Giant Trees, Golden Retrievers and Scat: My Internship Experience
By Shelby Thomaston, 2018 Intern
I spent 6 days in May driving 2,066 miles, anticipating the start of my internship. I felt slightly nervous, and I had a lot of time to think through every possible scenario, especially during the 500 mile stretch through Kansas. But nothing could have prepared me for what was in store for me this summer. After those 6 long days, I was greeted by the friendliest faces and the most warmth imaginable. (Shout out to Sue Hoffmann for spotting me, extremely lost and confused looking in the VC).
I immediately adjusted to the life of an interpreter, which basically feels like being the human form of a Golden Retriever- always being friendly, saying ‘hello’ to everybody I see, and feeling like everyone’s friend. I have found that it is hard to switch out of Golden Retriever mode and I still say hello to everyone in the grocery store. Spending almost every day this summer talking to people and sharing information about the park has been wonderful.
During my time here at Big Trees, I was able to teach many kids about the wonderful aspects of our park. From the Giant Sequoias, to the butterflies and bears, I shared my knowledge with them. But nothing seemed to fascinate them more than scat. Fortunately, we have LOTS of scat replicas here. One of the greatest tricks I’ve learned during my time here is that if I ever need to face 30 3-year-olds again, then I should probably have some fake bear scat in my pocket if I ever want their attention.
Truthfully, coming to work every day and leading Junior Cubs and Junior Rangers has been a privilege. No matter what my mood is or if I’m tired, I leave Cubs and Rangers each day at 11:00 feeling refreshed, happy, and thoroughly silly. The puppet shows have also had the same effect, but I can’t say that I always felt particularly refreshed after 8 strenuous verses of Mother Gooney Bird.
I am going to cherish the friends, memories, and intense happiness I have encountered this summer. I still swell with joy every time I see the Giant Sequoias. I want to thank everyone at Big Trees for always being kind and cheering me on, I will never forget my first summer in the Sierra.
Sweet, Clumsy Hugs: My Internship Experience
By Cambry Baker, 2018 Intern
I’d like to thank Calaveras Big Trees, for teaching me so much, even if nothing I learned this summer was anything I expected to.
I showed up in May wearing shorts and a t-shirt with but one jacket in my suitcase, and I quickly learned that even though I was in California, mountains have snow and the air can be quite chilly at night. Who would have thought Arnold could be colder than my home in Michigan? I learned that you should be careful what you wish for though, because as soon as the heat arrived, the backs of my knees were sweating in my State Park uniform pants. By the time I’d gotten used to the constant discomfort, it was my first day teaching Jr. Cubs and I realized that the minute you ask a kid if they want to do something, they automatically don’t. Rest assured, my comfort with the little ones grew from the help of the interpretation staff, and I was rewarded with little hands reaching up to hold mine, barely audible “thankyous”, and the sweetest, clumsy hugs.
I learned that this is the perfect place for me because no matter how nervous you are, or how much you forget what you’re going to say, if you’re having a good time and are excited about the material, the visitors will be too. But, I also learned that sometimes people don’t want to hear you gush about how unbelievable these trees are (annoying, right?), but if you can meet them where their interests are, you can usually draw them in. I learned so much from the people here. Each day it was something new. Just last week Shelby told me you can rent bike helmets here for free.
I learned about the forest, and all the connections within it. I learned why Tannic Acid is the solution for everything, and why forests need fire to be healthy. By trial and error, I learned how to give effective programs and that it really is okay to mess up and not know all the answers. My experience here taught me all these things, but most importantly, it reminded me how much I love nature, and how essential it is to share that love with others.