“When I’m here, teaching people about the Battle of Gettysburg, it doesn’t seem at all like work, even though I’m getting paid.” This from George, the guide who drove us around the battlefield. “I started off with an accounting degree and soon realized I didn’t want to be an accountant. Then I took over my family’s business. But my real love is Gettysburg.”

When friends heard we were going to visit Gettysburg National Historic Park, they told us we had to book a guided car tour. It was $65 for our  family of six, but visiting the museum (which is not technically part of the National Park) would have cost us about $54. Given the high costs of each of these things, we decided to pick one. We chose the car tour and are so glad we did!

Our guide, George, was a NJ resident who traveled to Gettysburg many times a year to work as an independent contractor for the National Park Service, guiding folks around the battlefield.

Interesting story about George: he first realized his absorption with the Battle of Gettysburg when he was just a kid on vacation with his parents. From the first time he set eyes on the battlefield, he knew Gettysburg would be his lifelong passion. From then on, his parents took him back to visit every other summer for his entire childhood. And today, even though he runs a tool-sharpening shop in Brooklyn, NY, George still returns to Gettysburg frequently to do tours. He gives about 90 two-hour tours every year. He even plans to retire to the small Pennsylvania town in a few years.

As for us, we love meeting people like this on our trips. Traveling and teaching the kids through experiences is such an ingenious way to expose them to subjects that might just spark a lifelong interest. And, just as important, travel lets us meet people like this, people who are following their passions every day. People like George, who showed the kids that when you do something out of love, it doesn’t seem like work.

Our kids could have read about the Battle of Gettysburg in a history textbook. But, instead, they learned about it from George, an impassioned, self-educated expert who made the stories of the battle come alive.

But they learned from George so much more than just the facts and dates of what happened on that field those three days in 1863. They learned that when you love something, you can make it your life’s vocation. Work does not have to be drudgery. Do what you love and the money will follow.

Thanks, George.