We’re the new guys on the block, having been with Leave No Trace for all of one month as the 2010 e-tour Team, and to presume that we have “Road Wisdom” would be, well, presumptuous. We could certainly speak to the many lessons already encountered in our short experience: how not to setup and breakdown our Coleman pop-up camper, when to be skeptical of instructions from “Sue”, our otherwise reliable GPS guidance system, and more. Perhaps we’ll eventually gain some wisdom to share through these lessons, or at least learn well enough ourselves to keep from making the same mistakes over and over. So, even though this essay is entitled “Road Wisdom,” we decided to write about the National Boy Scout Jamboree, where we have spent the last 5 days not actually on the road, but encamped in a dusty field at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. We definitely feel more than a bit wiser, and humbler, for the experience.
What we have learned is something that we hope everyone associated with Leave No Trace has had or will have the opportunity to experience. Standing by the Leave No Trace display at the Boy Scout Jamboree has given us a real appreciation for the outdoor ethic that is embodied in the 100-year history of the Boy Scouts. For the Scouts, Leave No Trace is not just an exercise in sloganeering or rote memorization, and there are none of the cherished merit badges to be earned through Leave No Trace activities. Nope, it was definitely a deeper motivation that compelled literally thousands of scouts to visit the Leave No Trace area at the Jamboree. What we witnessed here over the past week was testimony that young folks (and lots of troop leaders) want to do the right thing when it comes to outdoor recreation. In order to do the right thing, the scouting community is actively seeking a better understanding of how to practice and teach the outdoor ethics that will preserve the environment and the quality of our recreational experiences… not just for our enjoyment, but for generations to come.
We’ve been especially blown away when young scouts dig into their wallets and shyly make a $2 or $3 donation to Leave No Trace. Even at 10 years old, they know that this Leave No Trace movement is a very good thing and among the basic tenets in life that we would all do well to live by. And then there is the adult, with sweat dripping off of his or her brow, who arrives at our booth saying, “I finally made it here…. I’ve been trying to come by. I really want to become a member of Leave No Trace… Is this where I sign up?” Our Traveling Trainer buddies Agata and Jason thoughtfully placed chairs near the table for exhausted folks to take a load off while they fill out their membership forms.
Today we close up our dusty shop here with our fellow Leave No Trace road warriors and friends, and head off in different directions as we continue our e-tour. True, we’re more than a bit exhausted ourselves after a pretty intense week, but the experience has left us feeling pretty elated, too. Now that’s a great e-word for the e-tour: “elated.” All in all, after spending a week with over 50,000 scouts, maybe we have gained a little “Road Wisdom…”