Thursday, May 10, 2012

We are now publishing a weekly newsletter to help Seattle folks find weekend adventures to do in and around Seattle at the last minute. Best way to follow us is to subscribe to our newsletter on GeoBongo.com or follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Playgrounds, and Sidewalks, and Bears! Oh my!"



Dorothy was scared, she was not in Kansas anymore. Singing brought her comfort: "Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!" Well, if perception was based on signs found around playgrounds, we would likely be singing a similar tune: "playgrounds, and sidewalks, and bears! Oh my!"


Exhibit 1
A playground, if improperly installed, could cause serious injury, or "death from falls". Hmmm really? Oh my! Thanks for "putting the fun back into playgrounds"...  and please take the sticker off after completing the "secure" install.


Exhibit 2
Ah thank god for conditioned wood! Wait! What does that mean for all the other "unsafe" playgrounds we've been going to? Arsenate and heavy metals! Oh my! Don't you just love hearing about arsenate and heavy metals when watching your kids play?
Exhibit 3
"Kids...I guess we should walk on the street instead, seems safer". Oh my! And really? Why don't they put these on trails around parks! My 3 year old won't stop tripping on those naturally arranged stones...


Exhibit 4
Hey! There is a sign that finally makes sense about a real danger! 
Oh my! My kids liked the sign, it gave us valuable information and we ventured into the wild! 
Away from injury-causing playgrounds, arsenate playgrounds, or tripping sidewalks, we found magic in the safest place of all: nature. This old tree trunk was right out of the Avatar movie. Maybe not being in Kansas anymore is safer after all.


Tell us how other playground signs have made your day...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Most Magical Place on Earth

It started with one question:  “Why do families go to Disney World?”

First, I grew up on Disney, in fact, my first experience with Disney was in 1986, as a kid, when I lived in France and we flew all the way to Florida, it was like a pilgrimage (1986). Disney was my introduction to the American culture, just as Paris is the introduction to French culture for many tourists. I thought all Americans were like the Disney employees. My parents loved it and we had some wonderful memories. It would be hypocrite to say I didn’t understand the exciting experience provided at a Disney park.

That said, 25 years later, with 2 boys and my love for community and simplicity, I find myself at odd with one thing: is it my duty as a dad to take my family to Disney World? A friend of mine , an avid Disney fan, seem to think so.  What am I really looking for in a Disney experience that I can’t get 60 miles from home? Is it a packaged experience? A connection with a World of Fantasy? or fulfilling my kids’ dreams? It could be a little of all three but is this sending the wrong message: does true magic only exist in one place on earth? and what does that make the rest of the earth? Where does Disney rank among all the amazing experiences you could have as a family?

One of my favorite movies, Finding Neverland, tells a different story. The movie shows a world where J.M. Barrie,  Peter Pan’s author, finds adventures with children anywhere. The movie shows a world of fantasy that can be captured at any moment, even in the most dire situations. The truth is that in the eyes of children magic exists all around us, sometimes it just needs a little push here and there, but it’s there. As parents, it takes work and patience to bring the magic out around us but it is well worth it.

Of course it’s not that black and white but I would love to hear from parents who believe that the most magical places on earth are all around us and sometimes we just need to do a little extra work to lift that curtain and uncover the magic.

Going back to my experience as a kid, I honestly liked the fake Cinderella castle more than the real castles that scattered France and I ended up living in the US... how much of that was influenced by that first experience?

Turning around “Oh Dad, not there again!”

I recently took my sons, Henry (6) and Clark (3), to the Bellevue Botanical garden. While, we had been there many times before, the rhythm of the last few days warranted some decompression in a soothing and close-to-nature environment. We needed time away from over-stimulation (good read: Simplicity Parenting) and some time to sync up together again. Of course, it was easier said than done. My boys’ first reaction: “Dad, not there again!”. Now the Bellevue Botanical garden can easily be considered a magical place with its Japanese gardens, water features, gorgeous flowers, miles of trails, etc... So the challenge became, how to motivate children and help them see the familiar in a new light.

I didn’t have GeoBongo yet but there was a free trail map at the entrance: free trail map + pen = Treasure Map! So we worked together and built a map filled with various simple quests: counting number of animals between locations, counting flowers, benches, finding the tōrō’s hidden in the garden, and finally finding the entrance to the troll house, which is really a door to the water pump for the waterfall. Points were given freely through the game with a loose structure around the rules. At the end, Henry and Clark waited patiently while I added their points. The total score was: Henry: 210 and Clark: 180.  

So while I started this as a way to motivate them and get them on trails, it actually kept them entertained through the entire adventure. For one thing, both were focused more than anticipated, they called out items left and right. I kept a tally and they made sure I wrote the score down, in fact they enjoyed reviewing the tally as we went. In the process, they also discovered items that had never really paid attention to such as a giant bronze frog.

Our next stop: the Washington Park Arboretum.

At GeoBongo, we would love to hear from other parents who’ve had similar experiences and have created adventures and turned the familiar into the magical.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recommended Blogs

I came along a really nice blog around outdoor free play by a very talented author & illustrator. Loved the latest post on nature journals and looking forward to more posts: http://www.marghanita.com/
In the process, found out about another initiative to get more children outdoor: http://www.letsgooutsiderevolution.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“GEOWHAT?”

GeoBongo uses location aware mobile phones to help families find and experience fun, new and relevant activities in their community. We use a comprehensive database of events, parks, trails, zoo’s etc... and add location based mobile games on top. To sum it up, our mobile app makes finding activities easy and our games will engage the entire family.
We're working hard on getting our beta out the door, please sign-up for an opportunity to participate at http://www.GeoBongo.com