The outdoors have been “rediscovered” as of late. No longer are just the “outdoor” people enjoying a hike through the woods. Rather, large groups who rarely or in some cases have never stepped in to nature are flocking there in record numbers. This poses a problem. Why would I propose that an increase of outdoor activity is a bad thing? Simple. Lack of education. More specifically, there is a lack of education into how one should behave while out in nature. There have been a vast amount of reports of natural areas being over run with trash, campsites left in shambles, and irresponsible behavior when it comes to campfires and proper outdoor recreation activities. People seemingly are behaving like neanderthals while recreating outside, and this is angering a lot of outdoor people. Unfortunately there has been an indignation towards all those venturing into the outdoors leaving the mess and behaving in a less than ideal manner. Rightfully so, but is it warranted or should there be a high road taken? What can be done to combat this lack of care and consideration?
(Images courtesy of Leave No Trace Instagram account)
One organization exists to provide education on outdoor ethics. Leave No Trace (LNT) provides research, education and initiatives so every person who ventures outside can protect and enjoy our world responsibly. They, as well as other outdoor recreation professionals, have a prime opportunity to educate the Leave No Trace principles to a wider audience now more than ever before. But is it that simple?
I personally have to look up the LNT principles still to this day and I have been hiking for nearly a decade. So, is it fair that outdoor professionals are getting mad at those who don’t even know what LNT even is? I can’t tell you how many social media posts I have seen from people complaining about the increased trash and other negative behavior that has occurred. It irritates me too, but I don’t see it as people not caring about the world (though that may be true for some). I see it as a lack of understanding of how their actions will have a greater impact than they know. Call me naive or even unrealistic, but I believe if there are more steps taken to educate there will be a new wave of individuals that will care about our special outdoor spaces.
While I have my own ideas of how LNT can be more widely disseminated, I would love to hear what you think. Comment below with whether you agree or not with my assessment and what steps can be taken to help alleviate this behavior.
My experience is that if people are shamed they will withdraw and remove themselves from having that experience. If people associate their time outdoors with being judged or being made to feel inferior we are inadvertently creating a whole new problem. There must be a way to do it with grace and compassion while also expecting the best in who people are and what they can achieve.
Hope From the Trail
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