Scoutmaster Musings - Get Ready for Leave No Trace

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Scoutmaster Musings

Get Ready for Leave No Trace
In my little world, this is very exciting news!

Eric Hiser is the Chair of the BSA Leave No Trace Task Force and they've come up with a new council-level focus for Leave No Trace in the BSA. Here's Mr. Hiser's words:

I am pleased to report that the Boy Scouts of America National Council has officially authorized a new "council outdoor ethics advocate" position. This position will serve as the lead council representative for Leave No Trace training and advocacy. Responsibilities of the position include: recruiting master educator and trainer candidates; encouraging master educators to hold trainer courses; coordinating delivery of Trainer cards to master educators providing training; serving as a resource and advocate for the local council, districts and units; liaising with the Training, Program and Camping committees, and working with training staffs to ensure that they are familiar with Leave No Trace principles when providing outdoor and position specific training. We in the BSA’s Leave No Trace Task Force are very excited about this commitment made by BSA to enhancing Leave No Trace training for all of its members.

As a Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator since 2006, I'm waaaaay looking forward to see how this pans out. Besides this new council position, I've heard that the next Scout Handbook coming out in 2010 will have specific LNT requirements for 2nd and 1st Class advancement. Those requirements should really help push the LNT knowledge out to troops, as long as scoutmasters take them seriously - I've heard some troops are being pretty lenient with the 'Tell a Friend' and 'Bullying' requirements.

As such a huge user of the outdoors, we certainly need to minimize the impacts we make as much as we can. For the past few years, LNT has been in the scout handbook and other BSA literature, but I've seen little actual implementation of the seven LNT principles. Those principles are:

Summer camps, camporees, Philmont, Northern Tier, and pretty much any BSA camp are all front country camping where impact should be concentrated in existing impacted areas. The LNT principles apply there, but a troop that only uses these camps and then heads out backpacking in the real wilderness with no further LNT training will make a much bigger impact on the environment than necessary. Just having a troop go through a 60-90 minute LNT Workshop will make a huge difference. The principles aren't rocket science, but there are some things that should be done which aren't obvious to most folks. One good example is the correct way to cross a meadow - should we go single file to impact just one thin line or spread out and impact a separate path for each person?

With this newly defined BSA direction, the council LNT advocate will ensure that a couple people are trained as LNT Master Educators by attending a week-long intense outdoor program. Then, those LNTMEs will set up LNT Trainer courses which are usually a weekend. Every District will be expected to have a couple LNT Trainers who will then present LNT Workshops to units and leaders in their district. Being a Leave No Trace Trainer is a totally fun role!

Taking a step better would be to have a scout in every troop become a Trainer so he can put on workshops for his troop, local pack, and other interested groups. I think the perfect candidate for this role would be the Troop OA Rep since that leadership position tends to have little activity but the OA promotes camping and service. I can also see a troop that is looking for an identity to become a "LNT Troop" specializing in promoting the minimal impact message to other units in their council.

I've done LNT Workshops for my troop and my church that sends backpackers to Wyoming each year. An LNT Workshop is a lot of fun with very little "sit and listen" and almost completely "do and learn" activities. If you have an opportunity to attend one before next spring, I'd highly recommend it. If you are versed in the principles of LNT, then please consider how you can help promote the message in your unit, district, and council. I expect council Scout Executives will be scrambling looking for "advocates" soon - maybe you could drop a hint to your executive.

Scout On

PS: Check out Leave No Trace Dude for more LNT information.

Posted: 19:37 08-02-2008 347
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