Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been traveling for several years and notice so many parks using more and more volunteers. I don't think the state and national park system could function without them anymore. I am having a problem with information breakdown as the corps of volunteers grow. I tell my husband they are dropping their standards with their dropping budgets. Young and old alike are in positions that require a knowledge of the areas we visit, rules and regulations and safety issues. Many do not seem to grasp the skills to fulfill their responsibilities. My husband thinks I am being too critical. We had to walk six extra miles on a recent backpacking trip because a volunteer in the backcountry office failed to mention a road closing. My feet were talking to me so I think I have the right to let my mouth speak to him. I volunteered not to make a scene. I didn't want to embarrass my husband, but I feel silence could get the next backpackers in trouble. Please give me some advice on how to adjust my voice control button.
--Blisters at Bowman Lake
Think of the less informed volunteers as the "Farm Team." You always need to be developing new talent and that is what the park system is doing. Many new National Park Rangers start as volunteers. Everyone starts out "green" as a volunteer at some point. In your life I am sure you have been the "newbie/greenhorn/wet-behind-the-ears/new-kid-on-the-block/first-timer." It's not always pretty but eventually you become a pro. There are exceptions. The Detroit Lions come to mind. In most cases, volunteers in training are fast learners, efficient, responsible and motivated. Let's face it, they are not in it for the money. I applaud all volunteers and appreciate the fact that without them the budget strapped park system would be a shambles. So whenever you get upset with a volunteer, think like a musket loader. I mean, don't go off half-cocked, keep your powder dry, stand straight as a ramrod, don't be a flash in the pan, and remember the volunteer can't learn everything, lock, stock and barrel, the first day.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink