As we continue to develop our skills at leave no trace, we need to come back to planning.
Planning sets you up not only for an outstanding trip in the wilderness, but a trip that will exercise the principles of leave no trace.
In order to develop good habits of leave no trace you need to consider LNT throughout your planning process.
Here are 8 elements to consider when planning the trip.
(Note: the highlighted material is from “Teaching Leave no Trace” BSA publication 21-117)
1. Identify and record the goals and expectations of your trip.
This is important as you should have a set of goals for each trip. Even if the goal is just to go out and have fun. Setting goals will keep you focused while on the trek.
2. Identify the skills and abilities of the participants.
Knowing the skill level of those on the trip determines where you go, what you take, and how much training needs to happen before you go. It is important when planning to know the abilities of the group when it comes to leave no trace, and lays a solid foundation of the LNT principles.
3. Select destinations that match the goals, skills, and abilities of participants.
As stated above, the skills level and goals of the group will set the course of the trip.
4. Seek information about the area your group plans to visit from land managers, maps, and literature.
An important part of the planning process is knowing where you are going, how to get there, and what the restrictions are in the area. Getting maps and talking to land owners is important. As Scouts we want to ensure that we treat property with respect and use only land that we are authorized to be in. Know the rule of gates… if you see one that is open, leave it open, if it is closed, close it behind you…or do not enter.
5. Check the normal weather patterns and temperature ranges fro the area during the time of year your trek is planned. Get a projected weather forecast the night before departure. Adjust your plans if necessary, considering the knowledge, experience, and preparedness of the group.
Planning right up to the last minute is important as conditions may change or access may be limited due to sudden changes in weather. Do not let a little rain stop a trip, as much as weather changes can come, they can also go. What starts out as a rainy trip can turn into a sunny, beautiful trip. But also be careful for extreme weather. Head the warnings of weather forecasts. The Guide to Safe Scouting outlines precautions to consider about weather.
Also check out Scouting Safely and learn more about training for hazardous conditions and more.
6. Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety, and follow leave no trace principles. Include these outdoor essentials:
Extra trail food
Matches and fire starters
Map and compass
First aid kit
Sun and insect protection
Small trowel for digging small cat hole
Small strainer for removing food particles from dish water
Gators for muddy or rocky trails
7. Axes and saws are not needed for collecting wood for a leave no trace fire.
Leave no trace fires burn only downed, dead materials laying on the ground. If you can’t break it with your hand, you should not burn it.
8. Plan trip activities to match the goals of the group.
Back to number 1. Know the abilities and goals of the group. Plan your activities to meet the needs and goals of the group. If you are taking a group of newer, younger Scouts, set the goals to match their skill level.
And finally evaluate the trip. Learn from what you did well, what you need to improve on, and what you need to stop doing. A good idea is to keep a log. Write it all down, you won’t regret it for future trips.