Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hansel and Gretel Need LNT Training

This weekend I'm headed to the majestic Shenandoah National Park to spend a few days in the beautiful mountains learning about Leave No Trace and getting certified as a LNT Trainer. I could not be more excited. Spending my days in 'class' surrounded by newly changing autumn leaves and crisp mountian air with others who share my passion for the outdoors will be a tough challenge, but its one I'm ready and willing to face.

As a kid I always knew the old phrase "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." What good hiker doesn't? Later I heard about Leave No Trace but figured it was just a way to make that old basic concept more well known to new outdoor explorers. In a way, it is, but it wasn't until I actually started working on the Leave No Trace Cub Scout Award with my Den that I found out just how big and involved their mission was. The more I read up on the foundation of the program, the more I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a part of it. Though I have been informally teaching Leave No Trace principals to kids for almost a year now, its high time I get properly educated and certified to lead real sessions with adults and children in our community.

As part of the training, I have been tasked with leading a session for the group on LNT principal #6: Respect Wildlife. I can instruct as if for any age and experience level I wish, so you can be sure my peers will be told they are a group of 6 to 10 year old boys. After my teaching session I will be critiqued on my material, presentation, teaching style, and the knowledge I was able to pass on. That part I'm honestly not so excited about, but I will try to take their constructive critisism to heart and use it to better my presentations in the future. Yes, I will.

I have some ideas up my sleeve to teach about respecting wildlife that I think will be fun, but my plan is to first start off with a little story. Here is the gist of what I've come up with to open my session, I hope you like it. It could actually be slightly expanded and used as a campfire story for young children as well, with bonus points to the story teller for having a good lesson embedded in it. Constructive critisism is welcome. Really. But, well, try to be gentle, it is my first time sharing a made up story like this. Just remember, it for young kids and meant to be told orally, the feeling of which I have tried to capture in the writing style. Feel free to use the story or idea if you wish, just do me the favor of giving me credit please.

"Hansel and Gretel, Version 1.5"

Has anyone here ever heard the old fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel? Well, if you haven't heard of it, it is a story about a young boy and his sister who walk through the woods and mark their trail by leaving breadcrumbs behind them. Eventually, they find a witch living in the woods, whose home is made up entirely of gingerbread! BUT, what happened to Hansel and Gretel and the witch is not the part of the story I want to tell you about today, you can find that in any fairy tale book. Today I'm going to tell you about what happened to that trail of breadcrumbs that they left behind.

The animals of the forest could smell those delicious bread crumbs from miles away, because animals have much keener noses than we people do. So the animals came sniffing around to see what the yummy smell was. When the squirrels and racoons and foxes and even bears found the bread crumbs, they couldn't help but eat them up since they smelled so good. The bread crumbs tasted good too, so the animals went looking for more crumbs left on the trail. Soon there were no bread crumbs left. Hansel and Gretel weren't going to be very happy about that when they found out, but the animals weren't very happy either. They really liked those bread crumbs and had never had anything like them before. So the animals of the forest went looking for more places to find breadcrumbs like those.

The squirrels decided to follow other people that hiked along the paths, hopeing they would drop more tasty bread and food items. Sometimes the hikers just ignored them, but sometimes there were mean kids that would throw rocks or chase the squirrels and make the poor things very scared.

The racoons liked to roam around at night, and there weren't many hikers out in the dark, so they decided to go to where the people live and see what they could find around the houses. Those racoons found wonderful stashes of food in big plastic bins that the people seemed to call 'trash cans.' The racoons had fun tipping over the cans and eating all the yummy trash treats they found inside. But the people didn't seem to like this at all, and soon began poisoning the trash so the racoons got sick. Some people even tried to shoot the racoons to make them go away. But the racoons loved all the new people food so much and it was so much easier to get than the food in the forest that they kept coming back to the trash cans, even if it meant some might die.

The foxes also prefered to come out at night, but they were a crafty bunch of animals and thought they could do better than the racoons. So the foxes would sneak onto farmers lands and steal all sorts of good things to eat. They didn't find many breadcrumbs to steal, but they did find yummy eggs in the chicken coops and lots of corn and vegetables. Of course, being stolen from made the farmers VERY angry, so the farmers set traps to catch the crafty foxes and get rid of them and thier stealing for good.

But the bears, being the biggest animal in the forest, didn't feel like being sneaky or following hikers patiently to find tasty human food. Instead, they helped themselves to all the treats left in people's campsites right there in the bears own woods. Of course, the campers were very afraid of the huge bears that came to their tents and were worried that the bears would hurt one of them, so the Park Rangers were called in to remove the bears from the forest. The bears were caught and sent very far away from their homes, some even to zoos and other countries where they never got to see their home forest again.

The animals that had tasted the bread crumbs had other problems, too. Sometimes they would eat something that smelled and tasted good, but made the poor animal very, very sick. This was bad, but not bad enough for the not sick animals to stop eating the people food. Eventually, they loved the human food so much, and for a while had such an easier time getting it, that they forgot how to hunt and gather their own regular forest foods. Then a time came that the people stopped coming into that part of the forest, or stopped putting their trash where the animals could find it, and all the animals that had come to rely on the new human food suddenly didn't have it anymore. And they didn't have their own animal food anymore becuase they'd forgotten how to find it. Many of the animals either died or left the forest in search of new sources of easy food.

So now, when you walk the path that Hansel and Gretel walked through the woods, you may not see any animals at all. The forest is silent and sad for the animals that went away. And that is why we teach people now about Leave No Trace and respecting wildlife by not feeding them our own people food. Perhaps is Hansel and Gretel had learned Leave No Trace, we would still be able to enjoy the sound of the squirrels in the trees, the glimpse of a fox at dusk, or the tracks of a bear in the mud by a stream on that trail that the children took. So remember, when you are out exploring your neck of the woods, be sure you Leave No Trace, not even a crumb small enough for a mouse. Taking your food and trash with you will help keep the wildlife wild and a part of the nature we love.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would value your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.

    Also visit my web-site kitchen in northern virginia


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...