Our first week on San Juan Island, Tom and I had a long week of training and working. We expected training to start on a Sunday, based on the date given. So we arrived on a Friday and went grocery shopping and got the lay of the land on Saturday. We also found out that training didn’t begin until Monday. We took Sunday to go to church and do some hiking.
Monday our long week began with training at American Camp, a half hour drive from where we live. Our Volunteer Coordinator here at San Juan Island National Historical Park is Ranger Doug Halsey. Doug is very knowledgeable but he may have lived too long on island time. He proceeded slowly through all the things we needed to know about American Camp. We got golf cart training, learned how to operate the cash register and the radios. We explored the buildings and learned where to find things.
The second day of training took place at the Grange building in Friday Harbor. We met all the other staff: archaeologists, biologists, superintendent, administrative, and maintenance. We learned more about the history of the park. Jeremy, the archaeologist, told us what he and his team would be doing for the summer. We had some group building exercises, which helped us learn names and personalities. During breaks and after the training, Tom and I walked around Friday Harbor.
Wednesday our training continued at the Grange building. We went over safety procedures, including what to do if a big earthquake hits the area. (Yikes – somehow I don’t feel safer!) The best part of the day was shooting a fire extinguisher. Each of us had a chance to practice under the supervision of the fire department. We covered OSHA requirements and Hantavirus preventative measures. Our brains were tired by the end of the day from covering so much information.
Thursday we trained at English Camp. We learned how to operate the Gator – a utility vehicle for handicapped transportation. Then we opened the Visitors Center and followed the Hantavirus protocols for cleaning it – sort of. Because this is the first year that San Juan National Historical Park has to follow the protocols, Doug was pretty relaxed about it. Tom and I, having worked at Death Valley, encouraged everyone to be very careful. English Camp doesn’t have any running water so we kept hauling buckets of water for cleaning and “Purelled” all over the place! By the afternoon the Visitors Center looked pretty good.
Friday was our final day of training. We had first aid training in the morning at the EMT station next to the small island hospital. This training is important but also a little funny. In the videos, the people offering first aid kept saying “I’ve had a first aid class. It will be okay.” We went around the rest of the day saying “Oh, you chopped your arm off? Don’t worry! I’ve had a first aid class and it will be okay.” The afternoon training was CPR which Tom and I had last year at Grand Portage, so we got the afternoon off.
Saturday was our first day of “work.” We opened the Visitors Center with the Shugans – the other volunteers here – by following the instructions in our Volunteer Handbook. Doug came up with the cash register and showed us how to use it. His office is at American Camp so we won’t see him unless we have problems. There wasn’t enough work for the four of us, so we did roving interpretation and hiked most of the trails at the camp.
Sunday and Monday we followed a similar schedule, except we split the days with the Shugans. We worked one morning and one afternoon so each couple would get a little time off. Us retired folks aren’t used to working eight days in a row! We ended up picking up our historical clothing on one of the half days, so we really ended up working the whole day.
Tom and I had Tuesday off, and then Wednesday we started our regular work week. We will work Wednesday – Saturday and have Sunday – Tuesday off. We are glad the long week of training is over. All the stuff we learned is important, but stuffing it into five days and working three days after makes for a very long week.