Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wayfaring in the Right Kind of Way

From Erie Canal and Finger Lakes
We meet many people in our travels, and most are interested in talking with us about their favorite outdoor activities and camping memories. All of the folks who lament the litter and the inconsiderate behaviors of other visitors are pleased to learn that there is actually a Leave No Trace organization that promotes responsible recreational use of the outdoors, and that there is a framework for advocacy and education that builds on an informed and common sense outdoor ethic that few can reasonably dispute. We can hope that these good folks will consider joining Leave No Trace and strengthening our member network and capacity for outreach and advocacy. More importantly, we hope they feel affirmation that they are not alone in their sense of responsible outdoor ethics. Perhaps a new awareness of a broad Leave No Trace community of like-minded individuals will redouble their personal convictions, and maybe even embolden them to actively speak out about the sustainable practices and shared responsibilities of enjoying the outdoors in the right kind of way…

Hope to see you down the road, and hear what you've got to say...

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour Wayfarers 2010

e-word: embolden

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Casting for Bigfoot at Bass Pro

We made an extended visit to the Bass Pro Store in Auburn, New York this past week and got a warm reception from both the staff and store patrons. On Wednesday evening, we conducted a seminar for area Boy Scout leaders. We engaged them in samplings of PEAK Pack activities and told them about the mother lode of teaching and activity resources on the Leave No Trace Web site. Then on Saturday and Sunday, we conducted outreach with shoppers in the store from 9:00am to 5:00pm. We were especially looking for a way to appeal to the young folks, and Peggy’s recently acquired infatuation with Cornhole (really, that’s what it’s called…) led to the "Bag'N Bigfoot" adaptation of the increasingly popular campground game. It was a great hit, so to speak. We had lots of eager participants testing their bean bag casting skill and/or luck for the chance to win Leave No Trace stickers, Clif bars, and such. Of course, everyone was a winner, and for some it just took a few more throws from a gradually diminishing distance. More than a few parents also succumbed to their competitive inclinations, and we expect that casting for Bigfoot (aka "Bag'N Bigfoot") will be a regular fixture at similar outreach events in the future.

From BassPro Auburn NY

The other poplar activity for the kids was the Leave No Trace bead bracelet craft that we had beta tested at Jellystone Maryland. Again, the craft activity engaged the interest and creative impulses of the kids while we took the opportunity to talk with parents about Leave No Trace and the Bigfoot Challenge.

From BassPro Auburn NY

On Saturday it was if we were tailgating for Bigfoot. Our setup was well-positioned at the store exit next to (downwind of) the outdoor barbecue and across from the Girl Scout bake sale, and it seemed to be a natural place where folks took pause, ate their grilled dogs or cupcakes, and waited with shopping cart-loads of purchases in anticipation of a curbside pickup while companions went off to fetch vehicles from the parking lot. We handed out several hundred LNT reference cards, and found that most of the Bass Pro patrons we approached were pleased to receive the outdoor ethics tags for hunting or fishing and to have an opportunity to voice their opinions about responsible outdoor ethics.


We returned to Bass Pro on Sunday in a blustery rain, and moved our operation indoors near the store entry. Our interactions throughout the day were primarily with an adult audience, and we were able to show the National Park Service Leave No Trace DVD on a virtually continuous loop.

From BassPro Auburn NY

Barb Phillips of Bass Pro was terrific, not only in accommodating our outreach efforts at the store, but also in allowing us to descend on her family and setup our Coleman trailer in the backyard of her well-loved country home (…we really are talking more “south forty...” the backyard was expansive as it unrolled down past the soybeans to the banks of Nine Mile Creek, a locally renowned trout stream). Memorable food, conversation, camaraderie, and sunsets characterized our time with the Phillips family.

Hope to see you down the road,

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-word: expansive

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Office Hours

From Finger Lakes Region

What a great (24/7) office we have wherever we travel: we setup our Coleman E-1 camper in beautiful parks and camp grounds, or, on occasion, in some serendipitous spot next to an accommodating host’s soybean field; we hike around and behind waterfalls while admiring hanging gardens and rock pools reminiscent of Kubla Khan’s Xanadu; we bicycle along Colonial turnpikes and 19th Century canal tow paths in the footsteps of our industrious and resourceful ancestors; we visit historic landscapes and structures and talk with the stewards and interpreters of our natural and cultural heritage about the challenges of sustaining a commitment to preservation… True, we are on-call 24/7, but we’re finding it far more of a privilege than it is a chore, and we travel with the certainty that e-Tour is a pretty good gig, indeed.

