Webeloree 2015

11050092_10207584023509343_3212537886595806680_nLast weekend was a whirlwind, overnight camping trip to hills of El Cerrito and Camp Herms with Den 7 of Pack 1155 out of Brentwood. Our den was fortunate enough have all the boys except one join in the outdoor fun. It was a very long Saturday, after a late Friday night due to The6th Floor Haunt at Vintage Parkway Elementary and there was even some doubt cast upon our trip because our new Coleman tent had not arrived. Thankfully the tent arrived in the late afternoon, but I was putting together our equipment late into Friday night.

The den leader and I were provided some “questionable” information regarding just how early we should arrive at Camp Herms. Being someone who does not like to run late I had my son up and getting dresser about 4:30AM on Saturday morning. We were rolling out of Oakley before 5AM and the GPS reading just about an hour of travel time down Highway 4 to I-80 before arriving at El Cerrito.

We rolled up and there was no one to be seen. In fact the organizers weren’t even ready to receive scouts, as it wasn’t even 6AM yet. We helped move some tables up to the BB gun range that would be used for learning geology. Once that was complete, Zachary slept and I wasted time on my mobile device. As the daylight advance on Camp Herms, headlights started rolling up to the registration area. A few minutes later registration opened, we got our camp itinerary and were ushered to the parking area.

12065923_10207584024589370_4884238561046731419_nWe were fortunate to see some of the other scouts from our den and we all walked down to the lower field, which we would call home for the night, as scouts were escorted to different areas depending on which pack they were grouped into, we were considered ‘Badgers’ for the weekend. The boys were required to set up their own tent, easy for some, not so for others.Having never unrolled our tent, it wasn’t overly complicated but Zachary did require some help flexing the poles in order to pop the tent up. He did a fine job and as I looked around the camping ground many parents were involved in the setting up of tents.

About 45 minutes later, all the scouts and parents met topside, near the registration area for the raising of the flag and a bit of history from the leader in charge for the weekend. Each adventure was explained, as the boys (dens) were broke into groups and we were off to Earth Rocks (geology). Each adventure lasted about 1:20, with a 10 minute transition time. After we completed out second adventure, Into the Woods, we broke for lunch. This meal was brought by the scouts and not provided by Camp Herms. Zachary and I both had sandwiches, chips and granola bars that tied us over until dinner. We also made sure we stayed well hydrated, as I brought my daypack with 100 oz of water flavored with Nuun tablets.

After lunch, I’ll be honest, my butt was dragging and the late night prior was catching up to me. As we broke from lunch we said good bye to the Astro Wizard, who provided some entertaining scientific learning after lunch and we made our way to the Camper adventure. The boys were a bit pressed for time and were rushed through tying a bowline, but they did learn how to set up a campfire and we made our foil packs (Hobo Stew) to be cooked for dinner. The boys then learned about geocaching and located their first treasure.

As time expired we headed to the final adventure of the day, Aware and Care. It was all I could do to stay awake. The scouts learned sign language and people with disabilities and wrote Halloween cards for a seniors home. It seemed to be the longest part of the day, as the sun began to set on the rock quarry in which Camp Herms is located. At the conclusion of the adventure we all got back together near the fire ring and discussed what would happen for the rest of the evening. Half the groups would go on a hike around the rim of the camp, the other half would eat.

12109244_10207584024149359_1993759384600540099_nThankfully, our boys were in the right group and we go to eat. I have to admit, Hobo Stew was not sounding too appetizing. I made the vegetarian version, which was two scoops of chopped, red potatoes, two scoops of peas and carrots and two scoops of assorted veggies, a small topping of sliced, white onion and some Italian dressing. To be honest, this wasn’t sounding very tasty. All afternoon long, the days had discussed having a pizza delivered for dinner, as a residential area backed up the lower field, where we were camping. This idea, as well as finding a local bar fell by the wayside and we ate Hobo Stew.

