Some of you don’t have a clue… but for some of us this phrase sends shivers of excitement down our spine. The line itself exudes adventure, excitement, exploration, and discovery. For some of us who saw Disney’s Peter Pan when it first hit the big screen, when the big screen really was BIG and the hot, new technology of TechniColor was bright and bigger than life, Second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning … was the gateway to an incredible ‘fantasy reality’ that continues to live in the recesses of our mind. It combines memory, wonder and excitement, and occasionally dashes out to push us into our own adventures … we can FLY!
Maybe that is interpretation. Placing the visitor physically and emotionally in a place where they have a sense of awe and wonder, where they create a memory that makes them shiver with excitement a lifetime later.
On page 1 of Interpreting Our Heritage, Freeman Tilden writes about the value of being face to face with the thing itself. The power of the resource itself, not a picture, not a book, not a TV show, not Disney, but the power of the real thing is the magic of interpretation. Stepping away from civilization and into the reality of the mysterious world of the forest is a memorable event; or stepping into the unique setting of a historic site connects us to place and people from years ago that had an effect on our life today. These are powerful, memorable interpretation settings.
Where do you begin? I recommend beginning … at the end: Reflect on Freeman Tilden’s ‘last principle,’ the 7th, his priceless ingredient which supersedes all other principles: love – your love of the resource. It is that passion that draws you into personal exploration and discovery. Love your park and learn its workings day and night and season to season. It is that passion that compels you to tell the park stories to your visitor, to take your visitor deep into the park and share its many secret places so that they may know the place like you love it.
Begin with that priceless ingredient, the things that inspire you – your passion. What brought you to this place in your career? What do you love about the place, the resource where you work? How did you learn about that resource? What do you like to do there? What is stunning and awe-inspiring to you? Do you like to be up before dawn and see the sunrise? Plan a program to do just that and see who joins you. Like to be in a kayak at dawn or dusk? Plan a program to do just that. Like to sit quietly and let nature come to you? Plan a program that lets nature speak to your visitors. Like to play the guitar or ukulele? Have a campfire sing along. Want to learn to ID plants, or birds? Ask visitors to come along and learn with you. Take field guides and get everyone involved in teaching you with a dash of fun and excitement.
Above all, it’s about a passion for the park. Most likely, your park visitor chose your park for some of the same reasons you did. Share your enthusiasm with them; share what you like to do, take them to the places you like. It doesn’t have to be bigger than life because IT IS LIFE! Make every day an adventure filled with the wonder and excitement of the real world – the power of place. That adventure is so much more memorable, even than TechniColor.
Second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning …