Monday, May 14, 2012

Founders Advice for Starting Your Own Paranormal Group

I received an e-mail the other day asking how to go about starting your own paranormal group. I thought I’d offer my response to everyone out there who might be looking to start their own team now or sometime in the future. I will offer my advice based on how I run my group, which may not suit everyone out there. But here are my personal opinions, with practical tips and ideas for starting, and running a successful paranormal investigation team.

  • Start off slow: While you may be eager to jump right into investigations, if you are inexperienced you may want to start out by doing some research first. Get a good beginners book or find some basics to ghost hunting articles on the web to expand your knowledge of investigation techniques, equipment and protocol. Your first investigations should be held in either public locations where you pay to investigate or even at family and friends homes. You want to gain a little first hand experience before offering your groups services to the general public. Eventually you will find plenty of opportunities for investigations when you are ready.
  • Rules to live by: A good foundation is the key to a good group. You want to set some basic rules for your group and its members, and stick by those rules. Your rules should be practical and consider safety, wellbeing and integrity within the group. HPIR has a set of guidelines and membership requirements and I typically revise them on a yearly basis just to make them adapt to any changes within the groups structure. Our rules are not too demanding, because lets face it, who wants to join a group with a list of rules a mile long that are too strict to allow for any enjoyment of investigating? Our guidelines are expected to be followed but are not so unreasonable that we can not enjoy what we do.
  • Building a team: I honestly think the most difficult task in getting a team together is finding the right people and building a successful team from that. Unless you already have a close knit group of friends or family who you are investigating with, building a team from scratch can prove to be tough. Over the years I have had some wonderful individuals who have been part of my team, and others not so much. It can be difficult to find people who will stick with the team for the long haul, some people are just looking for a thrill and find themselves bored very quickly and they quit. Others are very dedicated but sometimes life gets in the way, or their path may just go in a different direction. You may have members come and go it’s something no team is immune to. Many teams have broken up or just completely been disbanded over conflicts among members. If you have a strong leadership, little tolerance for drama, and a welcoming environment for your members you can build a successful team. There may be times that you have to part ways with a member but keep in mind that you should always do what is best for the team as a whole and the person who is parting ways just has to find their own path. I offer an application process for perspective new members. An application is a good way to get to know someone before meeting them and an interview with you and your team will give you some indication if the perspective member will be a good addition to your team. Make sure any perspective member is aware of your group’s rules, protocols and any additional expectations before they join.
  • The right equipment: The best equipment is not always the most expensive equipment and it’s pretty simple and easy to get an equipment base built up. If you own a camera you are on your way to a basic ghost hunting kit. You can start off as simple with a camera, voice recorder, notebook and pen. If you can afford to go all out for more equipment to start with that is great, but not everyone can do this. I have always relied on what equipment I own myself and anything other members bring with them to an investigation is an added bonus. Over the years I have added pieces of equipment to my kit and as a group we have raised money to purchase more expensive equipment. It’s really up to each individual on what type of equipment you want to use within your group, but I highly recommend that you know the equipment that you use, what it is capable of and what it isn’t capable of. Ghost hunting is not a real science that allows us have these devices that were made specifically to detect a ghost. Every piece of equipment in existence today, even those items made specifically for ghost hunting are all based on theory and it really all boils down to what you believe your equipment can do for you.
  • Mission Possible: Ask yourself what is my mission in forming this team? I would say the most common mission is to help others in dealing with paranormal activity. Maybe your mission falls in line with the general population of teams, or perhaps it differs in some way. You may have to really consider what you want to accomplish with your team and what direction you want your team to go. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer with what your mission should be, but consider the reasons you want to start a group and go from there.
  • Enjoy what you do: I think it goes without saying that if you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t want to do it. While it’s important to take investigations seriously, there has to be a little down time to enjoy a laugh or spend time getting to know your team. It is generally a good idea to occasionally organize group events or meetings outside of investigations where you all can get together and talk, laugh or to discuss any team problems. Our group typically has a picnic every year to celebrate our group’s anniversary, monthly meetings, and other little gatherings throughout the year.
  • Avoid Burnout: I know there are some groups out there that investigate on a weekly basis or perhaps even more often. I think it’s great to have many opportunities to investigate but too much too often can become monotonous and lead to burnout. You will have to decide what amount of investigations suit your desire but as with anything, give yourself the occasional break to relax and time off when needed. Our group philosophy with both evidence and investigations is quality over quantity. We do not investigate every weekend, but when we do investigate we generally have had time to do some research on the place beforehand. We are not in a race to see how many investigations we can do, we investigate as opportunities present themselves but other times we will seek investigations when we are eager to get out there and do a case or there is a particular location we want to investigate.
  • You will never know it all: Always keep in mind that you will never have all the answers. There are no experts in this field, paranormal investigation is not recognized by the scientific community because paranormal activity is not something you can put in a pretty little box, carry it into the laboratory and study it under a microscope. Will paranormal investigation one day lead to an amazing breakthrough for the scientific community? Well, we will never know unless we try. I would like to at least think that if enough substantial evidence is found that maybe one day a few scientists out there might start scratching their heads and thinking hmm….

There you have it, there are some basic pointers for getting a team started and keeping it going once you do. I don't think this covers everything, but this blog could go on for quite a while if I keep writing lol.

Like I said before, these tips are based off of my personal opinions for leading a paranormal investigation team. The summer of 2012 will make HPIR’s 6th year as a group and I have experienced many ups and downs along the way. I am proud of HPIR and there is no way I can give myself all the credit for building a great team of people. It has taken hard work from all of us and we all have contributed to laying a foundation for a stable and productive group.


HPIR Founder


  1. This is indeed excellent starting guidelines, IMHO. Thank you most kindly.

  2. Thank you for the info, me and my brother wish to start a group and investigate locations!

  3. Thank you for info, going to Ohio state reformatory sept 2nd

  4. My group is mostly brave children, and I am afraid that we don't have enough money for equipment. What should we do?

    1. Look at things you do have, like a smartphone. Photos and audio recording is a simple place to start.

  5. Very informative! I was just browsing through this link in the web. As young man growing up I've had a a gift to see things that were at the time very overwhelming and not understandable until I've learned to use it as a tool.