For Parents, Educators and Youth Programs
A Parent’s Guide to Leave No Trace Education
Today’s young people learn a lot of their Leave No Trace education from schools, camps, scouting programs and other youth-serving organizations that take them into the outdoors. Parents and caretakers—you can also play a tremendous role in shaping Leave No Trace education for your kids! The resources below will help to equip you with lots of games, activities and curriculum that you can use at home to keep Leave No Trace relevant in your child’s life.
Foundational Education: The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace
Although Leave No Trace can seem like a big idea, there is a pretty easy way to remember the main concepts, and it’s called the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. You’ll notice that we don’t call them rules, that’s because they’re not! The principles are guidelines to help us make decisions when we’re in the outdoors, and they’re there to help us do the best we can.
Understanding Leave No Trace through the Seven Principles is a foundational element of our stewardship curriculum. Just as important as the Seven Principles concepts, however, are their underlying values that are familiar in so many of our children’s daily lives—responsibility, caring and honesty. At the end of the day, the more linkages that children can make between the stewardship concepts of Leave No Trace and their own everyday lives, the stronger their personal outdoor ethic will be tomorrow and beyond.
Where to Start?
- Take the Free Online Awareness Course: If you are not familiar with Leave No Trace, you’re going to find it tricky to help your kids learn about the program. The Online Awareness Course will help familiarize you with the Seven Principles and more. Think of it as Leave No Trace 101.
- Start Simply. The activities from our “Indoor Nature Activities for Kids” blog post cover a wide range of Leave No Trace education—from basics to intermediate knowledge.
- Explore our various activity and curriculum resources to find a curated collection of fun, age-appropriate games, resources and activities for young people that are engaging at home—or any time of the year!
If your child is completely new to Leave No Trace, check out the recommended progression below:
- PEAK Online—an online activity for ages 7-12 to learn independently or with you! Covers the basics about the Seven Principles and includes fun interactive games and videos to expand learning. Your child may print off a certificate of completion when they have completed 4 of 5 PEAK Online activities.
- What Principle Am I?—a great activity that you can facilitate for your children. The activity has a script that you can follow so you don’t have to be a Leave No Trace expert educator! All materials that you’ll need for the activity are included in the PDF.
- Bigfoot and Friends Activity Book—even in these times of physical distancing, it might be possible to spend time outdoors—a front stoop, a side yard or a local park. Print off this resource, fold in half and you’ve got yourself a fun little activity booklet for 7 to 12 year-olds.
- Take A Virtual Park Visit!—a great activity that draws on the previous three activities. In this exercise, you’ll use a computer or device to explore some of our beautiful National Parks. After the visit, you and your child can create park brochures that describe the park and how Leave No Trace makes a difference in protecting public lands.
Activities for Teenagers
If you’re looking for a great activity to engage your teen in an emerging Leave No Trace topic, look no further than our Social Media + Stewardship curriculum. Social media has some very real implications for outdoor recreation now and into the future. Today’s teenagers not only know the technology, but they enjoy spending time on it. Leverage their expertise to help solve one of the biggest impacts to public lands.
An Educator’s Guide to at Home Leave No Trace Education
We’ve curated our collection of activities and curriculum to be as turn key as possible for distance learning with students. Leave No Trace is best taught in the outdoors, but we can also find a lot of success teaching indoors as well. All of our resources can be adapted to meet the needs of your digital or analog distance learning platform.
- First time checking out Leave No Trace curriculum for your learners? Our K-8 Core Curriculum has everything that you need to get started teaching Leave No Trace aligned with National Common Core Standards.
- Familiar with Leave No Trace and looking for something new to do with teens? Check out the Social Media + Stewardship curriculum. Social media has some very real implications for outdoor recreation now and into the future. Today’s teenagers not only know the technology, but they enjoy spending time on it. Leverage their expertise to help solve one of the biggest impacts on today’s public lands.
- If you are a Leave No Trace Master Educator, consider running a Virtual Level 1 Course for your students.
An Organization’s Guide to Leave No Trace Education
Our staff at the Center includes current and former youth program professionals. We know that an uncertain outlook for how fall programming will look are front of mind for every one of you. If you’re looking for ways to engage your community with stewardship resources, we invite you to take a look at everything that the Leave No Trace for Every Kid program has to offer.
- Explore our Activities page to find a curated collection of fun, age-appropriate games, resources, and activities for young people that are engaging both virtually or on-site in program!
- The Staff Training resources we have available could be adapted to a virtual conferencing platform or carried out by staff on their own. If you are a Leave No Trace Master Educator that was planning on running a Trainer Course for your staff, check out the Virtual Trainer Course model which can be used to run courses through the end of the year.
- As a Program Director, you can use this pause in programming to assess your offerings through a stewardship and outdoor ethics lens by going through the Program Quality Assessment.
- If you have been interested in getting your youth program Leave No Trace Accredited, now might be a great time to begin the process.
Please know that the Leave No Trace team is here to help you navigate any stewardship related concerns you may be having at this time, and when you are ready to welcome young people back to your programs, we’ll be right there with you.