From Erie Canal and Finger Lakes

Hope to see you down the road during office hours… no appointment necessary.

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

From Erie Canal and Finger Lakes

Glens, Moraines, Drumlins, and Such

If you hear the name Watkins Glen, it might bring to mind the Grand Prix racing circuit, but over the past several days we’ve discovered another side of the Watkins Glen area. The natural beauty and rich cultural history of the Finger Lakes region of New York is astounding, and our e-Tour calendar allowed us to drive off the beaten track a few miles for a little ad hoc Leave No Trace outreach in some of New York’s finest state parks and public recreation areas.

We spent one night at Taughannock State Park near Ithaca and a second night at Watkins Glen State Park at the southern end of Seneca Lake. Both parks feature impressive gorges (“glens” in New York-speak) and numerous waterfalls, and each exhibits uniquely beautiful characteristics that have resulted from the glacial forces that sculpted the geologic landscape of the area 12,000 years ago. In addition to hiking the rim and gorge trails in Taughannock and Watkins Glen, we bicycled along the Catharine Valley Trail, which follows an old railway grade and even older canal towpath past the wetlands of Queen Catharine Marsh Fish and Wildlife Management Area and Montour Falls.

From Finger Lakes Region

As we set up our Coleman E-1 pop-up in a campground, we quickly become immersed in the local camping community. Our attention-grabbing Leave No Trace Subaru and Coleman camper invariably pique the curiosity of our neighbors, and open the door to conversations about our camping rig, Leave No Trace, and our e-Tour odyssey. We always carry LNT hangtags and brochures on our walks or bicycle rides to give to folks that we meet, and find that there is generally a receptive and friendly cohort of fellow travelers who are interested in talking with us about our shared appreciation of and concern for the outdoors.

From Finger Lakes Region

Hope to see you down the trail on foot or bicycle.

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-word: evolving

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Camp Louise: Redux and Restorative

Saturday found us once again at the Girl Scouts’ Camp Louise near Shickshinny, PA for the Heart of Pennsylvania GS Council “2010-11 Kick-off Event.” We entertained over 50 Girl Scout leaders in three different sessions over the course of the morning and afternoon. As we anticipated, each group was lively and engaging, and there were many opportunities to discuss various approaches for presenting the Leave No Trace principles to the girls. Our pitch stimulated considerable interest in the great resources for teaching Leave No Trace that are readily available on our website, and we also expect that there will be a number of new applicants for the PEAK Grants as a result of our presentations.

After the event concluded on Saturday afternoon most of the 200 attendees decamped, and we enjoyed a great swim, a relaxing supper, and in the evening, a quiet walk through the nearly deserted camp grounds to the lake, where we “watched the big husky sun wallow in crimson and gold and grow dim…” In the dusky light, we saw a shy and skittish pair of wild turkeys cautiously cross the now deserted camp commons, marking the reappearance of the camp’s permanent residents. Our own return to Camp Louise was gratifying, it was restful, it was restoring.

From Camp Louise 2

Thanks to Jean Barnes for her warmth and hospitality, and as always, hoping to see you down the road.

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-word: (re)energized

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enduring Traces of Bloody Antietam

From Antietam

Numerous monuments and memorials populate the bucolic hills of Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD, where legions of Union and Confederate soldiers were locked in a titanic clash that proved to be the bloodiest single day in US history. By evening of that September day in 1862, when the exhausted armies finally disengaged from the furious assaults, counter-attacks, and hand-to-hand fighting that characterized much of the action, nearly 25,000 of the 100,000 combatants had become casualties… one out of every four men killed, wounded, or missing. In some respects, we can but marvel that the toll wasn’t greater, as we read the Park’s interpretive displays of the deafeningly relentless exchanges of rifle-fire and how acres of once tall and ripening corn were mowed down to the ground by the minie balls and shrapnel as if the stalks had been scythed for harvest.

