Outdoor Insider Fall 2017 - Page 20

28

Photo credit: Amanda Even

be used to decrease the risks we expose our clients/students to,” Furman said. “But at some point, it's likely that the experience of our students and clients will be impacted if guides and instructors are over-utilizing com-munication technologies, particularly if one of the selling points of our programs is that they offer a refuge from distraction and technology.”

Enhancing the Experience

Some backcountry veterans might roll their eyes at the thought of using an app

to enhance their experience in the wilderness. But for visitors with various

levels of experience and comfort in the outdoors, certain apps or other technology might help them get connected with nature. Younger gen-erations—especially people who consider their smartphones extensions of themselves—might be more likely to want to incorporate technology into the experience.

Some parks and schools are using mobile apps to get kids engaged in the

outdoors. One example is Agents of Discovery, a game that sends kids on adventures to recover lost “USBees,” which are robotic bees that store knowledge about the world. Players solve challenges by exploring sites using geo-location.

Some parks use Discover Nature apps to get visitors engaged. The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge uses them to teach visitors about the diversity and ecological importance of habitats and wildlife. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge uses two Discover Nature apps that include a game similar to a scavenger hunt and a way for visitors to find their location at any point on the refuge's canoe trail system, even without cell phone coverage. These apps also allow users to post photos and wildlife sightings to share with others. Making it easier for people to share their experiences with others in this way, proponents say, might get other people interested as well.

Photo: NPS/Will Greene

Acadia Youth Technology Team