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Guest post from author, Daddy and adventure lover, Jeff Alt
Why Tech Savvy Children Need Outdoor Adventure More Than Ever
Scientific evidence has proven that time spent in nature increases your creativity, helps prevent depression, and improves your overall health. But, a large segment of children has replaced time in nature with tablets, smartphones & video games. Excessive screen time is being associated with increased childhood obesity, mental health issues, and even social skill problems. If spending time in nature is key to our children’s health and success, how do we get them into the woods?
“Bring the devices with you! When Lewis and Clark embarked on their Corps of Discovery expedition in 1804 they were equipped with the best technology of the time. Why not let your kids do the same?” says Jeff Alt, family hiking expert and author of Get Your Kids Hiking, and the new, third book in his national park children’s series, The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Acadia National Park (Beaufort Books, June 4, 2018). “Incorporating those tablets and smartphones into your nature outing will hook your techie kids into the adventure and help with their health and success.” Here’s How:
- Psych Them Up For the Adventure: Half of the fun of going on vacation in the great outdoors is the planning. Encourage your child to search the National Park website and discover the wildlife, scenery, and activities before you go. Let them map out a hike online and create a daily itinerary. This builds excitement and incorporates technology as a functional tool.
- Load Up With Outdoor Apps: Inspire your child to research and download apps that apply to your adventure and use your device as a survival/learning tool. This promotes purposeful critical thinking and literacy skills. There are GPS apps to track your location in an emergency and keep you from getting lost, plant & bird identification apps, star gazing apps, apps to locate cell service, national park apps, and more.
- Explore All the High-Tech Adventure Equipment: Tech-savvy kids will enjoy learning about the array of high tech camping equipment like the hiking stove with a cell charger, solar battery chargers, satellite phones, headlamps, and digital pedometers. They can research youtube for camping and survival techniques and how to make some of their own equipment.
- Clear For Take Off—Airplane Mode On: Discover the usefulness of devices without a signal. Remote nature areas tend to have limited cell service. To preserve your battery power, switch to airplane mode. They can use their device to create a digital scrapbook, record a daily journal, or blog.
- Be A Tech Savvy Nature Role Model: Establish a sacred time that everyone is unplugged and paying attention to each other around the campfire or on a hike. This is a great time to bond and focus on some good old fashion conversation to work on those social skills. Set up a specific time each day to go to the location in the park that has a cell signal to check your messages and allows your kids to upload and share a text, snap chat or Instagram. This can encourage their friends to explore in nature. Then be done with it for the day or several days, if you can do it. Other campers might be trying to get off the grid so model proper outdoor etiquette and avoid using your devices around others unless they are Ok with it. Schedule time to explore the park’s uniqueness such as a ranger talk, a Junior Ranger Program, a hike, or a living history event. Model a balance of on the grid / off the grid for your kids.
Technology is an integral part of children’s lives and we need to embrace it. Incorporating technology on your adventure will help your children learn and explore using the latest gadgets just like Lewis & Clark once did while benefiting from time spent in nature.
Sweet Kidlit Reads from Jeff Alt
The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Acadia National Park By Jeff Alt (Illustrated by Hannah Touhy)
Age range 8-12: curriculum guide and discussion questions.
In The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Acadia National Park, Tommy “Bubba Jones” and his sister, Jenny “Hug-a-Bug,” inherited legendary time-travel skills and earned a reputation for solving national park mysteries using their magical skills. Now, they are in Acadia National Park in a race against time to solve another mystery. Their adventure starts on top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the east coast, where they witness the sun as it strikes the first light on the U.S.
Bubba Jones and Hug-a-Bug time travel back hundreds and thousands of years and witness history and learn amazing facts. They go tide pooling and learn all about the fascinating sea life. They bike the scenic carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller.
They kayak along the ocean shore, hike the park trails and enjoy incredible views. They explore the area on land and sea and experience all sorts of wild creatures. Bubba Jones & Hug-a-Bug learn interesting park facts and secrets. Will they solve the Acadia National Park mystery? Discover Acadia National Park in a whole new way!
The first two books in this series, The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through the Great Smoky Mountains and The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Shenandoah National Park, are award-winning and have received high praise from readers and educators all over the world. Jeff’s books have been adopted and incorporated into classes and educational programs across the country. This book series was optioned for film in 2017.
About the Author
Jeff Alt is an avid outdoor enthusiast and traveling speaker who conducts family hiking seminars and national park time travel programs. Jeff has walked the entire 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail and the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife. He has trekked across Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and extended family. His son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks of age. Jeff is an award-winning author of 6 outdoor books (A Walk for Sunshine, Four Boots One Journey, Get Your Kids Hiking, and three books in The Adventures of Bubba Jones national park series). He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Society for Children’s Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI). His expertise and books have been featured in Scholastic Parent & Child, DiscoveryChannel.com, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, Backpacker, Shape, TEDx, Live Science, Women’s Health and more.
Jeff has combined his live long outdoor talents and over 15 years engaging kids to learn as an educator into writing the Adventures of Bubba Jones series. Jeff lives with his wife and two children in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Connect with Jeff:
Inspirational and Educational Interviews with Jeff Alt Available Upon Request
Ask Jeff questions about how to inspire kids to get outside!
Jeff’s new book series and national park family hiking seminars themes with the “Every Kid in a Park” federal government national initiative to get 4th graders across the country into the outdoors. https://www.everykidinapark.gov/
Jeff can share how to prepare for a camping and hiking adventure including types of gear, what to pack for any type of hike, food, how to choose a trail and more. He can take questions and describe how a few pieces of equipment and planning can make your adventure safe and memorable.
Now get outside!