Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Docent's Reflections

The LHS is powered by many different people who help turn the wheels of our organization. One of the most important groups of people turning the wheels are our docents. Our docents serve as the front-line of the museum, greeting our visitors and giving tours when we're open.

One of our docents, Ireene Ohlmacher, related an interesting front-line experience to me and I asked her to share her experience for the blog. Enjoy!

On Sunday, March 28, I worked as a guide in the Museum. As you all know, sometimes we are overwhelmed with visitors and sometime - well, it's hard not to take a nap. This Sunday I had several different groups. One had young children who thought that the idea of making collages was the most brilliant thing they had come across in a long time once I explained that they could cut out ANY picture they liked for the collage. At first they wanted them put up, but then they thought it would be more fun to take them home with them.

However, the neatest experience was when a boy scout troop of 12-16 year olds walked in with their leaders. You could just see the look on their faces when they came in - "What a waste! We have to visit a boring old museum." They had come in to get the patches which are available in the gift shop (which I didn't know at the time). I however could not let all those young minds escape me. So, 1st I shanghaied them to give them information about the mill & the house (emphasizing how many people lived in each of the apts and what ages they would have been working at). Then I explained that the idea of this year's exhibit was what makes a community - shared religion, activities, places, the games we all played growing up. THEN I showed them the games & told them - "go ahead - play them, have fun." However, I took the older boys over to the character game, explained it, gave them each a character (no boy wanted to be any of those alien creatures - girls) & we discussed how they might react to a situation in 1910 - then we did 2010. At this point, I told them "why don't you all play it - you don't need me. Just return all the cards, because I get yelled at if they aren't all returned" and I walked away. I stayed in the room to watch (and mediate if necessary). It was fantastic - They proceeded to pick up more cards & (without an adult who might give the "evil eye" if they said the wrong thing) had a great time playing out the game their way. Amazing. Then they decided to play Jacks (the scout leader & I refrained from saying mostly girls played it & we didn't explain the rules). I don't know when I have seen 3 teenage boys have so much fun, - they made their own rules. It was so much fun to watch them play. The younger boys were into yo-yo & Connect Four, but the laughter came from the older ones.

Next time, when they come in, they'll be looking for the games to play and not just thinking another dry museum trip - I hope. I don't know if that's good or bad.

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