Living in a World of Technology

I love telling the story about an experience I had with the youth group at church, and how it symbolizes how our culture has changed. One night I walked into the youth room to see what all the commotion was and discovered a pingpongWifi at SC State Parks tournament underway. Nothing strange about that, right? What struck me as unusual was they were all gathered around the TV playing pingpong on the Wii—not on the real pingpong table sitting in the same room! Today’s challenge is how to keep the best of both worlds; the fun of video games and the experience of the real thing.

Video games aren’t the only challenge. It’s TV, computers, iPads and smart phones, too. We now have the ability to go anywhere and do anything without ever leaving the couch. In state parks, we’re working hard to find ways to mesh the two worlds, using technology to reach a new generation of park users, while incorporating technology into our parks to engage the visitor in the out of doors.

The first step in our efforts, is utilizing our great website loaded with useful information and ideas about visiting the state parks. We’ve just completed our website redesign, and hope you find it useful and easy-to-use. The site has a variety of interactive features including our webcams at Table Rock and Edisto Beach state parks, which always offer a sight worth viewing. Soon, our site will go mobile, making it even easier to access from your smart phone.

I’m guessing some out there are saying, “I would love to go to a state park, but I really can’t be away from my computer that long.” We’ve thought the same thing, and we understand it’s important and are working towards making it a reality. Many of our state parks currently have Wi-Fi access. SCPRT Director Duane Parrish told me on one of our recent park visits, “There is a need to get away from it all, to disconnect, while still being connected.” State parks can do just that. Allow you to disconnect, explore and enjoy the outdoors, while knowing later on you can still check your email.
SC State Parks Geocache Challenge
Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting people to explore their parks, see the beauty and interact with nature, despite technology reducing our attention span. Our answer has been to use and incorporate technology to get people outside rather than work against it. One of the newest programs in state parks, the SC State Parks Geocache Challenge, uses the best of both worlds.

A trial run of the contest was done in the Sandhills region, and the results were tremendous! As a result, it’s been extended to all 47 state parks. The challenge is made up of one cache hidden in all of the parks, which are divided up into four regions, the Coastal, Sandhills, Mountains and Lakes. Great prizes are rewarded for those who are the first to find the caches.

For more information, visit our parks geocaching page. To participate, you’ll need a GPS unit or a smart phone. If you don’t have one, check with a park ranger to see if they have a GPS unit available for you to check out. This year we’ll be supplying some GPS units for our overnight guests and visitors.

The idea is simple. Find ways to encourage people to visit their state parks and experience South Carolina. Once you make it to the park, take the next step and disconnect. Listen, smell and see what you have been missing! It’s time to discover your state parks, so “Come Out and Play” in 2012!

See you in the Parks!
Phil