While it didn’t sound good, it tasted wonderful! Guess that means I was hungry, as I covered my stew in hot sauce and red pepper flakes. Thankfully I had saved my second sandwich from lunch and was offered some roti from a fellow scouter’s dad. Dinner turned out to a time to relax and reflect on the day. But the way was far from over.

After dinner, we switched with the other group and it was time to go hike. Now with the sun completely over the horizon, we put in about a 2 mile hike, which was very informative and relaxing. Looking out at the lights over the bay area and exploring the landscape above the quarry and overlooking Wildcat Canyon. All the boys had a great time with the headlamps and flashlights carefully navigating their way on the trails during darkness.

All the scout reconvened at the camp fire for skits and songs to close out the evening. Led by the Boy Scouts, many of the dens provided entertainment around the campfire as a very active day was winding down and coming to a close. At the conclusion of the event, we headed back to the lower field. It took me about 20 minutes and I was tucked away in my tent falling asleep. I know Zachary stayed up and played with the other boys, as they were in and around the tents for the next 90 minutes or so. It was lights out at 10PM.

12191549_10207584023789350_8844476084064051627_nThe following morning came early, as the morning dew settled on the outside of the tent. It would be a short day, as a continental breakfast, duty to God and retiring the flag were the only activities on the agenda. We got dressed and made our way up the hill to the kitchen to get breakfast. After about 25 minutes, many of the parents started to move their cars down the hills, parking on the curbs next to the lower field to make it easier to leave the camp. Our entire den did not make the retiring of the flag, as Zachary and I were  in the truck on the way home by about 8AM.

All in all it was a very productive weekend! All our boys are well on their way to earning their Webelos badge, as well as their Arrow of Light. We planned out our den meeting and achievements through April, which will put the boys well ahead of schedule to earn their badges possibly even a Super Achiever award for completing all the electives. It was a long weekend, but worth the time. Zachary enjoyed hanging out with the boys from his den, hiking, camping, eating Hobo Stew, learning about rocks and knots, plants and trees and having a great time. All this without any electronic devices. Pretty damn amazing, the parents on the other hand…highly recommended to go to the Webeloree!

2015 Haunted House: Post Mortem

Last Friday the kids, parents and staff of Vintage Parkway enjoyed a very successful Harvest Carnival organized by the PTA. The high point for most, The 6th Fright, which is the name I have given the haunted house since taking charge of the yearly project. This year was a lot of work, a lot of stress, but the returns in the form of crying, laughing and screaming were worth with.

After last year, I was very disappointed and honestly had very little inspiration to put in weeks of work with little return. Seen from a guest point of view, they don’t understand the time, effort and work that goes into a haunt, all they see is the final product. This year it wasn’t until September that I got around to putting together a layout and idea for what the haunt would be. In fact, it was the best haunt we have had in the 3 years I have been in charge.

Unfortunately this haunting season started off rough, as I took vacation in early October, planning on getting into the school during their fall break, while my wife and son played at Disneyland. What I wasn’t told, a week later was the district decided to re-tile the kitchen floor, which delayed janitorial from waxing the auditorium. All this confusion added up to being delayed two weeks and finally getting access the stage on October 12, providing 10 days to get the haunt up.

The most challenging part was yet to come. I knew I would not have my haunt partner, Mark G. as he held school hours and coached softball and soccer for his daughter. Thankfully he made a cameo and put in a few good hours. I also have Tom V. to thank for his knowledge and help in finishing off the details. There was one mom, Cathy W. who hung clown masks the 4th graders painted in a hallway. Beyond that, there was no help from ANY parents, which is very unfortunate.

The biggest problem Mark and I faced last year was getting the adult participation on the day of the haunt. Sorry, I can’t trust teenagers to be responsible, as they have acted unruly and wild the past 3 years. Thankfully the PTA (as usual) stepped up and delivered five dads who each took up roles in the haunt. This was a first!

Parents need to realize if there is no one to take responsibility after next year, the haunted house could fall by the wayside, which means the Harvest Carnival doesn’t make the as much money, which means the teachers and students lose. Then again, I guess most parents don’t care.

