I recently received the press release (shown at the bottom of this page) relating how Washington State Parks is trying to attract more users to their parks by adding wi-fi and other “modern conveniences”.
I have mixed feelings about this proposal.
On one hand I think today’s youth and some adults are already too dependent on the internet, smart phones and social network sites. Part of the joy of camping is getting away from it all and being disconnected from everyday life. If Washington State Parks wires all their parks, then youth and others that are exposed to camping may never experience what it is like to be disconnected and enjoy the natural surroundings presented them in a state park.
On the other hand, I have stayed at some parks where cell phones won’t operate due to a weak or nonexistent signal. In those cases it would be nice to have another communication media available if I needed to contact someone. Plus, accessing the internet for weather reports or a forgotten file could be handy too!
What are your thoughts?
Please share using the comment box below.
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A wi-fi connection and smart phone bar codes could be coming to a state park near you. Those are just two of the ideas under consideration as Washington State Parks tries to recruit a new generation of visitors.
It’s a new era at Washington State Parks. The legislature last year created a $30 annual Discover Pass to replace state funding. But sales have been sluggish. So now the State Parks system is set to ramp up its marketing effort.
A new promotional video aimed at young professionals that is about to debut online says, “So let’s discover what’s out there. You could set out on a rock climbing adventure….”
Don Hoch directs Washington State Parks. He says as his agency heads into its centennial year, the old model of the legislature funding the parks has ended.
“For 99 years we’ve been getting a check,” Hoch says. “Well now people are going to have to choose us. So we have to be more entrepreneurial. We have to look at how to we attract people to continue to parks.”
Hoch says that means bringing technology to parks –- like Internet connections and perhaps even explanations of park features that you would call up on your smart phone. But he draws the line at billboards, privatization and timber operations at state parks.
Declining state support is a national trend. In Oregon, the parks system has been self-funded since 1999. Next year, Idaho State Parks rolls out its new Passport program to replace vanishing state dollars.