Leave No Trace

At Sonlight we are committed to providing meaningful outdoor experiences for our campers while preserving and protecting the natural environments we visit. Some of our core values are living in and with creation, getting kids and staff outside, and teaching the character traits of respect, responsibility and resilience. We believe that teaching and practicing Leave No Trace principles encourages people to approach the outdoors with respect and humility.

Leave No Trace is a philosophy that guides our actions in the outdoors. It reminds us that our presence in nature can have both positive and negative impacts, and it’s our responsibility to ensure impacts are minimal. Here is a list of the principles and how we follow them at camp:

The Leave No Trace Principles

Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • When going into the backcountry research and understand the area you plan to visit as well as any gear or food you need.
  • For off-camp excursions, all campers and staff prepare day packs with their water bottle, lunch, a raincoat and a warm layer to be prepared. Staff carries extra gear and double checks camper’s bags.
  • The backpack program guides distribute and check all the gear of participants
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Always stick to established trails and campsites to minimize damage to fragile ecosystems. We follow this on all of our day hikes and backpack trips, as well as on the trails at camp.
Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Pack out all trash and litter, including food scraps and biodegradable waste. We pack out all of our own waste as well as any trash we find.
  • Use established restroom facilities when available, or dig a hole at least 200 feet from water sources for human waste disposal.
  • We carry “fun bags” on our day hikes and backpack trips for proper backcountry waste disposal.
Leave What You Find
  • Do not pick plants, disturb wildlife, remove rocks or historical artifacts.
  • We teach campers to admire what they find in nature but to leave it for others to enjoy.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • When building a fire, use small pieces of wood smaller than your wrist. Make sure to fully extinguish fires before leaving.
  • We use stoves to cook food on our backpacking trips instead of cooking over a fire. We also only build small fires in established fire rings when fire regulations allow.
Respect Wildlife
  • Observe wildlife from a distance and do not feed. Store food securely to prevent animals from getting to it.
  • For both campers and backpack participants, we teach the rule of thumb to test the proper distance away from wildlife. This is done by holding out your arm straight in front of you and you should be able to cover the entire animal with your thumb.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Keep noise levels down and respect the solitude and tranquility of nature. Yield the trail to others, especially uphill hikers and equestrians.
  • We explain to campers that we are not the only ones enjoying the backcountry when we are hiking. We encourage treating others with hospitality both at camp and in the backcountry.