Irish Girl Guides – take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

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Stella Walsh is an Irish Girl Guide Leader, Outdoor Advisor and Trainer and has been involved with the message of Leave No Trace since 1989. She delivered an awareness session to the Irish Girl Guide Leaders in February 2008.

 

What does the Leave No Trace message mean to you?
A conscious effort when out in our pristine areas to remove all trace that I have been there – to remove my own rubbish and to leave behind natural objects.

What got you interested in promoting the message?
When on holidays in 2000 I saw first hand evidence of how man had ‘taught’ the animals that human food is easy to get and very sweet. The end result was that the park service had to put down the animal the day after I took my photos of this adorable creature, as it was the second time she had stolen a backpack. It really upset me how we as humans were impacting the wilderness. I keep one of those photos with my ‘Leave No Trace’ notes. What are the greatest challenges Leaders may have promoting
‘Leave No Trace’ with their Units? The basic concepts are simple and easily incorporated into our programme. Many of the concepts tie hand in hand with our Laws and can be incorporated into games that get the girls matching ‘Leave No Trace’ concepts into Irish Girl Guides (IGG) Laws. The basic concepts should be taught to the girls as to how they impact our natural world, and how the removal of parts of the natural world impacts other parts.
The greatest challenge is not to ignore ‘Leave No Trace’ because you do not like or agree with one of the principles. At the IGG training on ‘Leave No Trace’ in February 2008, I wanted to get Leaders to really think about what we had signed up for, so as an organisation IGG could embrace the concept and then put the IGG stamp on it to fit within our ethos. ‘Leave No Trace’ should sit outside or above IGG ethos.

How would you suggest Leaders go about integrating the ‘Leave No Trace’ message into their programming?
It should be taught as part of our programme- within the Laws and as an integral part of our ethos. We need to do some more work and think through the impact ‘Leave No Trace’ has on Guide and Lightweight camps. If we are going to make a difference, ‘Leave No Trace’ needs to be appreciated for what it really is- a dynamic and life changing concept.

Stella Walsh
Irish Girl Guide Leader, Outdoor Advisor and Trainer.

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