Special Valentines arrived early at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. On February 13, Xanterra Parks & Resorts and the Mount Rushmore staff celebrated Valentine’s Day early by hosting a Mini-Gala for the residents of the Black Hills Children’s Home. Arriving at Mount Rushmore dressed in sequins and ties the children enjoyed a special, Valentine themed luncheon provide by Xanterra Parks & Resorts as well as multiple activities presented by park staff. Fifty-seven children ages 4 to 13, their teachers and advisors learned about technical rope work utilized in preserving the mountain, viewed microorganisms produced in the water treatment process, operated overhead cameras and computers, they dressed like a wildland firefighter, examined animal pelts and had their photograph taken with Aba, the park’s explosive sniffing dog. Superintendent Cheryl Schreier led the children in their Junior Ranger oath and presented them all with badges. Experiencing the laughter, excitement and wonder of children who face daily challenges became a special valentine for the staff.
The Black Hills Children’s Home has been adopted by park staff joining with them to participate in A Call to Action #15 A Class Act. Serving as both an educational and residential facility for children, the Home’s emphases on education, recreation therapy and cultural awareness, resulted in a natural connection with the Mount Rushmore staff.