Youth Program Accreditation, Raising the Bar for Leave No Trace Education

Boulder, CO: On a warm fall day up Boulder Canyon, a group of youth development professionals were awarded for their commitment to Leave No Trace education. In May of this year, Avid4 Adventure, a long standing partner of the Center, became the first youth program in the nation to be awarded the designation of Leave No Trace Accredited Youth Program. Their journey to become accredited began in April of 2017, when the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics launched the Youth Program Accreditation – a process for youth-serving organizations to stimulate accountability, quality improvement, and best practices around Leave No Trace education.

Avid4 Adventure camp programs in Colorado, California, and Oregon embrace their commitment to Leave No Trace through high-level programming that weaves outdoor ethics and stewardship behavior into everyday, outdoor activities in a camp setting. 

Heather Cardneau, Windy Peak Program Director at Avid4, touches on the youth engagement components of the accreditation, recalling that "it was incredible to hear [our campers] speak about how they learned that the principles were not simply rules they had to follow. Rather they learned how much impact, positive or negative, they could have on places that have become special and beloved by them during their time at camp. They shared with us that they were now motivated to follow the principles because it was something that was personal and they believed in. They were inspired to create their own outdoor ethics rather than following rules for the sake of following rules."

Josh Osias, Youth and Environmental Program Coordinator at Outdoor Outreach, is presented with the organization's accreditation plaque and certificate by Andrew Leary, Leave No Trace's National Youth Programs Manager, at Outdoor Outreach's 4th Annual Lead the Way Fundraiser in San Diego, CA. 

Avid4's commitment was followed closely by Outdoor Outreach, a non-profit youth-serving organization based in San Diego. Outdoor Outreach become the second program in the nation to earn the accreditation. Andy Paul, Leadership Program Coordinator at Outdoor Outreach, emphasizes the value of the accreditation process in "deepening and enhancing [Outdoor Outreach's] relationship with the Center to not only contribute to the quality of environmental ethics education [their] participants receive in the field, but to expand and deepen [their] presence in the outdoor community as a whole."

Avid4 Adventure staff showing more of their true colors while posing for photos during the accreditation presentation. 

Currently several other programs are undergoing the accreditation process. Would you like to raise the bar on Leave No Trace education through the accreditation process at your youth-serving organization? Reach out to Julia@LNT.org to find out more!