By Darryl Alder
Nov 17, 2015

Leave No Trace for Kids

Nebo Loop

What did you expect, it’s autumn and the place is called Maple Dell Scout Camp

At the end of September, during a beautiful fall weekend at Maple Dell Scout Camp, I joined with 12 other Scouts and Scouters to learn about Teaching Leave No Trace. It was great to be with such a like-minded group.

The Clyde Lodge was filled with displays and exhibits reminding us of each of the seven Leave No Trace principles. But one that caught my eye was a large vinyl banner with simpler principles. It read:

Leave No Trace Principles for Kids:

  • Know Before You Go
  • Choose The Right Path
  • Trash Your Trash
  • Leave What You Find
  • Be Careful With Fire
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Kind To Other Visitors

This was just what I was looking for, because in each new Cub Scout Rank Requirement there is something about the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace. I discovered this firsthand this summer as I worked with my grandson on the Wolf Adventure, Call of the Wild.

Leave no trace posterRequirement #1 asks Wolf Scouts to attend a pack or family campout. Requirement #7 says to do the following:

  1. Recite the Outdoor Code with your leader.
  2. Recite the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids with your leader. Talk about how these principles support the Outdoor Code.
  3. After your campout, list the ways you demonstrated being careful with fire.

During the week before our family day camp to the beach at Filey, we got to build our own camp in the nearby forest. I showed my grandson how to minimize campfire impact, which is one of the Leave No Trace Principles, but it was a bit above his head. On the drive home from our family camp we tried to talk more about how we practiced Leave No Trace and the Outdoor Code—it was all a bit much for an eight year old.

Standing in Maple Dell’s Clyde Lodge that fall day I saw how much better it would be to teach this the kids’ way. So here is your copy:LNT for Kids Front

LNT for Kids

Cub Scout PledgeYou may also want to print this card for your Cubs to remind them of the Cub Scout Leave No Trace Pledge.

You can learn more about  Outdoor Ethics in the Boy Scouts of America here.

Teaching youth early in their lives will make them better lifelong stewards. So how does your pack or den teach Leave No Trace?

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3 thoughts on “Leave No Trace for Kids

  1. AvatarPaul Lillywhite

    I feel strongly about teaching Leave No Trace principles through scouting. I am sharing something I wrote about it. Recently while visiting with a friend he told me about a camp out he and his wife went on. Just as they arrived a Scout troop was departing. As soon as all of their equipment was loaded up the boys were lined up, there were about 14 young men, and they walked the entire camp picking up everything that was not natural. All the trash was put into a large trash bag for a dumpster at home.
    He told me, “The entire camp was completely clean. That is just what should be taught to young men.” I felt like my buttons would pop after all the years I’ve spent trying to teach this very thing.
    This was a huge contrast to a camp out my wife and I went on just a few weeks ago. As we arrived at one of our favorite camp sites we were shocked at the condition of the area. The next hour or so was spent digging beer bottles, beer cans, discarded equipment, food containers, cigarette butts, and other trash out the fire pit. All around the area there were more discarded cigarette butts, candy wrappers, beer bottle tops, and other trash. This must have been a deer hunter’s camp because there was the skeleton of a small deer, possibly a fawn killed for camp meat, and there were also a couple of deer hides and two piles of deer guts. The whole camp site was an awful mess.
    Two weeks later we were able to go camping again. This time we went to a wonderful spot where there is a small grove of Ponderosa pine trees in a sea of Piñon pine and Juniper trees. This beautiful grove of majestic Ponderosas is located in a very interesting geologic formation with a small, refreshing stream. It is a wonderfully quiet and renewing retreat that we have enjoyed for many years. As we pulled up to our favorite camp site we found that someone had built a dam across the stream which had flooded that spot. We went to our second favorite site, where we had a wonderful night.
    The next morning we went for a hike down by the main section of the Ponderosa grove. There we found another mess. There was a wilderness survival shelter, the stumps of several Ponderosa pine trees, cut about 3 feet from the ground with small hatchets, many pieces of wood lashed together with a fluorescent binder twine, along with a long strand of twine left on the ground, a large amount of candy and gum wrappers, and the cladding of the shelter; a small mountain of cut willows.
    The shelter was skillfully made from 15 freshly cut Ponderosa poles about 12 feet long. Then the willows had been worked into them. As we looked around we noticed several lashings done with the fluorescent green binder twine, complete with nicely tied clove hitches, double half hitches, and even a well tied timber hitch. One of the saddest things was the cut trees. One was over 10 inches in diameter, possibly over 100 years old. As I looked at all of this mess, I thought, “This must have been done by a Scout troop.” And I hoped that I was wrong, but he wilderness survival shelter, the binder twine, and the well-tied lashings all spoke of a taught Scout troop.
    There was no policing of the area as shown by the candy and gum wrappers and other litter. My objection to the shelter was that it should have been dismantled after its’ use, but the bigger problem was the cutting of so many live trees. It was especially sad since there are so few Ponderosa trees in this area and this cutting destroyed such a large percentage of new growth of the struggling Ponderosas.
    There will be no wilderness to survive in if we destroy it. How can practice wilderness survival by destroying the trees in the forest we want to survive in?
    The experience my friend told me about is the perfect example of leaders teaching boys important values of the Scouting program: Leave No Trace, courtesy, cleanliness and reverence. Teaching outdoor skills is important, but it is imperative that we instill the values behind them.

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  2. Pingback: Leave No Trace for Kids | Voice of Scouting

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