Students embrace roles at Haunted Forest

Visitors got a good scare at the fundraiser for the Backcountry

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About 150 high school students from across Douglas County recently volunteered their Friday and Saturday nights to help raise money for the Backcountry Wilderness Area in an unusual way: by scaring people.

The teens dressed up in masks, makeup and costumes and hid throughout the mile-long trail in Highlands Ranch during the Haunted Forest event Oct. 18 and 19.

Those wandering through the forest saw a variety of haunting themes, including missing children, spiders, homicide and walking dead. They also walked through sections designed to look like a haunted maze, a butcher shop and a cemetery.

Funds from the event, which cost $13 per person, were donated to the Backcountry Conservation and Education Fund and contributed to wildlife habitat conservation and environmental education.

While some of the volunteers were guides or helpers, about 115 were assigned to scaring. Before the event, the scaring volunteers got a lesson from experts of the 13th Floor, a popular haunted house in Denver. They learned about using their vocal range, staying in character and committing to their roles, said Lindsey McKissick, communications coordinator for the backcountry.

“No matter who they are in school, they can be their character in the Haunted Forest,” McKissick said.

Most students agreed they signed up for the event because it looked like a fun way to log volunteer hours.

“It’s fun to scare the kids,” said Aidan Borchert, a senior at ThunderRidge High School.

Borchert, who has participated in the event for three years, had an elaborate costume that included two sets of stilts, one for his feet and one for his arms. He wore a hooded cloak over the outfit and a clown mask.

His scaring tactic was to follow people after they exited the maze, he said.

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