News & Updates

How to Teach Leave No Trace: Camp Oh No

Jessie & Matt - January 13, 2020
Woman teaching outdoors

We love playing Camp Oh No to teach Leave No Trace camping skills! Check out this video to learn how to play. Want to test your Leave No Trace skills? Play along with us! Then read on to learn different ways to play, including the “burn off energy” variation!


How to Play “Camp Oh No”
Materials: tent/camping gear (either life-size or miniature), food wrappers, trash, real or simulated lake/stream, stuffed animal(s), speaker blaring music, pretend campfire

Group Size: Any size

Audience: Ages 6+

Time: 15-30 minutes

Objective: To help participants identify common campsite impacts, such as improper food storage, litter, unattended campfires, loud music, water pollution, etc.

Directions: Setup a campsite with a tent or tarp, campfire, kitchen area, water source (blue blanket or paper), etc. Set up the scene to demonstrate common camping impacts. Intentionally leave food, trash and toiletries inside the tent, in the campfire and around camp, have stuffed animals “eating” the food and trash, leave soap and dishes by the water source, put crushed flowers/plants under the tent, and make it clear that the campfire has been left burning (with trash in it)! To demonstrate the taking of natural or cultural items, place such items in the tent or a backpack. If possible, have a speaker or phone playing loud music.

Ask participants to spend a few minutes looking around “Camp Oh No” and to identify ways they could improve the campsite to make it more “Leave No Trace.” Once they share their improvements, ask why it’s not recommended to leave food in a tent, why we should never leave a fire burning, etc.

Have a group who needs to burn off some energy? For larger or more energetic groups, you can set up a Camp Oh No relay. Have teams of four to five players send a runner into the campsite, find one thing she would improve, and then run back to report it to a designated team scribe. A new team member then runs to find another “oh no.” The team with the most identified impacts can lead the debrief discussion.

Finally…have a blast! We think learning and teaching Leave No Trace should be FUN.

Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace’s Jessie Johnson and Matt Schneider are part of the 2020 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, Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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