“Whenever I saw a [Boy] Scout troop hiking down the trail, I’d cringe and say to myself, ‘Oh boy, here comes trouble,’ If parents knew what rangers knew, they would hesitate to let their boys go on extended Scout outings into wilderness areas with leaders who haven’t demonstrated real outdoor experience.” – Andrea Lankford (former National Park Ranger)
The Value of Untouched Land
There are many benefits to appreciating a little time in the natural world, removed from modern distractions. Whether it is for only a few minutes some days or spending days on end, time in nature can have profoundly positive effects on people. One of the primary attributes that allows nature to have this effect on us is the minimal sign of other humans. With every piece of trash, every trampled area, every unsightly wad of toilet paper, our wilderness loses some of its mystical attraction. It is easy to have a great time in nature and still leave it the way we find it. In fact, you could say it’s even hardwired into us from a time when we lived much closer to the earth. Our forests, rivers, rocks, and beaches seem to possess little, if any, sign of most creatures that live around them. We can be such creatures. We are not so far removed from the natural world and some instincts still exist when we find ourselves separated from the technological world. One of the most important survival instincts of any creature, be it predator or prey, is the caution to leave no trace and remain invisible. Our instinct still serves us well, if we heed it. We are no longer seeking to avoid detection by a predator or potential prey, but instead, we are keeping our presence hidden from other people. If we can leave areas in the pristine way that they were meant to be, then the health benefits of experiences in nature will be increased for ourselves and every person that comes along after us.
Ray Hocking former staff and mentor