Sunday, January 16, 2011

Volunteer Duties

We've now spent two weeks volunteering at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. We work three eight-hour days each week and our basic assignment is to lead tours of the monument. But this year, we are helping with various administrative tasks. I am working on publicity for the Third Annual American Indian Fest that will be held here February 12 and 13. With my degree and background in journalism, that is right up my alley. John has been using the internet to update email mailing lists and helped prepare the weekly bank deposit, as well as "other duties as assigned."

Two of the days we work, three other volunteers are also leading tours, so these additional duties are a good alternative to roving and the boredom of waiting in the break room for our tour time. Roving means walking around the public areas, making ourselves available to answer questions and explain the ruins, as well as watching for visitor actions that might damage the ruins. We both enjoy doing that, but the public area of the monument isn't all that large and doesn't really lend itself to five or six hours of roving. The new duties challenge us to learn a new computer system and I am enjoying updating my journalism skills.

The opportunity to talk with the visitors is one of the delights of volunteering in the parks. On one of John's tours yesterday, he had a group of 17 inner-city college students from Philadelphia. He learned they were on a tent-camping trip through the Southwest and none of them had camped before. Later he met a couple from Scotland who were making their first trip to the U.S. They shared the impressions of our country (very positive) and asked lots of questions.

This weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., all national parks are offering free admission to visitors. That may have been the reason we had so many visitors yesterday. That is a good thing. But, when two staff members are out sick, it may be a not-so-good thing. We certainly were busy! Except for a short break for lunch and one hour to give a tour, I spent the full day staffing the front desk for the bookstore. Because of the extra visitors and the 15% discount offered on all sales, I think it was a record day. At the very least, it was busiest day have spent there.

When the park closed at 5, we were certainly ready to come back to our RV, pour a cocktail and put up our feet.

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