Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Situation

In last December’s eNews, we posed the following question in a new column called The Situation:

While camping with some friends, you notice someone in the next campsite trying to burn food scraps in their campfire. What would you do?

Aaron Diving, Aaron Divine, M.S. who is a lecturer in Parks and Recreation Management in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation at Northern Arizona University sent in this great response:

I was intrigued by the situation as we often have similar discussions on many of the Leave No Trace Master Educator courses that we teach here at Northern Arizona University. A few thoughts to the proposed situation entailing next door campers burning food scraps, etc. in the campfire - for starters, this is a highly situational scenario.

The first question I would ask myself, as I normally do in such cases, is "How strong are my personal convictions in this specific setting or with this particular issue? Am I strongly attached to a certain outcome or position along the ranging spectrum or not?" I suppose, the more personal conviction I have tied to a potentially divisive issue, the more important it is for me to take the necessary time to cool down and consciously analyze my thoughts in an attempt to avoid creating an uncomfortable or even potentially volatile encounter with someone who I do not know but am ultimately trying to befriend and educate on the positive elements of Leave No Trace.

Next steps would be dependent on whether or not I have already established a positive connection with these individuals. If the answer is Yes, then I would probably be more compelled to engage in a friendly discussion with them about the issue. If the answer is No, then I would not likely make my first encounter with them seem as though I were the Leave No Trace police" and watching their every move.

As I got to know the individuals I would garner a feel for how to best approach the topic with my new neighbors - I hope there would be a whole host of ways to bridge the gap - without sounding condescending or preachy. It may be most appropriate to simply begin by raising awareness of the basic cause/effect of such actions and leave it at that. And, depending on their interest in the subject, prolong or curtail the ensuing conversation accordingly.

No comments: