Today, we learned all about the building management here in the park before we started our shifts. Basically, the goal of the park is to preserve the style and materials of the original buildings that currently exist rather than improving them or changing anything to make them more efficient. And of course that makes sense, as the entire point of the National Park is to preserve the environmental and cultural resources in the park as well as providing for the enjoyment of the public for many many generations to come. During my time here, I learned about just how deep this goal goes.
A lot of people don’t think about that aspect of the park; Grand Canyon is widely considered as just another hot vacation spot. In reality though, so much goes into the maintenance of the park, more than I can talk about here. The park was founded in order to protect this million-mile wide area of our Earth and it has such an intense history behind it. Using the buildings that we learned about today as examples, the Hopi House and the El Tovar Hotel, these were built around one hundred years ago. People just like you and me made those, used them, saw them, all throughout most of the 20th century and today. I honestly hadn’t considered how real that was until this volunteering trip. We toured the Kolb Studio yesterday (a house built just under the rim of the Canyon, it was the home of Emery Kolb who took pictures of visitors who rode on Bright Angel trail on mules) and saw pictures of people over time… soldiers in the 40s, hippies in the 70s, etcetera. We walked through the house where many Presidents had walked through before, where the same furniture still stands. I was so encaptivated by it all.
As for the volunteering service, I’ve never really participated in a volunteering job this serious before. As we met the Park staff every day, they expressed such great gratitude that we came and gave our time to work for the Park. To hear them say that just filled me with pride. This wasn’t some Spring Break vacation, we were helping one of the many National Parks and making their jobs a little bit easier.
All in all, if you’re reading this, go out and volunteer. Learn about others’ perspectives. Explore. Find your value and put it to good use. I’m both glad and extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to come along on such an amazing trip.