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How to Teach Leave No Trace to Beginner Hikers

Introduction to Leave No Trace

This evening I’ll be giving a talk on Leave No Trace to the students in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s annual Spring Hiking Program, a 5 evening course that the Boston Chapter holds every year. It’s a great course if you’re new to hiking and want to learn how to do it safely and comfortably, especially if you plan on hiking in New Hampshire or climbing the White Mountain 4000 footers. This is the second year I’ll be teaching Leave No Trace for this course.

Unfortunately, I only get 25 minutes to give this talk in tonight’s program, but hey, that’s 10 more minutes than I got last year, so I guess I’m making progress!

Still, a part of me cringes whenever I get asked to give standing lectures about Leave No Trace because I don’t think you can really teach it effectively indoors, in a big lecture hall, in the dark. It’s far better to teach LNT experientially with lots of role play, in the environment where you want people to apply it. Nothing quite brings home the need to dispose of waste properly like teaching people how to dig a cat hole to bury their shit in the woods.

Written 2013.

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  1. Great topic Phil! It still amazes me how our attitude and conduct in the out doors has changed and thank God for it!! The natural passing of man through nature has a destructive element and the most we can do to minimize it, still does not seem enough! I have all the confidence your 25 minutes, even in that setting, will forever benefit our out door resource!! I loved the “How To Shit In The Woods” book!! A topic never before given much attention but with a capacity to severely impact nature! Have fun! Your making a major contribution to the longevity of our great out of doors!!

    • Thanks Keith. Kathleen’s book is a hoot. She’ll be guest posting next Friday if you’d like another dose of her charm. I adore her and her message.

      My goal in tonights talk is to simply get our new hikers (and the leaders in the audience) to start to question their behavior in the wild and its impact on others. You’d be amazed at how difficult that is to do. Hopefully I can get some of them out into an LNT awareness session OUTDOORS so they can have better appreciation of their impacts and how to mitigate them. One step at a time, I guess.

  2. Great slideshow except that it’s too fast! I’m a speed reader and I still couldn’t finish reading each slide before it changed. I’m of course quite familiar with the material, but not everyone is!

    If it were a bit slower, I’d use it for my grandkids and as a reference for beginners.

  3. Thanks, Earlylite, that will be very helpful¡ I bookmarked it.

    Best wishes for your TGO Challenge!

  4. Great slides! I wish I had this when I did a similar presentation last week at my Boy Scout IOLS course. I’ve bookmarked this, but I’d love to get a copy that I can tweak slightly for next year. Do you mind?

  5. Derek – click on this link http://www.slideshare.net/sectionhiker/amc-leave-notrace and then click on the SAVE button on top of the presentation. You should be able to download the original slides. Try that iand if it doesn’tr work I’ll try to find the originals and sent them to you.

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