scared the shit out of me. In theory, it’s something I never wanted to happen. Then it did, and just about the time in my life when I had decided I didn’t believe in such nonsense.
My fears were unfounded because after I collected myself I realized it was adrenaline I was feeling. It was a rush, and I was instantly curious. It wasn’t as hard as I would have previously imagined to go back to the area and immediately start recording. Maybe I remember it differently, but even though my heart was racing thinking of the idea of what would happen next, I feel like I was calm and collected. When I go back and watch the footage I caught on my iPhone, as simple as it was it has a raw quality to it that still make it one of my favorite of all our group's videos. Maybe I’m just attached to it because it’s the one that started it all.
It wasn’t long before I was interested in actually doing it on a more regular basis. It didn’t take much of a push from my girlfriend Allie and her best friend Sara to get me to try it again. This time I was prepared and bought better equipment from my studio. Of course, there’s nothing I can do in half measures so it wasn’t long before I was talked into “hunting” on a regular basis. At the time my girlfriend worked a schedule where we weren’t off on the same nights so in the early stages it was basically me and Sara just hanging out in creepy places with a digital recorder I bought at Walmart. It was fun, it filled a weekend, and it was pretty addictive. Soon Allie’s schedule changed and she was able to come along with us and I realized that with a group we could really do more. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I somehow transitioned from ghost hunter to paranormal investigator. There were things I wanted to do, I knew how I wanted them done, and I was fortunate enough to have people around me who were okay with me directing.
Eventually, I recruited my sister and by default, her (now husband) came with her. They knew of a couple of creepy places that we hadn’t been to yet and her enthusiasm made her a natural fit. Not long after that my friend Mike had taken an interest in what we were up to and offered to help look up background info, and appear as an interviewee for our videos where we didn’t have eye witnesses. All in all, I got lucky and it all fit together very well and still works because we continue to improve.
I would imagine that most groups start the way I described above. One person becomes interested in something, then eventually they rope their friends and significant others into their shenanigans. It’s a good way to go if your friends all happen to be competent. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case and not everyone has friends that share their interests especially when it involves stalking around graveyards and abandoned buildings.
My advice is if you are going to start a group, first make sure it’s really something you want to do. It becomes a job that will take up a significant amount of your time. If you’re starting it you will probably have plans to run it, and it’s damned hard work. If you are going to do work as a hobby, I suggest you absolutely have a passion for it. Do some stuff on your own or just with a friend and see how it goes. Not just once but a few times. If it still holds your interest it’s time to shop around.
If you don’t already have people around you who share your passion that you can depend on you will have to find them. It’s much easier said than done. If you would have asked me where to find people in 2013 I would have given you a blank stare. Now here I am in 2016 and I get constant requests from people wanting to go with us. It seems once you actually get a group started everyone comes out of the woodwork. But, that’s the answer. Look to already established groups in surrounding areas; if you ask you will almost certainly find some leads on other people looking for groups there. The already established group typically aren’t accepting members unless they advertise they are looking for members. At this point I think I have talked and met with at least ten other groups and they all say the same thing; I wish I didn’t get so many e-mails from people just asking if they can join my group. So, give them a break, don’t ask if you can join their group, and instead ask if they have anyone in their circle that is looking to be in a group or looking to start one.
Another option that I only recently found out about. Paranormal Expos/Conventions. Turns out, that’s a thing. I never really would have known until our group started getting invited to them. The area is prime ground for networking with people that share your passion.
Finally, conduct an interview. Just as you would if you were hiring someone for a job. Depending on what your goals, beliefs, and budget are you may be looking for different things than the potential team member. Make sure there’s chemistry. Make sure that you can have a functional relationship and be okay with taking direction from each other. With anything, bickering will ruin anything you hope to accomplish. The most important thing about having a group is that the group can function like a team and that you have a pre-stated goal in mind for your team.. Learn to be flexible, and help each other to accomplish your set goals.