As for the haunt, it turned out to be a successful night full of thrills and excitement as the screams returned! What made this successful was the simplicity of the layout with a total of 5 areas or guests to walk through. This year I finally decided on a clown theme, which was introduced last year, but we took it up a notch this year. Just wait for next year (apologies to all those who despise clowns…mwhahaha!)! There were some Internet inspired, clown ideas I wanted to include, but time got the best of me and they will be worked on for next year. This included clown costume, which I kept pushing off, only to buy a Spirit costume a few days before the haunt.

This year we brought back two rooms; dot room and drop panel hallway back to The 6th Fright. Both are excellent scares and for the first time, I got to experience the dot room while standing in front of the costume, but in it. What an outstanding scare! The drop panels worked well, but I need to fix them before next year and come up with a better way to let the individuals behind the panels know when guests are coming. Tom recommended a motion sensor. Last year I used a monitor and video camera, which didn’t come off as it did well as it did for Hellmouth (see video). Hopefully we can get this perfect in 2016.

The dot room is getting a bit dated, as this was the third year I had hung the sheets. It’s a great haunt idea, but many guests at the school knew who or what was coming when they walked into the 9’x9′ room. Still the scares were awesome! The screaming was music to my ears! The only downside this year was the zipper on the Black Zentai Body Suit broke, which means we will have to buy and repaint the suit for next year. This would also be the time to repaint all the colored dots as well. Lots of work, but I do feel the reward would be worth it.

hand_hallwayTo start the haunt guests made their way through the entrance and turned right into the Hallway of Hands. I built 7 more wooden wall panels, each measuring 4’x8′ to allow us to screw the hands into the hallways. Inspiration came from this Pinterest post. Originally I had planned on 60  down this 12′ hallway that turns right, but only bought 36 severed arms. In addition to the plastic arms, I drilled five sets of 4 inch holes for kids to stick their arms through. This was the only participation I planned for 5th graders inside the haunt for numerous reasons. First it takes time away from processing guests to switch out kids who want to scare. I tried to minimize that time by using them near the entrance. Unfortunately some kids took it upon themselves to stand around the dark corners scaring people or worse yelling through the holes instead of placing their arms in them.

clowning_aroundAt the end of the drop panel hallway I was planning on narrow hallway to transition to the dot room. Unfortunately I miscalculated the stage dimensions by 2 feet and this hallway was a bit wider than I had originally anticipated. I did however make the area work, hanging  two clowns, while smearing white paint and writing on the walls, then dripped blood over the writing. I also added 6′ twitching clown I named Twitchy, activated by a foot pad. This room also had the emergency exit, just in case someone couldn’t continue on.

clown_hallwayPlaying on the clown theme I loaded up a 3 foot wide hallway with 200 balloons and hung clown masks painted by the 4th grade classes. This 20 foot hallway connected the dot room and the entrance to the laser vortex. The balloons were a bad idea, as they floated through hallways into rooms they weren’t supposed to be in. I think most of balloons ended up in the laser vortex room. Those that stayed in the hallway were popped by myself, as the clown or by guests.  About 10 feet down on the right side was a notched that housed Chester the Jester, a clown in toy box that would pop up when activated. This was also the hallway that I used to scare in. It also allowed me quick and easy movement to any part of the haunt within seconds to check on guests or those adults who were helping to scare.

laser_vortex1The final scare of the night was a new addition to the haunt, the laser vortex, which was at the end of the balloon hallway. Can’t tell you the number of people who stopped and had no idea where to go with ‘DO NOT ENTER’ painted on the vortex entrance. No problem, as the crazy clown would usher people in the proper direction. “Walk toward the green light!” Once inside it was a quick right turn into the laser vortex. This was the first time I had attempted this sort of room in a haunt and I wasn’t sure if it could be pulled off indoors, let alone in just 20 feet of space.

