Message From The Director
Another summer has passed and we were as busy as ever in our parks. From cooling off in our mountain streams and lakes, to fishing some of the great park lakes and ponds, I hope you had a chance to make a memory this summer. Our parks serve millions of guests over these few months. Some stay a while others are just passing through, but they are all here to enjoy some of the unique places we have the privilege of protecting and sharing. From turtle nest inventories to paddles, crafts to s'mores and so much more, our park team has worked hard all summer to ensure the parks were clean, the resources were protected and each of our visitors had a great experience! While we struggled some days and occasionally didn’t meet our own expectations, I can honestly say, WOW, our team had a fantastic summer!
After almost three decades in parks, it is funny how traditions begin to impact the way we see ourselves and our parks. One of the myths that lingers for many of us is the August slow down! When I started it was common to hear talk of how the start of school impacted our visitation. Making it to August gave you a sense of relief that you had survived the busiest time of year. It was a milestone intended to signify that you could catch your breath, take a weekend off and catch up on the long-overdue park projects you couldn’t get to. It is a myth that still exists in the minds of many, but much like the elusive bigfoot, it is really hard to see any sign of change.
With August in our rear-view mirror, we find our team smaller and just as busy. Many of our full-time, seasonal employees are students and for them, priorities have shifted. The same milestone of schools starting back, means our interpretive teams switch gears from general park programs, and not an insignificant amount of helping with operations, to teaching school kids about our resources. Maintenance crews, some of the hardest hit by our reduced staff, are still in full grass cutting and facility cleaning mode and are starting repairs that are overdue, as well as planning spending budgets on approved projects. Our operations staff are busy planning, marketing and hosting events across the state. So where exactly is that mythical slow down happening?
A quick trip to our website will show there are no lack of activities being offered this fall in parks, from hikes and runs, to arts and crafts festivals and concerts. There are ranger-led programs, and programs with partners, all hoping to give our visitors unique ways to experience parks. We are hosting ultimate outsider events and moonlight paddles, historic tours and tram tours, bird watching and mucky water exploring. Our staff is doing anything but slowing down, and this is all as we head toward one of the top four busiest camping weekends of the year, Halloween! Parks will be filled with spooky campsites and roaming ghouls, something we never imagined as I started my career.
So, as I take my turn as a myth buster, let’s try to forget the myth of the August slow down. Our park staff is as busy as ever creating experiences and taking care of our resources. The South Carolina parks team is one of the best in the country. They work tirelessly to exceed your expectations and provide an incredible experience while protecting the state's resources. This fall, as you walk through a park or participate in a program, stop and thank one our team members and enjoy the experience they are making possible!