The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Worship

August 24, 2007

AP: At spiritualist camp, they see dead people

The Associated Press

WONEWOC, Wis. — They see dead people on Spook Hill.

They’re walking around the grounds, sitting in the dining hall and in the pews at the abandoned church. Kids, heard by visitors but usually only seen by those trained to see into the spirit world, play outside the rustic and run-down cabins.

“Oh yeah, they’re all over the place,” says Judy Ulch, a jovial 60-year-old who claims not only to see dead people but also receive messages from them that she passes on to their loved ones who pay $40 per half hour for her services.

“Sometimes I see them so close, I see the stubble on their face,” Ulch says.

Ulch and other self-described mediums live at the Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp every summer, welcoming guests from around the country who come for visits between 15 minutes and overnight to get insight into their lives from the dearly departed.

They seek hope, solace and inspiration. And sometimes they just come for a fun day out with friends. Or to try to disprove what Ulch and others claim to be their ability to see spirits.

Wonewoc is one of 13 spiritualism camps across the country. It first opened in 1893 and is in its 106th summer season. For years visitors arrived by train and climbed the hill to the wooded bluff overlooking the small town, with a population now of just over 800.

The 37-acre camp is run by followers of Spiritualism, a religion that started in the mid-1800s and reached the height of its popularity at the end of that century, but that still maintains an estimated 250,000 followers.

Some tenets of Spiritualism are that people live on after death and they can be communicated with using a medium like Ulch or Hilda First. First claims messages from a spirit named Fairchild who speaks to her in Shakespearean English.

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