laser_vortexInspired by this laser vortex video, I figured this would be something neat to add to our haunt. I found online instructions, ordered the parts and with the help of Tom, we put it together and began testing. The 200mW green laser worked outstanding! I coupled this with a Chauvet 1301 Hurricane fog machine and a fan for a stunning effect on the night of the haunt. Even at 20 feet, the hallway was long enough and at 8 feet wide allowed people to make their way safely to the exit. We did struggle to get those fantastic effects as seen some of the You Tube videos at time. Even had some teenagers kick over the fog machine remote and it spewed too much fog out with ruined the overall effect for a time. Still I was  very pleased with this inexpensive haunt idea.

Here’s video from our testing a day before we went live with the haunt. There are some changes that will be made for next year, but it was still a very effective. Thanks must also go out of Mark Klem, who provided an original sound score for the laser vortex.

All in all it was a very successful night. I was a bit disappointed, with about 30 minutes to go in the Harvest Carnival there were very few people coming through. I was shocked when I walked out and there was no queue, which is something we have not seen in the past few years. Not quite sure what to make of it, but there was a long line stretching past the haunt for the trunk or treat display. Still can’t figure it out. I do we know we took a lot of tickets and got many, many people through.  Next year will be my final year in charge of the haunt and I guarantee we will go out in style!

Dick Collins Firetrails 50: DNF

‘DNF’ three letters no runners wants to see when they view the results of their last race. For me, it was bound to happen and honestly I am not surprised with the struggles I faced this past Saturday when I participated with Brian N. in the Dick Collins Firetrails 50. It was my second 50 mile attempt, the first coming this past April when I ran the American River 50 Mile Endurance Race and finished 8 minutes from the 14 hour cutoff time. It was an amazing accomplishment for me to see just how far I could push my body, physically and mentally. Saturday was the same distance, but factors leading up to the race were against me. Still a ‘DNF’ is better than a ‘DNS’ (Did not start) and I was able to complete nearly 22 miles.

course_elevationStill I find it very difficult to consider myself an ultra runner, completing 3 ultra races (two 50k and one 50M), yet based on the distance I am an ultra runner. Being fast is not necessary, being consistent is important especially when it comes to the long distance running. Only having one 50 mile race under my belt made the Firetrails 50 a real challenge. Viewing the course profile, there was rarely ever level ground on this course that saw runners start at Lake Chabot and run the ridge to Tilden Park, make the turn around at mile 26 and return. A total of 50 miles with an elevation change of 7,800 feet. The elevation alone was cause for concern when I registered, but felt confident in my running abilities to “get it done.”

For Brian N. and I the day did not start off well. As we hit the first hill about 1.75 miles in Brian was experiencing ankle pain. Unlike AR50 and running on a bum ankle for 21+ miles, he pulled out of the race at mile 3.2, the first aid station and walked back to the start/finish line. I kept looking behind me for the next few miles hoping to catch sight of him, but I never saw him. I received a message on Facebook (yeah I was running while posting updates) saying, “keep going brother! i dropped im at skyline gate.” While I was disheartened to hear the news, I attempted to remained focused and continued running.

firetrails50_splitsThe split chart I created was based on each aid station and the cutoff times enforced by the race director. There was a 13 hour time limit, which was hour shorter than what we had at the AR50, a race I finished in 13:52:50 with not much time to spare, but I knew departing the final aid station (at AR) I would finish. Going into Firetrails I was concerned on where we could make up :52 minutes. The terrain and elevation were against us from the start with 7,800 feet elevation change, this race was challenging! While I wasn’t feeling confident before the race began I had no idea just how bad it was going to get.

Everything was going well through mile 10.5 when I arrived at Big Bear Gate, I was 7 minutes behind my estimated arrival time at 10:05 A.M. I was running about 6 minutes ahead of schedule up to this point. Just prior to this checkout I shared on Facebook, “9 miles in just over 2 hours not sure how far back Brian N is with ankle problem.” If I would have been a bit more coherent at this point I would have done the math in my head, maybe it was a task I was avoiding because I knew what the outcome and time wasn’t on my side. For much of first 15 miles, I based my split times on a 15 minute mile or 4 miles an hour. This was about 30 seconds shorter than what was required over the entire 50 miles in order to finish.

