Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

outdoor ethics

Outdoor ethics is deeply ingrained in the BSA program. No place is this more important than in the outdoors. Scouting and Venturing have a long, proud tradition of conservation service to the nation. How do we preserve that tradition? By heeding the challenge in 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.

Building upon this foundation, the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturing, and Sea Scout programs all include outdoor stewardship, care for the environment, and Leave No Trace as part of their programs. At the Boy Scout and Varsity Scout levels, youth are encouraged to take leadership positions in encouraging proper outdoor ethics using the principles of Leave No Trace. Many Venturing crews have similarly adapted Leave No Trace principles to guide their outdoor recreation activities. Through the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace, we can take responsibility for our own impacts. We can provide leadership to those around us to reduce their impacts by making good choices. Together, we can preserve and conserve our rich environmental heritage.

  • To learn more about the Principles of Leave No Trace, click here.
  • To learn more about Tread Lightly, click here.

Scouts and Venturers who embrace the Outdoor Code and the principles of Leave No Trace often find that they wish to give back and help protect the environment that has given them so much. Some may find that they are “wild with love for the green outdoors—the trees, the tree-top singers, the wood-herbs, and the nightly things that left their tracks in the mud,” in the words of Ernest Thompson Seton, the first Chief Scout. These Scouts and Venturers have begun to feel what Aldo Leopold called the “Land Ethic.” The Land Ethic extends our concern beyond our fellow Scouts and Venturers, our families and friends, and even humanity itself to the entire environmental community of which we are a part—the deserts, forests, fish, wildlife, plants, rocks, oceans, and web of life encompassing them—what Leopold called “the Land.”

  • To learn more about the Land Ethic, click here.

Outdoor ethics is not just for youth. Adult volunteers are encouraged to seek training in basic outdoor skills and even take specialized courses to learn Leave No Trace skills. Many councils have Outdoor Ethics advocates who provide leadership to their local units in learning and practicing good outdoor ethics.

Do you have questions about Scouting’s outdoor ethics? Email us at outdoorethics@netbsa.org  .

Outdoor Ethics Awareness and Action Award Requirements