An Open Letter to a Yellowstone Employee
Dear Future Yellowstone Worker,
First off, congratulations on earning a position in Yellowstone National Park! Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been given the opportunity to live, work and play in one of the most awe-inspiring places on this planet, and I hope you’re excited beyond measure. You have every reason to be; I speak from experience.
Now, if you’re reading this, it might be because you’re looking for advice on how to tackle the great adventure you’re about to embark on. You’ve probably been researching everything about your upcoming summer season from what to bring with you to what to expect from your upcoming adventure and everything in between.
To start, let me be up front: you are about to undergo what can be the most unforgettable summer of your life. And by unforgettable, I mean that in a variety of different ways.
You’re going to see a lot of different things and deal with a lot of situations you may be unfamiliar with. Like every job, you’ll experience good days as well as a few bad ones. I’m here to tell you about a few of the pros and cons you’ll experience while working a summer season in the park.
Yellowstone is its own remote land. It is a place quite cut off from the rest of the world, with hardly any cellphone service and occasionally unreliable WIFI. But know that this isolation Yellowstone offers you can actually benefit you, and you’ll come to find that putting down your phone or shutting your laptop can give you a better connection with the world and those in it. And you’re not there to waste the time you should spend exploring. Don’t waste your time staring at a screen; the open scenery and landscapes are so much better.
There will be some days when you encounter people who seem to have a sole purpose in life of ruining your day and making you miserable, because for whatever reason, their trip into the park has not been what they wanted or expected. Don’t let that one upset person ruin your day, though. Greet them and do everything in your power to help them realize that they’re staying in a wonderful place and that you’re willing to do what you can to make their experience better. And know that for every one negative person you encounter, you will meet 100 of the most genuine and wonderfully kind beings who are truly happy to be in the park with you. Some of the people you work with and meet, you will learn to love like family, and you’ll create friendships that will last a lifetime.
Throughout your summer, you might experience times when you long for your home along with your family and/or friends back in the place that you left. Some days, you may feel so homesick, you might not even want to leave your dorm room. Do not let that happen, because here’s the thing you might not realize at the time; Yellowstone will become a second home for you. The people you meet, the places you go and the things you see will bury themselves into your heart and take hold of a part of your soul. You will grow to feel like you belong there, and your season in this place will go by entirely too quickly. Make the most of every second, and realize that once you leave, you’ll find yourself wanting to go back.
On some days, you will work longer hours than usual. There will occasionally be shifts that seem like they never end, but they will. And when your off time comes, it’s all the more sweet. You live, work and play in one of the most unique places that exists, and for every hour you spend working, you’ll spend another hour outside, touring parts of the earth that few people will ever see or know. You are literally working for the weekend, and they will be some of the best weekends you will ever have.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there is a theme here: a positive attitude and an open mind can get you through any and every bad day you might go through in Yellowstone. And I’m here to tell you no matter what position you’re working, do not let the bad moments you may encounter deter you from living every moment in the park to its fullest potential.
Do not ever doubt for a second that your first summer in Yellowstone National Park has the probability and potential to be the most incredible summer of your life. It can change you in all the right ways if you choose to let it.
You get out of something what you’re willing to put into it, so put everything you’ve got into this summer. I promise it will be worth it.
Bask in the summer sun. Make all the friends you can. Let the hikes take your breath away. Play in the occasional summer snowstorm. Observe the diverse wildlife (from a safe distance). Wonder at the sights, sounds and smells you come across.
Take any and every opportunity to go outside and to absorb all of the wonders Yellowstone National Park has to offer.
Have a great season in the park, and trust me when I tell you it’s going to fly by. I’ll leave you with the absolute best advice I can give you going into this grand adventure; don’t waste a second of it.
Karley Nugent graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a major in journalism and a minor in English. During the summer of 2015, she worked as a Senior Guest Service Agent (GSA) at Lake Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Nugent is a photographer, avid hiker and lover of all things Yellowstone, especially the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (look for her at Artist Point).
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