Outdoor Ethics

“On breaking camp, leave two things behind you: 1) Nothing. 2) Your thanks."

As one of the largest users of the great outdoors, members of BSA can have the single largest impact, either positively or negatively, on our natural resources. While we cannot control what everyone else is doing in the outdoors, we can make a difference with our personal actions in regards to outdoor ethics.

The Scout Law mandates our duty to be considerate to those around us, to help where help is needed and to conserve resources. Since 1948, the Outdoor Code has guided us to be:

  • Clean in my outdoor manners
  • Careful with fire
  • Considerate in the outdoors, and
  • Conservation minded.

With the highest respect for the outdoors in mind, the BSA Outdoor Ethics Program is not a set of rules as such, but rather a framework of guidelines for improving outdoor ethics decision-making skills to help prevent avoidable impacts and to minimize unavoidable impacts as we participate in outdoor activities. The program is comprised of four parts:

  1. The Outdoor Code
  2. Leave No Trace
  3. Tread Lightly!
  4. The Land Ethic (Aldo Leopold)


The Occoneechee Council Outdoor Ethics Training Team is committed to offering various levels of Outdoor Ethics training to help improve your decision-making skills progression. What level of training is best for you as a member of the Occoneechee Council?

  • I want to learn the basics to guide myself and my Scouts!
    Outdoor Ethics Orientation, BSA Leave No Trace 101, Tread Lightly! Awareness Workshop
  • I want to teach Outdoor Ethics to my unit, district and Council members!
    Leave No Trace Trainer and Tread Trainer
  • I want to teach Outdoor Ethics and train trainers!
    Leave No Trace Master Educator and Master Tread Trainer

Basic Online Awareness Training

General BSA Outdoor Ethics Courses

  • Outdoor Ethics Orientation Course
    The two-hour BSA Outdoor Ethics Orientation Course introduces the concept of Outdoor Ethics (Leave No Trace, Tread Lightly! and The Land Ethic) to a group with little experience in a fun and engaging way. It should help youth and adults at all program levels understand the general principles behind Scouting’s Outdoor Ethics program. It is highly recommended as a minimum level of training for all unit leaders, camp staff, members of the Council and district outdoor program and training teams.
  • BSA Outdoor Ethics Guide Course
    This four-hour course introduces Scouts to the principles of Outdoor Ethics and provides them with the framework for helping others – Scouts and leaders – improve their Outdoor Ethics decision-making skills to help minimize their unit’s impacts as they participate in outdoor activities. It is strongly recommended training for the Outdoor Ethics Guide Troop junior leadership position, which you can read about here. You can also download a copy of the Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook.

Intermediate Courses

  • Leave No Trace Trainer Course
  • Tread Trainer Course

Advanced Courses (Offered on National Level)

  • Leave No Trace Master Educator Course
  • Master Tread Trainer Course

Finding Courses & Help

Scheduled courses will be listed on the Council’s calendar. For additional help in finding a course, to find someone to teach a course to your unit, to lead a course for others or if you have specific questions about the Outdoor Ethics program, please contact the Occoneechee Council Outdoor Ethics Advocate Meredith Blackwood.

More Resources


For those who have a deep interest in the outdoors, nature and the environment, Scouting’s Outdoor Ethics will give you an ever-deeper appreciation of the richness of the land and how we fit into it. If you are prepared to venture down the path of really becoming aware of your surroundings and of building skills that will allow you to leave no trace on the land, then the Outdoor Ethics Awareness and Action Awards are for you.