This year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. I have been quite fortunate to live close to the park most of my life and have enjoyed multiple yearly journeys to our country’s first national park over the last 5+ decades.
My wife and I love adventuring in Yellowstone, and we also love sharing our experiences with anyone who will listen. It is the sharing of experiences that has become one of our favorite aspects of our adventures; whether that be through sharing stories and photographs back home or letting other park visitors view animals through our scope while in the park.
My oldest son, who also loves traveling to and adventuring in our nation’s national parks, told me of an experience he had last year while in Everglades National Park. He was walking a trail at the southern end of the Everglades with his wife and 4 kids when a retirement-aged couple motioned for them to come over to where they were standing.
They hurried over knowing that the couple was likely looking at an animal. The couple pointed out two manatees lounging in a cove of Florida Bay. They all stood there for the next hour watching the manatees and enjoying each other’s company.
The conversation centered on all the different places these two well-traveled families had been. The retired couple then told my son’s family of a unique and wonderful way they share their adventures with others.
They tour national parks across the country, document their experiences through photograph, and then create PowerPoint presentations of their adventures. The best part of it is that they have found a group of wonderful people who cherish the chance to learn about their adventures – the good folks of retirement centers in the metro area they live in.
These older adults, some of whom have never been to any of our country’s great national parks, have proven to be a fantastic audience. They have a thirst to known more and to experience, to the degree that they can, what this couple has experienced.
The retired couple told my son that they get such joy from presenting and watching the eyes and body language, and hearing the questions and comments, of these retirement home residents displaying their excitement and enthusiasm for what they are being presented.
Let me share with you some pointers from this retired couple that will help you better document your adventures to share with audiences like this retired couple does, should you choose to do so:
Gather historical background information and other interesting facts about the places you are visiting. You have to do some homework as the retirement home residents will ask you these and other types of questions. This brings in the element of educator that I believe we all have the capacity to be as long as the topic is of interest to us.
Include people in your pictures. With their permission, the retired couple took pictures of my son’s family watching the manatees and later they all posed for a picture with a saltwater crocodile in the background. Making it personal helps folks better relate and kind of feel a part of the experience.
This is easier said than done. But a focus on taking photos with diverse settings will make for a better presentation. Think of what type of photos will be enjoyable for the residents and hopefully spark some conversation.
In addition to wanting background information of the places you visit, retirement home residents respond well to some entertainment. Combining your researched background knowledge with storytelling of your experiences, your impressions, and your thoughts can make for a good story and provide the element of entertainment that will grab and keep the resident’s interest.
It is recommended that questions from the residents be addressed as they come up during the presentation and not held for a Q & A session at the end of the presentation. So, make it more like a classroom environment.
Most retirement homes have an employee who oversees entertainment of residents. They are always looking for ways to provide good entertainment for those residents. They usually have a budget and may be willing to pay you for your presentation.
Initially the retired couple offered their presentation free with the stipulation that if a return visit was desired it would need to be for a fee to help cover their costs. Others may simply choose to make the presentations as part of their “giving back” endeavors.
So, if you have even a little bit of educator, researcher, historian, photographer, and storyteller in your blood, this can be a wonderful and rewarding way to share your adventures with others. And a wonderful way for retirement home residents to experience via your presentation, the beauties, and wonders of our nation’s national parks.
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When was the last time you visited a national park? Which one was it? Who did you tell about your adventure? Do you think you could share your travel adventures with those who can’t adventure themselves?