BSA Outdoor Ethics

Find your Council Outddor Ethics Advocate

“When you leave (the camp), leave nothing but your thanks and a good name.”
Lord Baden-Powell


            Today, use of designated wilderness areas has increased from 4 million people in 1964, to over 30 million users today. That's a 750 percent increase in 40 years and the aggregate total of all recreation continues to rise throughout the United States.  As cities grow and populations encroach upon our wildlands and recreation areas, we must do more than just pick up the litter and extinguish campfires. We must learn how to maintain the integrity and character of the outdoors for all living things.

Outdoor Code
As an American, I will do my best to -
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.


            Scouting has a long and distinguished tradition of conservation leadership and environmental protection, enshrined in the Outdoor Code, Scouting’s Wilderness Policy, the William T. Hornaday Awards program, and in innumerable publications and training programs. Just as it has for decades, the Outdoor Code guides our conduct in the outdoors, establishing our goals of a clean environment—one unaffected by our passage—and our goal of environmental stewardship in the commandment of conservation mindedness.  BSA’s Outdoor Ethics then uses the seven principles of Leave No Trace and the five principles of Tread Lightly! to support the Outdoor Code by providing Scouting members with a principled framework to assist them in arriving at proper, ethical decisions while recreating in the outdoors.  Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly are not simply programs for camping, they are at the cutting edge of Scouting values. Learning about BSA’s Outdoor Ethics begins with you and your unit.

Learn more:

Outdoor Ethics in the Cub Scout Program
Outdoor Ethics in the Boy Scout Program
Outdoor Ethics in the Venturing Program
Outdoor Ethics in the Local Council
Outdoor Ethics in the US Scouting Movement
Outdoor Ethics in the World Scouting Movement

The Outdoor Code
The Principles of Leave No Trace
The Principles of Tread Lightly!

Scouts and Venturers who embrace BSA's Outdoor Ethics often find that they wish to give back and help protect the environment that has given them so much.  Some may find that they are “wild with love for the green outdoors—the trees, the tree-top singers, the wood-herbs and the nightly things that left their tracks in the mud” in the words of Ernest Thompson Seton, the first Chief Scout.  These Scouts and Venturers have begun to feel what Aldo Leopold called “the Land Ethic.”  The Land Ethic extends our concern beyond our fellow Scouts and Venturers, our families and friends, and even humanity itself to the entire environmental community of which we are a part—the deserts, forests, fish, wildlife, plants, rocks, oceans and web of life encompassing them—what Aldo Leopold called “The Land.”

 The Land Ethic
 Conservation Opportunities in the BSA