The Outdoors, Smart Phones and Prizes
Roll them altogether and what’s not to like? Let’s hope your kids like the idea because County Parks and Recreation will soon offer a program that involves all three thanks to a fundraiser at a local natural food grocery store chain.
In a first for the west coast, County Parks will be installing a TRACK Trails program for kids at four County parks with the first one scheduled to be up and running in July. The program is part of the national Kids in Parks campaign designed to get children outside to enjoy exploring nature in our parks.
Shoppers at Jimbo’s Naturally grocery stores made it all happen. During a customer appreciation sale at the stores last month, customers received five percent off their entire purchase that day and had the option of donating their savings to the non-profit San Diego County Parks Society. The store chain also donated five percent of the entire day’s sales from all stores to the society. As a result, the Parks Society was presented with a check for $15,644.23 last Monday. In turn, the Parks Society is giving the money to County Parks to pay for the TRACK Trails program.
“Here’s proof the community can work together to achieve great things,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts. “This money will allow County Parks to offer kids a new experience that will help foster a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors.”
The TRACK Trails program is already big in North Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota and the District of Columbia. Here’s how it works: kiosks are placed alongside park trails and offer self-guided brochures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. Right there on the trail, kids can use a smart phone to log on to a website and mark their progress in a nature journal which allows them to qualify for prizes like stickers, badges and backpacks. The children can also wait until they get home to log in and update their nature journals.
“Getting children to put down their electronic devices is always a battle,” said County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Albright. “So if you can’t beat them, join them and figure out a way to use an electronic device like the smart phone to draw them outdoors. They’ll see for themselves everything County parks have to offer.”
The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas will be the first County park to implement the TRACK Trails program followed by Lindo Lake and Louis Stelzer County Parks in Lakeside. A decision is still pending on the fourth park. For more information about County Parks and Recreation programs, visit sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/.