Leave No Trace

The eleventh Scout law commands that a Scout is Clean.
So, when camping, Scouts adhere to the Outdoor Code:

"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."

How do they do this?  -- By using Leave No Trace principles.

The Seven "Leave No Trace" Principles

1. Plan Ahead
  • Know the regulations and special requirements for the area you plan to visit
  • Prepare for extreme weather and hazards
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times where there are many Troops
  • Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups
  • Repackage food (Ziploc Bags) to minimize waste
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the need to mark trees, rocks, and other parts of nature 
2. Find a Proper Campsite
  • Camp on durable surfaces such as: established campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife by camping at least 200 feet from bodies of water
  • Good campsites are found, not made
    • In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy
Keep campsites small and focus activity in areas where there is no vegetation
  • In pristine areas:
Spread out to prevent the creation of campsites and trails
If absolutely necessary to create a campsite, condense to make it as small as possible
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Pack it in, pack it out; pack out all trash, non-biodegradable food, and hygiene products
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, and at least 200 feet from water, campsites and trails - Cover and disguise the cathole when finished
  • Urinate only on dead vegetation, such as downed trees or leaves, or rocks
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap
4. Leave What You Find
  • Examine, but do take, cultural or historic structures and artifacts
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them
  • Do not transport or introduce non-native species 
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings
  • Keep fires as small as possible
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes 
6. Respect Wildlife
  • View animals from a distance without approaching or following them
  • Never feed animals. Feeding animals damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing food and trash securely
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, and winter
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience
  • Camp away from trails and other visitors
  • Avoid excessively loud voices and noises

Common Questions and Answers

Q: What if there is no preexisting firepit at the campsite?
A: Consult an adult leader and ask permission to build one.  Find a durable surface and create a small, tight circle using medium size rocks.  Be very careful to keep the fire under control.  More forest fires arise from new firepits than established ones.

Q: What is the best way to store my food?
A: If in an area where bears or other large animals have been sighted, hang “smellables” in bags on the highest tree branches you can reach.  If there is no dangerous wildlife, you can keep food in your tent, but make sure everything is sealed before going to sleep and be careful not to spill food in your tent.  Tents can be difficult to clean!

For any other questions please contact the Troop’s Leave No Trace Trainer, Scoutmaster or other adult leader.


Page prepared by 2014-2015 LNT Trainer Robert DeSena