As I was walking with a rail-thin Army Reserve sergeant along the way to Murietta Falls awhile back, we got to talking about what his overweight preteen son thinks of hiking. In two words: hates it.

Army Dad’s solution: give him a game controller unit he can take out in the woods — a GPS receiver.

“He complained the whole way,” the dad said … right up until they found a geocache stashed somewhere. Then he was Mr. Excitement, and all suffering was forgotten.

Can’t say how many other youngsters would go for this, but it strikes me as a sane compromise for outdoorsy grownups whose dread at the prospect of dragging their kids outdoors is exceeded only by their kids’ dread at hearing Dad say “Pack up, we’re going camping!”

Lucky parents have kids who are into whatever the grownups are into. Everybody else (99.957 percent of the population, from what I hear) has to tear them ‘em kicking and screaming away from their domestic cocoons full of comforting electronic devices.

Geocaching may be littering, as Fedak said the other day, but caches are out of the way and not hurting anyone. You can’t find stuff without going for a healthy walk, usually of several miles. There’s a hand-held electronic device requirement. Can anybody think of better bridge to the outdoors for the Xbox generation?

(Naturally, somebody has already thought of this).