Thinking about volunteering with Circle of Ash Haunted Attraction?
If you have been considering volunteering with us for a while or this is your first time here, let us explain a little bit about what it means to volunteer with Circle of Ash and why you absolutely should do it! We’ve created this page to give you an idea of what you can expect when you do.
What is Circle of Ash Haunted Attraction?
Circle of Ash only does one thing – we produce Halloween themed entertainment productions – similar to a community theater – but with a scary twist! All of the proceeds from the events we produce are put right back into the shows, and Circle of Ash wouldn’t exist without the support of our wonderful cast and crew of volunteers. Our volunteers generous donation of time and talent to this project helps touch the lives of thousands of people every single year, and our volunteers help guests that visit from our community create memories that will last a lifetime!
Why should I Volunteer with Circle of Ash?
Volunteering with Circle of Ash is a fun and rewarding experience for most people. Our current cast and crew range in age from 19 – 60 years of age, and we all have one thing in common… We LOVE Halloween!
Our volunteers spend all sorts of time together building sets and scenes, having fun with haunt outings and activities, and scaring the crap out of each other and our guests. Best of all, you get to set the level of involvement you have with the haunt. At the end of it all, you will have made friends that will last a lifetime, regardless of where your life takes you after your time with the haunt.
What’s is volunteering like?
When you volunteer at Circle of Ash, there are three major types of events in which you will participate:
Off Season Work Events
This is often our favorite part of the year. We get to build and create and have fun with little pressure. Unfortunately, it’s the time of the year where you won’t see all of the cast and crew in one location very often. On average we hold work events 3 times per week, and at each one we spend a few hours at the haunt get work done on the show. These events are usually on weeknights after 5 or during a weekend day.
Work events typically mean you run the risk of getting a little bit dirty, so plan accordingly! When you arrive at the haunt, find someone else that looks like they know what’s going on (trust me, they are just winging it, too), and see if there’s anything specific you can help with. We try to have lots of things to do, and they range in complexity. Sometimes you’ll need to work directly with one or more other people, and sometimes you’ll need to set up shop somewhere to work on details that don’t require an extra set of hands. (We try not to do that to you until you’re comfortable around the haunt!)
During a typical work session, we may build something (a new prop or set piece, or make modifications to the maze), hooking up tech or designing new props and scares. We spend a lot of time collaborating and kicking around ideas, and crossing things off the list. We turn on the music and jam out, try to scare each other, and just have some fun while we are doing it!
We don’t usually stay that late, either. Weeknight work sessions last up to three hours, and a weekend day you may find yourself at the haunt for 6. Of course, you’re welcome to participate as little or as much as you like, so if you have to take off early or whatnot, just say goodbye before you leave!
Halloween Season Shows
During the Halloween Season, things are quite a bit different! First, we work REALLY hard. You will be tired. You will have sore muscles and aches and pains that you don’t normally have to deal with… but the first time you make someone scream or pee their pants – it will all be worth it!
Our season runs *mostly* during the month of October. Some years, depending how the calendar falls, this season will extend into September and November. Expect your weekends to be committed to the haunt. Being volunteer driven, you are in full control of how much you participate, HOWEVER… we ask that if you come to the haunt you stay the full night. And if you’ve committed to a complex part in a show, we ask that you be there for every performance – just like in a community theater.
When you arrive at the haunt for a performance, you should first drop off anything you carried in with you. A book bag, a change of clothes, whatever it is, we have a set of cubbies in the green room that you may use to store your stuff for the night. Once you’ve done that, check in quickly with the makeup and costume department to see if they have an open chair ready for you. If they are ready, you will spend the next 15-20 minutes in the makeup and costume room getting ready for the night.
If this happens to be a Friday, grab some dinner (eat before you come on other nights!). Circle of Ash provides dinner to the cast on Friday nights. Then, all you have to do is hang out with the other crew members until about ½ hour before showtime. We will hold a quick safety meeting and give you the last few minutes before the show to hit the restroom, get some water, and find your spot.
Approximately 10 minutes before the doors open, we expect all cast and crew to be in place. Our stage director will make a pass through the maze to verify you’re in your spot, and we will open our doors exactly on time. Then… it’s up to you to have some fun with our guests (don’t worry, we will train you!). Every half hour or so, the stage director or an assistant will come through to make sure you have everything you need, and to give you a chance to get a restroom break.
Finally, at the end of the night you will be released back to the green room while we clear the show. Once we are all done we have a quick recap of the night, share some stories, and sometimes we may go out after a show for some food. Also, if a particular cast or crew member did a particularly good job that night, we will recognize those individuals.
We try to reward our staff for their hard work as much as possible, and at the end of the season we have a little closing ceremony to recap all the great parts of the season. You can expect to score some sort of official COA bling, and every few years we get cast-only t-shirts or hoodies in stock, too!
Cast & Crew Events
Life isn’t just about working at the haunt! We get out and do other things together from time to time as well. During the fall, we try to take a few trips to visit other area haunted houses – often in a special capacity (behind the scenes, for example), that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise. We also like to visit some year round haunted houses, the occasional water park, a cast party, and just getting together to play games, have a bonfire, or go to a movie together. Starting this year, we have begun a monthly cast gathering on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at Tic Tok in Cedar Rapids at 7pm for the cast to visit and welcome new members to the haunt… and of course, if you have an idea for a fun event, just let us know! We don’t need much of a reason to party!
