Hey, Aaron here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site!

A little background on myself and what I’ll be doing here at the Fort: I grew up in central Washington State in the small town of Ellensburg. From there I moved to Bellingham, Washington where I graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Recreation and a minor in Communication. I have an interest in event planning, so I am looking forward to working with and coordinating volunteers. My primary duty at the Fort will be pursuing local businesses/corporations to engage them in large group volunteering opportunities. In addition to that, I will be adding structure to the existing volunteer program.

This past month has flown by as I’ve gotten settled in here at the Fort!

Acclimating back to sea level (so much air!) and catching up on sleep after training, I spent the next week or so getting myself acquainted with the people, buildings, and history of the site. At first it was a little overwhelming to try and comprehend all of the history here at the Fort, but I’ve found that the staff is extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to talk at length about anything and everything Fort related. Did you know that there were over 30 indigenous populations that visited the Fort over the course of its operation in the 19th century? And that trappers use to carry sacks of furs weighing upwards of 180 pounds? I’m sure I’ll be learning a whole lot more that I can share with you over the course of the next year!

Ranger Bobby Gutierrez demonstrating how a beaver trap works
Ranger Bobby Gutierrez demonstrating how a beaver trap works

I addition to my orientation here, I want to talk about what opportunities I’ve had the chance to be a part of so far. There have been two big events that stick out. The first event was National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) on the 13th of June. I had a chance to walk through and visit with the vendors who had come out to take part in the festivities. I spoke with several organizations about possible volunteer opportunities and got some good contact information that has since turned into an opportunity for me to speak at a Lion’s Club meeting in September. GO Day drew a pretty sizeable crowd and the kids were sure excited about checking out all of the booths. We had a handful of other regional parks that showed up and provided junior ranger activities that the kids could partake in. The coolest activity that I saw was put on by the Ranger from Crater Lake. Basically, there was a table with a big pile of sand that she used to illustrate the crater. The kids then got to play around with it and make a volcano! I just about jumped in, but resisted the urge (gotta stay professional, right?). I also got my first experience with the Brigade Encampment that was staffed by youth from the Engagé and Dame schools. The Brigade had set up an entire camp including a cooking area, arts and crafts, fur post, and more. The public was invited to come in and see what life would have been like in the 19th century.

The second major event that I took part in was the 4th of July fireworks show. While the majority of the event was planned and run by the Fort Vancouver National Trust, the Fort itself was open to the public and a heritage site, similar to the Brigade Encampment, was put up right outside of the stockade. I mostly helped out with odds and ends during the day and later on when the fireworks started I was put on fire watch duty. I helped with the trade ax throwing (because who doesn’t want to throw axes at log rounds all day long?!) and watched over the heritage area.

A visitor throwing trade axes inside the Heritage Area
A visitor throwing trade axes inside the Heritage Area

Volunteer youth from the Dame school showed the public a couple different games that were common at the Fort during the 19th century such as the game of graces. Overall, the Fort’s activities drew a lot of visitors and I got to see how our volunteers and the public interacted.

View of the Fourth of July sunset behind the Fort
View of the Fourth of July sunset behind the Fort

One more thing… I have my first group of volunteers showing up on the 15th! I’m excited to get out there and facilitate some volunteerism!

That’s all for now,

Aaron