P.E. instructor Randy West set up a campsite behind the school to teach the students the seven “Leave No Trace” principles used by Boy Scouts of America.
The exercise was a requirement for West’s Wood Badge, the most advanced training available to Boy Scout leaders. West said he was excited about the opportunity to share his knowledge with students, most of whom have told him that they have never been camping.
“Kids are so attached to electronics, and we’re losing an appreciation of the outdoors and how to preserve it,” West said.
The first tip that West shared with the students was preparation.
He told them that their parents should research the area they will visit and try to schedule the trip around the peak season.
West also showed the group various items to pack, such as a flashlight, rope, compass, food and clothing that takes into account various weather possibilities.
Next the class learned that they should travel and camp on durable surfaces such as established trails and campsites, rock, gravel and dry grass.
West stressed the importance of preserving pristine, or unspoiled, areas through an exercise in which frisbees on the ground symbolized flowers. After each child picked one up, the area looked empty.
“When we’re outside, we’re visitors. So we want everything to stay beautiful for the next person,” West said.
West also discussed how to dispose of bathroom waste and litter properly. He explained the principle by telling them that whatever is carried in to a campsite should be carried out at the end of the trip.
West then instructed the group to leave what they find in the area, including rocks, plants, trees and other natural objects as well as interesting artifacts such as arrowheads.
“Enjoy it. Look at it. Take a picture of it, but leave it where it is for your grandkids to find,” West said.
The final principles West shared with the students was to minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors.
West ended the class period by encouraging the students to have fun in the outdoors while leaving no trace behind. “That’s your goal. When you leave, you want the next person who comes along to think, ‘Wow, nobody has camped here in years,” West said.