Recent News

Behind the Scenes: Annual Tour Guide Training

What do you do in the winter? This is common question asked of Watermark employees and one of the biggest answers we give is annual tour guide training. Before our guides walk the streets in their period dress attire, they receive over 50 hours of training beginning with the founding of Maryland in the 1600’s to present day. Training sessions include information on the history of Annapolis and its contribution to the founding of our country, how our state government works, architecture, African-American history, St. John’s College, and historic homes in Annapolis and their significance. All guides are also certified by the United States Naval Academy. Our guides are re-certified annually; we take pride in knowing that we have the best trained guides who provide our visitors with an opportunity to learn and to laugh.

  • The Speakers. Watermark is fortunate to have noted historians, local curators, heritage partners, authors and tour guides themselves speak on a variety of topics. This year's historians have included Gregory A. Stiverson, one of the authors of Maryland: A History of Its People and historian specializing in Maryland during the colonial and early national periods. Historian Janice Hayes Williams has also presented to Watermark's tour guides this year sharing her expertise on African-American history. Ms. Williams is an Annapolis native and descendent of slaves and free blacks in the region prior to the American Revolution. Hammond Harwood House Curator Rachel Lovett will lead guides on a private tour of the historic home next week and Historic Annapolis volunteer William Hogarth a.k.a. Scout will soon present at Hogshead, Historic Annapolis' interactive living history museum. Watermark tour guide Squire Douglas spoke on Colonial medicine and next month Squire Barry will speak on Jewish history at the Naval Academy. Those are just a few examples of the speakers involved with training! The training series brings together an unparalleled team of speakers and experts from the Chesapeake Bay region.
  • The Naval Academy. Watermark tour guides undergo annual training and certification directly from the United States Naval Academy. Only certified guides may give tours of the Academy. Sharing the history of the Academy and the experience of present day midshipmen is a unique and special part of being a Watermark tour guide. Do you know how many applications are initiated every year at the Naval Academy, the number of majors offered to midshipmen or the number of meals served daily to the 4,500 midshipmen? Ask a Watermark tour guide!
  • The Clothes. Our tour guides are committed to providing the most authentic experience possible. That means sharing Colonial history in Colonial attire! Part of the training process involves learning about Colonial attire from Watermark's in-house seamstress Claudette. (By the way, Claudette is also our Group Tour Specialist!) Each guide begins building their Colonial wardrobe during training through fittings and picking out materials with Claudette. New tour guides can also often pick up secondhand pieces from retired tour guides. Everything is as authentic as possible down to the fabrics used and the types of fasteners. Just don't call it a costume...it's period dress!
  • Shadowing & Testing. A major key to tour guide training is shadowing experienced guides on tour. In addition to the shadow program, new tour guides are paired with experienced guides for mentoring and guidance. Aside from the history involved to become a tour guide, guides also learn about things like security policies at the Maryland State House and Naval Academy, the best places to stop for "the necessary" as Colonials would say and top spots for crabcakes downtown. Finally, when training sessions conclude each guide is given a written test to complete.
  • The Graduation. Training spans three months and culminates in a formal guide graduation ceremony and tea at the historic Chase-Lloyd House. New tour guides are recognized in front of their peers and traditional tea sandwiches and treats are enjoyed in the beautiful home where it's believed Francis Scott Key was married.

This is all just a taste of what happens in tour guide training...and in the Winter months at Watermark! Learn more about our tour guides and how to become a guide yourself.