Reflecting on this brutal battle and the awful cost exacted from the dead and crippled soldiers, we are left to grab hold of the enduring good that was crafted out of something so terrible. First, Abraham Lincoln’s subsequent decision to move ahead with the Emancipation Proclamation represented a critical step in the unequivocal repudiation of the institution of human slavery. And, from a different perspective, Clara Barton’s compassionate and selfless assistance to the wounded men of both armies was an individual and personal act of mercy that led eventually to the founding of the American Red Cross by this “Angel of the Battlefield.” Both Lincoln and Barton’s actions have become enduringly humane and distinctly human legacies, both instrumental in defining what we stand for as a nation. It’s pretty humbling, really, and to visit a place like Antietam gives us pause for reflection. The value of preserving these historic places far exceeds whatever the cost might be and it is fundamental to our collective education, lest we forget such lessons and the historic cost of the many rights and privileges that we enjoy today. In this case, traces left behind by our ancestors are well worth remembering and preserving as we seek a common ground for building our future…

Hope to see you down the road,

Peggy and Barrett
2010 e-Tour

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jellystone Celebrity Interview

Hey, hey, hey! Boo-Boo Bear explains Leave No Trace...


Yes, the e-Tour has returned to Jellystone… and it was indeed a full and busy Jellystone of Maryland that greeted us on Wednesday night as we arrived at a campsite located at the hub of activity. The campground, which is near the historic town of Williamsport, MD, devotes a full day of programming each week to Leave No Trace related activities. Carrie Cerrito, the campground general manager, is enthusiastic about how the Leave No Trace ethic dovetails with the Jellystone Park theme. She was eager to hear our ideas about various Leave No Trace activities that could help visitors of all ages act responsibly as guests in the home of the Jellystone’s wildlife characters and learn to enjoy the outdoors in the “right kind of way.”

From Jellystone Maryland

We were also impressed with the partnership between Jellystone Maryland and the local chapter of Girls Inc, an organization that provides young girls with a framework for developing leadership skills, self-reliance, and confidence. We led an hour-long hike with a mix of Jellystone campers and the Girls Inc group, and introduced each of the seven LNT principles at stops along the trail. Afterwards, we offered a crafts session in Cindy’s Pavilion, which produced a passel of fly-zapping LNT frogs and a like number of pleased human participants. In the afternoon there was an opportunity for children to play a game with the big lovable Yogi Bear and learn about “trashing your trash” hand-in-hand with Yogi. The rest of the day was equally busy with outreach, Jellystone interviews, and Bigfoot photo-ops.

We also noted how the Jellystone staff makes a special effort to create a foundation for applying the Leave No Trace principles, monitoring the campsites for safe campfire practices, encouraging guests to be considerate of each other by respecting quiet hours and controlling their pets, music, and socializing, and ensuring that fire rings and campsites are clean after each visitor departs. It was great to see the results of Carrie’s deliberate efforts to incorporate Leave No Trace into the Jellystone Park experience, and we fully expect that Jellystone Maryland will become a model for others to follow.

Hope to see you down the road.


e-word: excellent

Monday, August 16, 2010

e-Tour Trifecta: Leave No Trace Ethics, Sierra Club, and Operation Purple

Sarah Hutchinson, Director of Youth and Recreation for Easter Seals/UCP, was very excited about our visits to the Operation Purple camps in New Castle, VA. In the video, Sarah underscores the connection between Operation Purple, the Sierra Club, and Leave No Trace. We often think about the adage that we first saw at the YMCA’s Camp Campbell Gard in Ohio, “Character through camping.” Sarah adds a fresh perspective in this interview, suggesting that not only is the LNT ethic an important cornerstone of responsible outdoor recreation, but the basis of a healing and nurturing value system for youth as well…

Peggy and Barrett
2010 e-Tour

Camp Easter Seals Redux

On this past Tuesday we returned to Camp Easter Seals near New Castle, VA for a presentation to the new group of Operation Purple campers. Although the kids, aged 8-17, had been together for less than 24 hours, it was already evident that they were well on their way to establishing a strong sense of community. We expect that this could be attributed in part to the adaptability of these well-traveled kids from military families. But, on the other hand, we have to believe that the energy and leadership of the camp counselors had a lot to do with the camaraderie and fellowship. Bonds seemed to be forming and strengthening before us, almost as if we were witness to some chemical reaction that was melding disparate elements into a coherent, wholly formed compound.

