It’s a dreary day today in the Virginia Tidewater but here at Colonial, the Yorktown Battlefield Visitors Center is still busy with August crowds. So busy, in fact, that I got drafted to work the front desk alongside long-time park volunteer Sue as people crowded in with questions on how our daily tours, artillery firings, and living history programs would be affected by the deluge outside.
As I explained to a family where to get the Junior Ranger booklet and where they could go to meet a Revolutionary War foot soldier, I could hear Sue talking to a father and son about the Historic Tour roads that circle the battlefield. Instead of the standard spiel on “just following the signs,” she took the time to talk to them why the battlefield is so spread out and how we know where things were during the siege of Yorktown. When they walked away, they understood not only how to complete the driving tour, but had background information on the park and the importance of written records and primary sources. Even amidst the chaos of rainy day cancellations and changes, Sue made a connection with park visitors that would have otherwise been lost. The family I helped had their questions answered; the family she helped gained a deeper understanding.
I think this shows one of the most valuable things volunteers bring to a park: the ability to make a real connection with visitors. The passion and love for the park that brings a volunteer in week after week, month after month, year after year, shines through in each and every visitor interaction.
-Liz Bauer, Colonial NHP