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Choosing Which Stories to Tell

"I personally found your training session more useful than most in the last 15 years because it was compatible with my sense of place, story, and language without the jargon. [As a result of the training] I told stories that happened in the rooms we were in, which tightened up the tour and connected folks to each room and the family. In John's study I would point out what furniture was there when he died and that seemed to be effective....I challenged people to imagine scenes based on items in collection that had meaningful stories attached to them..that worked very well in all houses, and turned tours more toward conversation."

Training Participant, Adams NHP


Seeing the Familiar through new eyes

"I've been using some of the techniques you taught us for sensory engagement and have actually gotten some really good feedback on them. In particular, I make a point of having people focus on being present in the moment and really taking in their surroundings while we walk between stops on my night hike, and then we build upon that by focusing on our sense of sight and covering our ears at one stop (to drown out the noise of the river!). I then ask people to share what they notice or feel, and it makes for a perfect segue into my discussion of how people in the Smokies were in tune with nature and used natural phenomena like phases of the moon to guide different aspects of their lives. :) One of our volunteers came on this particular program a few weeks ago and was just telling me last week how much she liked that and how the exercise made her feel so at peace and immersed in the experience of being on the trail at dusk!"

Training Participant, Great Smokies National Park


Bridging the past and Present

“This training allowed me to open up and share with the group a part of my life, and as a US Marine who has been in two combat situations there are times when I am very guarded about those years in my life and I still feel guarded. When I did I talk about it, that was from the heart, definitely a tangible to me, not realizing that it's a story. The training showed me that I can open up, and include a bit of my service and combat experience as it relates to these soldiers that were stationed here. Now, 25 % of my tour is facts about weapon system 60% personal stories from the soldiers, 10 % my personal experiences as a combat Marine, 5% percent discussion about our parks, their futures and how the visitors can play an outcome good or bad. When I incorporated my thoughts into my Nike program it actually made people CRY. It got back to my supervisor and she actually gave me an award for making EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS with our visitors. I am so humbled that my thoughts meant so much. I always hope that when the guests leave my program that my tour has a memorable affect on them, so that six months later when they're talking about the tour with their friends, they tell them there is more to the tour than just a missile, that is always my goal.

Volunteer Interpretive Guide, Everglades National Park (Nike Missile Site)