A Feeling of Shared Celebration
If you visited Discovery Ranch (DR), on October 31st, then you would have seen three women dressed as bandits bent over the table, whispering conspiratorially. They were not planning their next heist. They were talking about giving things away. Specifically, they were talking about giving away prizes for the Halloween costume contest. That day DR came together to celebrate Halloween with contests, games, an escape room, a reptile room, and lots of style. Students and staff members dressed in creative Halloween costumes to enjoy the day’s festivities. Far from being spooky, the atmosphere at the ranch was one of community and shared celebration.
When I first arrived on campus, staff members were stringing cookies on a line. They were chocolate and graham cracker cookies with a hole in the center. The ends of the line were tied to a tree. Boys lined up evenly, each beside a pair of cookies hung on the line.
Then, staff members explained the rules. The boys had to lean down to eat the cookies without using their hands.
“This is harder than it looks!” one of the boy’s declared around a mouth full of cookies.
Whether the contest was easy or hard, seeing a dozen or so people standing in a line and eating cookies without the use of their hands was an entertaining sight.
The first person to finish eating the cookies won a prize. The prize was an additional treat when the boys went trick-or-treating at the DR office.
After finishing the cookie-eating contest, the boys went to the escape room. They worked in teams to solve puzzles. The boys worked together; heads bent over the puzzles. They were too engrossed in being the first people to solve the puzzles to ask about what they were doing. Even more impressive than the puzzle-solving was seeing the teamwork in place as the young men worked together.
When the boys solved the puzzles, a different kind of challenge waited for the boys in the cafeteria. It was a test of courage rather than a test of problem-solving ability. There were three different snakes and two lizards on display. While a staff member supervised, the braver boys had the chance to hold the animals.
Finally, students and staff members came together for a costume contest. Impartial judges were chosen from the Springville business office. The judges got into the spirit of Halloween too. They arrived dressed in matching black and white striped burglar costumes. Prizes were given out to students, and staff members for the best overall costume, people who tried the hardest, and the boys received an additional prize for the house who had the best costumes.
After the costume contest, the next phase of the celebrations started with a bang. A literal bang, as a staff member fired a candy cannon. Sweet, carefully wrapped, sweet shrapnel scattered to the ground. The sweet treats were only the beginning. The boys still had a special holiday lunch to look forward to.
While the costumes, games, and prizes were impressive, the most exciting part of the holiday was seeing the way everyone came together. Administrators, staff members, and students came together in the spirit of the season. During the Halloween event, they were not only celebrating the holiday. They were also celebrating the community they have built together.