Monday, October 31, 2011

YM Idea: Startle House

A year ago, my boss and mentor suggested that we create a haunted house for our high school group as a fun Halloween idea. Having watched the documentary Hell House only a few days prior to our conversation, I was highly opposed to the idea. Here's a paraphrase of our exchange:
Mark: I want to do a haunted house for high school group. What do you think? 
Me: Uh.....no. I'm not sure we want to be known as the church who does haunted houses. 
Mark: No, it's not like that. It wouldn't be like a traditionally scary haunted house, and it wouldn't be as some sort of weird outreach. It'd be more fun, just for our group, and just to startle people. 
Me:.....so it'd be more like a "startle house?"
And thus Startle House was born.

We made a maze in our gym using stacks of chairs, put a couple of elements in the maze to startle people along their path--like an adult leader who turns on a flashlight, or pops out from behind a curtain, or makes a loud sound nearby--then turned off all the lights, turned on some music, and sent students in. The first year, we used an air compressor to shoot a large puff of air at approaching students; this year, we had a staff dancing around in a gorilla suit. The key element is darkness; when you can't see much of anything, a flashlight There was nothing especially scary, but every student jumped at some point. It was a surprising amount of fun, even for newer students.

Is your youth ministry doing anything for Halloween?

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