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Yosemite Nature Notes 46(2) (1977)


Value of Impromptu Interpretive Walks

by Dick Ewart

Usually, spontaneous events are enjoyable and rewarding, and surely nature is one place where spontaneity always can be found. So, perhaps Ranger naturalist walks could also be more spontaneous rather than specifically timed and scheduled.

This summer, I experimented with this type of impromptu nature walks and found them to be successful.

A spontaneous event is one which is not planned. Since it is not planned, it occurs simply because you want it to, and if you want something to happen, it’s usually because you enjoy it. So the greatest asset of an impromptu nature walk is that it will happen when you most want it to.

Following a fixed schedule reduces the likelihood of anything spontaneous occurring; this may lead to a lack of enthusiasm. And enthusiasm is most important in interpretation.

To encourage impromptu walks would seem to me to be to the Park Service’s advantage and the visitors’ benefit. While there may be only 15-20 visitors on a walk, they could be assured of quality experience. Being spontaneous, an impromptu walk could occur wherever a small gathering of people could be found, but the two best places to find groups of people are: (1) at the Visitor Center when the 15 minute orientation slide show ends, and (2) at the conclusion of another interpreter’s program.

A definite plan for a walk is not necessary, for the interpreter’s background knowledge and spontaneous enthusiasm should carry him through. However, a basic theme would be of value so that there will be a central train of thought.

My most rewarding experience with impromptu walks occurred one full-moon evening when 150 visitors joined me for a walk into the meadows. It lasted for an hour and a half and proved to me the value of spontaneity and the usefulness of impromptu nature walks.

I suggest that each interpreter be given two free hours a week in which he can do an impromptu nature walk. These two hours are not to be scheduled, so that the impromptu walk can be done at any time. Each interpreter should simply be asked to do one impromptu walk a week, whenever and wherever he or she desires. I believe that these will undoubtedly enhance the interpretive program and help keep the interpreter’s enthusiasm stimulated.



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