Teaching Leave No Trace with Hamstraws

Yes, even hamstraws can help camp professionals engage campers in what it means to be a steward of the outdoors and practice Leave No Trace.

Step 1:

Make a hamstraw. Demonstrate the proper use of a hamstraw. Instantly become the queen or king of your camp.

Step 2:

After your groups’ laughter subsides, ask your campers if they have ever heard of something called Leave No Trace. Explain that Leave No Trace is information and skills that help people protect the outside areas around camp, as well as parks and outside spaces back home (e.g., neighborhood park, trails, local parks or open spaces, and state and national parks.) Inform the group that Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect the outdoor spaces around us. The easiest way to remember Leave No Trace is through the Seven Principles (read the Seven Principles out loud).

Step 3:

Use any of the free activities, games or initiatives to give campers the opportunity to learn more about why Leave No Trace is important. Activities like these allow campers to interpret how to be responsible in the outdoors.

Step 4:

Supplement Leave No Trace games and activities with any of the following:

Step 5:

Repeat steps 3 and 4 often to help instill values like responsibility, caring, respect and stewardship. For more education resources check out Leave No Trace for Every Kid, the home for the Center’s nationwide youth education initiative.

Step 6 (optional):

Make another hamstraw. Rule the day.


This article is part humor and part education. All of the Leave No Trace education references suggested above are in fact fantastic ways to teach young people about Leave No Trace. If you aren’t familiar with hamstraws, ask your friend who is a summer camp professional. They can fill you in!


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