Staff and youth volunteers at the Chay Youth Activity Center (CYAC) constructed a haunted mansion in order to provide a safe and haunting experience for school-aged children surrounding the Linden Oaks housing community on Oct. 26.
The activity center is the primary location for the community’s children to meet up with friends and participate in physical and creative activities, along with special seasonal events like the mansion, in a supervised environment. Appropriately named the Chay Mansion, the haunted house was built in efforts to provide a local outlet of excitement for the children of the distant military housing community.
“Being isolated from main post, we wanted to do something special for our kids,” said Denise Honeycutt, director of CYAC. “It was a day for the kids to come out and for us to give them a good scare.”
Nearly 60 children, ages 11 to 17, attended the free two-hour event and experienced the mansion at least once. Many participated several times.
“I think it was cool, very scary and really fun to get a scare,” said Kiley Corley, a sixth-grader at Shughart Middle School.
The staff worked for a week to turn the dedicated homework room of the youth center into a mansion divided into four sections, each with its own theme, Honeycutt said. The props inside the mansion, minus a few electronic additions, were all crafted or contributed by staff members. The themes throughout the mansion included a dungeon, morgue, graveyard and witches’ lair.
“This was really cool of the staff to take the time to do this,” said Julieta Ybarra, a seventh-grader at Shughart Middle School.
The efforts of the team to provide a scary experience paid off as the reaction from the children was positive.
Jordan Jahr, a sixth-grader at Shughart Middle School, said “this was probably the best haunted house I have been to yet.”
When asked what scared them the most and what they want to see added to the haunted house next season, members of the youth center unanimously responded with “scary clowns.”