Leave No Trace – Getting Started

Most people that enjoy the out doors, that really appreciate what we have in the wilderness area practice some level of leave no trace. While others seemingly take for granite the wide open spaces and figure that someone else will clean up after them, or that their impact will not be that harmful.
The fact is that while we may not be at a danger level in our wilderness, the foot print we leave today may have a lasting impact on how we use it tomorrow. It is for that reason that we need to learn and practice a leave no trace philosophy while getting out there.

To get started it is a good idea just to ask a few questions.

Do we plan ahead for all circumstances and go prepared?

Do we always travel and camp on durable surfaces? Do we know what that means? Do we know what surfaces are not durable?

Do we know how to properly dispose of our human waste and wastewater?

Do we minimize site alterations and leave natural items and artifacts for others to discover?

Do we minimize our campfire impact?

Do we only observe wildlife, or do we disturb them with our actions?

Are we always considerate of other campers?

Do we understand and follow the Leave no trace principles?

I think an honest review of your answers will tell you that you may be close to actively participating in the leave no trace program, but may be falling short in certain areas. That’s ok, its a starting point and a place from which to build.

It is important that Scouts know and understand, not just the verbiage, but why we need the Leave no trace program. It is always a good idea to get them out into the wilderness. Have them sit quietly and look around. Then ask about Leave no trace. Right before their eyes they will see the “WHY” we need it.

I think about it in these terms as it relates to our Troop. We camp a lot. So over the 30 plus nights we camp over the course of a year, what is the impact that we can potentially leave? OK now.. what is the impact that we actually left last year? Can we answer those questions and feel good about our answer. I know that we fall short.

Happy Scouting!
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