Summer Camp Staff Training and Leave No Trace

Estes Park, Colorado: Since 1921, Camp Cheley has been helping their campers get outdoors to experience the wild Colorado Rocky Mountains. ​Campers at Cheley don't have to go far to feel immersed in the outdoors, campus is based just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park and has a plethora of residential wildlife including deer, elk, and bears. Cheley's programs like backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rafting encourage campers to have new exciting experiences while developing ethics and care for their outdoor spaces. At Cheley, Leave No Trace isn't just a term to focus on during overnight backpacking trips but is important to the entire camp environment and culture. It's so important to Cheley, that they invited Leave No Trace to do a 1.5-Hour Workshop with their 200 staffers during annual training. 

So what's the best way to teach Leave No Trace to 200 camp staffers? During this 1.5- Hour Workshop with Camp Cheley, we thought of some tips for other camps to incorporate Leave No Trace in their training structures. 

Step 1: Train Your Staff on Leave No Trace Skills. 

Staff will need to know the right way to recreate outdoors in order to pass it on their campers. Counselors will lead by example when teaching outdoor skills to their groups. The best way to learn about the skills of Leave No Trace is to grab our Skills & Ethics Booklets that pertain to your camp activities. Or send select staff to our Trainer Courses or Master Educator Courses where they'll learn how to conduct Awareness Workshops for your whole staff. 

Step 2: Make it Personal.

Have a personal story about your camp and Leave No Trace? Hearing about why Leave No Trace is important from the camp directors and managers will go a long way. At Camp Cheley, directors made it personal by telling staff about how important Leave No Trace is to obtaining backpacking permits and keeping up relations in the community. 

Step 3: Get Them Involved in Learning.

Camp staff attracts people who like to engage in the outdoors, chances are they'll hate sitting inside listening to a lecture. Get them up to do a few activities. For example, during this short workshop we split the 200 staffers into 7 groups and had them brainstorm how the 7 Leave No Trace Principle could be applied directly to Camp Cheley.

Step 4: Give Them Activities To Pass On.

Since it can be hard for 200 people to interact in an activity all at once, we asked for volunteers from the audience and worked with 10-12 people at a time to play in and demonstrate activities they can incorporate into their camp groups. We pulled these from 101 Ways to Teach Leave No Trace and our new Bigfoot's Playbook

Step 5: Tell Them Where To Find More.

We gave each staffer a collection of our Leave No Trace Ethics Cards for future reference. This way they have tips with them when they get a question from a camper. Encourage them to check out our website and like our Facebook page and Instagram to get updated tips from our organization. 

If you're a camp interested in becoming a partner or obtaining Leave No Trace Accreditation for your camp contact Andrew Leary. If you'd like to request a visit from our staff to your camp, apply here

Leave No Trace's Donielle Stevens and Aaron Hussmann are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and Smartwool.