Happily, there is no standardized test for Leave No Trace, and we hope that our presentations are at least helping the audience understand that learning about Leave No Trace requires elemental thinking… basic reflection and critical analysis, since there are seldom any black and white choices in making decisions about our outdoor activities and the impacts that we have. We challenged the Operation Purple kids at Camp Easter Seals to think about the not-so-easy choices that might confront them in the out of doors, and discussed the “rule of thumb” for wildlife viewing and jointly counted out the hundred steps to safely distance our campsite or “cat-hole” from the water (it’s further than most might think). We even got into discussions about impacts on the especially fragile and vulnerable environments of caves. We found Adrian’s enthusiasm and engaging manner to be infectious, and her interview sums up the overall experience at New Castle…

Many thanks go to Alex Barge, camp director and LSU purple-and-gold-blooded Tiger alum, for welcoming us to Camp Easter Seals, and to Camp Easter Seals coordinator, Sarah Hutchinson, for setting up the Leave No Trace e-Tour visits.

Hope to see you on our nomadic trek,

Peggy and Barrett
2010 e-Tour

e-word: elephant (there are some things we’ll never forget…)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

e-Tour Bags Another PEAK

On Monday, we made a stop in Greensboro, NC for a PEAK training workshop at the local REI store. A crowd of nearly 30 participants represented a variety of local youth service organizations, from the Greensboro Children’s Museum, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to Earth Fare and teachers from area schools.

It was an energetic and engaged audience, and we had spirited discussions about the “gray” areas of the Leave No Trace ethic, the situations where choices are not so readily black and white, but instead are shaded one way or the other by the variables of climate, season, time of day, environment, topography, group size, activity… and more. Our dialogue led us to a great discussion of the “authority of the resource.” As a consequence, we had an opportunity to talk about constructive engagement as an approach to teaching outdoor ethics. This approach appeals to our common interest in enjoying the out-of-doors, and seeks to promote a better understanding of user impacts and the skills and practices consistent with the principles of Leave No Trace.

From REI Greensboro

The group’s competitive impulses were aroused by a close match of “Step on it,” before the Super Durable Surfaces (SDS) pulled out a come-from-behind victory over the Awesome Possums. “Minimum impact match” proved to be an excellent activity for our brief half-time coffee break, and it set us up to revisit the seven principles of Leave No Trace at the end of the workshop. After the break, we spent some quality time trash-talking, and it was remarkable how convincingly each participant assumed the persona of his or her assigned trash role.

Many thanks go to Valerie and Kara, our terrific REI hosts, for their successful efforts in recruiting an enthusiastic group of participants. Thanks also go to the Earth Fare organization for providing the great breakfast and snacks.

Hoping (and expecting) to see you down the road,

Barrett and Peggy
Your 2010 e-Tour Team

e-word for the day: “equipped” (it's all about planning ahead…)

e-Tour Gets Down on the Farm

After our program with the Operation Purple group at Medoc Mountain State Park, we drove through coastal Carolina to Ashton Crossroads near Burgaw to visit Ashton Farm Day Camp. The camp, founded in 1975 by Sally and Jim Martin, is set on 72 acres of the historic Ashe Plantation, one of the earliest land grants in the Colony of North Carolina. The property was a working farm that Sally and Jim developed into a summer day camp that could provide kids with an opportunity to learn about nature through hands-on experiences. The camp has entertained hundreds of young campers every summer and busloads of school groups during the academic year. It’s a great setting to learn about the traditions of farming life and to experience a huge variety of timeless recreational activities for kids.