Problems truly began about mile 15, about 3 hours, 45 minutes into the race. As I came up the hill I saw Brian, which boosted my confidence that I could keep going, but pulled into the aid station :29 minutes behind my estimated arrival at 11:18 A.M. The last 3.5 miles had been literally been an uphill battle, one that I conquered but cost me in overall time and amount of energy expended. My feet were throbbing, lower back was aching and I was drenched in sweat as I refueled. Unlike AR, I didn’t spend much time at any of the aid stations, needing to get back out on the course as time was a factor and out of my control.

firetrails_elevationThe run to Sibley Volcanic aid station was only 3.4 miles, it was during this segment of the run I began seeing opposite direction runners. While not thinking clearly and a bit discouraged, the math wasn’t adding up and I questioned this, “how do we have runners already heading back to Lake Chabot from the turn?” It wasn’t until I slowly started the up the mile long, 600+ foot hill to Steam Trains aid station that I realized these were marathon runners, not the 50 mile runners. This was a very technical portion of the course, the footing was terrible. Not only did I need to watch every step I took, I had to keep my head up and alert for runners flying down this steep slope.

What I found interesting as I got closer to the turn around area, the volunteers (I thank them all!) were more boisterous, calling you by name and cheering you one. This meant a considerable amount as I came out of the trees and could see the aid station amd Brian N. waiting for me. I felt their energy and mustered what little I had left to finish this portion of the trail as strong as possible. By this point I wasn’t tracking my split time, I know I was well behind the curve. Talking to Brian helped, but I knew from looking at my split chart it was going to be another uphill battle to Stream Trains aid station.

At this point, it was a matter of pride, my body was barely responding and the worst was yet to come. Mile 19 cost me nearly 30 minutes and I was physically dragging. I overheard runners going the other direction say, “I remember being in his position and struggling.” That was salt in the wound for me, but I attempted to remain positive, putting one foot in front of the other. I was also envious of many of the runners who passed me coming downhill and how easy they made it look while I was doing everything I could to get to the next aid station, while sucking down fluids and eating my burritos. One day I want to be that runner, appearing to be gliding down the hills, barely breaking a sweat making this ultra running look second nature. As I glanced at my watch, I snapped back to reality and the quick math told me I had less than 30 minutes to run 4.3 miles and make the 6 hour, 16 minute cutoff.

firetrails50_overallAs I crested the hill I saw the aid station, heard my name and the cheers from volunteers, but my day was done. I unclipped my hydration pack and told the aid station lead I was dropping out after 5:49:25, 21.06 miles and 4,222 feet of elevation (View the entire run as seen in my Garmin 920xt). I was frustrated and discouraged myself, especially after my performance at American River, yet that was a very different race than Firetrails. The elevation and energy required to continually climb was something I was not prepared for. Yet going into the race I knew this. Maybe my conviction to finish was so strong I didn’t want to think otherwise and a ‘DNF’ was out of the question.

After having time to reflect on the race neither Brian or myself were ready to run this race. My running had been spotty at best leading up to Saturday and I was not able to get in a 50k training running about 3 weeks prior. Not that it would have made a world of difference, but it would have been more miles under my belt. I spoke of consistency before, which is something I did not have in my training plan. The planned I had laid out was adequate, but the reality was time was something I did not have much of, being pulled in a number of other directions that seemed to take priority over running. For me, finishing it winning. I don’t need a medal but there is something magical about crossing the finish line. That feeling will be put on hold for now.

