Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Ranger Jones... again

My gut keeps telling me park ranger. My wallet tells me otherwise.

Last week I registered on the government jobs website to be alerted when ranger jobs come up in the area. Over the weekend, two opportunities popped up -- Governor's Island and Ellis Island -- both for seasonal work. Hmm. Then, this week I attended a volunteer training session and was thoroughly inspired. The ranger gave a really great orientation on the Park Service and their approach to giving tours.

First off -- the Park Service orientation almost had me a little teary, harking back to the out and out sobbing I did while watching the recent Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Why does this stuff affect me so much? And why do I feel so protective of it? Interestingly, as the ranger reviewed the art of giving tours, she noted that the goal of helping visitors understand the parks is to build a sense of stewardship. It makes sense: people take care of what they own. Every American owns the National Parks, and no-one can stop any of us from going to one.

Personally, the more I travel, the more I appreciate how varied and magnificent our country is. And more often than not, if there's stunning landscape or historical significance in a given place, it's been enclosed in a national park that you can visit. It's kind of like having a friend who loans you their apartment when you travel to your favorite location. You always know there's someplace you can go to get the atmosphere you're seeking. How neat is it to be part of the organization that makes that happen for people?

As far as giving tours, we learned about the distinction between delivering just the facts and making the story come alive for visitors. It wasn't all that much different from what I'd come to observe on my own, but it was a good reminder to get an understanding of the group's knowledge level and what approach will reach them best. Like so much of communication, it's not so much what you tell them as what they hear and grasp on their own. The ranger noted that we're special people in a way: we're history geeks who really get into the topic we're sharing. Not everyone is going to share our interest in all of the stories, but it's great when you can make the connection for someone, and spark that interest.

So... I'm sitting there all sparked, myself, thinking how great it would be to do this kind of stuff every day. And I'm wondering how the heck I'd be able to support myself on the salary. Do I start writing like crazy and taking photos like a fiend and trying to sell my stuff? Do I still try to do the tour company stuff on the side, in my off hours?

Somewhere there's an answer. I'm feeling a lot more inspired that I did last week, and a lot more confident that I can make something work. I just don't know what it is yet.

1 comment:

  1. Follow your bliss. I know it sounds corny but you should do what feels right. The money will come. Or cut down on as many living expenses as you can. Money isn't everything.