From Ashton Farm

Sally is one of Barrett’s sisters, and her camp has been advocating many of the basic Leave No Trace principles since its inception. Over the course of our visit we had an ongoing conversation about the e-Tour and the Leave No Trace ethic. It was really great for us to see how constant the camp has remained over the past 35 years. We loved hearing how the young city-raised kids who first experienced the camp’s traditional agrarian message decades ago are now sending their children to Ashton Farm so they can create their own enduring memories of the place and the experience.

We left Sally and Jim with a healthy sampling of Leave No Trace materials, and took with us refreshed memories of the many good times spent at Ashton Farm in years past. We hope that there will be future opportunities to help Sally incorporate more aspects of the Leave No Trace ethic into her camp activities, and that the traditions of Ashton Farm will endure for generations to come.

Hope to see you down the road,

Barrett and Peggy
2010 e-Tour

e-word: eating (sea and farm-fresh fish and veggies...)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

e-Tour Bags a Peak at Medoc Mountain

Medoc Mountain State Park is tucked back off the busy North-South corridor of I-95 close to Rocky Mount in northeastern North Carolina. As we approached the park we wondered about finding a mountain in the low country not too far from the Dismal Swamp of Virginia. Once in the park we learned that Medoc Mountain is indeed the foundation of a once towering granite mountain. This foundation is now covered in trees and barely a rise on the gentle landscape. Medoc is but a shadow of its former self when eons ago (during the Paleozoic Age 350 million years ago) it was a major peak within a magnificent chain of mountains. Over time, a very long time, streams in the area, Little Fishing Creek and Bear Swamp Creek have eroded the land surrounding the mountain and eventually the granite mountain itself. The park now encompasses rich forests and streams, secluded picnic spots, and is a most enjoyable park even if there is no craggy peak left to climb.

From Medoc Mountain SP

The state park was our meeting place with two busloads of Operation Purple campers and staff from nearby Halifax 4-H Rural Life Center under the guidance of Joe Long, director of the center. This was a great group, at once polite and inquisitive, creative and attentive. After we spent the better part of an hour discussing the principles of Leave No Trace and playing some games from the PEAK program, they demonstrated their understanding of outdoor ethics by correctly assigning each rule, regulation and recommendation in the Medoc Mountain State Park brochure to the proper principle of Leave No Trace.

The Rural Life Center fed us a barbecue lunch after our program and we packed up our Leave No Trace Subaru as the campers headed off to participate in service projects with the park staff. The project for the day involved stream clean up and rehabilitation. In our opinion there is no better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than messing about in (and cleaning up) a cool clear stream, especially one of the gentle streams that over time turned mighty Medoc Mountain into a modest, yet beautiful, bump on the landscape.

Hope to see you up the road...

Peggy and Barrett
2010 e-Tour Team

e-words for today: "eons erode elevation"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Appomattox Remembered

On our way across Virginia, traveling from the rain freshened mountains and back into the hot, humid airs of the coastal plain, we stopped at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. The park is a quiet rural site, and our early morning visit was marked by a serenity that belied the history of the place. Managed by the National Park Service, one of our Leave No Trace partner agencies, Appomattox is the site of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant. The park interprets and commemorates the chain of events that brought the US Civil War to an end in 1865.

Such monuments to history, when appropriately interpreted, help us remember the sacrifices that so many have made to preserve and sustain this noble idea of a nation. Similarly, by advocating the protection and respectful interpretation of our collective cultural heritage, the Leave No Trace ethic plays a critically important role in providing opportunities to understand and more fully appreciate places and events like Appomattox. These are the places and events that have shaped who we are, and importantly, inform what we stand for as individuals and as a society… forming the foundation of an ethic that binds us all together as a nation.

Dear Education Department: Dirty Dishes

Dear Education Department,

I have dirty dishes. Just plain dirty. I’ve been on back-to-back car camping and rafting trips and I just don’t know a good way to wash my dishes in the out of doors in these situations. Help!


Mr. Clean

Dear Mr. Clean,

Thanks for asking. In both car camping and rafting situations, there is a great option for washing dishes in a way than ensures they’re clean, that your waste water is dealt with appropriately and that there aren’t any scraps left over for the critters.

