I have the best job in the world, but it didn’t appear to be that way at first.
When I arrived at Custer State Park, I was so anxious that my hands were shaking. My summer job was to be the park’s “Social Media Intern,” a position that had never existed before, so I was feeling the pressure to impress everybody.
The roads to the park are slow and winding, but as I approached the park entrance, I began to fall in love. The luscious greenery on the large hills surrounding the road are reminiscent of Colorado and nothing like the flat eastern half of the state when I hail from. The buffalo and deer grazed calmly next to the road, appearing to not care about anything at all. The birds sang and chirped merrily as they flew in sweeping arcs above my car. It was like I had just entered a Disney cartoon.
I didn’t want to admit it, but this place was breathtaking (and that’s coming from a girl who always swore she’d never work for the government or stay in South Dakota). Those two things I’d always considered to be unwavering truths ran though my head as I encountered the welcoming and friendly employees in the park office who gave me my uniform. With every smile and every kind word, they were changing me from a skeptical, jumpy, wild girl who just wanted to get as far away from home as possible, to a calm, collected girl who felt like she was being warmly welcomed into a family.
Seriously, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had offered me a homemade pie.
I then moved into the employee dorms in the park. While this might sound a little sketchy, I think they’re great – as great as a room with wood paneling and 70s-esque orange shag carpet can be. I’m living with about 15 other 20-somethings who are doing a variety of jobs throughout the park over the course of the summer. Our “community,” which is called Sun City, is in a beautiful valley flanked by pine trees that reach toward the sky like they’re happy to be alive – and I can’t blame them. We’re all happy to be alive too.
My duties this summer will vary, but will mostly consist of documenting the beauty of the park for the cyber world to see. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to take pictures of countless beautiful sites and see so many things I would have never had seen if I hadn’t come here.
See? I told you I have the best job in the world. So, stay tuned if you want to read about more of the crazy beauty in and around Custer State Park.