By Stewart Schow
Apr 13, 2017

Varsity Scout Leaders Day Book: Day 24, Leave no trace, Outdoor Ethics

Task: As a Varsity Scout Leader we need to remember that with no OUTING there is no Scouting, but that outing needs to be done respectfully while minimizing future impacts.

The outdoors is such an important part of Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities that understanding what we need do to take care of the outdoors is important to our education and example.  I have a story that illustrates our need to take care of the outdoors.  While I was attending a Webelos woods activity a number of years ago.  Late in the evening, well after my grandson and I has eaten our supper, and we were enjoying our campfire in the one of the fire pits at Mutual Dell in American Fork Canyon.  I noticed a light coming from behind a tree some distance from where we were seated around the campfire.

Curious and cautious I walk down the nearby camp site to find a young father and his Webelos Scout lighting a campfire at the base of one of the pine trees in the camp.  Quickly realizing what the young father was doing and realizing the danger he was creating; I suggested that I already had a nice campfire burning with many coals available for cooking a meal and he should bring his supper to that camp fire to cook.  I helped him put out his campfire and move to the more safe and burning campfire in our camp site.

I share the story not to accuse, but to illustrate how easy we can create outdoor environment that is unhealthy and unsafe.  Leave No Trace and Outdoor Ethics is a attitude to make our care of the outdoors clear and specific.  From the Leave No Trace manual used by the Boy Scouts of America we learn.

“The purpose of this manual is to further Leave No Trace skills and awareness of outdoor ethics. The Boy Scouts of America has adopted the principles of Leave No Trace, which are easy to learn and apply. As each principle is learned, it should be applied. Every outing and activity should be conducted with Leave No Trace in mind. As young people mature, we will enjoy an increasingly beautiful environment because of the impact of their training in Leave No Trace.”

When the Boy Scouts were introduced to the principles of Leave No Trace they were about to be banned from the National Forest and BLM land of the United States (see an example of a Scout campsite in over use during a four year period in the pictures below.)

“As members of the Boy Scouts of America, we should be good stewards of our environment through knowledgeable use of resources. This manual can serve as a major tool in our efforts to teach others the importance of our relationship with the environment. We all must take responsibility for our decisions when we use the outdoors, and we should treat the environment with respect so future generations can enjoy the outdoors as we do today.

“Contact federal and state land management agencies for additional information. (Check the blue pages of your local telephone directory.) Additional resources are available on the Internet at or from the Leave No Trace Web site,; by telephoning 800-332-4100; through local land managers; and through the BSA Supply catalog.”

In another article about Leave No Trace the Boy Scouts say this:

“The Leave No Trace principles might seem unimportant until you consider the combined effects of millions of outdoor visitors. One poorly located campsite or campfire may have little significance, but thousands of such instances seriously degrade the outdoor experience for all. Leaving no trace is everyone’s responsibility.”

Leave No Trace Awareness

“Instilling values in young people and preparing them to make moral and ethical choices throughout their lifetime is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America. Leave No Trace helps reinforce that mission, and reminds us to respect the rights of other users of the outdoors as well as future generations. Appreciation for our natural environment and a knowledge of the interrelationships of nature bolster our respect and reverence toward the environment and nature.

“Leave No Trace is an awareness and an attitude rather than a set of rules. It applies in your backyard or local park as much as in the backcountry. We should all practice Leave No Trace in our thinking and actions–wherever we go.” (Scouts)

As we work with young men in the outdoors we need to teach them these principles and ideals.

  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

More information about Leave No Trace can be obtained by contacting your local land manager or local office of the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, or the Fish and Wildlife Service. Or, contact the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics toll-free at 800-332-4100 or on the Internet at

For posters, plastic cards listing the Leave No Trace principles, or information on becoming a Leave No Trace sponsor, contact Leave No Trace, P.O. Box 997, Boulder, CO 80306; phone 303-442-8222.

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: .

What do I need to do to start leaving no trace when camping with my team?

This weekly blog series will help any new Varsity Scout leader get well trained in 90 days using this unique program that serves Teacher-aged young men:

MOnth one

Week 1 Week 2
Week 3  Week 4

Stewart Schow
Author: Stewart Schow  | Utah National Parks Council Education Committee Varsity Scout Commissioner



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.