Last night I attended Boston By Foot’s “Meet and Greet” social for prospective new volunteer docents and stayed for the informational briefing. By the end of the evening I had decided to sign up for their spring lecture series and guide training. This takes place from April to June and is a significant commitment. It means spending nine Saturdays either sitting in a lecture or going on a tour of some part of the city. Fortunately, the lectures are held in the beautiful Boston Society of Architects building on the Fort Point Channel. Lecture topics range from Early American Architecture and Victorian Boston to Subterranean Boston. I will also have to read a variety of books on Boston’s history, architecture, topography, and innovations as well as write several papers. Finally, I will have to give a demonstration tour before graduation at the Old North Church in the North End.
|BSA Building-- Congress St.|
Commercial: @BostonbyFoot, Inc., is a nonprofit educational corporation. It was founded by Polly Flansburgh in 1976, the year of America's Bicentennial, with a mission to promote public awareness of Boston's rich architectural and historical heritage through its guided tours, lecture series, and other activities. Over the course of its 33 years, more than 225,000 residents and visitors from around the world have participated in Boston By Foot tours.
Why am I undertaking this significant effort? Well, there are several reasons. First, I have wanted to volunteer for several years but working as a Marketing Director for high-tech companies never left me enough time for lectures, reading, research, writing papers, and going on tours. The commitment was just too big when measured against the demands of a full-time job with periodic travel. Second, as a certified Intellectual Snob with a head full of trivia, being a tour guide just seemed like a fun way to share what I know with others who want to learn, whether they are tourists who know nothing about Boston or locals seeking to know more.
|Boston's Old North Church|
Third, I have always loved taking tours. When I was a kid, we went on vacation every year and went on tours of all kinds of places from the Secret Caverns to Mount Vernon, from Fort Ticonderoga to the White House. I developed a strategy of sticking close to the tour guide because that way I heard everything he/she was saying and could ask questions easily. When we took the kids to London on vacation many years ago, we did several of the city’s many easily accessible walking tours. They became highlights of the trip because they took us into places where tourists would not normally go and taught us so much about the city.
Finally, I want to keep my brain nimble. When I planned for retirement, I thought of all the things I wanted to do. Sitting around the house was never part of that plan. Being a volunteer docent for BBF will give me the opportunity to learn a lot and the joy of passing that on to others.
So today I will send in my application and my check and put all the dates for the spring lecture series and guide training in my calendar. Who knows? If you’re walking around Boston this summer, you may see me leading a group of eager tourists.