Blog Review: The Art of Exploring - Instinctive or Learned?

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016 at 17:59
ThreadID: 131475 Views:1583 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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Hi David and Michelle,
Peaceful Bay – we spent a few nights there some years ago, the only inmates, taking shelter from some foul weather. One of those occasions when a caravan really does look like a sensible option haha.
I think you are wise to get your kids unplugged occasionally. Certainly all our electronic devices open up the world, but if we as adults can get distracted by them, then it’s easy to see how it could come to dominate young peoples’ lives. It’s important to get out into the real world to maintain a sense of perspective.
You ask how people start to become explorers? I think it can be learned, but that there may be some innate characteristics that are useful as foundations to build upon; like curiosity, resourcefulness, a taste for adventure, and above all, the ability to observe. Children who are encouraged to ask questions – what, when, where, why, who, how and so on, and then appropriately helped to find answers, (as opposed to just given answers) will be well equipped to become explorers as they grow to adulthood.
I think many adults simply lack the confidence to get out and about. Some are scared of open spaces and see threats where few actually exist. Others lack skills in topics like map reading, vehicle setup and handling, camping basics etc and don’t know how to get started. Others have poor observational skills so miss the rich detail that is revealed on a bush or beach walk. Another factor too is doubtless at play – with increasing social density comes a loss of self reliance – we become reliant on others, be it via social services, emergency services, forums, or at worst facebook and Wikipedia.
One good thing about 4WD clubs is that they do offer an entry point in terms of building skills by participating in group trips. Unfortunately it can be the case that such trips become a follow-the-leader affair where 4WD skills dominate learning and skill building opportunities, and self reliance opportunities are missed due to over reliance on tour leaders. Trips with a group of friends can be a good way of learning, although, as in club trips, social and personality issues can intervene.
In this age of apps and other electronic wizardry I think it’s very easy for people to effectively hand over their decision making to online resources. Witness the proliferation of Facebook groups about free camping and caravanning, apps like Wikicamps, Google maps etc. So many folk seem to buy a caravan to “do the big lap” and follow the trail from one freecamp to the next without really seeming to see or take in much as they go. How many are destination oriented and fail to notice the richness of the journey itself?
Our personal technique to focus on the journey is to keep a daily diary and take lots of photos, and write the trip up in some detail. It might not be of much interest to others but it does help us to recall and reflect on the trip, and to learn (even retrospectively) about what we did and didn’t do, places we missed etc, so that next time around we are better prepared.
ExploreOz has accumulated a wealth of information to assist those with the urge to explore our country, and as such does a great job. Sadly though there are plenty of people who want it all laid out for them and think it’s easier to just ask a question on Facebook (or the EO forum) rather than do the research themselves. The answers may lead to less satisfactory outcomes, but they probably can’t make a judgement about that. Yes I think there is an untapped demographic out there but how to reach and engage with it?.
I don’t have many ideas about what else EO could do to foster a sense of curiosity and exploration, but I wonder if some regular quizzes and games about places, history, map reading and so on might engage people’s curiosity and imagination? No need for prizes, just do it for the fun of it.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016 at 20:06

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016 at 20:06
Thank you for posting your thoughts. You've raised some very valid points.
On the topic of children being equipped to become explorers, many young children I meet of my daughters' age (11-15) have had so few experiences of adventure that it confounds me. Many of their peers have been raised by helicopter (or time poor) parents and most don't even make their own way to school but are driven, and then walked to the classroom door - for fear of predators. But its today's 18-34 yr olds (Generation Y) that are the group that are indeed handing the responsibility for their decision making off onto others (but not wanting to pay for expert advice). A friend of mine constantly laments the task of "training" this age group in her work place. They are unable to find answers themselves. Their ability to solve problems and look at creative solutions is totally lacking. People like you and I can see how these are essential "skills" for having confidence to "explore". So the question remains - if kids are not typically being raised with these skills and society is not encouraging the need for these skills, will a time come when they will want to explore? I think there will but their vision of adventure is not going to be like yours or mine. My prediction is the desire from future generations to travel as we do to remote locations is diminishing whilst "glamping" might well thrive. I'm probably in the wrong business then! LOL
Michelle Martin
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I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

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Follow Up By: Gaynor - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 13:29

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 13:29
I am utterly horrified at the lack of questioning of anything in Australia. It has been breed out. Everything is so safe here, that survival instincts have fallen by the way side.

This country has captured my heart, but I do despair at the lack of effort made by its people to investigate/explore beyond the spoon that is put in its mouth.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 14:48

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 14:48
To one of Val’s points – I find researching trips one of the enjoyable parts of it, and I’m frequently puzzled when people ask for an itinerary without any research input…

I suspect that translates to “missing stuff” when out in the field, after all “if you didn’t tell me it was there how was I supposed to find it…”

Explore!

