Haunted Woods scares Eckhardt, community

For the first time, the Hastings College chapter of Alpha Psi Omega (APO) joined up with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to host the Haunted Woods of Camp Augustine. For four nights, community members from the surrounding area gathered to walk the mile-long trail filled with actors dressed as zombie lumberjacks, demonic boy scouts and faceless stalkers.

This was the first in what will become an annual collaboration between the groups. 

Another highlight of the event was the donation competition, which decided what professor would have to walk through the trail. The HC campus donated the most for Dr. Louie Eckhardt, chair of the music and theater department, so he and his wife walked through the trail on Saturday night. The walk was recorded and promoted on the official HC Snapchat account. 

“I had an absolute blast at the Haunted Woods event this past weekend. First, I was really honored, I think, that students donated so much money just to send me through. I thought the event was very well done,” said Dr. Eckhardt. “The locations were absolutely perfect. It was so dark out there that even with flashlights, I still felt claustrophobic from the darkness. The characters were pretty scary, and a couple of them really freaked me out. It was so well done.”

Eckhardt was one of multiple from the HC campus to make the trip to Camp Augustine. Student Association paid for the first 100 students that went through the trail. 

“It surprised me how successful it was. I thought it was going to flop, so I was really excited with how many people turned out,” said APO President Greer Anderson. 

APO originally started planning for the event at the end of August. Anderson and Seniors Carly Cremers and Kiley Logan met with BSA to discuss what the commitment level would be and how the collaboration would work. This year did not include any budget so all supplies and costumes were either from the department or purchased out-of-pocket by organizers. APO and BSA set up on Oct. 18 and had a soft open the next day to do a test run. The official opening was on Oct. 25 and ran for the three nights of that weekend. 

Over the course of the three days, organizers estimated that a total of 600 or 700 people attended. Saturday night alone brought in almost 400 people. 

The Haunted Woods was also the first time any of the HC actors had done a haunted house, so it was completely new to everyone. They also relied simply on previous experience of attending other haunted houses and general

knowledge of what scares people.

APO was not sure how much money was raised as of the time of publication, but they are estimating about $2,000 to $3,000 to come in after the money has been sorted. Some of the money will go to buying new seating for the Green Room, and then half will be saved for buying supplies for next year’s
Haunted Woods. 

Preparation for next year’s Haunted Woods is already underway, as the theater department is looking forward to collaborating with BSA again next year. The organizers hope to improve volunteer participation numbers for next year, as the length of the trail requires more scares. The selling point for a lot of people was the live actors versus using props or animatronics to scare people, according to Anderson.

Anderson noted that they also want more administration roles. Some of the actors had to switch between responsibilities throughout the nights to accommodate organizing customers, purchasing concessions and scaring people on the trail. Next year’s responsibilities are in the process of being split up. Junior Jeff Sokol, vice president of APO, will be in charge of organizing the trail, events on the trail and actors that will be helping with that aspect of it. BSA will be more in charge of the advertising and ticket sales.