I'll admit that my first paranormal encounter happened at a time when me and my friends were already obsessed with the unexplained, but there were too many things happening to dismiss it as mass hysteria. We were all probably about 11 or 12, I forget how old, but we were in middle school, and we were all in boy scouts. We took camping trips from time to time at a remote spot called Hills and Hollows. I know it sounds stupid, but it was right next to a really old graveyard, the southern border of the camp grounds was the graveyard. We would sneak into the graveyard often, but nothing ever actually happened there. But the fact that the graveyard was so near just seems kind of related. Plus the most famous and notable landmark in the campgrounds was a really steep dried up riverbed known as Devil's Den, how it got that name I don't know.
As kids we somehow came to the conclusion that Devil Worshipers lived and worshipped at Hills and Hollows, and we spent most of our camp outs chasing after them, the chase naturally led us to the graveyard, but obviously we never found anything, although it gave us quite the scare. We were very organized in our beliefs, anytime we would venture out into the dark we would leave two guards at the top of the trail at the camp (even though all of the fathers were in the camp). We would fashion weapons out of limbs, and we would organize the search parties much like a Vietnam platoon: pointman, clean-up, etc. Walkie Talkie communication was usually involved, usually between the search party and the guards back at camp. One time all of us brought a pair of Walkie Talies, and we appointed one kid "Communications Officer" and he sat in the "Communications Tent" with one unit from each set while we were all split up in different groups, and the "Communications Officer" relayed the information coming in from various groups to the others.
One weekend we were out on yet another campout, and it was pretty uneventful, we weren't even out chasing the Devil Worshipers, we were just doing Scout stuff. This was all distrupted when the weird kids (these were the kind of retarded kids who always seemed to be the ones to spot the supernatural things, and always seemed to hang out with each other) came running into camp claiming they had seen a ghost not far from Devil's Den. We were all so into the chase of Devil Worshippers and the supernatural (to the dismay of the fathers) that we never questioned the weird kids on these matters, and we quickly rushed out after the ghost. So here we were, 15 kids running though the woods chasing after ghosts on the word of some "special" kids.
The spot that they led us too was located along the dry riverbed that led to Devil's Den, but about a mile down the dried up river. While Devil's Den was a steep trench that was all dirt, the area down from it was a little valley, with grass, trees, etc. But still a steep ditch. I don't think I mentioned it, but it was 9-10 at night at this time.
When we reached the spot those who had led us there were noticably nervous, bordering on freaking out. The rest of us just thought of the whole thing as a game. A couple of us had brought shovels along as weapons, and for some reason somebody thought that we should start digging a foxhole so that we could watch for the ghost out of sight. We started digging and things started to get scary, the wind picked up noticably, kids started to hear noises, and the "special kids" started crying and talking about the "voices" while they were crying.
We all started to hear a very strange sound, which we all chalked up to the wind, and the three of us with the shovels kept digging, suddenly both me and another kid with a shovel whose name was Jamie hit something metal at the same time, the instant our shovels hit it, the retarded kids (look, I'm tired of calling them special, and you knew what I meant anyway) started screaming their heads off. Everybody freaked out when they started screaming, and we all ran off, those of us digging dropped the shovels, it turned into marathon back to camp. This was about 10 years ago, but I can still remember the run like it was yesterday, 15 kids sprinting half a mile, no talking or screaming, just 15 sets of feet bouncing off the ground and the panting of scared and out of breath children.
The fathers back at camp naturally thought this was our usual "Devil Worshiper" hysteria, but seeing that we were more worked up than usual they forbid us from leaving camp for the rest of the night. Later on as I was sitting by the fire my buddy Bryan came and sat next to me and told me that he and a few others were going to go back to the spot, check it out, and gather up the shovels that we had left behind, they were going to wait until the fathers were asleep.
I went to bed in my tent with my dad, but I didn't fall asleep, I was just thinking about my friends (unusually brave for their age now that I think of it) who had gone back to the spot that had scared us all half to death. Late at night I heard their footsteps running back into camp, with my father fast asleep, I peeked out the tent flap to see the 3 of them standing next to the still burning fire talking to each other. I walked out, and I was happy to see that they had brought back the shovels, but when I saw the looks on their faces I was scared. They looked like crap, I couldn't explain it at the time, but now I can only describe it as the famous 1000 Yard Stare painting of a WWII GI. They didn't look like 11-12 year old kids anymore, they had seen something. Luckily they weren't scarred or anything, I knew these 3 guys for many more years and they are still fine to this day (except for one who is dead), I think they were just kind of in shock from what they had just seen.
One of the guys, a kid named Jamie, was holding something. It looked like a yard sign, except for much smaller, I asked what it was and all he said was "This is what we hit". He handed it to me, and it was a small metal grave marker, we could tell because it had a name and birth date and death date on it plus we had seen a few at the cemetary. The date of death was sometime in the 50's, I forget the exact year now. But it was far from the graveyard, probably a half mile away. They didn't say what happened at the site, but over the years of asking the three about it I got the picture.
Apparently when they reached the site they picked up the shovels, and with their flashlights they saw the object, when they picked it up they noticed some sort of illumination from the bottom of the steep ditch, it apparently took some sort of human form, and about this time the wind started blowing again, and Jamie realized what was in his hand, and started screaming, this led to screaming from the others, and they ran back to camp much like we all had earlier in the night.
I don't know if this has anything to do with the story, but Jamie, the kid who first picked up the grave marker, came down with Leukemia at age 14 and died 2 years after diagnosis. I don't want to get emotional, but in telling this story I get a little sad, seeing as how he was braver than I was in heading back to the site of our scare, and he and I were the two who both hit the grave marker.