(A good summary BTW)


Cheers, Baz
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 19:37

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 19:37
Agree Baz, planning for a trip can be almost as good as the trip itself, and reviewing it afterwards is pretty good too. I'm with you too on those who "cant be bothered" doing their own research, but I'm equally dumbfounded by those who cant recall where they have been or what they have seen and experienced. I just don't get that - and having a bad memory isn't sufficient excuse, sorry! Its one of the paradoxes of modern life - it's never been easier to find information about anything, yet so many seem to find it so hard.

To Michelle's point about glamping, I do wonder if even that can survive when so many women and girls seem to think that "yuk, eek" is the only appropriate response to a bug, frog, spider or reptile. Or is that being too harsh?

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 21:27

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 21:27
I think you are being a bit harsh Val IMHO. Today I took my 7 YO twin granchildren to school for the first time this year. My own kids went to the same school and it was an excellent back then (80's). Today I just cannot believe how good this school is today, not only academically, but also in social skills and practical skills for everyday living.

History shows that every generation has done better that the generation before them, and I do not think its going to change anytime soon.

I would not be worried about the next generation.

And as for you Michelle being in the wrong business, I don't think so. EO has many many members and visitors who derive great value from yours and David's efforts. Well into the future when you have retired and your kids have taken over the reins they will bring their own ideas to keep EO relevant. I see a very very long life for EO.
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 23:24

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 23:24
My parents used to say these things 50 years ago!

I'm a bit with Idler Chris here - each generation seems to work it out. There have always been kids with very enquiring minds and parents who nurture them. Likewise the reverse.

And there have always been helicopter parents, even in the days before helicopters! The trick is to strike the right balance, and Michelle, EO is a big help - you ARE in the right business.

Loved the blog, by the way.
Paul B Kalgoorlie

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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016 at 20:30

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016 at 20:30
GDAY
i took my grand son out just after christmas, 11 yrs old , with a couple of other blokes . His father is doing what i did at his age, working. I was amazed at the little fella looking at a cow. I know it isnt what you are on about , but someone has to take these kids out and show them what is out there , I am begining to think that its grandpa's job these days . The only electronics available to the little fella was a phone so he could ring Dad when there was access.
I also took the little fella to coffee club on Thursday where he joined in with the chatter that was going on. Peter asked the little fella if he had been 4 wheel driving and he said he had just been up Mt blue Rag and that other big hill, what was it Pa ? Billygoat bluff son , so i think that is a good start for our little boy .
Muzbry
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 02:11

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 02:11
Ok, not too sure how to put this in words, keep it in some sort of understandable language but here goes anyway.

Now in my late 60's (69 next birthday) I must admit my appetite for roughing it, swag on the ground, cooking a minimilistic meal over a campfire sort of stuff on a remote beach stills burns, well maybe not as bright as it once did, actually more a flicker than a flame, but still with enough warmth that the prospect of such a trip looks quite attractive.
Unfortunatley the years, which seem to have piled up on both my wife and myself, do at times seem a burden too far. The attraction of sleeping in our own bed within the warmth or cool as needed of our caravan after a long day of exploring either on foot or by vehicle appeals greatly.
I do lament the loss of access to places that we took for granted in our youth. Although having said that there are still areas well worth the time and effort to explore but it seems nowadays they come with a lot more permits, regulations, fences, bollards and so forth. I guess the increasing population and the popularity of the 4WD has put pressures that requires these controls.
Maybe it's because we come from an era where you did need to rely on your own judgement, navigational skills (no GPS's back then) ability to think outside the square rather than just picking up the HF handset or mobile phone, letting off the EPIRB or whatever and having a rescue party show up in time for dinner.
My first trip across Oz, back when the Nullabor was a dirt track was accomplished in an old Holden ute with a couple of mates. The preparation consisted of throwing our swags in the back together with a jerry can of petrol and a handfull of tools. Spare parts, I think consisted of spare fan belt. Nowadays enough bits and bobs, tools, tyres, spares, oils etc etc to start my own workshop must be packed or the trip to the beach could end in disaster. Well, maybe a bit of an exageration but you get the point. Oh, did I forget the UHF, the GPS, the mobile phone and the number and membership card for the RAC.

Now before I head off for the trip to the shopping center, where did I put my yearning for adventure?

Cheers
Pop
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Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 12:22

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 12:22
'Agree Baz, planning for a trip can be almost as good as the trip itself, and reviewing it afterwards is pretty good too. I'm with you too on those who "cant be bothered" doing their own research, but I'm equally dumbfounded by those who cant recall where they have been or what they have seen and experienced. I just don't get that - and having a bad memory isn't sufficient excuse, sorry! Its one of the paradoxes of modern life - it's never been easier to find information about anything, yet so many seem to find it so hard.'

John and Val/Baz, if research and knowing everything about your trips satisfies you, great. For me I can't be bothered. We just head off and enjoy the trip and whatever we find on the way. If we miss something it's our bad luck.

I know where I've been most of the time, but if I forget some part of it, who cares

There are many different personality types and while they may be different to you doesn't make them wrong. From your Blogs I know that you have seen and done far more me so I'm not criticising you. Besides, anyone with a Troopy can't be all that bad.

I'm just saying 'live, and let live'.
Paul
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