Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Last Weeks at Colonial and Leadership Camp

Hello everyone! Sorry I have not updated the blog in quite a while. My last few weeks at Colonial NHP were very busy and exciting! I completed my two weeks working with the Maintenance division based out of Yorktown. For one week I worked in the Carpenter and Paint Shops constructing park signs. Colonial NHP has a large amount of signs especially along the tour roads and the Colonial Parkway. I drove by these signs all summer not realizing how much time and material is spent on each of them.  Now I have grown an appreciation for all the the meticulous work involved in creating park signs.
Along with making new signs, we also had to inspect the old signs. Colonial NHP owns and maintains Cape Henry National Memorial which is located near Virginia Beach. We took one morning to travel to the memorial and inspect the monuments and signs to see if any repairs or replacements were needed. Cape Henry NM represents the first landing site of the English in 1607 before they continued their voyage to Jamestown. Cape Henry NM also played a monumental role in the Battle of the Capes, which was a naval battle between Britain and France during the American Revolutionary War. This battle kept the British Navy out of the Chesapeake Bay and therefore prevented reinforcements to arrive at Yorktown and aid General Cornwallis in the siege one month later.
The Cape Henry Lighthouses
The Cape Henry Memorial Cross

I worked my next week with Maintenance in Roads and Trails. I helped maintain the yards of park-owned buildings and parking lots in Historic Yorktown. This was the first time I ever used a  weed-eater. I think I was pretty good at it too. I also worked in the Cannon shop, where Maintenance builds the carriages for the cannons from scratch. All carriages are historically accurate and they are  all completely functional. A lot of hard work and precision are put into these carriages. All of the metal pieces used in the carriages are forged in the Blacksmith Shop. We were able to work in the Blacksmith Shop and create our own pieces from scrap metal to test out the equipment.

My last week in Colonial was spent with Law Enforcement. My supervisor and Chief Ranger took Erik and I to Camp Peary, a CIA training base for Control Tactics Training. We learned the proper ways to use the baton and OC spray. We also practiced using the Glock 17 simulator. Later in the week the Firearms Instructor at my park was able to take me to the range to teach me how to shoot a handgun. This was the first time I ever shot a real firearm before. I learned the 4 basic safety rules for handling a gun. We also went over the proper techniques for my stance and grip. He was a very good instructor as I did pretty well for a first timer. The gun I used was the Sig Sauer P228.

I was very sad to leave Colonial National Historic Park. I truly enjoyed going to work everyday and getting to know the park inside and out. I am thankful to have been placed at Colonial NHP. It is the ideal park for any intern due to its historical significance as well as the great team of employees who keep it running so smoothly. I am grateful for everyone who took the time to show me the ropes and mentor me. I learned a good deal of valuable information that will help me achieve my goal of becoming the best law enforcement ranger I can possibly be. I am also sad to have left Virginia. It is a completely different atmosphere than here in New Jersey and I think I fell in love with it. Hopefully I will make my way down south again sometime soon!

I ended my summer internship with Leadership Camp up in Boswell, Pennsylvania. It was great to reunite with my fellow ProRangers. We all discussed our summer internships and swapped stories. We performed different obstacle courses as teams all week, while learning the importance of trust, teamwork, and leadership. We partnered up as performed the high ropes course for our first main event of the week. I think this was the only event that got me a little scared. But it was all mental, as I knew the equipment would keep me safe. After the first few sections, I was able to get past that uneasy feeling and completed the course. We also rappelled off a 90 foot cliff face at Laurel Summit State Park. It was such a rush to jump down the side of a cliff while observing the beautiful scenery that surrounded me. I had a ton of fun rappelling, as well as cheering on my ProRangers as they successfully made it down the rocks.
We were also able to go white water rafting down the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, PA. I never went rafting before so I was unsure of the proper ways to maneuver down the rapids. But with the help of great instructors and an amazing team on my boat, I made it all the way down the 7 miles without falling in. THANKS TEAM! On our last full day of camp, the ProRangers traveled together to the Flight 93 National Memorial to pay our respects to the brave souls aboard that plane. It was a very somber time but I am glad I was able to visit the park. The setting was beautiful and the park is doing a wonderful job of building new structures and landscapes to honor the men and women who were on Flight 93. I definitely plan on visiting the park again when they are finished with their visitor center and construction.

Leadership Camp was a great experience. It went by so quick and I already miss my fellow ProRangers. I am so proud of everyone for making through the week and performing to the best of their ability. We worked well as a team and by the end of the week we became one cohesive unit. I know we will all go far in our careers and I am proud to say that I am a part of the Temple University ProRanger Program!

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