Volunteering at The Fort
Contact: Outer Banks Group, 252-473-2111
When Paul and Ada Kitchen retired, they sold their house, moved into a large fifth-wheel trailer, and set off to explore and visit national parks. While visiting the parks, they became impressed by the knowledge, professionalism, and passion of the many volunteers they encountered. It was not long before they were searching www.volunteer.gov looking at job descriptions and locations that might be a good fit for them.
The Kitchen's first Volunteer-In-Park (VIP) assignment was at the San Juan Islands National Historic Park off the coast of Washington State. They learned the ropes quickly and soon found themselves immersed and very much enjoying this first experience. Their VIP work included visitor center service, interpretation, tour guiding, and living history. After that first VIP job, Paul and Ada were hooked.
Their next VIP positions were at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, which appealed to them not just for the great location, but also for the intellectual challenge. To prepare for the job, the Kitchen's needed to learn about historical events dating back to the very beginning of American history. The knowledge was only part of the learning experience-they also needed to develop skill in presenting the facts in a manner that was engaging and meaningful to visitors. They quickly learned the information and techniques they needed from park staff. At Fort Raleigh, they found that the Lost Colony's unsolved mystery easily generates conversation and thought provoking ideas about what might have happened to the colonists. It is these stirring interactions that make volunteering fun for them. To see a visitor become engaged and learn something new is Paul and Ada's reward-and a true measure of their success as VIPs.
When the Kitchen's first thought about becoming VIP's they did so with the intent to give back a little. However, they have find that they get much more than they ever give-in a very fun and gratifying way.
For more information on Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, check the website at:www.nps.gov/fora or stop by the visitor center to visit with staff and volunteers.