Below are seven tips to encourage the kids in your life to practice Leave No Trace.
- Know Before You Go. Kids have few choices in life; therefore, finding opportunities to give choice helps build buy-in and confidence. When planning an outdoor adventure, gain kids’ input. Have them research the weather forecast and plan the best clothing to wear, provide trail choices within their ability, and allow them to choose their lunch and snack food.
- Choose the Right Path. Play a game of “ninjas and detectives.” Encourage children’s imaginations while guiding their powers of awareness and conscious foot-stepping with the power of role-playing. Ask them to pretend they are ninjas or spies—or any characters that require them to observe their surroundings without leaving “clues” as to where they have been. Parents can play “detective” to follow the ninjas’ trails as they attempt to remain unseen and unheard.
- Trash Your Rubbish. Play “I spy” with rubbish by creating a competition among kids (or between kids and parents) to see who can collect the most litter. This activity gets kids thinking about the accumulation of rubbish and its impact on parks and communities. Ensure you use gloves and do not collect any PPE or briken glass. See can you guess how long the different items take to break down.
- Respect Wildlife. Kids are naturally fascinated by animals they encounter outside, often wanting to touch or get close to them. Help them to understand how close they can safely be from an animal by asking them to stand with one arm raised straight out at shoulder height with their thumb up. Ask them to look at the animal with one eye closed and try to cover it with their thumbs. If they are far enough away, their thumbs will completely block sight of the animal.
- Minimise the risk of fire. When camping, play a firewood relay race. Create groups of two or more (or have a competition between children and parents). The objective is to gather dead and downed firewood of appropriate size. Once retrieved, sequence the firewood from smallest to largest in diameter. Any firewood larger than kids’ wrists are disqualified. The team with the most appropriate firewood wins. Finish this game by explaining that firewood should be no larger in diameter because it takes too long to burn into ash, hindering the decomposition process.
- Leave What You Find. Give kids a camera to take photos of treasures they find on the trail. Use a photo collage application, such as PhotoLab, to encourage creativity and save and share their outdoor adventures. This reinforces that they can keep the memory while leaving the objects themselves in nature.
- Be Considerate of Others. Encourage kids to be inclusive and polite when playing outdoors. Model and teach good manners, such as sharing the trail with others, and avoid bad behaviours, such as talking on phones while exploring.