Thursday, November 22, 2012

Teach children to practice ‘Leave no Trace’

What are some ways kids can practice “leave no trace”?

They can practice is the same way adults do – and as a parent, you can model “leave no trace” by practicing it yourself. Here’s how:
g Pack out all trash – Candy wrappers, napkins, empty soda cans, dead batteries … well, any garbage you create on the trail … needs to be carried out. Don’t allow children to throw waste on the ground, and don’t do it yourself. Carry small trash bags or plastic re-sealable bags that trash can go into.
g Pick up trash you find along the way – But don’t stop at your own trash. If you see paper or bottles along the trail, put it in the trash bag, so long as it’s safe to pick up.
g Stay on marked trails – Cutting across grassy meadows and switchbacks damages the very environment that you went to the wilds to enjoy. It’s also not very safe to go off the trail with children.
g Leave natural objects alone – Avoid throwing rocks, picking flowers or turning over logs. Of course, with kids this is asking the impossible, and sometimes you want to do these very things to teach children about nature. Do so with discretion, though, and teach older children not to do it.
g Observe wildlife from afar – Don’t take little birds out of their nests or capture frogs. If you spot deer, bears or other animals, keep your distance, if only for your own safety.
g Always construct a fire ring – If forced to build a fire, always do so inside a ring of rocks arranged around the burning branches. This will keep a fire from spreading.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.