The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

Leave no trace is something that is used in all Scouting activities. It consists of 7 principles. To earn your first-class rank, you need to memorize these principles in any order. I am going to talk about each of the principles and what they mean. 

Plan Ahead

This goes along with the Scout Motto: Be Prepared. This means thinking about every possible thing that could happen and prepare for it. If you decide to go on a walk or explore the campsite and it is going to be dark soon, bring a headlamp or a flashlight, no matter how late you think you might be. An example of this would be bringing your rain gear to every campout, no matter what the weatherman says. 

Camp on Durable Surfaces

When you go camping, you should reserve a campsite in advance. If you are backpacking, where there are no campsites to reserve, you need to make sure not to camp on rocks, a hill, or anywhere that would cause harm to wildlife. I once set up a tent in a ditch and it rained that night. The next morning I woke up and my tent had 3 inches of water in it. All my clothes and sleeping bag were soaking wet, and my deck of cards was ruined.

Dispose of Waste Properly

When you pack for your campout, try not to bring a lot of trash. If you are going to a campsite, there should be trash cans so you can dispose of your trash, but if you are going backpacking, make sure to take all your trash back with you so that you can throw it away. Don't throw any kind of plastic into the fire, it makes toxic smoke that causes harm to the environment and any humans that inhale it.

Leave What you Find

Anything you find in the outdoors, you should leave so that other people can see it too! If you find a flower that you would like to take home, you need to leave it so that other people can see it too. If you find a dog running around and it doesn't have a collar, don't try to catch it. 

Minimize Campfire Impact

If you build a campfire, make sure that you put it in a fire ring. If there is not a metal fire ring put there by the campsite owners or you are in the wilderness, you need to build one with rocks. Be very careful when you build a campfire, don't throw in rocks, propane, or anything else that might explode. Don't throw in plastic either, it makes toxic smoke. Always have a bucket of water handy and have someone at the fire just in case.

Respect Wildlife

When you go camping, don't be mean to animals. Don't set up your tent somewhere that obstruct animals from getting to water or anywhere else that might harm the animals. Also, don't feed the animals, and don't walk toward them if you see an animal.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

When you go camping, be considerate of other visitors. Don't be loud and obnoxious when people are trying to sleep, don't bring your pets to the campout, and don't destroy other people's property. 


Leave No Trace is something that you need to know when you go on a BSA campout. You also need to memorize the principles of leave no trace in any order to get your First Class rank. Leave no trace goes along with The Outdoor Code. If you like this, share it on social media and leave a comment with your thoughts. Subscribe to Scouting Overload for new content every week.