A four-bucket wash system is easy to use and inexpensive to set up. It consists of four containers of equal size (wash tubs, 5-gal buckets, etc.) and large enough to hold dishes, lots of them if you’re with a larger group. It’s also handy to have a dedicated “boil bucket” that can hold a large amount of water in order to heat all the hot water you’ll need in one

shot. The next item is a screen for filtering out leftover food particles (you can use a piece of fine mesh, a kitchen strainer or even a bandana in a pinch) that is large enough to easily pour larger quantities of water through. The last item is a tarp or “scrim” cloth to put the buckets on to catch any food or other garbage that may hit the ground. Ideally, the system is made even easier by finding a mesh stuff sack to put everything in for storage.

Here’s how the system works (assuming you’re using tubs that hold 2

gallons of water):

1. Boil 2 gallons of water.

2. While the water is boiling, fill all four tubs with water. Two tubs are filled full, while the other two are only filled half way.

3. At this point, you’ll need to decide which way you’re going to wash – to the left or the right. It

doesn’t matter as long as everyone involved in the process knows which direction the washing is going. Along rivers, it’s easiest to orient the washing downstream.

4. Once the water boils, pour half in each of the two tubs that were only filled half way.

5. Set the tubs up in this order: tub #1 – cold rinse (full tub), tub #2 – hot wash (use biodegradable phosphate-free soap whenever possible and use only what you need to get the job done), tub #3 – hot rinse, and finally tub #4 – cold bleach solution (bleach is a powerful chemical and should be used sparingly – 7-10 drops per gallon).

Once the system is set up, scrape the dishes off into the trash to remove any of the big stuff. Next you put all the dishes (or as many that will fit) into the cold rinse bucket. Think of this as the “funk” bucket. This bucket is critical and will help keep the rest of your system cleaner. After a good soaking in the funk bucket, begin to cycle the dishes through the hot wash, hot rinse (make sure they’re rinsed well) to the cold bleach solution for final sanitation. For longer trips, the final dunk in the sanitation bucket is key. Ideally, the dishes would soak for 5-15 minutes in the solution, depending on the time you. Once the dishes come out of the final bucket, they can be air-dried in a mesh “hammock” or hand dried with a towel or dishrag.

Now, your dishes are clean but you have a few steps to go:

1. Using the strainer, pour the contents of tub #1 through the strainer, ideally into another bucket. Once you have the strained water, you can see if there are options for disposing of it in a provided facility (sink, toilet, etc.) if allowed. Other options include broadcasting the wastewater 200 ft from camp, trails and water sources, or on some western rivers in arid environments, it may be permissible for the wastewater to be put directly in the river. Always check land manager regulations for proper disposal of wastewater.

2. Again, using the strainer, continue the process until all four tubs have been strained and the wastewater disposed of in an appropriate and approved method. All collected food particles need to go in with the trash.

3. You can consider pouring the soapy water into the dirtier tubs to help keep them clean. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to adjust your straining order accordingly.

4. Once your tubs are strained, cleaned and stowed, you’ll need to check the tarp or “scrim” cloth for any food scraps or trash, which would go in with your trash.

5. At this point, you’re almost done. All you need to do is consider storing your dish wash components securely from animals. It’s hard to get all the food smells off which could attract company.

This system can work well in many situations, and it’s a great way to ensure clean dishes for you and your companions.

“He who wants to change the world should begin by cleaning the dishes.”

- Paul Carvel


The Ed Dept.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Deep into the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia

We traveled across Virginia from the Tidewater to the Allegheny Mountains west of Roanoke on Wednesday, seeking an Operation Purple group that was tucked into a narrow valley at a place called Camp Easter Seals. The location was beautifully situated between steep ridges, and characterized by green pastures and mixed hardwoods bordering the clear waters of Craig's Creek. It was a classic camp setting, and reminded us of the camps of our own youth… places where kids could enjoy the simple summertime activities that have been sources of entertainment for generations: swimming, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, tether ball, and such. There was neither cell phone nor Internet connectivity, and there weren’t any electronic games or mp3 ear buds in sight. It was pretty isolated and definitely off the modern telecommunications and electronic entertainment grid… partly due to the remoteness and partly due to a deliberate decision to focus on enjoyment of outdoor activities. We were impressed with the group’s “esprit de corps,” for in the short time they had been together, a sense of community was clearly present. Evidence of this was the group singing, playfulness, and general camaraderie at mealtimes and flagraising. It was evident also during our presentations on Thursday, as we engaged nearly 120 campers and staff in “Step on it” and “What principle am I?” and regaled them with bear canister and poop tube stories.

