It is great seeing everyone out enjoying nature this summer. Here at Camptown we have also been busy getting kids outdoors. So far this summer we have had 458 campers through our Natural Wonders Day Camps, led four week long backpacking trips, two other week long trips, a few overnight trips, and several CRUX and day hikes. I myself have not gotten out on as many of these trips as I used to but Zach, Trey, Bailey, and Ashleigh have done a great job making these programs purposeful and impactful for our kids. During the week of July 4th we do not run programs and give our staff some much needed time off. I call this the seventh inning stretch.
During my time off I joined my friend Tom in Michigan for a little fly fishing. While the weather and water was a little warm for trout, the fishing and comradery were good. I realized while wading in the river one day, that this was my adult
version of creek stomping. As a kid I lived maybe half a mile from a creek. During the summer you would find me walking the creek looking for crayfish, skipping rocks, fishing, or just getting wet and enjoying nature. I did not realize it then, but those times in the creek have led to a life-long love for nature. Fly fishing is my adult way to get out and walk the river and enjoy the peace and flow of nature. But, sometimes that peace and flow can get interrupted. During our days on the river we had several canoes, kayaks, and rafts float by. Most were respectful and friendly. However every now and then one would come down, radio or loud voices booming way ahead of them. The Saturday following my fishing trip, my wife Cynthia and I put in a canoe on the White River. It was a warm holiday weekend and there were several others out on the river. Again, most were friendly and respectful. We did run across what I called the “flotilla”, a large group of 12+ tubes floating down the river boom box going with no regard for others. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing people out enjoying the creation that draws me closer to our God. However, a little consideration for others goes a long way.
At Camptown we use the Leave No Trace seven principles to teach respect for nature to our kids. Leave No Trace Principle number 7 is Respect Other Visitors. We all visit our wilderness lands for different reasons, some for adventure, some for solitude, and some for escape. The reasons are as varied as the people we encounter. I am reminded of a time when we were unloading at the trail head for a two night backpacking trip at Charles Deam Wilderness in Southern Indiana. As we were unloading, I met a man in the parking lot. After talking with him a little I found he had already been out a couple of days and planned on spending a couple more days in the backcountry. I learned he had recently lost his dad to cancer and was getting away for a little peace and quiet. He was looking for the solitude, reflection, and the calming effect that nature can offer. With so many of us using the wilderness for so many different reasons, how can we respect other visitors? Here are a few simple things you can do.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Keep your group small and/or visit during less busy times.
Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Dispose of your waste properly – take out anything you bring in.
Keep your pet on a lease and under your control.
Use existing fire rings and do not make new ones.
Use existing campsites.
I hope to see you on the trail soon, but please keep the boom box at home.