Camping is a great way to teach kids about nature, and using leave no trace for kids will teach them how to care for nature and the wildlife around them.
Much of what they learn will aid them well as they grow older and have more respect for things around them.
What is No Trace Camping
This is an increasingly popular approach to venturing into the backcountry. You might ask “what is leave no trace?”
Well, the aim is for the campers to have the least impact on the location where they have camped as possible. Leave no trace camping protects nature and shows we are all concerned about its welfare.
Here are five no trace camping principles which focus on youth and how they can best learn:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
This is much like any campers to do list, but it is targeted more of how you will camp once you are on location.
Much of it will read like a camping guide and can be kept in your vehicle or backpack until you and your kids are well versed in the principles.
- Check the regulations and particular concerns for the areas you will visit
- Prepare yourself for extreme weather conditions, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule the times of your trip to avoid high usage of areas.
- Travel in small groups when possible.
- Repackage food to minimize any waste.
- Use maps and compasses to eliminate using marking paint, rock cairns or marking routes
Traveling and Camping on Durable Surfaces
- A durable surface includes trails which are established, and campsites, rock, gravel and dry grass as well as snow.
- Protect areas by camping over 200 ft. away from streams and lakes
- A good campsite is found and not made, altering a site shouldn’t be necessary
- Use existing trails and walk in the center and in single file
- Keep campsites small. Focus leave no trace games in areas of no vegetation
Dispose of Waste Properly
- Inspect the camping area for any spilled products or trash. Pack all litter and leftover food.
- Deposit solid human waste into cat holes which have been dug to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and over 200 ft. away from water sources. These should be covered when finished.
- Pack all hygiene and toilet products.
- For washing yourself and dishes, carry water 200 ft. away from natural waters sources such as streams or lakes. Use biodegradable soap and scatter used dishwater.
- Animals attract children naturally, but in the wild, it can be harmful to both, so teaching leave no trace will benefit your children and the animals while making sure they are safe.
- Watch wildlife from a distance and do not approach to follow them.
- Never feed wild animals. This can damage their health and alter their natural behavior.
- Securely store your food and trash to protect wildlife
- Stay away from wildlife in sensitive times like mating, nesting or raising their young.
Minimizing Campfire Impacts
- A campfire can cause long-lasting impacts to the surrounding environment. If possible use a lightweight stove for all your cooking and enjoy a candle or battery lantern for your lighting.
- When you are on a campsite where fires are permitted, you should use the established fire rings, fire pans or other designated areas.
- Fires should be kept as small as possible, and only wood or sticks which can be found on the floor should be used for burning.
- All woods and coals should be burned down to ash, and all fires should be doused to make sure they are completely out. Cold ashes should be scattered around to lessen the impact.
As well as these 5 leave no trace principles, there are others which are more concerned with other campers rather than the surrounding environment.
With these you should teach your children to respect other campers and be courteous, and if on a trail they should give way.
Loud noises and screaming should be kept to a minimum because these can be upsetting to other campers and the surrounding wildlife’s habitat.
The aim for all children is to learn about and respect everything around them. One of the first areas is showing them the areas, and the impact it could have with your tent is it is too close to specific areas.
Camping should be fun so the more naturally your kids can learn all of the above. It will become second nature to them the more times they go camping, and in the end, they will not need to think or read it from a sheet.