“Leave No Trace” vs. “Leave a Legacy”

Even though I’m a life-long suburbanite and not a Grizzly Adams, I love the outdoors and any chance I have to run, hike, camp, and generally experience God’s creation. My outdoors experiences (however limited) continue to form life-long and character-shaping memories, from camp counseling in the Sierra Nevada in 1989 to hiking Half Dome with Wendy in 2008 to adventures with my brother’s B.S.A. troop (Troop72.com), including a planned trip to the BWCA with seven other Arnebergs (two brothers and five nephews) this summer.

Anyone remotely familiar with wilderness etiquette knows that the phrase “leave no trace” means that we shouldn’t leave evidence of our presence through littering or excessive disruption to the ground, wildlife, and surrounding environment. This I try to do, even in my daily suburban life. However, it strikes me that the opposite is true in mentoring and parenting roles: we’re to leave a major “trace” (legacy) on the lives of our youth through loving and molding young people’s character in every way possible.

As I age, I must confess that it’s often easy for me to hide behind the excuse that I’m too busy, selfish, and/or non-confrontational any given day to chat with a Jughead, admonish a nephew or niece, or give unexpected time to someone craving encouragement or fun. But just as we’re to minimize our carbon footprint in nature, we’re to maximize our “footprint” in the lives of kids and young adults so that their lives are more fruitful because we were there for them. Leave a legacy for the young people in your lives! Remember: time is short.

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