Esplanade Association Volunteer Docent Program

Welcome to the Esplanade Association’s Volunteer Tour Docent Program! The Esplanade Association is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain its natural green space, and build community in the park by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.  

Volunteers are essential to the work of the Esplanade Association. With your help, we’re able to educate the park’s visitors about the history and art of the Esplanade. This Guided Tour Docent Program is intended to help you learn more about the Esplanade, our organization, and to share your passions. 

Overview of Program: 

The Esplanade Association (EA) is seeking passionate volunteer tour docents to lead tours of the Esplanade. This is a great opportunity to engage with the public and learn more about the fascinating history, art and ecology of the park! Tours typically last about 1 to 1 ½ hours and cover about 1 mile of walking. All tours are accessible to people with mobility issues. Docents will supplement staff to help EA offer more tours to the public, educating them on our history, mission, programming, and more. 

How the program works: 

  1. From March to November, the Esplanade Association offers free tours of the park to the public. Tours range in topics that cover various aspects of this historic park, with our most popular being history and trees & gardens tours. 
  2. Volunteer tour docents will be trained to lead general history tours and art tours of the park and will be allowed to sign up and lead tours on their own after successfully completing the training process. 
  3. Volunteers will be expected to report back to EA programs staff with information such as number of attendees, route covered, etc. 
  4. Volunteers should have excellent public speaking skills and the ability to build connections with the public; the ability to work independently and communicate success of programming to staff; and a love for public parks. 
  5. Volunteers will be required to complete an iCORI background check. 

Expected time commitment: 

  • Volunteers will be asked to lead a minimum of 2 tours per year. 
  • Training will consist of a: 
    • Orientation (One time session) 
    • Shadowing (1) tour 
    • Co-leading (2) tours 
    • Lead (1) practice tour with an EA Staff member 
  • Once you have completed the training, you will then be able to independently lead a tour.  
  • Volunteers will be required to complete an online survey after every tour to report back information to our programming staff. 

Benefits to you: 

  • Connecting with a community of park lovers dedicated to making the Esplanade a destination for residents and visitors alike 
  • A chance to learn more about some of the little-known stories and history of one of the oldest public parks in the country 
  • The opportunity to share your passion with dozens of people 
  • Committed volunteers are invited to special events and are recognized for their efforts throughout the year 
  • Unique Esplanade Association gear 
  • The Esplanade Association will market your tours to the public 

To apply: 

  • Please express interest by filling out the Volunteer Docent Application. 
  • There is no guarantee that all who apply to the docent program will be selected.  
  • If your application is selected, we will schedule an orientation session (virtual or in-person) to go over tour topics and training. 
  • The Esplanade Association will conduct an assessment of your progress at each stage of the training period before you proceed to the next step.  
  • If you are not selected to continue to the next round of training, Esplanade Association will notify you.  
  • Following this training, you will shadow 1 tour with a current EA staff member, followed by co-leading 2 tours with an EA staff member and leading a practice tour with an EA staff member. 
  • At the conclusion of the training, you will be a certified volunteer tour docent for Esplanade Association and will have access to our tours sign-up system. 
  • If you have any questions, please email