“If the temperature is less than my age, I don’t get out of bed.”  Ellen DeGeneres

As we remain in the depths of winter – here in north Florida it hit 22° last week! – the cold presents new challenges and opportunities to interpreters and visitors who venture outdoors.  What can interpreters do to entice visitors to explore outside when the weather is frightful?

  • Consider Maslow’s hierarchy, which maintains that physiological needs must be met before all others. Are visitors, volunteers and staff dressed for the weather?  Does everyone have water?
  • What can you do in the winter that you can’t do the rest of the year? Is there an interesting feature visible through leafless winter trees that can’t be seen the rest of the year?
  • Electronics can be temperamental at the best of times, and the cold combined with attempts to use them while wearing mittens may prove frustrating. How else can you communicate your message?
  • Visit Acadia National Park’s website for tips on winter hiking and winter camping – if folks can hike and camp in Maine during the winter, surely we can do so in the Sunny Southeast!

While it’s tempting to follow Ellen’s advice, consider the rewards of interpreting outdoors through the winter.  And a bonus: January 19, Martin Luther King Day, is fee-free in National Parks.  What adventures await you this winter?

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