The race aside, I felt my fuel and hydration were two aspects that were stronger than my first 50 mile run. This time around I made Unfried Black Beans, courtesy of Protective Diet and placed them in flour tortillas (not PD, sorry Julie). I had considered corn tortillas, but was never able to get them to bend and fold without breaking, so I opted for a 99% fat free flour tortilla. I also bought 10 Larabars of various nature ingredients, none that contain oil or additives, just 3 simple ingredients. The plan was to fuel every 5 miles, a burrito and bar with constant hydration. This time I decided to use Nuun tablets to help replenish my electrolytes. During AR, I got very tired of drinking water and yearned for some sort of flavor, Nuun seemed to fit the bill. I used a few different flavors and only used a few tablets over the course of my 21.06 miles.

Not quite sure when I stopped eating, but I come home with many more burritos than I had planned on, as well as a full container of mac and cheese since I never made it to the turn around at mile 26. I did like my food choices, portable, easy to eat and didn’t cause any stomach problems over the course of my day. I did supplement with a few quartered PB&J sandwiches and some cut bananas as well as a salt tablet from a few aid stations.

Overall it was a true learning experience, maybe bordering on stupid for even attempting 50 miles over such hilly terrain. I know I was not trained well enough to run hills for 13 hours, this was a tough course. Yet in the end I did the best I could and time was not on my side. While I would have loved to cross the finish line, my race was over long before it began, but went out and did what my legs and body would allow. I will make some adjustments and hopefully work up a better training schedule for my next race, which will be sometime early next year.

50 Miles Ahead

ft_logo_250Sometimes I must ask myself, “what the hell am I thinking running 50 miles?” This in front of my the upcoming Dick Collins Firetrails 50 that takes place this Saturday. In front of my second attempt at this distance, I am feeling mentally strong, but physically not ready. Knowing I ran a strong race this past April at the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, I feel confident in my abilities to finish the race inside of the 13 hour time limit.

The key to this race, which has twice as much elevation change than the AR50 did, is to keep moving and stay injury free.  During the last race, Brian N. twisted the ankle and raced on for another 21 miles before calling it a day, just 9 miles short of the finish. I picked up a knee pain about mile 10 that stuck with me the remainder of the day, making for a very long day of running. Like any race once you lose the mental aspect of running it makes it very difficult to finish the race. Those thoughts never entered my mind during the previous race and I feel that after about 12.5 hours we will cross start/finish line.

That total time is contingent on how well I have planned this race based on our average mile time over the entire course. The challenge, which could be seen as the entire race by some, will be making the turn at Tilden Park, where we face a 1200′ climb up Steam Trains. While I had intended to run this portion of the course, I failed to get up to that part of the course, but was able to knock out about 10 miles around Lake Chabot, so our split chart is based on what I have already run. With any luck on Saturday we SHOULD finish with about :24 minutes to spare. Yet, as we saw at the AR50, you can quickly loose that “extra time.” I know I don’t need to remind Brian about “the meat grinder.”

I swore I was going to fuel myself better during this race, but haven’t really come with any new alternatives. Right now I am considering burritos, every 5 miles and a bowl of mac & cheese at mile 26. Based on the room in my hydration pack, I should be able to get enough burritos to cover the first half of the race and reload at the midway point. The mac and cheese will be “dairy free” and cheese free. I can see many scratching their heads, “how is that cheese?” What I need is for my fuel to stay fresh as the day rolls on. I got tired of dates and my homemade Larabars before we were halfway through the race.

The other issue was my hydration. While I felt hydrated all race, water got boring to drink. I made the mistake of picking up a cup of lemon line and talk about sugary! It was a nice change, but no way am I going to hydrate with liquids like this. I do plan on picking up some Nuun Hydration tablets. I have used these a few times during training runs and while I had hoped to remain supplement free, I feel confident this decision will be beneficial during the race.

The best part of the race, running with my partner, Brian N. This will be our third race together and our running abilities are very similar. We were makes great time (for us) during the AR50 until injuries beset both of us, which slowed our pace. But being able to communicate, as well as lead and follow over the course of the day really helps. Listening to music is nice, although I won’t be bringing any, just talking and having someone keep pushing you really helps. I also expect to see Amer B. at some of the aid stations. It was his grin and hug that really gave me that second wind and made me believe “yes, I will finish this race!” While it would be better to have Amer racing along side, injury has him sidelined, but what better way to support those who run?

