Walter Fails, left, and Camaeron Fails, right, of Boy Scout Troop 546 discuss the tenets of Leave No Trace on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

PARIS — Most campers are familiar with the term “pack it in, pack it out”. It can be phrased and worded differently from person to person, but the general concept is simple: Whatever you take into a campsite, you take it out with you, and you make a strong effort to “leave no trace”.

At Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School auditorium, in Paris, council leaders and Boy Scouts from Maine met to hear about the concept of Leave No Trace from Camaeron Fails of Troop 546, the only youth LNT instructor in Pine Tree Council and potentially the state.

“We’re not sure about the state,” Walter Fails, his father, said. “We haven’t found another youth instructor in Maine. Someone said that and I was like, ‘I’m not sure about that’. We’ve been looking, but so far, we haven’t found any.”

Camaeron Fails, center right, and his dad Walter Fails, center left, engage with the crown of council leaders, Scout masters and more on Tuesday, Oct. 10, as they explain the concept of Leave No Trace at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

Camaeron Fails, who simply goes by Cam, began his career with the Boy Scouts of America in 2017 by joining Pack 585 in Farmington. “I thought it’d be cool,” Cam said. “I thought it’d just be fun to try something, because I did need to get out in the outdoors because I was spending too much time indoors.”

Cam brought is parents along for the ride, as Walter had never been in the Boy Scouts of America, but was eager to support his son in his new venture. “I was never a Scout as a youth. However, when Cam decided to become a Tiger, his mom and I became his Tiger Den Leaders.”

At the round table discussion, Walter and Cam took center stage to present to council leaders and Scoutmasters their knowledge of Leave No Trace, as well as the outdoor code and Tread Lightly. In the presentation, Cam covered the history of Leave No Trace as it evolved from the United States Forest Service in the 1960s to becoming part of the Boy Scouts handbook in 2010.


“In the 1970s, the Boy Scouts and other groups introduced the concept of minimizing impact camping,” Cam said. “Basically the same thing, just called differently.”

Cam, along with his father and mother, Ginger Fails, became certified instructors for Leave No Trace when they were traveling from Maine to Texas.

“I got really interested in Leave No Trace,” Walter said. “I grew up in the woods in Southeast Texas and I had always been around, then I got into the Scouts and I got interested in Leave No Trace and I was like, ‘you know, let’s teach our Scouts a little more’.”

According the Fails, they were on a trip to Texas and noticed a class on Leave No Trace was being held in Rhode Island. “Cam was interested and he didn’t meet the age limit at the time,” Walter shared.

“However, the master instructor said that he could waive that if Cam showed the aptitude for it. He interviewed Cam and asked him some pointed questions. Cam had to show that he knew X amount of whatever and he passed that waiver process, got waived and was allowed to take the course.

“It completely surprised me because I had no idea that he was even interested.”


Cam enjoyed the instructors of the course, stating, “They broke it up into some concepts. They did one concept, then they did a game with the concept. They ended up, instead of giving us this hard quiz, giving a game quiz. They put it a quiz into a game, but the game you couldn’t really lose because it was just trying to help you learn.”

Cam, with the help of his father, listed the seven tenets of Leave No Trace, and explained each one in detail through engagement and with enthusiasm. They are as follows:

• Plan ahead and be prepared.

• Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

• Dispose of waste properly.

• Leave what you find.


• Minimize campfire impacts.

• Respect wildlife.

• Be considerate of other visitors.

Camaeron Fails explains the game he set up on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris. Called “Durable Surface Hopscotch”, the game is meant to show people the difference between what is a durable surface and what is not. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

Cam took a note from his LNT instructor by including a game at the end of his presentation. Laying several cards face down, Cam challenged his audience members to a game called ‘Durable Surface Hopscotch’, where the participants learned the difference between what is a durable surface and is not by rolling a dice and seeing how far they can get before they hit a surface that is not durable, forcing them to start over.

Outside of Boy Scouts and Troop 546, Cam is entering his first year of public school by attending Mt. Blue Middle School as a seventh grader. He stated that he enjoys it and has made friends already. He wants to keep going as far as he can with Troop 546, however.

“I just want to get my Eagle,” Cam stated. “I want to do the leader part and I also want to do the learning part. I just want to go though Scouts and have a good time with it.”

“I’m just proud of him,” Walter added. “I’m proud that he chose that. I always worry that I’m pushing him sometimes, and the fact that he chose to do it and he’s doing what he wants. You know, I’m so proud of him.”

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