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This summer, Boulder’s Avid4Adventure and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a nonprofit that teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, are partnering up to create the Nature Keeper Youth Training pilot program, a first-of-its-kind series to guide 600 kids in the ways of Leave No Trace (LNT). Colorado Mountain Camp—Avid4 Adventure’s overnight camp in Bailey—will be the training ground to inspire Colorado’s youngest outdoor enthusiasts to be the state’s new crop of wilderness guardians.
Campers, ranging from first to 12th grades, will be schooled in LNT at the camp headquarters before taking their new skills into the wild for expeditions in the woods. When out exploring, the campers will learn why you’re not supposed to pick the flowers, leave breadcrumbs for the squirrels, or wander off the trail to cut up a switch back. Leaders will point out LNT scenarios and allow the kids to organically sift out the best choices. Ian Roberts, camp director at Colorado Mountain Camp, says teaching children about how simple choices can impact their surroundings gives them the ownership and responsibility to take care of their outdoor play areas. “Our core value is for kids to live environmentally connected,” Roberts says. “These ideas don’t just play out at summer camp, it’s teaching the next generation to respect and protect the world.” Roberts says he wants these campers to be outdoor advocates long after their one- or two-week stint away from home.
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Campers will earn a certificate after completing the camp, and will be eligible to register as “Nature Keepers” with Leave No Trace as Lifetime Youth Members. So next time you’re on the trail with you little outdoor enthusiasat, don’t be surprised if she shushes you as you hike past a snacking deer, or insists you leave a campsite looking like you never camped there at all. If they do, Colorado will be better for it.
Follow assistant editor Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter @LindseyRMcK.
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