Developing a Wilderness Ethic
Outdoor Action is firmly committed to the principles of Leave No Trace set forth by the Center for Outdoor Ethics. With nearly 1,000 Princeton students visiting the backcountry each fall as part of Frosh Trip and dozens of other trips throughout the year, OA has an obligation to carefully scrutinize the potential impact we have on the environment. At the same time, we also have the opportunity to positively influence how hundreds of students think about their interactions with the natural world, and to shape their future experiences outdoors and in their home communities. Rather than just having a list of protocols and policies addressing minimal impact camping, OA strives to develop a personal wilderness ethic in all Leaders and participants, that they will carry with them beyond their OA experiences. This mission, to educate Princeton students and others about the importance of how we live and travel in the backcountry, is the primary goal of the OA Leave No Trace Initiative.
We wish to thank the Feather Foundation for their support of the OA Leave No Trace initiative. Through their generous annual support, OA has been able to offer a Leave No Trace Master Educator course to Princeton students who, in term, deliver Leave No Trace training to other students in the Outdoor Action Program as well as to school children in Mercer County and the surrounding area.
OA offers three levels of training on Leave No Trace to students. All leaders are expected to introduce their trip participants to the basic concepts, while leaders with more advanced degrees of training are able to faciliate the training of new leaders.
As part of OA training, all Leaders participate in an LNT Awareness Workshop. This introduces the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace and minimal impact camping techniques. It also encourages Leaders to develop their personal wildernes ethic by thinking about what the natural environment means to them.
As the next step of training, Leaders who are interested in delving more deeply into the principles and sharing their experiences with others have the opporunity to participate in a 2-day LNT Trainer Trip. During this trip, participants take turns teaching the 7 Principles to the other members of the group, gaining a deeper understanding of the material and also practicing the role of teacher. With the succesful completition of the LNT Trainer Trip, leaders are certified to teach LNT Awareness Workshops on campus.
Master Educator Trip
The highest level of training offered by the Center for Outdoor Ethics is Master Educator: a 5-day backcountry trip covering the principles and techniques in depth, but also introducing effective teaching techniques and faciliation strategies. Master Educators come away from their course inspired to share their knowledge with others, and prepared to do so effectively. Master Educators are qualified to lead both the LNT Trainer Trips and the LNT Awareness Workshops. Thanks to the support of the Feather Foundation we are able to offer one Master Educator Course each year generating our own pool of qualified instructors who teach both the Trainer Trips and the Awareness classes. Princeton currently has one of the largest pools of certified Master Educators of any college in the United States.
In addition to the training of Leaders and trip participants within the OA community, our LNT Master Educators and Trainers work with outside organizations to share their knowledge and spread awareness. We have a variety of current projects and partnerships, including activities with Boy Scouts (to fulfill the Outdoor Ethics badge requirements), workshops with school gardening and environmental clubs at local elementary, middle schools and high schools, Earth Day presentations, and instruction for university researchers conducting fieldwork in remote and pristine areas.