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Youth Volunteer Docent Program at SOHO

By Dean Glass

Working alongside our docents at the Whaley House Museum is a group of bright, dedicated, and enthusiastic volunteers who share their time and talents with SOHO. American teenagers are often perceived by their elders as alienated and disaffected, but our young volunteers might surprise you. While many museums offer programming for young people, we actually incorporate our youth into the programming.

Our junior docents receive training in both content and technique so that they can enhance the Museum experience for the visitors. They must be prepared to answer questions from visitors not only about the museum, the Whaley Family, and the history of early San Diego in general, but often about the paranormal, which is handled in terms of 'folklore" of the house. They are also required to dress in period-correct clothing as part of our Interpretive Program.

In return, our youth program offers a unique and challenging experience, as well as training and volunteer job experience that will serve these young people in their adult careers. Not only do they learn about many facets of the Museum, they have an opportunity to meet architectural historians, archeologists, and other history related professionals who are often found at the SOHO offices and in the Whaley House Complex. They learn to develop their personal style in presenting tours and present them in a professional and friendly way to visitors from around the world. Many stay on with SOHO, and some eventually become paid staff. Staff Coordinator Victor Santana started in the youth program in 2000 when he was just 16.

2006 - Volume 37, Issue 2

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