As the days in Virginia grow hotter and the summer begins to come to a close, most of us only having a mere few weeks with our parks, I have found myself reflecting on my experience here at Manassas National Battlefield Park. My summer has been more fulfilling than I ever thought it was going to be when I accepted the internship position.
When I arrived at the park in late May I immediately started my weeklong training. By the end of that week, I felt like there was no way I was ever going to present all of the information surrounding the First Battle of Manassas to visitors in a tour. To say the least, I was overwhelmed. I was faced with the task of developing a Henry Hill walking tour covering the events of the first battle which I introduced to my very first visitors just a week after arriving in Manassas. The first tour was rough but after a couple of weeks I had worked out the kinks and finally felt comfortable with my narrative. Over the next six weeks, I found myself truly enjoying giving tours and talking with visitors, whether at the front desk or down at the Stone House.
Now with the upcoming 152nd anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas, the park has been preparing for the commemoration events and I have been provided with the opportunity to try my hand at other park operations. For the past week I have been working with the park’s museum specialist to complete the annual inventory of the collection as well as helped to pack and transport some of the artifacts to the regional NPS storage facility. I have also been preparing a second walking tour to add to my repertoire – the Matthew’s Hill walking tour which covers the outbreak of the first battle on the morning of July 21, 1861. Developing this tour has been a little bit more challenging than the Henry Hill because there are no guidelines to follow but I enjoy the research process I have been conducting to design my own version of tour and I am excited to present it to the public.
My last three weeks as an intern here are going to be bittersweet. I do not have to force myself to wake up in the morning and drag myself to work because I absolutely love what I do. The close-knit park staff and volunteers make every day new and enjoyable. As for myself I feel that I have gone from the nervous, new intern to a more knowledgeable and confident person. Looking back I have realized how much I have truly grown in just one summer.