Leave No Trace

(Discover the Outdoors)

By Kerry Cordy



The concept of Leave No Trace is simply to leave our environment the same or better than how we found it.  It doesn't matter if you are in someone's backyard, at a park, or camping out in the wild.  Just as you would never dump trash in your swimming pool, or pick all of your neighbor's flowers, you should respect the environment regardless of where you are.


(You may use any higher level requirement as an optional requirement.)


Penguin:  Do three requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1 *  Learn the basic rules of Leave No Trace:

  • Stay on trails – Leaving marked trails damages the natural landscape.  Clear any obstruction from the trail as you walk to discourage others from making new trails around it.
  • Pack it in, pack it out – Whatever you bring to a campsite should leave again with you, including all trash.
  •  Leave what you find – Leave rocks, plants, flowers, trees and other natural objects how you found them.
  • Respect wildlife – Do not chase, catch, feed or disturb the local wildlife.
  • Use established campfire rings – Follow all fire regulations and use established fire rings for any campfires.
  • Camp in the clear – campsites are found, not made.  Find a good clearing to pitch your tent and do not create a campsite where there is not one naturally.
  • Know before you go – Make sure you know the rules and regulations of any campground or park you use.


Otter:  Do four requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Penguin requirements 1.

_____ 2. *  Show that you understand the Leave No Trace principles by taking a hike or participating in a campout and following all Leave No Trace rules.


Dolphin:  Do five requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Otter requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2.*  Recite and explain in your own words the principles of Leave No Trace, and discuss how an ethical guideline differs from a rule.


Butterfly:  Do six requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Dolphin requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2.*  Adopt a section of hiking trail, park, or street (older girls only for streets) to keep clean for a minimum of 3 months.


Eagle:  Do seven requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Butterfly requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2.*  Choose a section of trail and remove any obvious barriers (i.e. fallen limbs, displaced rocks) so hikers won't be tempted to "walk around" and widen the trail.


Owls:  Do 9 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1. *  Do Eagle requirements 1 & 2

_____ 2. *  Teach someone how to do a skill from this badge or teach some knowledge about this badge to someone.   You can teach kids, your spouse, seniors, anyone, just as long as you are sharing your new found knowledge.   If for some reason you cannot teach what you have learned to someone else, you may choose an additional 2 optional requirements instead.



Optional Requirements:

_____ 3.  Play a game that teaches and re-enforces the Leave No Trace Principles

_____ 4.  For Butterflies and up only:  Teach the Leave No Trace principles to a group of younger children.

_____ 5.  Peg out a 1 yard x 1 yard (3ft x 3ft) square in a patch of nature. Focus on all the wildlife that is located inside the square.  Discuss how walking on this square, leaving trash on it, etc. would damage what is in it.

_____ 6.  Understand that Leave No Trace also includes cleaning up after others.  Participate in a trash clean up of your favorite hiking trail or park.

_____ 7.  Participate in a Leave No Trace-related service project that reduces or rehabilitates recreational impacts. Discuss with your troop or team which recreational impacts were involved with the project.

_____ 8.  Go on a Leave No Trace scavenger hunt and try to find examples of violations of the Leave No Trace principles. Fix those violations that you can.  For example, if you see trash on the ground that is a violation of principle #2 “Pack it in, pack it out.”  If you see man made trails off the designated hiking trail, that is a violation of principle #1, “Stay on the trails.”  Be able to explain which principle is being violated and why some violations cannot be fixed except over time.

____ 9.  When respecting wildlife, show that you understand the following guidelines and be able to explain to an adult why each is important.

  • Don't feed the wildlife –( damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers)
  • Stay a respectful distance away.  If an animal is changing its behavior you are too close.- (larger animals can pose a threat to your safety and you will scare smaller animals or possibly disturb their habitat.)
  • Store food and trash securely – (food and trash attracts animals which cannot not only pose a threat to your safety, but can also pose a danger to the animals by damaging their health and altering their natural behaviors)
  • Control pets at all times – (pets can scare and/or attack smaller animals and can destroy the natural landscape off the trails.)
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times including mating, nesting, raising young or winter – (interaction during these times can adversely affect an animal's survival, or that of their young.)

_____ 10.  Earn the Backyard Camping, Camping, or Hiking badge at your current level.

_____ 11.  Think of one of your favorite outdoor places and what it means to you. What if your favorite place was ruined? In order to have outdoor ethics, people have to have that connection to nature.  Write an essay about the importance of connecting with nature and of respecting your favorite outdoor place in particular.

_____ 12.  Create posters, flyers, or booklets to teach others the Leave No Trace principles and place them in useful locations (such as park bulletin boards or at park information centers)


Websites:  These websites are not associated with our program and we cannot guarantee their content.  Please do not surf the internet without your parent's permission.


For more information on Leave No Trace, visit  (For the specific principles of Leave No Trace go to their page )

Another fabulous website for teaching Leave No Trace is the Boy Scout site at .  This page has complete instructions as well as a script to follow for a 60 class on Leave No Trace principles.