As with my first 50 mile race, the goal is to finish. While not worried about my overall time, as long I cross the finish line, I win. It’s another opportunity to see how far I can push my body. Hopefully I can provide some images and text via Facebook and Instagram during the race. Looking forward to the challenge.

The 6th Fright: Clowning Around

evilclownsAt the end of October last year, I was rather frustrated with how The 6th Fright went at Vintage Parkway, my son’s elementary school in Oakley. Lots of little problems that were overlooked a budget that went well over what I should have spent and a lack of foot traffic because of a late opening all contributed to having very little desire to construct a haunt this year. But, as all things go, it’s nearing the end of September and that desire and drive has FINALLY reappeared. It’s taken longer than I wanted, for the creative juices to get flowing, but the clowns are nearly ready to be let out, so to speak.

Building on last year’s theme, I have made the unpopular decision to center the haunt around clowns. Many adults and kids have this phobia of clowns (coulrophobia), as do teachers and staff, which makes this year all that more enjoyable for those of us behind the scenes. It will be a fun house of clowns everywhere you look. Originally I intended to do a carnival theme, but was lost for good ideas outside of clowns and parent participation, which is next to non-existent the past 2 years.

This year I will bring back some haunts that I have included the past few years, but also show off a few new ones as well. I feel it’s a good mix. In the planning of the haunt I have noticed the layout is much more simple than in previous year, which should make of a quicker setup of the walls. Like last year, it will be a combination of wood panels, black plastic, as well as black sheets. Currently there are six different haunts included for this year’s harvest carnival or shall we say, “carn-EVIL” where the clowns will run wild!

clownsleepUnlike last year, I am not waiting to be given a budget and have moved forward purchasing props and animatronics in order to make this year’s haunt the best in the last 3 years. Most all of these purchases will end up going in my collection and will be reused for Halloween at my house when my son no longer attends Vintage Parkway. To accomplish what we want, it was going to come down to paying for and building props in order to make this a great time for kids, parents and staff. But considering what the school had for props when I took over, they should be set for years to come with drop windows, hundreds of feet of PVC pipe for walls and some props that can be reused.

It’s my hope there are volunteers who sign up to help the haunt out or we will end up experiencing similar problems as we had last year. The “hired help” last year wasn’t outstanding, one even walked out in the middle of the haunt. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work when you are needed for just 2 hours scare kids. This year, it’s my hope to get a total of 6 adults or teenagers (God forbid, I would probably be better off with 8th graders) to manage the door and “clown around” inside the haunt. In years past, 5th grades have been called upon to act as guides and actors/actresses inside the haunt. This year, the number of kids required is going to be less than last year, as it’s unmanageable with 35-40 kids who sign up to participate. The kids inside the haunt have just ONE responsibility and will require some blood hands (which also stains the skin for a few days). Fifth graders will also be acting as the guides this year as well, it’s my hope they don’t shine their flashlights at scary things inside the haunt. Nothing more frustrating to be dressed up in my dot suit, only to have the guide shine the light on me when a party of guests walk into the dot room.

lovekidsAs of today 5 adults should be able to manage all the haunts inside and single adult and 5th grader to manage the door and take tickets for entry. Managing the door is a big deal, too slow and not everyone will get through. We saw that exact problem last year opening about 20 minutes late because no one was designated as a ticket taker. Too fast and the haunts don’t have time to reset for the next group of guests. Hopefully we can get this down properly this year and everyone has fun.

In the end it’s all about the kids, not doing a haunt would not make the Harvest Carnival what it is, fun. Fun for the kids, parents and staff that are all involved in organizing and running the event. As long as kids exit the haunt in tears I know we will have been successful in scaring them. So they might not sleep that night and sudden develop a clown phobia.