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Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 16541

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03



Clean camps are most easily kept by not allowing them to become dirty.

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Godliness means a right relation to things spiritual, cleanliness a right relation to things material. An old definition says that 'Dirt is merely misplaced matter.' Of all the vehicles of disease, the most important perhaps is dirt. The word dirt in its strict sense comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'drit,' or excrement. 'Dirt,' then, is not earth or clean sand-not clean dirt, but dirty dirt, that is, matter soiled by some of the excreta of the human or animal body. Cleanliness must be insisted upon in a boys' Camp-not the cleanliness that makes a boy squeamish about working with his hands upon some necessary job, but cleanliness that makes him afraid of sharing his tooth brush or table utensils or his clothes.

Cleanliness is not the shunning of good, clean dirt, but a recognition of the fact that to pass anything from one mouth to another is a possible source of death and destruction." [1] "Death to dirt" should be the watchword of the camp. The camp should be a model of cleanliness. Every boy should be taught the value of good sanitation and encouraged to cooperate in making proper sanitation effective.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Chas. E. A. Winslow-"Camp Conference," p. 58.]

Avoid Swamps

The location chosen for a camp should be away from swamps. Avoid swampy and low places as you would a plague. Damp places where there are mosquitoes, should be well drained, and open to an abundance of sunshine. Mosquitoes breed only in water, but a very little water is sufficient if it is dirty and stagnant. Two inches of water standing in an old tin can will breed an innumerable horde. These "diminutive musicians" are not only a nuisance, but dangerous, as malaria and typhoid spreaders by their poisonous stings.

The Site

In selecting a camp site bear in mind these things: (1) A sandy sub-soil, with good drainage. Avoid very sandy soil; sand provides but little hold for tent pegs, and there is grave risk of damage should there come a gale. (2) An open campus surrounded by hills or sheltering trees, and facing the water. (3) Plenty of good drinking water and water for swimming. (4) Base from which supplies and provisions are to be drawn should be within convenient distance, not more than four miles away. (5) Camp should be away from civilization, far enough to be free from visitors and the temptation to "go to town" on the part of the boys. Nothing demoralizes a boys' camp so quickly as proximity to a summer resort.


Before opening the camp much thought and care should be given to its sanitary arrangement. First of all, the dryest section of the camp ground should be selected for the erection of the sleeping tents. Locate them where they will have the full benefit of the sunshine. Tents erected under trees are liable to mildew, for the want of sunshine, and the contents of the tent will soon get musty. Next in importance to the location of "quarters" is the location of the kitchen. This should be near the dining tent, so that the serving of food may be quick, and yet far enough away to insure that disagreeable odors will not destroy the pleasure of eating. If it is very near the sleeping tents the campers will be awakened too early by the chopping of wood and the necessary noises made in preparation of the morning meal. It should be near water. This is very essential for cooking and cleaning. In some of the large camps water is carried to the kitchen in pipes from near-by springs or pumped from wells of pure water. The dining quarters naturally should be located near the kitchen so that food may be served warm. Provision should be made for the protection of the boys from cold, wind, rain, and dampness while eating. The toilet should be located rather far away from the camp, and not in the direction from which the prevailing wind comes toward the camp. Make sure that it is on the line of opposite drainage from the water used by the camp. The details of laying out a camp, erection of tents, etc., are given in another chapter.


