Boy Scouts of America Rcognizes National Recreation and Parks Month

Since its inception in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has been among the largest and most consistent user groups of national parks, forests, wetlands, mountains, and other outdoor recreation areas. In honor of this rich heritage, during the month of July, the BSA is proud to recognize National Recreation and Parks Month, encouraging all Americans to use the resources of national parks as well as local parks and recreation departments, while preserving these great natural resources of land, parks, and wildlife.

During National Recreation and Parks Month, recreation facilities and parks throughout the United States will begin summer programming, call for volunteers, and emphasize the importance of participating in physical activity and the benefits of the outdoors.

“The BSA has always strived to be a good steward of our country’s natural resources and ecosystem,” said Ed Woodlock, director of camping and conservation, Boy Scout Division, BSA. “We believe national parks and forests as well as local parks and recreation departments are indispensable sources of education and activities. July is an opportunity to appreciate these resources and encourage users to get active and ‘Leave No Trace’ when using them.”

During July, the BSA encourages all Americans to adopt the Leave No Trace principles for outdoor activities, particularly those in national parks and recreation areas. Leave No Trace is a national, nonprofit education program that promotes practical skills and an outdoor code of ethics that preserve the integrity of protected lands and high-quality recreational experiences. The principles allow users and managers of public and private lands to work together to enjoy and protect the land, which will help ensure that a healthy environment can be enjoyed for years to come.

The BSA’s Leave No Trace principles include:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare—Know regulations and concerns for the area. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Schedule activities to avoid high-use periods. Keep groups small. Use a map and compass to eliminate the need for environmental markers.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces—Durable sites include established trails, campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. Camp at least 200 feet from lakes or streams. Do not alter sites to fit your needs—rather, find one that meets your needs. Use existing trails and travel single file in groups on the middle of the trail. In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent creation of new trails or sites. Avoid places where impacts are new.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly—If you bring it with you, take it with you—this includes food and trash. Dispose of human waste properly. Do not leave toilet paper or hygiene products behind. Carry water used for cleaning dishes, equipment, or bathing at least 200 feet from its source to reduce contamination. Use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Strain dishwater and scatter it around.
  • Leave What You Find—Observe but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting nonnative species of animals. Do not build structures or furniture or dig trenches.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts—As campfires cause lasting impact, use stoves for cooking and lanterns for light. Where permitted, use a fire ring, fire pan, or a mound fire lay. Keep fires small—use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Remove partially burned garbage, including that left by others. Burn all wood and coals to ash, extinguish the fire completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  • Respect Wildlife—Observe wildlife from a distance—do not follow or approach animals. Never feed animals. Protect wildlife and your food by storing food and trash securely. Leave pets at home. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times such as mating and nesting season, wintertime, or when they are with their young.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors—Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous—yield to others on trails. Take breaks and set up camp away from trails and other visitors. Let nature’s sounds prevail—avoid loud voices and noises. Respect others who might be seeking solitude.

In addition to adopting these principles during National Recreation and Parks Month, the BSA also encourages Americans to contact their local parks and recreation department for a list of available programs, outdoor activities, and available parks and areas for recreation.

For more information on your local parks and recreation department activities, please contact your local government information offices or visit

For more information on Leave No Trace and the Outdoor Code of the BSA, please visit

Serving nearly 4.5 million young people between 7 and 20 years of age with more than 300 councils throughout the United States and its territories, the Boy Scouts of America is the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit

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