Do I have to possess certain qualities to volunteer?
If you’re thinking that this sounds like a pretty great way to spend some time, you’d be right! We try our best to accept everyone that is interested, but there are a few things we need to make sure of so that everyone is safe and happy:
– You must have a positive and outgoing personality. If you don’t sweat the small stuff and are willing to say “hi” to a stranger on the street, you’re going to have a very easy time getting along with the rest of the cast and crew. Don’t worry if you’re a little bit shy, we can help you with that, but if you’re paralyzed by the thought of dressing up in a costume and screaming at strangers… this probably isn’t for you.
– We ask that you are at least 16 years old. We’ve always been a bit uncertain on what the minimum age for cast and crew members should be, and every few years we try to shake things up a bit. So, for now, if you are 16 years of age, you may volunteer at Circle of Ash with guardian/parental permission. In fact, consider bringing them with you to the haunt! Maybe they’ll enjoy helping out, too. If you are 18 or older, you don’t need parental permission. NOTE: We ask that ALL volunteers have dedicated, reliable transportation to and from the haunt, and that you possess a valid drivers license. We do basic background checks to keep everyone safe, and may turn away applicants based on those results.
– You must love Halloween! Even if you aren’t sure where you might fit in at Circle of Ash, if you have a love of Halloween, we can help you figure out the rest. There are plenty of opportunities at the haunt, and the leaders will do everything they can to get you into the right place.
What might I find myself doing at Circle of Ash?
There are so many different types of activities that happen at Circle of Ash, it’s difficult to name them all. And we are always learning and teaching new skills, so your experience at Circle of Ash is certainly not limited to this list.
Here’s some of what you might find yourself doing, if you’re interested in any given area (we don’t force you to do things you won’t have fun doing!)
- Acting / Scaring positions
- Ticket Booth Sales
- Merchandise Sales
- Operations (handing out/collecting 3D Glasses, people directing, errands)
- Site Security
- Stage Manager Assistant
- Marketing, grassroots advertising, materials design
- Video production for YouTube, TV ads
- Radio/Audio ad production
- Website management, social media
- Printing, cutting, packing promotional materials
- Putting out signs
- Managing grassroots team
- Building relationships between the haunt and local businesses
- General carpentry (Maze, supports, effects sets)
- Painting (general and detail)
- Set Decoration and design
- Set Lighting
- Stage Lighting
- Set Audio Design
- Audio setup and engineering
- Shopping/scrounging for set pieces, props
- Prop building
- Fog systems
- Tech and automation
- Mold making, casting
- Installation of pneumatic air systems
- Costume design
- Special Effects Makeup
… and that’s just what I can come up with off the top of my head! There’s tons of opportunity at Circle of Ash, and what we do ranges from easy to challenging. There is something for everyone at the haunt!
Still not convinced?
Volunteering your time and skills is generally a very rewarding experience. Here’s a few reasons why you should consider volunteering, even if the haunt isn’t the right place for you!
1) You make a difference. You may not see it right away, and you may not even take the time to notice, but YOU make the difference. YOU help Circle of Ash succeed and keep a fun event going year after year for our community. You help our guests create fun memories and great experiences. And YOU help yourself, by being involved in something you love!
2) Develop skills! Believe it or not, a haunted attraction offers so many opportunities for skill development, it’s not even funny. We do everything from business tasks (marketing, sales, cast and crew management, project management, and more!), engineering tasks (software and hardware development, mechanical engineering, pneumatics, etc), theatrical skills (costume design, special effects makeup, lighting and set design, prop management, sound engineering and design), to other things like welding, sculpting & molding, construction, painting, etc. There’s more opportunity here than just about anywhere else, and we can help you develop your skills – for no cost other than your time.
3) Explore other interests! Volunteering is a great way to delve into a unique career path or new hobbies you may never had seen yourself taking. Volunteering with Circle of Ash isn’t just about scaring people senseless. Did you even know that you enjoyed set lighting? How about the 3d painting? You’ll never know until you get involved!
4) Enhance your education! Circle of Ash is often used as a work study program or an “outside of the school” skill development opportunity. Your school may allow you to log the hours you spend at Circle of Ash toward your degree or graduation program. At the very least, you will learn skills at Circle of Ash that will help you in your everyday life as well as your future career goals.
5) Make new friends! Making new friends can be hard enough, especially if you are no longer in school. At COA, you should easily be able to find people that are interested in a lot of the same things you are… and of course our common love – HALLOWEEN!
Ready to get involved?
There are three ways you can get involved:
1) Fill out the volunteer application online. You will have to do this at some point, but if you’re 100% sure you want to get involved, do it now! If you’re not quite sure yet, check out the other options below. To submit an application now, visit our volunteer website: http://www.hauntacting.com
2) Crash a monthly cast get together. We meet every 3rd Wednesday of the month at Tic Tok in Cedar Rapids at 7pm. Look for the group of Halloweener’s wearing Circle of Ash or Frightmare Forest gear. We will happily introduce ourselves and share with you all the fun things that are going on. Stick around for some dinner or drinks and get to know us a little bit first. You won’t be disappointed!
3) Attend one of our free, public events at the haunt. Our Fostering Haunting series is a great way to try your hand at a few things before fully committing to a volunteer position! These events generally happen once a month, but not always. Pay attention to our Facebook page or our website for announcements.
Ready to do it? Lets go!
To learn more and submit an application, visit our volunteer website: http://www.hauntacting.com