By Julia Thompson
Sep 26, 2017

Nature and Scouts: Why I Leave No Trace

Nature and Scouts: Why I Leave No Trace, lessons from my Eagle Scout

“What are you doing?” I asked my husband, then boyfriend, while we were on a family campout. He looked odd wandering around and suddenly disappearing into nature for minutes clutching a black trash bag.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. This statement, of course, made me more curious. I followed him around and watched as he picked up trash. No one asked him. No one, except me, noticed him. Now every time we go camping as a family, the first and last thing we do is fill up a trash bag and take it back into town.

Scouts Nature 1

Our friends and family cleaning up the river

Scouts Nature 2

My husband, an Eagle Scout, enjoying nature

A couple of summers ago, we met up with some friends from high school and went on a fishing trip. As usual, my husband and I grabbed our bags and got to work. Without a sound, all our friends started helping. This shocking moment had my husband on the verge of tears. Some of these friends had been fellow Scouts or been on church campouts with my husband.

When they were younger, they were typical boys. They would throw random stuff into the fire, leave trash behind, and alter the natural formation of rocks and dirt. My husband would often bring up the principles of Leave No Trace. Most of the time he was met with ridicule and laughter. However, he kept expressing his love for nature and never left camp without a full trash bag. Even though his friends and peers teased him with no progress towards responsibility, he was diligent in his endeavors.

When our friends helped us that day on the river, my husband knew all his efforts made a difference. All the laughter and criticism was worth it.

We are so blessed, especially in Utah, for the amazing natural surroundings we have access to. I want to make sure my children and grandchildren get to experience the beautiful wonders of the earth. My husband may not be protesting in trees or saving the rainforest, but he has done what he can for our local environment and inspired others to do the same. Nature is a gift that needs to be respected. Because of my husband, an Eagle Scout, I leave no trace.


Author: Julia Thompson | Grant Writer, Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One thought on “Nature and Scouts: Why I Leave No Trace

  1. AvatarMaloree Anderson

    Thank you for sharing! I grew up in the outdoors, specifically riding quads and off-road vehicles. Because we had machines it was very easy to disturb the beautiful land we rode. Our family always made it a point to stay on the trails and do our part (Leave No Trace). We go to the sand dunes and ride multiple times a year. During one dune trip it was tradition to go to the “Big Tree” and have lunch. It was a trek to get there but the old tree provided shade and much needed rest. One year we went to our go-to lunch spot and found it to be completely fenced off. Other riders have decided to not respect nature and eventually the park had to close down our favorite spots in an effort to preserve the land. We are sad that so many people either don’t understand or completely ignore how much they impact the outdoors. I am so glad that Scouting is a resource to educate those about the “footprints” they leave behind.


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.