Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
GUIDING IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
THE ATTITUDE AND REACTIONS OF THE PUBLIC TOWARD GUIDED TRIPS
By C. A. Harwell
My knowledge of this subject is largely from observation and experience in Yosemite during the past four summers. Educational work is very new in our parks and guided trips are not too well established in principle or practice. We must consider all our work as in the formative stage and proceed carefully in order that we may build up a good attitude and favorable reaction on the part of the public toward our service. We should never forgot service. In some way every guide should radiate pride in being in the department.
Guiding should be kept on a very personal basis. It is important to consider human nature. The guide should announce his own trip in a clear voice from a vantage point. The announcement is more than a. statement of time and place. It is a sales talk. I have created an attitude of interest which has resulted in a favorable reaction to my invitation on the part of the guests at Camp Curry, for example, by use of this announcement:
“Each morning at 8 o’clock and each afternoon at 4 a party goes on a short walk from Camp Curry under the direction of a ranger-naturalist of the National Park Service. I will start with such a party in five minutes and will be glad to have you join me in this walk. Yesterday morning we walked up the inner trail toward the fish hatchery and had a wonderful chance to study the birds, the flowers, and the trees by the trail side. This morning I plan to walk out across the meadow toward the Indian caves. There is no charge for this guide service. It is furnished by the government with hope that we can help you know your Yosemite better. By the way, you should visit our Yosemite Museum . . . . . etc . . . . .” (to call attention to other types of service).
After answering questions I again announce, “I am starting now on a walk out across the meadow. We will be back by eleven o’clock. Of course, you may return any time you want.”
I give this sample of complete announcement for the purpose of suggesting the importance of this phase of our public contact. We make our announcements to ten times the number of people we actually take on our trips. To many of them this may be their only contact with our service. First impressions are lasting. Announcements are important in creating favorable attitudes.
I think we are justified at times in encouraging appreciative friends we have made on our trips to express their opinion of our service to those in charge. Those who have a grouch are quite apt to let their opinion be known. Favorable opinion also needs to be expressed and recorded.