When you agree to be a volunteer at a national park, you sign a volunteer agreement that includes, at the end of your list of responsibilities, the phrase, “and other duties as assigned.” When we worked at Death Valley and at Chickamauga, our duties were pretty straightforward and we didn’t have too many “other duties as assigned.”
Here at Kings Mountain, we have had quite a few “other duties as assigned,” mostly because they didn’t really have a specific position we were filling. So they told us, when we came, that they would give us some projects and we would be doing other things as they came up. That has certainly been the case, and it has been a wonderful thing for us. We have enjoyed the daily-ness of the job – never knowing what we will do today. And we have enjoyed the variety of tasks. This last week is a good example.
On Thursday we worked on a display to put up at the library in Kings Mountain (the town in North Carolina). It is the simplest display we have made because we wanted people to know what is going on at “their” national park over the summer. Local people are the repeat visitors, so it is good for them to know about upcoming events. We made a list of upcoming events and included pictures from those kind of events in the past. Yesterday we put it up at the library and spent some time talking to the librarians about the difference between the state park and the national park.
On Friday we drove to Ninety Six (two hours away) and helped with their Education Day. Tom demonstrated and helped the kids make toss toys. I helped the kids be “archaeologists.” I was pleased at how much fun they seemed to have with finding exciting things in the dirt. The oldest things (they thought) were the plastic Jr. Ranger badge and the roll of Fuji Film. I pointed out the oldest things were probably the buttons, coins, and pottery pieces. But we had fun digging in the dirt and talking about what we found.
When we got back, we expected to report at the Visitors Center and head home. After all, we had to leave at 7 a.m. to get to Ninety Six on time. But we found everyone gathered around the huge, 800 lb. gun safe, trying to figure out how to move it. Tom, of course, couldn’t resist that challenge, and we ended up staying until 5 to move the gun safe and help move and sort through two other rooms of items.
On Saturday Tom got to lead his first battlefield tour. He had prepared it, but we usually have plenty of rangers to lead it on the weekends, so he didn’t push to do it. But Ranger Leah told him that he had worked on it and it was time to do it. I’m sure he did a great job with the six people on the tour.
Working here has been so much fun! Never knowing what we are going to do has been a little like our old jobs (which we loved) but without the stress. When Ranger Leah gives us “other duties as assigned” we smile and say “thanks!”