by Daniel Lee
The Castillo de San Marcos has protected and watched over the city of St. Augustine, Florida since 1695. After becoming a National Monument, the National Park Service took over operations and used the Castillo as an educating tool for those who wish to learn about history. As a student intern, it is my job to engage with visitors and be a part of their experience at the Castillo. Working alongside the Park’s Rangers, I am to answer questions, provide friendly service, and to promote historical learning.
In order to learn about the history, I shadow the ranger programs and talks. I have taken many notes on the history and information as well as the interpretive style of the individual ranger. These programs include formal talks on the sieges of St. Augustine, a tour around the grounds, explanation of the weapons, and a variety of other programs designed to enhance the visitor experience. I also have been able to research the history using the Castillo’s resources that are available. These include federal documents, Park Service guides, and countless books.
As my personal knowledge and confidence progressed, I eventually began to take part in the visitor experience. At first I was roaming the Castillo, answering questions and providing directions. Later on I was placed in the storage room, where I would give brief explanations to visitors of the items that were on display. Just recently I was instructed to dress up as a British soldier and a Spanish soldado. As a person dressed in historically accurate clothing, visitors would often ask to have my picture taken with them. As I learned how to handle a musket, how to march properly, and how to stand at attention, I was part of a program that involved me being captured by the Spanish army, shackled by the wrists, and locked in the prison.
My development in the internship is very rapid, but the challenge of properly representing a fantastic landmark as well as providing the best visitor experience possible is very rewarding.