The most effective way to teach Leave No Trace principles is experiential, by having participants demonstrate the principles to their peers in the context of a hiking, canoeing, or outdoor trip. However, if you need to teach LNT as part of an indoor program targeting families including younger children, role playing skits that involve audience participation are a very effective way to illustrate the principles in an immersive and inclusive manner.
One popular Leave No Trace skit scenario is called the Impact Monster. In it, the behavior of campers practicing Leave No Trace principles is contrasted with an Impact Monster, an individual who is careless about the damage he inflicts on his surroundings and the people he disturbs when camping.
This skit is designed so it can be performed with very few props or costumes, making it good for outdoor use or in a camp. It also provides the opportunity for younger children to play the supporting roles, which can be fun and helps them identify with the principles more strongly.
But the traditional Impact Monster skit assumes the presence of multiple LNT trained confederates. What if you’re the only LNT trainer present and the show must go on? Here’s an adaption of the Impact Monster Skit for a single presenter.
- Narrator and Discussion Leader, played by LNT trainer
- Impact Monster, played by LNT Trainer (can be the same trainer)
- Tree-1 played by a participant
- Tree-2 played by a participant
- Flower played by a participant
- Camper-1 played by a participant
- Camper-2 played by a participant
- Tree 1 has a sign around her neck that reads “Cold River Campsite”
- Tree 2 has a sign around her neck that reads “No Camping”
- Both trees are festooned with toilet paper in their branches
- Two folding chairs arranged side by side to symbolize a tent
- A coffee can which symbolizes a camping stove, place on a chair
- A bandana that the narrator dons to transform into the Impact Monster
- Head Phones
- Black Magic Marker
- Backpack containing
- Candy wrappers
- Miscellaneous waste paper
Performing the Impact Monster Skit
Introduce the skit by sharing with the audience the meaning of “minimal impact” on nature. You might say:
An impact is an action that has an effect or makes a change, so having the least impact when camping or exploring nature outdoors means leaving things as they are. If we were to all make an impact and change the outdoors, it won’t stay the same way for long and other people won’t be able to enjoy it like we did.
What you’re about to see is a short skit that shows how you can preserve the wilderness we love by practicing leave no trace techniques when you camp or hike outdoors. One of the characters is called the Impact Monster because he leave a big impact when he hikes and camps instead of helping to preserve the outdoors so others can enjoy it.
Let’s see why that’s important.
“Let’s Introduce our actors”
Tree-1, Tree-2, and Flower are already on stage…
Tree-1: “I am a tree and I want to grow big and tall. You can camp under me under me”, pointing to the Cold River Campsite sign tied around her neck.
Tree-2: “I am a tree and I wants birds to live in my branches. Please don’t camp under me”, pointing to the No Camping sign tied around her neck. ”
Flower: “I am a beautiful flower. You can take a picture of me if you like, but please don’t pick me so other people can appreciate my beauty.”
Camper 1 and Camper 2 walk on to the stage…
Camper-1: “My son and I are going camping for the first time. I hope he enjoys this experience.”
Camper-2: “My dad and I are going camping. I can’t wait to look at the stars at night ad sleep in a tent.”
Camper-1: “That was a great hike. Let’s set up camp and cook dinner.” (Turns to look at trees) “God I hate it when people trash behind in the woods. Let’s clean this up before we set up camp.” (takes toilet paper out of trees)
Camper-1: “There’s that’s better. Where should we set up camp?”
Camper-2: “Look Dad, there are signs on the trees. This one says Cold River Campsite and the other one says no camping.”
Camper-1: “Let’s set up our tent here then” (pointing to chairs and the campsite sign)
Camper-1: “Lets cook dinner using the camping stove I brought.” (picking up coffee can)
Camper-2: “That was good Dad. Can we look at the stars now?” (both sit down on chairs)
Camper-1: “That’s the north star and those are the constellations” (pointing up)
Camper-2: “I’m sleepy.”
Camper-1: “Good night son. Sweet dreams.” (Both close their eyes ad pretend to sleep)
Narrator: “Here comes the Impact Monster.”
Monster saunters in, headphones on, singing to music he can only hear.
Impact Monster: (shouting) “How sweet it is to be loved by you! How sweet it is to be loved by you!”
Impact Monster pantomimes air guitar while humming.
Impact Monster positions himself in front of campers’ tent and shouts “How sweet it is to be loved by you”
Camper-1: “Can you keep it down out there? We’re sleeping!”
Impact Monster: (shouting into tent) “How sweet it is to be loved by you!”
Impact Monster walks under Tree-2 and points at No Camping sign. He opens his backpack pulling out wastepaper and dropping it on the ground. Then he holds up a black magic marker and crosses out the “No” on the sign. replacing it with “Monster”.
Impact Monster: (shouting) “Monster Camping!”
Impact Monster: “I’m hungry” (He looks in his backpack and pulls out a candy bar, ripping it out of the package and wolfing it down, before dropping the wrapper on the ground.)
Impact Monster: “What a nice flower! I’ll take you home for my girlfriend” (He approaches the flower, as if to pull her out of the ground.)
Flower: (Flower resists) “Hands Off! Pictures only. Do not pick the flowers!”
Impact Monster: “What? Ok…” (he says, slightly flustered)
Impact Monster: “I want a campfire” (He looks in his backpack and pulls out a hatchet. Then he approaches Tree-1 with it)
Tree-1: “Please don’t cut me down. Use dead wood scattered on the ground to make your fire.”
Impact Monster: (surprised, Impact Monster jumps back flustered, before approaching Tree-2 and pulling on her arm.)
Tree-2: (Tree 2 resists, and says) “Don’t pull off my branches. Birds builds nests in them!”
Impact Monster: “I don’t want to camp here!” (and stomps off stage. )
Narrator: “Let’s hear it for our actors.” [Applause.]
Talking about Impacts
Time: 15 minutes
Simplified Kids Version of Leave No Trace Principles (Adult version of principles in parentheses)
You may choose to skip these and jump right to the group discussion…
- Know before you go (Plan ahead and prepare)
- Chose the the right path (Travel and camp on durable surface)
- Trash your trash (Dispose of waste properly)
- Leave what you find (Leave what you find)
- Be careful with Fire (Minimize campfire impacts)
- Respect wildlife (Respect wildlife)
- Be kind to other visitors (Be considerate of other visitors.)
Next, start a discussion of the seven Leave No Trace principles
You might begin by asking,
Can you name something the Impact Monster did that impacted the ability for others to enjoy nature?
If you hear loud music outside, what might you not be able to notice? (Birds singing, ducks quacking, chirps that chipmunks make)
If they mention picking flowers, you might ask: What creatures use flowers for food?
If they mention trash, you might ask – How does seeing that make other people feel? How does it affect animals?
If they mention toilet paper; “How long does that take to break down into soil.”
What kind of impact does chopping down a tree have?
If you’d like to use this skit for Leave No Trace training, feel free to print it out or modify it however you wish.