National Park Week started last Saturday and coincided with our busy week. National Park Week means that there are all kinds of special things going on. 2016 is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, so many of the special things are related to the Centennial. On Saturday we had almost 700 visitors to the park and on Sunday we had another 500. More guests on Saturday, but on Sunday I was alone at the desk most of the time, so Sunday seemed busier to me.
We kicked off National Park Week with an Encampment: about 14 men, women, and children spent the weekend in the park living as if they were at a militia training in 1780. The men, including Tom, were all drilling and practicing their firing in weapons demonstrations. The women were cooking and participating in other colonial pursuits. While they weren’t training, the men gave talks on colonial medicine, home life, and tailoring. One of the men brought his children along, and the two kids were adorable in their colonial outfits. They played checkers, marbles, and rode their stick horse. Lots of the visitors enjoyed the weapons demonstrations or talked to the living historians. On Sunday, a Girl Scout troop led games and taught people dancing.
In addition to the Encampment, we also started the Centennial Jr. Ranger program. This is a special Jr. Ranger book in addition to the regular Kings Mountain book. This book will be available for the rest of the year at any National Park. It has a special wooden Jr. Ranger badge. We had almost 20 Jr. Rangers on Saturday alone.
One of the fun things we get to do during National Park Week is give away a “Find Your Park” pin to every 100th visitor. Wilma found an “Independence” Bell and when we got to the 100th, 200th, 300th, etc, visitor, we would ring the bell, yell “Hear Ye, hear Ye!” and give away the pin. The more noise the better! I also took a picture of everyone who got a pin on Saturday.
We have a trivia contest going on with some neat prizes and special banners through the Visitors Center. There is a “selfie” corner where you can take a picture of yourself at the National Park and submit it to the National Park Service.
National Park week is a fun time – and a busy time – to work in a National Park. We are proud to be volunteers and add to the good experience people have when they come to a national park.