At the beginning of my week I got another opportunity to sit in on an Incident Action Plan de-briefing for Bunker Hill Day. Bunker Hill Day takes place on June 17th every year acknowledging the Battle of Bunker Hill that took place on June 17th, 1775. In the de-briefing, we discussed the main purpose of the event and where each of our posts were and our duties at that post. Every year there is a small procession of a band and a school group that goes from a local church to the Bunker Hill Monument. Another Ranger and myself were posted at the back of the procession to control traffic and signify the end of the group. Once at the Monument, the Mayor of Boston, a few other political guests, and the Superintendent said a few words to the unusually sparse crowd.
The de-briefing also covered other information such as the weather forecast, safety instructions and precautions, as well as the patrol route for the procession. We saw rather quickly the importance of being informed in all aspects when the rain started falling. Those that were involved in the de-briefing were prepared with rain jackets and hat covers and it became rather obvious who had not planned ahead of time by checking the weather. This is just a small example of how imperative it is to be prepared for anything, especially when dealing with a special event.
This week I have been attending the Interpretation Division’s Seasonal Training Orientation. We have been going over basic techniques when talking informally with visitors as well as gaining tips when preparing and performing the formal talks and tours. We have done several training exercises to help give us a better understanding of these techniques such as observing visitors as they go through the sites. This task helped us notice the differences between people’s learning styles as well as noticing what areas seem to interest people more so than other areas. We were also taught ways of engaging in conversation with visitors to help spark an interest in a certain exhibit while making them feel comfortable to ask questions.
The view of the stern of the Cassin Young from the caisson (floating swinging door) of the dry dock. Part of our training involves tours such as of the Navy Yard.
Another exercise that we did was making rope in the similar fashion to how it was done here at the Navy Yard many years ago. The Navy Yard in Boston was responsible for making all the rope used by the US Navy. They did so in a long building within the Yard called the Ropewalk. Before the use of a moveable cart, there was a person with a large coil of hemp wrapped around their waist. They would walk from one end of the quarter-mile long building to the other until there was an even amount of string on each hook. These hooks were then spun to form a twisted rope. We used a similar mechanical technique at a scaled down size. As we made a segment of rope we discussed ideas of how to better incorporate this activity for visitor use, such as when groups are waiting in line to tour the USS Constitution.
Our simulated version of the ropewalk, the hemp string spread from one end to the next, looped around the rotating hooks.
A closer view of the hooks and crank that rotate the string to form the twisted rope.
The finished product! You can see the twisted pattern within the rope that forms a strong and trustworthy piece of equipment.
One thing that I have learned while being with Interpretation is that when giving their formal talks, they create their own dialogues based on a specific theme. They instructed us that Interpretation is more than just spouting out facts but trying to make a connection from the site to the visitor. Picking a certain theme for their talk helps to point out meanings of the place or object and how those meanings relate to the visitor. This can help the visitor as well as yourself form a new and different way of thinking about the park because it now has a personal connection to the individual. These connections are what keep the visitor engaged and bring them back to the site many times with an experience they will always cherish.
Having this experience with Interpretation not only helps the park as a whole, but helps connect the Law Enforcement aspect to the visitor contacts. Often times as Law Enforcement Rangers we will still be approached by visitors asking questions and needing pointed in the right direction. Having a better understanding of how to informally interact with visitors makes for a better experience for those involved. I can say that I am gaining the confidence to answer certain questions as well as know that it is okay to tell a person honestly if I do not know the answer to their question. Having this training really helps create a well balanced Ranger that can assist in more ways than just dealing with crime; which in my opinion is what being a National Park Ranger is all about.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful and fascinating time!
ProRanger Erin Langeheine