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Park gives students experience

By Staff | Jul 8, 2011

Working at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park can be a difficult task to the common worker.

And while Nathan Diaz, Major Dodson and I are glad we are not flipping burgers and taking orders, we are still tired at the end of an eight-hour day.

We are park guides at Harpers Ferry and are working as YPPs, or part of the Youth Partnership Program. When we arrive at the park at 8:30 in the morning, our yawns are always met with cheerful “good mornings” from our fellow employees. After checking our e-mails, we head to the conference room for the daily staff meeting where we learn about the tasks and programs for the day, which could be as simple as moving boxes and making copies, or as complex as designing a new curriculum for K-2 graders on the Niagara movement.

While we enjoy most of our tasks, we all have favorite programs.

Nathan enjoys leading Trek the Trails, a guided hike through various parts of the park, because it gives him a chance to “discuss history in a one-on-one setting with visitors.”

While Nathan likes the history of the park, my favorite programs revolve around science. I often lead and participate in the Macro-invertebrates program, where children go to the Shenandoah River and collect critters to learn about water quality. I enjoy the look on kid’s faces when they connect what they are doing with their hands to what they are learning.

Major’s favorite program, Lifeways, is a part of the Family & Youth curriculum. The program introduces the public to the activities of the late 1800s, which involve period games such as graces. Major enjoys watching the visitors play the games because he says, “The games bring smiles to the visitor’s faces, and when I see that the visitors are enjoying themselves, I know that I have succeeded.”

And while we may be tired after a long day, we are not yawning as we were in the morning; we are smiling.