Troop 116

Leave No Trace

At Troop 116, we abide by the seven Leave No Trace principals.

Actually, we practice "Negative Trace," which means we not only follow the rules ourselves, we attempt to repair things or clean up after other people who have ignored the following Leave No Trace principals.

In an ideal world, no one should ever know "116 was here" after we have been to a wilderness area.

The precepts below will lessen your impact on the wilderness—and lessen your risk. This is a big part of what you will learn as a member of Troop 116.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare.
    • Know what you are doing. Everyone—not just the troop leaders—should know what the plans are, from the name of the trail to the daily itinerary to the phone number for the local ranger. Make sure you have a copy of the topographical map showing the wilderness area you will be in.
    • Inform others of the plan. Always file a plan with both someone back home and the local ranger so they know (a) where, exactly, you are going (name of wilderness area, trail(s) to be hiked, expected daily mileage or planned campsites, etc.), and (b) when you expect to be off the trail and back in contact. If there is a trailhead sign-in box, always sign in—and be sure to sign out again as you get off the trail. This will help rangers keep track of you.
    • Prepare for all emergencies. Pack the 10 essentials. Pack appropriately for the time of year and potential haxardous weather conditions.
    • Check the weather report for your destination.
    • Know the details of how to abide by the rest of the principals on this list.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
    • We want to avoid trail degradation, destruction of flora, and hastening of erosion. In high-use areas (like the parks and trails we tend to visit), if everybody concentrates their activity in the same places it will lessen the overall impact. In other words:
    • Follow the trails.
    • Do not cut the switchbacks.
    • No bushwhacking (except in particular circumstances in which we are teaching orienteering and dead reckoning).
    • Camp in designated camp sites.
    • However, the opposite is true if we are in the true wilderness: Walk spread out so we don't collectively create our own, new path (though, preferably, find an existing game path to follow).
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly.
    • Pack out everything you pack in. Period.
    • Negative trace: If you see someone else's trash, pick it up and pack it out.
    • Police the area after every significant stop (whenever we've pulled out food or gear for a snack, meal, or at a campsite).
    • Use only biodegradable camp soap (liquid Campsuds and the like).
    • Human waste—Pee and poop properly. Whenever you have to relieve yourself, do it off the trail and a minimum of 200 feet from any source of water (stream, pond, lake). For Number 2: dig a hole at least 6–8 inches deep (use the troop cathole shovel or a stick); use a minimum of toilet paper; cover it when you are done.
  4. Leave What You Find.
    • Do not take souvenirs—rocks, plants, soil, artifacts, anything.
    • Instead, take pictures and take notes about what you saw (and heard, smelt, and felt).
    • Avoid altering the landscape: digging trenches, hammering nails into trees, leaving a cleared space, etc.
  5. Minimize Use and Impact of Fires.
    • Use a camp stove whenever possible.
    • If building a campfire, always use an established fire pit or fire ring.
    • If no fire ring exists, build one (clear brush and leaf litter from pit and for three feet around; ring the pit with large stones), and then dismantle it and remove all trace before breaking camp.
    • Collect only fallen, dead wood.
  6. Respect Wildlife.
    • Again: take a picture but otherwise leave the critters alone.
    • Caveat: You have our permission to swat mosquitoes and pull off ticks.
  7. Respect other people.
    • Respect the locals. Respect property boundaries; only stray onto private land when invited or when necessary for survival.
    • Respect other hikers. Do not be overly noisy. Leave everything the way you found it (or better). Make sure everyone sharing the trail with you, and those who will come after you, will be able to enjoy the same wilderness experience you did.

Related pages

Note: The first aid and survival tips provided on this site are informational only. Please seek advice from a medical professional or trained wilderness first aid expert for current best practices and techniques.