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(Portions used with permission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.)

Outdoor ethics is deeply ingrained in the BSA program. No place is this more important than in the outdoors. Scouting has a long, proud tradition of conservation service to the nation.  The Boy Scouts of America’s outdoor program has gone through many changes over the years, including the title of the program. Before there was Leave No Trace or Tread Lightly the BSA’s outdoor program was called “low or minimal impact camping”. But throughout its history the mission has remained the same: responsible outdoor behavior-being ‘stewards of the land’ to protect and preserve our great outdoors.

Outdoor ethics is not just for youth. Adult volunteers are encouraged to seek training in basic outdoor skills and even take specialized courses to learn Leave No Trace skills. Many councils have Outdoor Ethics advocates who provide leadership to their local units in learning and practicing good outdoor ethics.


There are four components to the BSA Outdoor Ethic Program: The Outdoor Code, the Land Ethic, Leave No Trace, and Tread Lightly.  

The Outdoor Code

All Scouts are encouraged to live by The Outdoor Code.  The Outdoor Code is:

As an American, I will do my best to—
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.

The Land Ethic

The Land Ethic teaches us that we should consider our actions in light of their impact on the living, breathing community that is the land, and that we should select the alternative available that does the least violence, or impact, to that community. The Land Ethic grows strongest when we have experienced the Land, grown to love and respect it, and have labored to enhance or restore it or, as Leopold would have put it, when we have practiced “conservation” defined as restoring the capacity of the Land for self-renewal. We understand the Land Ethic and when we think of right in relation to the Land as follows:

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Learn more about The Land EthicExternal Link.


Leave No Trace

The principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) might seem unimportant until you consider the combined effects of millions of outdoor visitors. One poorly located campsite or campfire may have little significance, but thousands of such instances seriously degrade the outdoor experience for all. Leaving no trace is everyone's responsibility.

The seven principals of Leave No Trace are:  Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave what you Find, Minimize Campfire Impact, Respect Wildlife, and  Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

Each Pack, Troop, Team and Crew are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principals whenever they go on any outing.  There are three levels of Leave No Trace that one can become engaged in.

Learn more about Leave No TraceExternal Link.

Leave No Trace Awareness Course

This course helps provide a basis for practicing Leave No Trace principals in your unit.  It is designed to make it easy to incorporate into your current programs as to not take away from but enhance your unit's experience.  LNT Awareness Courses can be provided during regular unit meetings or as a part of a weekend camping experience.  All that is needed is a qualified LNT Trainer. 

Leave No Trace Trainer Course

The Outdoor Ethics Committee holds numerous LNT Trainer Courses during the year.  Anyone interested in becoming a LNT Trainer must attend one of these courses.  LNT Trainers can hold Awareness Courses for others to attend. The more trainers we have, the more people can benefit.  There is an Outdoor Ethics Trainer patch for Scouts (youth only) to wear as their Position Patch that will also qualify them for leadership towards rank advancement.

Upcoming Courses: events of this type are currently posted...

Leave No Trace Master Educators Course

The BSA LNT Master Educator Course includes the full core Leave No Trace Master Educator curriculum, plus Scouting-specific curriculum.

"Much of the curriculum added into a BSA LNT ME course is to help graduates become a top-level Leave No Trace resource for their unit, district, and council.  A major goal for our BSA LNT ME courses is to graduate effective and active LNT Masters who will return to their home council and conduct the key LNT Trainer courses needed to support their unit, district and council outdoor programs."

Charlie Thorpe, BSA Outdoor Ethics Task Force 

This five-day, five-night course (commonly split into a two weekend) trains interested individuals ages 18 and up to serve as Leave No Trace Master Educators. Master Educators work with their council's Outdoor Ethics Advocates to provide Leave No Trace Trainer, BSA Leave No Trace 101 and other outdoor ethics awareness training.

  • Prerequisite:  Prior completion of a Leave No Trace Trainer course is recommended. A person who has not previously attended a Trainer course may be accepted with the recommendation of the council's Outdoor Ethics Advocate or approval of the course's Lead Instructor.
  • Instructed By: Each BSA Master Educator course is taught by a set of nationally-designated Master Educator Instructors, so your Master Educator standing is recognized nationally by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

Master Educators Courses are available for those that wish to be able to operate LNT Trainer Courses.  This high level training will provide you the skills needed to train LNT Trainers.  The Outdoor Ethics Committee holds LNT Master Educator Courses at Falley Scout Reservation.  The Master Educator Course is a two-weekend course that encompasses five days of training.  You must attend both sessions.


Upcoming Courses: events of this type are currently posted... 


Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly! and its partners lead a national initiative to protect and enhance recreation access and opportunities by promoting outdoor ethics to heighten individuals’ sense of good stewardship. Tread Lightly!’s goal is to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation with our need to maintain healthy ecosystems and thriving populations of fish and wildlife. The scope includes both land and water, and is representative of nearly every form of outdoor recreation including, but not limited to hunting, recreational shooting, fishing and boating. Tread Lightly! also has a niche in promoting safe and responsible use of motorized and mechanized vehicles in the outdoors.                            

Learn more about Tread Lightly!External Link



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