Activity Plan for Be Considerate of Other Visitors

In the end we will conserve only what we love.

We will love only what we understand.

We will understand what we are taught.

?Author unknown

Exploring How to Be Considerate of Other Visitors

This activity should take about 40 minutes.

What Your Group Will Learn

After participating in this activity plan, which is designed to help participants learn about the importance of being considerate of other visitors, participants will be able to

  • Describe the ways they can be considerate of other visitors.
  • Help others to improve their behavior, thus improving everyone’s experience.

This activity will help the participants think about how their actions affect other people’s experiences in the backcountry. It will also help them think about how to ensure all users have a good experience.

Materials and Preparation


  • Backpacks full of gear for a hike
  • Two stick horses and two mountain bikes or two mountain bikers and two horse riders


  • Read the entire lesson plan and the Background on the Principles of Leave No Trace thoroughly.
  • Have the group bring full backpacks as though they were going on an overnight campout.
  • Assign two individuals to bring their mountain bikes and borrow or build two stick horses.
  • As an option, arrange for two local mountain bike club members and two horse riders to assist with the activity.
  • Contact the Backcountry Horsemen of America and International Mountain Bicycling Association for literature, videos, etc., on their activity.

    Backcountry Horsemen of America
    P.O. Box 1367
    Graham, WA 98338-1367

    International Mountain Bicycling Association
    P.O. Box 7578
    Boulder, CO 80306
    Web site:

Grabbing Your Group’s Attention (10 minutes)

Your group has been excited for weeks about hiking into White Pine Lake. As you arrive at the trailhead to the lake, group members grab their packs and head up the trail, running, shouting, and kicking up their heels in fun. As you round the first bend, a group of youths, quite unfamiliar with horses, comes riding toward you down the steep trail on horseback.

Ask group members what changes they need to make in their behavior to allow the horse riders to pass safely by on the trail. What kind of behavior would help create a good relationship with these horse riders or other horse riders in the future? (Stop and make no sound, move off the trail and let the horses pass by, continue down the trail and hope the horse riders get by OK with their own skills.)

Steps for Teaching the Activity (20 minutes)

Doing Unto Others

Ask group members how they would have felt encountering the group on horseback. What was their first reaction? What were their first thoughts? Would they have felt better if they had known beforehand what to do? Few hikers know they should pull off on the downhill side of the trail when encountering horse riders, and that a little conversation as you pass by one another may reduce the chance of the horses being spooked.

Ask the group what they should do if they are on the trail and are overtaking those on horseback. Horse riders need to be aware and remember the hiker is packing a load and has a right to be on the trail, too. Ideally the horse riders will find a good spot and let you pass. Here again, a little light conversation as you pass will reduce the chances of spooking the horses. Hikers may also want to consider taking off their packs so horses won’t wonder what those strange things on their backs are.

Select one or two from your group to ride mountain bikes down a trail and a couple others to ride stick horses down the trail, or consider recruiting a couple of local mountain bike club members and horse riders to ride down the trail. Have the remainder of the group hike up the trail and demonstrate how to show respect for other users while passing the horse riders and those on the mountain bikes. The mountain bikers should slow down and/or stop their mountain bikes to let the hikers pass.

After the hikers have passed the horse riders and mountain bikers, pull the group back together at an appropriate location on a hardened surface off the trail for discussion. How did the horse riders feel about the hikers, and how did the hikers feel about the mountain bikers? If everyone shows respect for other users, all can share the trail and the outdoors without affecting the outdoor experience of others.

Other points for discussion to minimize the group’s impact on other users may include the following. Thoughtful campers

  • Travel and camp in small groups (no more than the group size prescribed by land managers).
  • Keep noise down and leave radios, tape players, and pets at home.
  • Select campsites away from other groups to help preserve their solitude.
  • Always travel and camp quietly to avoid disturbing other visitors.
  • Make sure the colors of their clothing and gear blend with the environment.
  • Respect private property and leave gates (open or closed) as found.
  • Are considerate of other campers and respect their privacy.
  • Are friendly and smile as they encounter other visitors and avoid long conversations unless the other group exhibits an interest in talking.

Any of these efforts work to create better understanding and appreciation between different backcountry user groups, which benefits us all.

Wrapping Up the Activity (10 minutes)

Your campers are very considerate of all users of the backcountry! They know how to show respect for a variety of different users.

  • How well have they learned what to do to make the experiences of all users experiences more enjoyable?
  • Have participants brainstorm how, as a group to, set the example for being considerate of other visitors they meet.
  • Challenge them to be the premier example of how one should act and respect others who will, in turn, have a desire to do likewise.

Congratulations on conducting a well-prepared meeting for your group!

Additional Activities

Discuss with the group the following.

  • How would you like it if someone

    (Add your own ideas to the list based on your group.)

  • Knocked down your tent?
  • Put water in your sleeping bag?
  • Shouted while you were watching a deer?
  • Visit an equestrian group or horseback riding stable to learn more about the characteristics of horses. Invite members of the Backcountry Horsemen of America or other horse riding groups to visit with your group.
  • Meet with your local mountain bike club or write for information on mountain biking from the International Mountain Bicycling Association, which has adopted Leave No Trace as part of its rules for the trail. You can write to the IMBA at International Mountain Bicycling Association, P.O. Box 7578, Boulder, CO 80306.