Currently we have 11 members, and that includes the addition of our two newest members as of June 2014. Before June 2014, our last member we added to the team was in June 2011. At our highest member count, I believe we had somewhere around 18-20 members and that was in 2007. I quickly learned that even in a very large location, that many people is entirely too many. We have had many people come and go over the years for various reasons, and it is difficult having a constant shift due to changing members and the number of people on the team. It took going through so many members to find out who and what will work for us. We wanted dedicated members, long term members and not thrill seeker types. I used an application process when we were open to new members and that helped me get a better idea of why people wanted to join. And when we did invite people to join, if our team was not for them or paranormal investigation was not for them, they moved on.
Around 2009-2010 our membership began to really stabilize and we picked up the majority of our current long term members during that time. I found people who not only wanted to investigate the paranormal passionately, but also were willing to step up and be a part of our (at the time) new ghost tours we were building. Our current membership works, we all are different but everyone is dedicated. We have a family-like relationship with one another, and each member has gone above and beyond to make HPIR the best it can be. At 9 members (up until June 2014) we felt that we were strong, stable and adding any more would make our group too large.
You are probably wondering since we are not seeking new members, why did we add two new members in 2014? - Well our two new members came to us during a time we were not looking to add anyone to our team. They had contacted us about membership and we told them that our membership was full. However, come tour time they offered to help us. During tour season we always need extra helpers and although we need that extra help badly we can't take on extra members to get that help. We allowed them to help us, and by helping us they showed us something they were willing to go above and beyond, be there when we needed them and they were there for every event we needed help with. We saw they were paranormal enthusiasts, they investigated the paranormal on their own before they became members. We enjoyed their company, talking paranormal with them and they became our friends. They were a natural fit for our team, so we invited them to join us. It came to be not because we were looking, but became they found their way to us and their persistence paid off for them. I can't say that the next person who comes along and who is persistent will automatically be added to our team, because we are at 11 members and well I thought 9 was plenty before we added 2 more.
Sometimes I get e-mails from people who don't necessarily want to join our team but just want to go investigate with us, and unfortunately the answer is no to that too. We offer public events that give people a chance to visit some haunted places, and even have allowed them to do a little bit of ghost hunting too. But in a general sense, we can't allow just anyone to come with us. Privacy of the people we investigate for is a big issue, so is liability issues as well. Our members must provide us with personal identification, sign disclaimers, sign safety forms and I keep a file on all our members in case we ever have a legal issue with any of them. Not every paranormal group is going to be quite so strict, but we are and we take what we do very serious.
But with all of that being said, right now there are so many places that are open to allow people to come in and ghost hunt for a fee, there are almost limitless opportunities to experience the paranormal world in some way. There are other groups in the area that are probably looking for members (if you are one of those groups, feel free to contact us for membership referrals), or if you don't want to join an existing group start one of your own, there is always room for more! I even have a blog post on forming your own group!
I hope this gives you a little insight as to why we are not planning to add any more new members to our team anytime soon, but hopefully you will find a way to experience your desire to investigate the paranormal!
Melissa - HPIR Founder