For most of the summer, Camp Easter Seals hosts kids with various disabilities, but they also host two one-week Operation Purple camps for kids from military families. The camps are sponsored by the National Military Family Association, and we have found our visits to the Operation Purple groups to be both fun and gratifying. The kids were great, and we got lots of photos of them with our ever-popular Bigfoot feet.

The camp reminded us of our years living in nearby Blacksburg when we were in graduate school at Virginia Tech, and we look forward to our return here next week.

Road Wisdom: New to Town

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…”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bigfoot Report: Washington State

The award for the best (Leave No Trace) t-shirt at the National Boy Scout Jamboree goes to these scouts (Tanner and Shawn) from the Grand Columbia Council in Washington State:

Bigfoot's been doing it for years...

B and P
2010 etour Team

Monday, August 2, 2010

General Baden-Powell's Lads Visit BSA Jamboree

It's been 100 years since General Baden-Powell first organized the Boy Scout movement in England, and these lads are visiting the 2010 Boy Scout National Jamboree - 100th Anniversary to remind everyone of the historic roots of scouting.

"Character Through Camping"

Barrett and Peggy
2010 etour Team

Sunday, August 1, 2010

After Fifty Years Still Young at Heart

July 24, 2010
Shickshinny, PA

We helped celebrate an important birthday at Camp Louise on Saturday, July 24, 2010… 50 years old, with plenty of memories to share, generations of Girl Scouts have passed through the woods and fields of Camp Louise in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. We arrived the night before in time to set up our Coleman pop-up by Wise Lodge, one of the oldest structures in camp. The camp is situated deep in a hemlock hollow, and the buildings are designed to blend into the landscape and capture views of the surrounding forest setting.

On Saturday morning, the birthday festivities began in earnest, the weather was sunny and warm, and there was a great selection of activities for the girls. Over the course of the day we presented the principles of Leave No Trace ethics to young and young-at-heart alike and got them engaged in some timely and energetic trash-talking (“How long does it last?”). We added a late-breaking news item to our “Rule of Thumb” demonstration in the “Respect Wildlife” component… we call it “the disrespected bison reveals his true feelings about the videotaping tourist.” Barrett performed an amazingly realistic reenactment of the true story recently seen on the news, playing out an agitated, snorting and pawing bison displaying displeasure at a foolishly encroaching tourist, the bison’s sudden and rapid charge, and the hapless tourist as he and his video camera are sent flying. (Note: neither the bison nor the hapless tourist was seriously injured in the actual encounter).

We also talked a lot about bears and bear canisters because we had learned that Camp Louise has a resident bear named Molly and her two cubs. The night before, we had conscientiously packed up all of our personal food and fragrances and stored them inside Wise Lodge to prevent any wildlife encounters in or around our pop-up. One of the stories that came out during our program was about a camper who refused to confess to her secret candy stash when sleeping in one of the old canvas tents one summer. She concealed her sugary contraband inside her pillowcase. In the middle of the night, the rest of the camp heard blood-curdling screams coming from the girl’s tent. When they opened the flap, they found the girl and a raccoon locked in a struggle over the candy! Happily, the confrontation ended without physical harm to the girl or the raccoon, and the affair served as a memorable reminder to properly store food and scented toiletries away from sleeping quarters (...imagine why this is a fundamental rule in showing respect for wildlife).

The birthday event at Camp Louise was doubly gratifying because it was also Peggy’s birthday, and when the sun set over Sunset Lake, we found that we had made a rare group of friends. We look forward to seeing many of them on our return trip to Camp Louise in a few weeks for the “Kick-Off” event for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Council. Maybe we’ll even have an opportunity to cast a line or paddle a canoe in their beautiful lake.

Hope to see you down the road,

Peggy and Barrett
2010 e-tour Team

“e”-word of the day: enduring