By Darryl Alder
Oct 30, 2013

BSA Outdoor Ethics at ScoutJam 100

Two weeks ago, I found myself camping with 1600 scouts at ScoutJam100. My assignment was to teach new scouts (11 yr olds) the basics to bring them along the trail to First Class. Luckily I had help; lots of help from people like emergency responders who taught first aid, folks in the pioneering yard who got us through knots and lashings and then there was Sharlene Skidmore.


She had the station to Teach the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. It was an interactive learning experience with:

1. Model campsite with eight “wrong” things displayed. The scouts got a laminated picture of the site with a marker that they used to circle the wrong items.

2. Patrols competed in Leave No Trace Jeopardy, a game played by two groups competing against each other.

3. They did a Web of Life game to learn how everything is connected in some way.

4. There was a Cathole latrine digging experience (ewh!)

5. There was a mound fire practicum relay.-

IMG_3849When she was done I reviewed to see if they new these principles:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3. Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)

4. Leave What You Find

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

6. Respect Wildlife

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Most of them could do it and rightly so since outdoor ethics is deeply ingrained in the BSA program. Scouting and Venturing have a long, proud tradition of conservation service to the nation. How do we preserve that tradition? By heeding the challenge in the Outdoor Code, which every new Scout must learn and agree to:

As an American, I will do my best to—

Be clean in my outdoor manners.

Be careful with fire.

Be considerate in the outdoors.

Be conservation minded.

Building upon this foundation, the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing, programs all include outdoor stewardship, care for the environment, and Leave No Trace as part of their programs. At the Boy Scout and Varsity Scout levels, youth are encouraged to take leadership positions in encouraging proper outdoor ethics using the principles of Leave No Trace

Many Venturing crews have adapted Leave No Trace principles to guide their outdoor recreation activities. Through the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace, we can take responsibility for our own impacts. We can provide leadership to those around us to reduce their impacts by making good choices. Together, we can preserve and conserve our rich environmental heritage.

To learn more about the Principles of Leave No Trace, click

To learn more about Tread Lightly, click

Scouts and Venturers who embrace the Outdoor Code and the principles of Leave No Trace often find that they wish to give back and help protect the environment that has given them so much.  As Ernest Thompson Seton, the first Chief Scout explained, some may find that they are “wild with love for the green outdoors—the trees, the tree-top singers, the wood-herbs, and the nightly things that left their tracks in the mud.”

Outdoor ethics is not just for youth. Adult volunteers are encouraged to seek training in basic outdoor skills and even take specialized courses to learn Leave No Trace skills.  Last weekend our council Outdoor Ethics advocate, Keith Abraham, offered a Leave No Trace Trainer Course at Camp Maple Dell, in Payson, Utah. There is a week long Leave No Trace Master Educator Course September 15th-20th, 2014 at Entrada High Adventure Base in Moab. There will be five courses available: Mountain Biking, Rafting, Backpacking, Front-Country, and maybe a horseback course.  The cost for the course is estimated at $295.

If you are interested in registering for the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course or have questions, contact Keith Abraham at 801-971-8060 or

Author: Darryl Alder | Program Director, Utah National Parks Council


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.