“Summerzilla”-The Roller Coaster
Many of you are quickly approaching one of your busiest times of the year…SUMMER. Summer brings many opportunities of engaging visitors and staff. Across the Southeast families are planning to visit our parks, zoos, camps, aquariums, museums, beaches, and historical centers. Kids are lying awake at night with great anticipation of their summer adventures. Some seasoned interpreters might even say that the summer season is a “rollercoaster!” With that spoiler alert I thought I’d take a stab at relating our summer season as interpreters to a rollercoaster experience.
The Wait and Anticipation – Recall the feelings of waiting in line for the coaster ride, what did you feel?
For first time visitors and interns it’s the nervousness or excitement of the unknown experience. To the return visitor or camper it’s the opportunity for another positive experience that has brought them back to create more memories. For managers and directors it’s the months of planning, hiring, and preparation to pull off the experience and serve your vision or mission.
The Attendant and Onboarding- Making sure it’s a safe environment so that you get the most out of your experience. How would you feel if there were no attendants to get you properly onboard?
This person or team makes you feel safe, they buckle you in, assure you it’s safe, and are the first to share your excitement when you’ve arrived back from the adventure. They’ve seen riders who were scared going into it and by the end wanting more. They’ve also seen folks who made it but might prefer another ride. If you need someone to talk it through and coach you through it, or an extra hand their job is to take care of you. These are your directors, managers, coordinators, counselors. Directors, managers, counselors be there for you riders.
The Climb- There’s no turning back you’re committed at this point. You’re at the top of the roller coaster and have a good view of what your about to get into. What are you feeling now? Queasy?
For the intern it may be the feeling you experience in your stomach may right before your 1st public interpretive program. For the visitor their winding drives into your park or walk from the parking garage to your admissions area. For the Day camper the moment Mom or Dad drop you off with the counselor.
The Drop and Loop- It’s all about soaking in the experience at this point. It usually involves some laughing, looking ahead, and maybe even closing your eyes from time to time. There will be unexpected twists and turns for all. What does it feel like after that 1st big drop?
There are no “typical days” in our line of work. Weather, bee hives, lost children , government shut downs, low staffing, low funding, large crowds, insects, first aid calls, ill visitors are just a few of the twists and turns we may deal with and roll with.
The End- Like a roller coaster it’s over before you know it.
It’s up to each individual to evaluate their experience. With each experience comes some sort of learning from the rider (camper, visitor, and inter) as well as the attendant (coordinator, manager, director) to apply to their next adventure.
How do you relate your summer to a roller coaster? Please share.
Wishing you all safe adventures this summer!