Outdoor Code

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The Outdoor Code:

As an American, I will do my best to—
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation-minded.

Be clean in my outdoor manners.
I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others. I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways.
Be careful with fire.
I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only when and where they are appropriate. When I have finished using a fire, I will make sure it is cold out. I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
I will treat public and private property with respect. I will follow the principles of Leave No Trace for all outdoor activities.
Be conservation-minded.
I will learn about and practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.

The Outdoor Code was added to the Boy Scout Handbook in 1955. It was introduced in recognition of the importance of our relationship with nature and our responsibility to be conservationists. Conservation is the responsible stewardship of the environment to preserve natural ecosystems while ensuring that balanced consideration is also given to human needs.[1]

Teaching the Outdoor Code

It's not too difficult for youth to memorize the Outdoor Code as long as they start with the four C's and remember the name of what they're memorizing, the Outdoor Code. Clean, careful, considerate, conservation-minded.

  1. Run through all four words: clean, careful, considerate, conservation-minded. Say them as a group several times, without prompting. No, together, everyone saying it at the same time. Then take away any cheat sheets and say them as a group again a few more times.
  2. Point out that C-point of the Scout Law is Courteous, but that the C-word in the Outdoor Code and the seven principles of Leave No Trace is Considerate.
  3. Run through all four C-words again, and point out how the first and third just tack on "in my outdoor manners" and "in the outdoors" onto the end, which is easy to remember because what are we memorizing? The Outdoor Code.
  4. Ask each boy to say the four C-words individually. If they can't do it correctly, say that they'll have another chance in a minute, move on to the next boy. As they listen to more youth say it correctly, their memory will be reinforced.
  5. The first part of the Outdoor Code is easy, it's almost the same as the Scout Oath. This time, though, you're not staking an oath on your personal honor, you're stating that you will do these things as a representative of America. "As an American, I will do my best to..."
  6. What were those four C-words again? Say them all as a group, together, quickly.
  7. What are you careful with? Fire. And the final point is easy, you've already memorized it.
  8. Now who wants to say the Outdoor Code? Have each boy say it in turn.
  9. Afterwords, it may be pointed out that it's only in their short term memory. This is why it (along with the Scout Oath/Law, etc.) is said at the beginning of every meeting.

See also


  1. Outdoor Ethics Guide, No. 510-047, Appendix B: Outdoor Ethics § The Outdoor Code, pg. 23, published: May 2018

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