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End of the World? Or the kids are outside? Pokémon Go

Photo Caption: A Pokémon Go “gym” is located next to the iconic BoatUS Buoy at the recreational boating association’s national headquarters in Alexandria, VA.

We still have three kids living at home. So I know how crazy the fad for Pokémon Go is.

For instance, during the torrential downpour and lightning Wednesday evening, our 15-year-old daughter and one of her friends put their phones in zipper-lock plastic bags and went hunting.

And in the last few days, rather august and what you would think are staid groups are becoming involved, from Indiana state parks to BoatUS.

The good side is the kids are getting outside and moving around. The obvious bad side is they are still staring at their phones.

Here is the word from the Indiana DNR:

State Parks welcomes Pokemon Go players

Indiana’s state parks are happy to welcome a new group of visitors who are as interested in spotting a fictional Pikachu or Venomoth as they are in seeing a raccoon or scarlet tanager.

These visitors are players of the widely popular Pokemon Go mobile game. The game has resulted in increased traffic to state parks, which are a natural fit for the location-based augmented reality game.

Most the game’s action takes place outdoors while walking. Players use a smartphone camera to identify “PokeStops” and “gyms” and collect fictional animals.

As of this week, Indiana’s 24 state parks and eight reservoir properties were home to more than 200 locations for the game. State forests also have locations. The number of locations will continue to grow.

“We are happy to have our parks be a part of this game,” said Ginger Murphy, Indiana State Parks deputy director for stewardship. “But we want people to be safe, stay on trails and look up from their phones. You will find that the real-world natural features and historical elements at our state parks are even more fascinating than a video game.”

Walking around a park or forest while staring at a smartphone screen can be dangerous. Potential hazards at Indiana state parks include road traffic, cliffs and other rough terrain, wild animals, poison ivy and more. Pay attention to your surroundings. On hiking trails, be on the lookout for rocks, roots and other hazards.

Pokemon players must also follow property rules. This includes observing park hours, which are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. at most Indiana state parks. Players should not enter after regular hours of operation. Players should also stay on designated trails. Walking off-trail can damage sensitive natural areas and animal habitats. Players should leave no trace behind.

Finally, take a break from the digital world to experience the natural world. Indiana’s parks and forests are home to breathtaking landscapes, unique historical features, towering trees, delicate wildflowers and interesting animals — all of which are as worthy of your attention as the latest video game craze.

Aside from Pokemon, other activitie

s at state parks include mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, birdwatching, paddling, fishing, camping and more.

Here are some tips from BoatUS about Pokémon Go on the water (I impressed and stunned my kids by saying Magikarp):

Pokémon Go and Boating: Three Tips from BoatUS

ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 14, 2016 – The reality-game-meets-exercise app currently taking the nation by storm, “Pokémon Go,” now has 21 million users every day – reportedly the most successful mobile game ever in the US. The game features characters called Pokémon that players capture in the real world using a combination of GPS and augmented reality. That also means that Pokémon-mania has also come to the water and with it, BoatUS, the national boating advocacy, services and safety group has three tips for playing Pokémon Go while boating:

  1. Be aware: The US Coast Guard reports “Operator Inattention” as one of the five main primary contributing factors in accidents. When searching for a “water type” Pokémon such as “Magikarp” on a waterway, let the first mate or friend handle the cell phone while the captain keeps a safe lookout.
  2. Watch cell phone battery use: Users report the game eats up a smartphone’s battery charge. With many recreational boaters today relying on their cell phones for communication, it would be wise to bring along a spare charger, or use battery saving mode. BoatUS also reminds boaters that only a VHF radio can summon emergency help from the closest rescuers, ensuring the fastest response.
  3. Have fun: The BoatUS National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia offers a Pokémon “gym” located next to the iconic BoatUS Buoy at 880 S. Pickett Street. At lunch, some BoatUS employees can be seen playing the game. (Insider’s tip: The yellow Pokémon Go BoatUS Marine insurance underwriting team often battles other BoatUS departments, and for a limited time, free boat insurance quotes will be available to all players.)