13 Jul Top 5 Outdoor Education Apps 2022
TOP 5 Outdoor Education and Camp ministry Apps
By Jonathan Bestwick – QCCC Outdoor Education Supervisor
Smart devices in outdoor education are a controversial topic. Smart devices are here to stay, so how can we use them to enhance rather than take away from an outdoor learning experience? In choosing only 5 apps across the whole Outdoor Education/Camp ministry world I have gone for a diverse mix of apps as well as a range of price points. I have no connection to these apps other than that I find them very useful, and they stand out from the thousands of other apps that have similar features.
In no particular order – Top 5 Outdoor Education Apps:
Weatherzone Pro: Weather Forecasts, Rain Radar, Alerts – So worth going PRO
At a subscription cost of a cup of coffee per month – Weatherzone PRO is rated Australia’s number one weather app for a very good reason. Any good programme director will have multiple weather apps on their smartphone each with a different strength or focus. Weatherzone does all you expect of a quality weather app. Safety in outdoor education is not negotiable and having accurate live weather data to make safety calls is essential. The key feature (available only in the PRO version) is the ability for the app to live track lightning strikes. This feature enhances one’s ability to make timely and accurate weather-related safety decisions.
Grow Games & Icebreakers – the FREE cheat sheet
Loads of fun and engaging games and activities. This is a gold mine for outdoor ed Instructors, youth group leaders, teachers or even an enthusiastic dad trying to spice up a family holiday. The ease of use is what sets this app apart in that it has a well-thought-out filtering system so that you are not scrolling through irrelevant activities that don’t fit the parameters you require. It also contains a very handy section of useful tools such as timers, scoreboards etc. For those in direct ministry, there are a few decent biblically oriented activities to choose from too. A good tip to remember when using any app of this kind is to use it as a guide, thus being willing to adapt and adjust to get the most out of this type of resource. The support team is very responsive, and the app is still evolving so the feedback experience is an important plus.
Animated Knots by Grog: Best knot app by far – for the price of a coffee
This app can be used as a very handy training tool or even for helping campers teach each other knots for activities such as raft or shelter building. There are many free knot apps out there. However, this user-friendly app stands out from the crowd with its pause and play knot animation feature. An animated video of the knot “tying itself” can be paused and rewound at any point. This makes learning confusing knots much easier.
Stellarium Plus: Star Map – Be healthy and skip that burger meal. Rather get this app!
The free version is a solid app but once you experience it you will want the whole shebang. Being outside on camp or out on an expedition and looking up at a starry sky can be a profoundly impactful experience for young people. Storytelling and stargazing is something young people don’t experience in their everyday normal lives and the opportunity to do so can lead to important conversations about creation, the environment or our place in something much bigger than ourselves. This GPS-guided app is the cream of the crop amongst a number of decent stargazing apps. Telling a good story is one thing but most of us are pretty average at picking out star constellations. Stellarium paired with a decent-sized tablet and a cheap laser pointer can turn a chat about the stars into an immersive and truly memorable experience.
Trello: One for the coordinators – FREE and fantastic
When explored and used well this app can drastically streamline any kind of administrative, or background necessities that make up a camp programme. It keeps all your info in one accessible, sharable and linkable place. The interface is smart and easy to use. Checklists can be created and ticked off or allocated to team members to complete with timelines and descriptors. Resources such as the programme, risk assessments, activity lists or standard operating procedures, medical forms, media, weblinks and emergency contacts and protocols are all kept in one accessible spot. This reduces the number of documents that need to be printed out and given to instructors or leaders. That essential gear list you created that you can’t find anymore is now a smart press away. Quick access equals more organisation and better efficiency. Organise and create your own custom space on your desktop and share with your team. They can access the information through their smart devices on the go and you have a more supported, more organised and better-resourced team.
As we use our smart devices more and more in front of campers, young people and our families it is important to understand that whipping out our phone and giving it your attention in front of other people implies that what’s on the phone is more important than them at that time. Openly share what you are doing with your group to ensure they don’t assume you are on social media and not giving them the attention, they deserve. “Hey guys check this cool weather app, it shows me how far away the lightning is so that I can keep you guys safe” – goes a long way.
Please comment and share with us your favourite and most useful apps to enhance outdoor learning experiences!