Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Welcome to Colonial, How May I Help You?"

Just like that, Week 2 has come to a close faster than I can say “Colonial National Historical Park” and I can proudly state that I enjoyed every second of it! This past week, I spent my working hours with the interpretation division inside the Yorktown Visitor Center. This is one of the two visitor centers that the park has to offer, and the facility itself offers a number of events for the visitors to attend and a number of activities for the same visitors to engage in during their stay with us. I spent the first day of the week meeting all of the Interpretive Rangers and other volunteers that work within the building and I immediately felt at home due to their hospitality. Being that I want to be a law-enforcement ranger, I feel that I should get to know what it is that I will be protecting while I am here. Working at the visitor center is the perfect place to do this.
I received the opportunity to shadow all of the rangers on their interpretive “battlefield walks” and with every tour that I went on with the visitors, I learned something different. Even though the interpretive rangers spend their tour discussing with us the siege of Yorktown in 1781 and how the events occurred, each ranger has their own twist to the story to keep it interesting. Each ranger has their own personality and their flair and charisma carries the story along and keeps visitors of all ages engaged. I could go on tours continuously all day, and I still believe that I would feel a sense of new material with each battlefield walk.
Once I understood the pivotal role that the rangers play “in the field,” I returned to the welcome desk in the entrance of the center and greeted the visitors as they walked in with their jaws on the floor (the visitor center at Yorktown Battlefield is particularly impressive). After only 8 hours behind the desk, I was able to discuss entrance fees, tour options, and other miscellaneous information with the visitors as they poured through the doors. I even received the chance to hoist the American colors outside in the morning, and that was truly humbling! As you may have noticed, I love to talk. Working at the welcome desk was a “walk in the park” for me. What I found particularly interesting was the fact that visitors came from all over the globe, let alone the United States. I also enjoyed debating the better sports team and defending our Philadelphia every time a visitor came in with their respective team on their person (especially EVERY Dallas Cowboys fan).

It is because of these people that visit us that makes the National Park Service a fantastic area to work. The amount of times I could learn and laugh with the visitors on the other side of the desk is innumerable. Without this audience, the park could not function. I look forward to meeting more visitors in Jamestown this week and being able to tell you all about it!

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