Back in the early 1940s, Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the world Scouting movement, said, “Try and leave the world a little better than you found it.” Over time, this morphed into, “Always leave your campground cleaner than you found it.”
Fifty years later, in the early 1990s, that Leave No Trace concept was immortalized through educational curriculum developed by the United States Forest Services in partnership with NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School). The outcome was an agreed framework for instilling awareness on the part of wilderness travelers to interact with nature in a manner that reduces human impact.
The idea behind Leave No Trace is to embrace specific wilderness stewardship values in order to protect our backcountry areas for generations to come. Today, that program — run by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in Boulder, Colorado — impacts more than 15 million people in the United States and dozens of other countries with conservation initiatives, education, training, and research.
Baden-Powell’s simple sentiment more-or-less condenses the seven principles behind today’s Leave No Trace (LNT) program. LNT’s well-known checklist includes:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
But what about the majority of the time when most of us are not roughing it in the backcountry? Can we incorporate these seven principles into our daily lives? Can we bring such environmental awareness into an urban or front-country setting?
Some of us here at NCOAE headquarters in Wilmington, N.C., discussed the possibilities of applying backcountry Leave No Trace principles in everyday living, and here’s what we came up with: (more…)
Say what you will about global warming, climate change and other hemispheric anomalies, but there’s no question in anybody’s mind that a Category 4 hurricane is making a direct bullseye run at Wilmington, N.C., and The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) headquarters facilities.
The good news is that our staff have all become bona fide experts in matters related to risk management. Our co-founders Zac and Celine Adair — along with the rest of our hometown administrative team — are hard at work preparing our coastal headquarters for a direct hit from this latest storm which you can track online through the National Hurricane Center.
Here on our campus, NCOAE staff has spent the last 36 hours preparing for the worst possible outcome — a direct hit. Buildings have been boarded up, all outdoor furniture and materials capable of being turned into life-threatening projectiles have been removed from the property, which ‘as the crow flies’ is located just a mile from the Carolina coastline.
NCOAE vans have been packed up with a (more…)
For those of us who work day in and day out at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) headquarters in Wilmington, N.C., tropical storms and hurricanes are part of our environment.
Just last year, Hurricane Matthew paid our campus a visit — right in the middle of a three-week campus-based course. But just like the Boy Scouts, we place a great deal of stock in their motto: Be Prepared.
By the time that hurricane came roaring through, we had battened down the hatches at our headquarters facilities and moved everyone enrolled in the three-week training to the Raleigh Durham area where they finished out their course. By communicating that potential change far enough in advance, no one was surprised. Our students finished their certification program on time and were safe in doing so.
And now Hurricane Irma looms on the horizon, threatening to make landfall along our coastline sometime next week. According to the latest National Hurricane Center reports, Florida could face direct impacts, with potential paths for the storms including a move further east to encompass the Carolinas and the East Coast. Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for the Florida Keys.
Outdoor education programs — especially those accredited by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) — are well versed on what to do in the case of a backcountry emergency or disaster. But how do you prepare for a natural disaster on your own property?
Below are 14 tips that we undertake and suggest for other outdoor education programs facing a disaster that might affect their properties: (more…)
In the 1997 film “The Edge,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, the pair find themselves lost in the Alaskan wilderness following a plane crash.
The Hopkins character tells the other man that most people who become lost in the wild die of shame. “They say, ‘What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this? And so they sit there and they die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives — thinking.”
Great movie, with the protagonists stalked by a Kodiak bear, but the question it raises is this: It’s easy to feel lost, but have you ever really been lost?
Sitting in with a group of wilderness instructors, you’ll sometimes hear personal stories of temporarily losing their way on the trail, and many of our students tell stories of “getting lost” while leading their peers.
One definition of truly being lost means “having to be found by others.” But if you find your way back to your group or destination on your own, maybe you were just “feeling lost” and then your wilderness skills kicked in to get you back safely.
However you define it, we all need to refresh our knowledge of knowing our way around the backcountry.
When Feeling Lost and Alone
Below are some tips on what to do if you (more…)
Here’s an outdoor educator’s nightmare: You’re walking through the woods and you spot a bunch of teens climbing barefoot on a rocky cliff leading to water. Other inexperienced campers clumsily tend a campfire that is about to get out of control. Still others in this group stand waist-deep in a river, oblivious to the fast-moving water just feet away, or the possibility of divers above them.
You look around and there doesn’t appear to be any adults, instructors or guides at this nightmarish campsite. What’s wrong with this picture?
First off, if you’re a professional outdoor educator or backcountry guide, you’re probably tempted to walk in amongst this mayhem and ask these youngsters what group they’re with and then ask them what it is they think they’re doing?
The Practice of Risk Management
Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we take risk and site management seriously. To us, it’s far more than just a (more…)