Friday, August 10, 2012

The Great Outdoors: Explore it, Love it and Respect it - Guest Post

Karen contacted me a couple months ago about sharing some stories with my readers.  I liked her first story on bear safety so much, I'd like to share another one of her great stories with you today.  Follow the link to read her previous story, Bears:  Don't put yourself and your loved ones at risk.

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” - Pedro Calderon de la Barca.

Beautiful Child Outdoors (Credit:  Photodune by Xilius)

So much can be learned from nature if we choose to learn from it and share our knowledge. As a child, I always loved exploring the woods, picking flowers, climbing trees and running as fast as I could through fields. As fun as this was, no one told me I was trampling over thickets that may never grow again or picking rare flowers that only bloomed once a year. I had no idea how destructive my ways were.

As a devoted aunt, I strive to teach the children to always leave no trace and you can too. I know what I loved as a child and there were definitely other ways I could have enjoyed nature. As an avid hiker, explorer and photographer, I have seen destruction at its worst—from cutting down trees for no use to areas littered with debris for no rhyme or reason. The best part of nature, the part most of us want to see, is nature untouched—beautiful flowers, tons of greenery and the occasional pristine waterfall, clear with visible fish. But if we touch it, leave debris, cut down trees or pick flowers, who can enjoy it after us? Who will see it the way you originally did? No one.

I want my nieces and nephews to enjoy nature and see it for what it really is. Leaving no trace means we are doing everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment. The following are a few examples of leaving no trace we can all try the next time we choose to explore the great outback with our children: 

          Look, but don’t touch. Instead of picking rare flowers with my tykes, we take pictures of them and make a scrapbook later. Instead of running through fields or the forest, we stay on marked trails and use binoculars to see what treasures lie beyond. Often times, we’re lucky enough to see wild animals, like deer or bear cubs, but had we entered the forest, we may have scared them away. Let’s not forget, when we leave marked trails, we’re also increasing our risk for getting lost.

          Help sustain vegetation.  Stay on marked paths and trails when possible and if you’re camping, be sure to camp on areas free of vegetation, like dirt. Camping on dirt is usually smoother, which means less sticks or rocks on your back when you sleep. If you have children like me, being in areas clear of vegetation also helps ensure our children don’t stumble into any rattlesnake holes or other traces of animal life, and of course, areas free of vegetation mean we aren’t hurting the environment by walking over new growth.  

          Don’t feed the wildlife. Leaving no trace is all about reducing our impact on the environment. Although feeding little critters seems like a generous thing to do, the critters then begin to rely on humans for food and during the winter, when less people are in the woods, how will our little friend survive?

          Always practice fire safety. It’s easy for fires to get out of hand, so always use designated fire facilities. If no facilities are available, Explore Alberta Parks recommends you make your fire “away from dry grass, heavy bush, logs, leaves or overhanging branches.” To be even more cautious, I always use a portable propane unit such as a campfire in a can. The reviews on this unit gets high scores for a reason. They are portable, easy to use, and a great way to leave no trace since the can comes home with you for future use. Camping without a campfire is always an option too, but the little ones always want those marshmallows and I bet yours do too.

Nature is all about respect. Respect what you see and leave it for others to love and enjoy as well. I know my nieces and nephews always love nature and have their scrapbooks to remember our adventures by. The next time you plan a fun exploration, keep these easy suggestions in mind to ensure it is fun for everyone who comes along after you.

Karen has been a wilderness explorer since childhood and spends much of her time teaching children to leave no trace while they are outdoors. When she’s not out exploring, you can find her making some amazing meals on her outdoor cooking fire pit. You can read the campfire in a can review and other reviews on environmentally safe fire pits at

No comments:

Post a Comment