Okay or No Way – Resource for Instructing Leave No Trace to Scouts

Leave No Trace Overview

The outdoor code and leave no trace (LNT) principles are important concepts for teaching scouts an appreciation for the outdoors and provide a foundation for learning safe and responsible outdoor behaviors.  Scouts are first introduced to the outdoor code and supporting LNT principles as Tigers while working on the “Tigers in the Wild” adventure (#3) where they are asked to listen to a leader read the code/LNT and then apply them on an outing.  These lessons are then reintroduced in the Wolf adventures “Call of the Wild” and “Paws on the Path” as they apply to camping and hiking respectively.

When teaching young scouts about Leave No Trace it helps to incorporate games that will reinforce the LNT principles.   My scout’s favorite is called “Okay or No Way” and was inspired from information provided by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.  Instructions for the game are listed below.

Okay No Way Game

This game was a hit with the first and second graders who love to play tag games, like sharks and minnows, but would likely be fun for the older boys to join in.  The game requires the scouts to consider an outdoor situation proposed by their leaders and determine whether or not that situation is okay according to the outdoor code and LNT principles.  The group is divided into two opposing teams, team “okay” and team “no way.”  If the situation described by the leader is okay, team okay must chase team no way off the field to the team no way safe area while trying to tag as many team no way players as possible.  Likewise, if the outdoor situation is not acceptable, team no way must chase team okay off the field to their safe area while trying to tag them.  Players that get tagged during each round shift to the other team for the next round.  The diagram below demonstrates how to setup the game:

The scenarios used for the game ranged between fairly simple situations with obvious answers to some more challenging applications that really required the boys to consider the LNT principles.  For example, the scouts easily recognized that throwing their trash on the ground was not okay, but it was less intuitive for them to understand why disposing trash and leftover food in a camp fire is not okay.  Once the leaders explained that disposing of trash and excess food in a fire could potentially harm the environment and attract unwanted animals to the campsite the scouts were able to understand why the behavior was not okay.  Toward the end of the game, almost none of the scouts were getting tagged because they were able to understand and apply LNT principles to the situations.

Next time you want to play a game with your den to burn off some excess energy, consider playing Okay or No Way instead of a normal tag game.

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