This is Kelly Sherman, one of the CVAs of the lovely Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. As you guys already know, being a CVA doesn’t just mean we work exclusively on volunteer related activities. I get pulled onto different projects on a daily basis, whether it be pulling English Ivy with Natural Resources, helping complete a topographic survey with Maintenance, or leading a group of middle school kids on a hike with Education, my day to day activities can run the gamut.
The Flip Flop Festival was the first time I worked for a different company though. On paper the Flip Flop Festival was run by the town of Harpers Ferry, which is a partner of our park. In reality it was run by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), which is, if not a partner of my park, a partner of APPA. Back in February I was asked to work as a volunteer coordinator for the festival. Sam, my supervisor, had suggested I take on the project, as the festival would be taking place on park property, and it would be a great learning opportunity. So I grabbed the bull by the horns and jumped into volunteer coordination for a different organization.
There were a few surprises that came from running volunteer coordination for ATC.For starters their staff is much smaller than ours, so I was asked to also tackle developing the games program for children. The next surprise was being asked to assist the Public Relations team. As with the federal government, a lot of small non-profit employees wear a variety of hats. The last surprise was being told that ATC could only pull on volunteers over the age of 18, unless they were physically accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. I don’t know if any of you guys have that rule, but if you do I’m so sorry. Most of our volunteers, who aren’t long term recurring volunteers, are actually kids so the idea of only recruiting adults, or recruiting kids with this new addendum was a hard pill to swallow.
So I refused. Remember when everyone at Valley Forge (or Vegas for you guys on the West Coast) said don’t take no for an answer? Remember when they also said it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission? Since I now was running programming during the festival, I counted the kids as my parks volunteers, which does allow kids under 18 to volunteer. Problem solved. I made sure all the volunteers had the photo release forms and their parental consent section filled out and we put them to work.
The festival went fairly well. As well as a festival can go in 40 degree rainy weather. My volunteers, other than being wet and cold, seemed to really enjoy themselves. The programs I created I think would have been a hit had more than five people showed up to my section.
Also incase you were wondering why this was called the Flip Flop Festival, it’s because the festival promotes Flip Flop Thru hiking, and no that is not hiking the Appalachian Trail in flip flops. Flip Flop Thru hiking encourages hikers to start their Appalachian Trail (A.T.) hike at Harpers Ferry, the mental halfway point of the A.T, and then hike either north to Maine or South to Georgia. Hikers would then travel back to Harpers Ferry and hike the other side of the trail. The order that you would normally hike is flip flopped, and thus the name of the festival. We do not condone hiking the A.T in flip flops, especially on a rainy day like the day of the festival.

Over and Out!
Kelly