A Back-to-School Contract & Apps for Outdoor Adventures

I don’t know how you feel about your smartphone, but I personally love mine and pretty much never leave home without mine. If I did I’d feel lost (sometimes literally) and would most likely go back home to get my Samsung Galaxy S6 because if I didn’t there would be a good chance I’d hyperventilate and wouldn’t have my phone to call for help and it’s just not worth putting my health at risk to leave my phone behind.

Oh! Before I forget, it’s the time of year that so many parents look forward to, but not me because I love summer and I really love spending time with my kids. You know what I’m talking about, right? A little thing called back-to-school?! I know, I can’t believe it either, especially since it seems like we’ve barely had summer up here in the Northeast. Sometimes life really isn’t fair, which brings me to a great tool for getting ready for the new school year. If you have a child who has a cell phone or one who is maybe upgrading to a smartphone, I highly recommend sitting down with them before the first bell rings to talk about expectations, rules, and guidelines to follow when using their mobile devices. Creating and signing a contract that you both can agree to is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page before life gets busy with school activities and sports and the best part is that you can customize U.S. Cellular’s Parent Child Agreement based on the needs of your family, so everyone wins!

Gentle Leader Dog Collar

Now that we’ve taken a brief, but necessary detour to talk about fall and back-to-school for a minute it’s time to get back to summer and all the amazing outdoor adventures still to be had. My favorite thing to do outside is either go for a run or take a long walk with my dog and I never do either without my Samsung Galaxy S6 in hand. Not only does it take amazing pictures, but it also doubles as my music player and I simply can’t run without an awesome playlist. Whether you like to spend a lot of time outdoors (like me) or only get out occasionally it’s really important to have a reliable network you can count on every step of the way, like the one U.S. Cellular provides for those times you need to stay connected or on the unfortunate occasion you find yourself in a sticky situation that requires a little help.

Here are a few great free and inexpensive apps to download on your smartphone for all your outdoor adventures.

  1. The Army Survival Guide is a great way to practice safety first! This Android and iPhone-friendly app provides information about survival preparation and kits, how to build a shelter, how to find water and food and a lot more.
  2. Be your own guide with the AllTrails app and check out the guides for 50,000 trails all over North America. AllTrails includes pictures, reviews and tracks for outdoor activities, from hiking and mountain biking to fishing and snowshoeing. You can even use your device’s GPS to easily share what you’re doing with friends and family.
  3. Use the National Parks Field Guide app to spot wildlife, including mammals, reptiles, birds, and wildflowers! It’s an interactive field guide to the creatures and plants of 100 U.S. National Parks and even provides important information about each, including directions, hours and prices, and phone numbers to make reservations as ask a question.
  4. If you enjoy boating, check out the official United States Coast Guard app. It’s FREE and provides local boating information, a safety equipment guide, navigation rules, float plans and more. It even includes options to check weather forecasts, report pollution, or call for assistance.

What’s your favorite app when you head out on an adventure? Personally, I love Instagram because it’s my favorite way to capture and share as many memories as possible.

Disclosure: I’m a compensated member of U.S. Cellular’s Blogger Brigade, but all thoughts, attempts at humor, and stories are my own. 


  1. My oldest got her first cell phone when she was 12 to keep her safe while she took the bus from our house to school. Back then it was a flip phone with no apps.
    Now we have apps for everything! I love my geocaching app 🙂

  2. What a cute photo with your dog. Apps for everything indeed – looks very helpful!
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  3. A phone contract is such a good idea. We have very strict rules with our oldest and his school actually works with us by making phones be turned off during school hours. It’s important to keep an eye on what they are doing with their smartphones!
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    • It definitely is important, Jeannette! Our high school has a cell phone policy, too, but I’m honestly not sure how much it’s enforced.

  4. My oldest got his phone when he turned 11. Bullying was going on with his sisters at school so it was necessary. He’s been super responsible. It’s on a contract. Also what a cute pup!

  5. Every time “back to school” comes around – I am always SO THRILLED I don’t have to go back! 😉
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  6. I need to install the National Parks App and use it in our homeschooling. We do a lot of outside nature studies.
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  7. I have to check out that field guide. I really like being able to identify the new species that I see.

  8. Sounds like a really neat agreement. Will have to check out the apps.
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  9. I would have to agree with you. Instagram is my favorite too.
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  10. Sounds like an interesting apps, i will have check this out, i love your picture with your dog

  11. Things have changed as it relates to cellphones .. I got mine when i was around 19 and my niece got her last week at 6. The 1st week of back to school is not fun.. the traffic on the road is the worst
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  12. Using the tracking device to share with friends sounds fun. That’s something I would utilize, definitely.

  13. I got my first Nokia 3310 when I was 14! Those were the days (of Snake, mainly!)
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  14. Those do sound like some really fun apps. I love that there seems to be a helpful app for everything.
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  15. I really like the idea of the parent child agreement. That’s a great way to help ensure your kids are being responsible and making good choices with their phones
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  16. We are heading to Yellowstone in 2 weeks…I am downloading the National Parks app…looking forward to checking it out.
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  17. My son got his phone when he turned 9! We have different apps in there to help him and also fun games! Love that National Park has an app, I will check it out!
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  18. my son has a new phone this year and we had to go over all the rules – somethings I thought I would never have to say – but needed to be said because of other kids!

  19. Helene Cohen Bludman says

    Great photo of you and your dog! I hate that summer is coming to an end even though my kids are well beyond school age. I just hate to think of the cold weather coming.

  20. Looks like some awesome apps! Thanks for the suggestions.

  21. This is a great list of Apps that would be beneficial to me .. thanks for sharing this great list
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  22. Sounds like great apps. Love the pic
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  23. Kim Croisant says

    A phone contract is probably the best thing yet to have!. We plan to be very strict with our only child. It’s important to keep an eye on what they are doing at all times

  24. Instagram is definitely may favorite app for when I’m out and about! The National Parks Field Guide app sounds awesome, though. Thanks for recommending it!

  25. I’m going to download the Army Survival Guide app. We are getting ready to put together a survival kit for our cars and home this winter. Thanks!
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  27. One of the essential apps for every outdoorsman is Polaris GPS. It is not only a GPS app, but it also offers many other cool features – trails records, marine navigation, compass. Last but not least, it is free.
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