Friday, June 22, 2012

                Hope everyone is doing good and enjoying themselves at their parks.  So far I have been extremely busy at Catoctin, and after a month I’m finally posting my first blog.  I arrived here on Saturday, May 12th before all of the craziness started for the G8 Summit.  My first day of work was the 14th, and I was with maintenance helping to set up and prepare for the G8.  We moved a lot of picnic tables to the area where the media would be staying so that they could have places to sit when eating.  We had press from all around the world here, including Russia, Japan, Italy, Germany, and so on.  I worked with maintenance for my first three days to help prepare for the G8.  Once the park became closed to the public I began working 6am-6pm helping to park all of the cars from the media, heads of state and other people involved with the G8.  During this time I was able to spend a lot of time with the Secret Service, Park Police, and Rangers from many different parks.  These people were from all of the US, and had a lot of different backgrounds.  A lot of them had really interesting stories and gave me good advice for my future.

Press Confrence Area
Maryland State Trooper Incendent Command Center

                During my second week I was only in my park Monday, which I also spent with maintenance.  During this time we cleaned up and put back a lot of the objects which we moved for the G8.  For the next two days I was at Harpers Ferry attending Operational Leadership with a few other ProRangers and some people from different divisions at other parks.  Here we spent a lot of time talking about how we can take initiative to ensure that ourselves and others stay safe when performing our everyday duties within our parks.  We learned a lot of different warning signs which we should look out for and how to just be more aware of our surroundings at all times.  The next day, which was Thursday, we traveled from Harpers Ferry to Prince Williams in Virginia.  While at Prince Williams we spent an entire day learning about how to fight wild land fires.  This day consisted of a lot of hands on activities and we spent some time in the classroom just going over basic wild land firefighter principles.  We started off the day with our Pack-Test, which consisted of walking 3 miles in 45 minutes with a 45lb weight vest on.  At first my legs were on fire, but as we started going further they started getting a lot better and the test was actually pretty easy.  After this we spent some time learning how to set up our fire shelters so we knew what to do if we ever come across a fire situation where we have no other options.  With the sun beating down on us, the fire shelters were pretty hot so I can only imagine what it feels like being in one with a fire around you.  For the rest of the afternoon we spent time working together to build fire lines through the woods using a bunch of different tools such as pulaskis, shovels, and axes.  Once we finished making our fire lines, we separated into two different teams and had races to get our hoses connected and working first.  Of course our team flew through the challenge.  The next day a few of us were back at Harpers Ferry where we did our emergency vehicle training.  This was a lot of fun and we got to drive around different law enforcement vehicles through the course which was set up.  Everyone did good on this test and had some pretty good times.

                The next week I spent back at my park working with administration.  As many people at my park agree, administration is the most important division of any park because they are in charge of all of the finances.  They are the backbone of the park and help to hold everything together.  My week here was pretty short since I had off for Memorial Day, so I only had a few days to learn as much as a I could.  During my time with administration I helped out a lot with checking over credit card records to make sure everything was accounted for.  I also learned how to work the computer programs which administration use very often.  One of my jobs while with administration was to help figure out how much we owed all of the park police and other park rangers who worked overtime at our park for the G8.  Since different park locations have different pay scales, I had to go through all of the salaries by location and figure out how much everyone needed to be paid.  One of my days which I spent with administration I traveled with our IT guy Andy to Antietam National Battlefield.  Andy needed to help a few of the people out at Antietam to fix computer issues and help with a new internet system which they are setting up.  While here Andy took me on a tour of Antietam and we drove all around the park.  I must say it’s a pretty cool place.

                Now currently for the last two weeks I have worked with the interpretation division at the visitor center.  The visitor center is responsible for interacting with visitors who come into the park, and helping to give them any information which they may need.  While here I was able to talk to many visitors and see where they came from and what made them come to our park.  I encountered people from all over the world from places such as the Netherlands, China, Japan, Germany, and Brazil.  Many people who come to our park come for either the fishing or the hiking.  While with interpretation I was able to go out and hike on the trails so that I could get a good idea of how each trail was.  Catoctin has some really good trails to hike, and some really cool places to stop at while hiking.  I would definitely recommend anyone who is in the area stop by and check out some of the trails.  While at the visitor center I also was able to learn how to work the cash register and make transactions for the customers.  During this time I also took some online classes through eppley to learn how a good interpretative talk should be put together.  At our park, we give campfire talks to kids and have one made for adults which we give on Saturday nights.  To help out with this I went around Saturday afternoon to our campsites and let all of the campers know about the campfire talks.  Overall, I would say the campfire talks were successful, with a decent amount of visitors showing up for each of them.

Rattle Snake

Another Rattle Snake

Sign on trail for Thurmont Vista

Thurmont Vista

Wood slay in woods used for making charcoal    

                Next week I’ll be starting my time with the law enforcement division.  My schedule has my hours at different times of the day every day, so that I can get a true feel for what law enforcement is like.  I’m really pumped to start working with the law enforcement division and can’t wait to see what all is in store for me.  Hope everyone is enjoying themselves at their parks and having a good time!

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