On COR at Wyoming Catholic College, or the Freshmen Expedition as its otherwise called, you’re taught the seven principles of Leave-No-Trace. They’re not laws, they’re guidelines, which allows for some variance from Pharisaical interpretations of them, but even this distinction which COR instructors teach is a little reductionistic. 

As students learn from reading Plato’s Republic, the most just citizens, the city’s guardians, have to have a discernment to know whom to let into the city and to whom to fight off. It’s the same thing with principles, guidelines, and laws. You, as a rational creature, have to discern in which cases you follow, for example, leave-no-trace principles, and when, rather, it is better in your situation to follow leave-a-trace principles. 

Principles are principles, not rules. So you shouldn’t blindly follow them. You should ponder them with a perfected inner disposition of soul. That takes a well-formed mind, a well-formed conscience. And to get there you need to soak in information.

So let’s start with the other half of leave-no-trace which you should at least be aware of. When you apply principles of Leave-No-Trace and when you follow those of leave-a-trace is a little blurry sometimes. But never fear. You’ll learn how and when to sometime. Hopefully second semester of senior year!

So here are the principles:

  • Plan in the moment and don’t prepare. You’re supposed to trust in God, so act like it.                                      
  • Travel and camp on fragile surfaces. When you leave footprints that won’t be worn away you’re leaving signs for future civilizations to know that you existed.                 
  • Dispose of waste improperly. There’s no trash can in the backcountry. So why would you act like there was one.
  • Take everything you find, unless it’s trash. Only by doing this can you become a successful archeologist when you grow up.                               
  • Maximize campfire impacts. You’re here to start fires, Smoky the Bear is here to put them out. It’s only justice.
  • Disrespect wildlife.  Let them know who’s boss when you roll out your full bass stereo system and blast them to their senses at 2 AM. Really, why not?
  • Only respect yourself. Don’t pay any heed or respect to other campers: either they’re faking it or they’re Chinese spies!.