October 21, 2011 : By Allison Cundiff
Almost as old as the university itself, Liberty’s Scaremare is attracting record crowds and has grown to become one of the largest events of its kind in the Southeast.
For 39 years, people have been traveling from all over Virginia and even from other states to take a tour of fun-house rooms and view scenes of death to be ultimately confronted with the question: “What happens when I die?”
In the opening weekend of the 39th year of Scaremare, the event hit a record nightly attendance of 4,100 on Oct. 15. Throughout the weekend there were about 6,700 in attendance, with 776 making decisions to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
In small groups, people walk through a 20-minute tour in the woods and then through a house with different scenes. At the end are tents where an evangelistic message is presented.
This year there are a number of new outside scenes for visitors.
The event was started by youth pastors at Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1972 as a creative fall outreach. As Liberty developed its School of Religion, the Center for Youth Ministries began facilitating the event as a way to equip and train students with practical outreach opportunities for the community. Since its inception, Scaremare has attracted more than 300,000 people from Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. It has become a popular event for church youth groups and college students.
With such a large event taking place on nine nights over three weekends, more than 100 volunteers are needed each evening. Many Liberty students volunteer as a part of their Christian Community Service requirement, dressing as characters, providing security, and working concessions. Youth groups also sign up to volunteer.
Senior Kamilla Dening coordinates the volunteers as a part of her youth ministry class. She said the experience has helped her build public speaking, administrative, and delegating skills.
“Overall the volunteers are very eager to help out. Scaremare is a unique event that offers a hands-on experience for Christian service,” she said. “It’s great to see Liberty students involved in the Lynchburg community.”
Dr. Steve Vandegriff, a youth ministries professor, is in his 11th year of directing Scaremare.
He said more than 26,000 decisions have been made for Christ through the years.
Scaremare is also a place where some individuals take the next step in their personal relationships.
“We have had several marriage proposals at Scaremare,” Vandegriff said. “There was actually a wedding that I officiated about six years ago. The couple met at Scaremare originally and got married in the front of the house. It was one of the oddest experiences.”