Leave No Trace
You’ve just finished packing up your gear and made sure that your favorite secret camping spot is in better shape than when you arrived. You’ve disposed of your waste properly and minimized your impact.
Suddenly, someone stumbles out of the tree line with a couple of sidekicks, tosses down a backpack and pulls a smartphone out of their cargo pants.
Two dozen photos and a short video later, all three cram their cell phone back in their shorts and excitedly speak how pristine the spot is. “This is great! And there’s hardly anybody here,” one of them says to another. “I can’t wait to post this stuff on Instagram and show everybody where we camped this weekend!”
With the advent of texting, tweets, drones with really good cameras, and phones that can take and post 12-megapixel photos and 4K video — along with their coordinates — it’s obviously past time to consider a nondisclosure agreement for Mother Nature’s treasured and off the beaten path locations.
The simple fact is wilderness (and the backcountry in particular) is taking a beating. And we all know what happens when Mother Nature isn’t happy.
Scientists Battle Location Giveaways on Social Media
Here’s a real-life example of why nature needs a nondisclosure agreement. I was guiding a research scientist on a trip to find an ancient bald cypress tree for his research. We spent hours paddling around to find the old tree, and when we did, the scientist wrote down the coordinates. He didn’t even share those coordinates with me in fear I might geotag a photo and post it online.
When I asked him to explain his clandestine actions, he told me that an enormous amount of damage has been done to ancient trees because coordinates have been posted along with pictures. He now refuses to geotag any of his posts.
And he has an excellent point. Close your eyes for a moment and picture that favorite spot that you found in your local woods, secret climbing crag, or untapped surf location. Now imagine dozens of billboards advertising those treasured spots, each boasting a million views and offering exact directions to each.
I can hear your screams from here. Can you hear mine? You would be angry on a volcanic level. (more…)
Strange and interesting things are afoot in the human-powered outdoor recreation community, and if you’ve been paying attention to issues surrounding the use of wilderness areas lately, what follows here might not come as a surprise.
What has emerged is a growing division among outdoor enthusiasts as to whether or not mountain bikes should be allowed in designated wilderness areas. The question, which has turned controversial as of late, fosters fears that mountain bike organizations are beginning to align themselves with companies, organizations and politicians insisting on making their way into wilderness areas for resource exploration.
But first, a brief description of how the U.S government defines wilderness:
“The Wilderness Act, signed into law in 1964, created the National Wilderness Preservation System and recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The Act further defined wilderness as “an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.“
That description also specifies that (more…)
We’re sure the good folks over at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics know this, but tt was Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the father of Boy Scouting, who coined the phrase, “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”
This retired British Army officer and founder of the scouting movement was adamant about improving the environment back in 1910 — especially on the trail — and his rule was later revised to, “Always leave the campground cleaner than you found it.”
We here at The National Center for Outdoor Adventure & Education (NCOAE) are big fans of this “First Chief Scout,” who among many other wilderness rules, principles and musings, once said, “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”
Figuratively speaking, that’s a page right out of our own curriculum.
Experiencing the outdoors outside far surpasses any classroom study or indoor book reading on the topic of (more…)
Here at The National Center for Outdoor Education & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we recently welcomed three new field instructors, a climbing instructor and a program coordinator to our outstanding team of staff members.
Earlier this year, these five candidates — two women and three men — successfully completed our Winter 2017 Instructor Candidate Training Program, becoming part of a staff treasure trove that annually attracts some of the best outdoor and experientially-based wilderness educators in the country.
Much of the success of our Instructor Candidate education goes to our training program, where NCOAE instructors work directly with candidates who — on their own steam — are highly qualified outdoor educators.
Many of these candidates have worked for top-drawer wilderness organizations, and our training serves as a means of taking their experience and fine-tuning it to fit NCOAE’s extremely comprehensive curriculum.
Our candidates tell us that despite their prior instructor training and experience, an intensive week of training at our North Carolina headquarters only serves to ratchet up that experience, giving them something more meaningful when guiding and instructing in the field with NCOAE’s students and participants.
But enough about us. Let’s meet these five new NCOAE staff members: (more…)
As 2016 comes to an end, we’re honored to take a moment out from our end-of-year activities to say thank everyone for their continued support and encouragement of The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).
When our founders Zac & Celine Adair started this organization in 2009, their mission then for NCOAE was as clear as it is today — improve people’s self-confidence and interpersonal relationships through the teaching of a core curriculum emphasizing teamwork, environmental stewardship and the acquisition of technical outdoor skills. We’ve come a long way since 2009, and guided by that same mission, 2016 has been another year of phenomenal growth.
A few key highlights: (more…)
More and more individuals, families and outdoor organizations are going to great lengths to enjoy wilderness experiences in our national forests, but with this exploding trend, how are we addressing the impact on natural resources? What does the future hold for outdoor recreation areas and natural setting outdoor classrooms?
As professional members of the outdoor industry, we are constantly trying to increase the numbers of programs and the number of students who participate in outdoor recreation and adventure programming endeavors. We look for course areas that are pristine — mostly because no one else is visiting those areas — yet. But the reality is this: If we are researching an untouched course area for our organization, you can bet there are a hundred others doing the same thing.
As educators and outdoor education administrators, we know that in order to appreciate and protect a natural space, have to engage with it. To be shaped by the beauty of the outdoors, you must be given the opportunity to live in it. How can you appreciate and protect something you’ve never engaged with or seen?
The outdoor industry has been working with the (more…)