In 2016, School District 13 Haunted Attraction recruited 125 volunteers to roam the streets, hide in dark corners, and stalk the corn field maze. There are a number of haunted attractions in Colorado and Nebraska, each with their own special formula for recruiting and training scare actors as volunteers or paid employees, but School District 13 is unique. Most of these “other” haunted houses in Nebraska and Colorado are located in urban areas where there’s a large pool of volunteers to pull from. But School District 13 is a one-of-a-kind haunt in terms of location and volunteers. We’re situated on the dark and creepy fringes of nowhere and yet still, we have a huge pool of dedicated volunteers to haunt an entire village for your entertainment. Some of you may wonder, how does that work?
I’m going to tell you.
Recruiting volunteers to work at School District 13 is always a challenge, but it’s also one of our favorite parts of the event. We like it because every year we meet new and interesting people through recruitment. But it’s challenging too because every year our volunteer crew is different than the year before. Often, volunteers from years prior will return, sometimes they’ll come back every other year, but for the most part our volunteer base changes from year-to-year and even from night-to-night during the event. We’ve learned to roll-with-it, but this constant mutability can be stressful.
I don’t claim to know exactly how we end up with the right number of volunteers each night of our event. A lot of work goes into scouting for volunteers early in the season and then, we stay in regular contact with potential volunteers. But the magic behind how and why people show up to volunteer each night remains something mystical and mysterious to me. We always have the people we need and though the team members vary from night-to-night, I’m always amazed at how volunteers end up in their proper places even though we never know who’s going to show up at the beginning of the night, or when they’ll show up. For every volunteer our rule is, “They’re not coming until they’re here.” This year, our volunteer needs were high, but we had the people we needed when and where we needed them. In a rural place like Brule and Ogallala, it’s a real feat to find 125 volunteers to do theatrical acting on street corners and in the dark recesses of a corn field maze, but that’s what happened in 2016.
So who are the Children of the Corn Field Maze at School District 13? The answer is: it varies! Sometimes teenagers from local schools volunteer with us and end up stalking the corn maze. Sometimes a group of large men take up residence out there. On our opening night in 2016, we had primarily women and teenager girls volunteering with us so the corn maze was mostly populated with the hardiest, toughest women on our team.
Though our volunteers are all very different people, each one completely unique and not at all like the others, all of our volunteers have one thing in common: they’re all open to the adventure of doing something new. And I have a lot of respect for each of them because of that. Finding 125 adventurous souls to inhabit our haunts in 2016 really says something about the gumption and grit of Middle-of-Nowhere-People like us. There are haunted houses in Colorado that struggle to find even 10 solid volunteers to help them make their event happen. And there are haunted houses in Nebraska that closed up in 2016 because they didn’t have the commitment of volunteers to bring their project to fruition. But here in the Brule and Ogallala, NE, we have some seriously scary, seriously hard-working people who make School District 13 into a reality…a very twisted and deranged reality.