Particular precaution should be exercised in location and care of the toilets or latrines, even in a one-night camp. Neglect of this will mean disease. When on a one-night camp, dig a small pit which can be filled in again after use. If the camp is to be continued for a week or longer, dig a pit or trench about two or three feet deep and about eighteen inches wide, plant posts on each side of the trench, and eighteen inches above the ground level. Nail shaped seating on these posts. The number of seats will be determined by the size of the camping party. It is desirable to erect a six-foot canvas screen with an opening around the toilet. Dry earth should be sprinkled freely in the trench each time it is used. Also each morning sprinkle plenty of chloride of lime or some good, reliable disinfectant in the trench. Do not permit the throwing of paper about the toilet. Have a box in which paper is to be kept. Flies should be excluded by boxing up the sides of the seats and fastening a hinged lid upon the seats (see illustration). It is an advantage to admit the direct sunlight about the middle of the day because of its bactericidal action on disease germs. In a permanent camp regular wooden closets should be built, with covered roof for protection from rain and wind. The back of the closet should be arranged either by a hinged door or some other method so that the contents may be removed as often as once a week. A wooden box on rollers placed beneath the seats will facilitate removal. The seats should be scrubbed with hot water, sulpho-naphthol, or soap, daily. "Springfield Oval" type of toilet paper prevents unnecessary waste. In one camp the water from a near-by brook is dammed and thus by gravity made to flow by a system of modern plumbing through the urinals and flush closets. This is ideal. Insist upon cleanliness. The cutting of initials and names upon the seats and woodwork should be considered a disgrace as well as a misdemeanor.

[Illustration: Pit Toilet; seat, hinged cover, hinged door at back.]

Taboo the taking of books and papers to the toilet to read. It should be an imperative rule that no other place be used. A little carelessness will cause disagreeable as well as dangerous results. By way of reiteration: First, rigid prohibition of the pollution of the surface of the ground by the strictest rules, diligently enforced. Second, the provision of toilets or latrines of adequate size with proper precaution to prevent the dispersal of excreta by wind, flies, or other agencies. The latrines should be located a distance from camp but not so far as to offer temptation to pollution of the ground. Third, boys should be educated when on hikes or tramps in the old Mosaic Rule laid down in Deuteronomy 23: 12-14. [1]

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: "Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee."]


Garbage, consisting chiefly of trimmings of meat and vegetables and the waste from the table, if stored in open buckets soon becomes offensive and is an ideal breeding place in warm weather for flies "that drink of cesspools, dine at privy vaults, eat sputum and are likely to be the most familiar guests at the dinner table, sampling every article of food upon which they walk, leaving in their tracks disease-producing germs which have adhered to their sticky feet where they have previously dined." Declare war upon the "fly who won't wipe his feet" by keeping the garbage in a covered galvanized-iron pail and dispose of it bef

ore decomposition takes place. Wash and dry the pail after emptying. If the camp is located near a farm, give the garbage to the farmer. It is the natural food of swine or poultry. Where this is not possible, the garbage should be buried every day in the earth and covered with three or four inches of dirt. Another and better plan, especially in a large camp, is the burning of the garbage and human excreta in an incinerator, such as the McCall. This is the method of the United States Army.

Exercise caution in throwing aside tin cans. The vegetable matter remaining in the cans soon decays and attracts flies. Have a place where these cans may be buried or burned with other refuse each day. Keep the ground surrounding the kitchen free from all kinds of garbage or refuse.

Do not throw dirty dish water promiscuously upon the ground. Dig a trench and put the water in this trench. Sprinkle chloride of lime or a disinfectant upon it each day. In a permanent camp a waste water well should be dug and lined with stone. The drain pipe should be laid from the kitchen to the well. This water soon disappears in the soil and does not become a nuisance. Make sure that the well is not in line with the water supply of the camp. A little potash or some washing soda dissolved in the sink will help to keep the drain clean.

Place barrels in different parts of the camp for refuse and scraps. A coat of whitewash or white paint will make them conspicuous. In one camp the following suggestive bit of verse was painted on the waste barrels:

Ravenous Barrel

I am all mouth and vacuum

I never get enough,

So cram me full of fruit peels,

Old papers, trash and stuff.

Epicurean Barrel

O, how sorry I feel for a boy

Who litters clean places with trash,

Who throws away papers and fruit peels

Which form my favorite hash.

Waste Barrels

These barrels should be set upon two strips of wood placed parallel. This permits the air to pass beneath the barrel and keeps its bottom from decaying by contact with the ground. The barrels should be emptied daily and the trash burned.

A dirty, carelessly kept, untidy camp will make discipline and order very difficult to attain and the influence will soon be noticed in the careless personal habits of the boys. There is an educational and moral value in cleanliness which is second only to that of good health.

Water Supply

Dr. Charles E. A. Winslow, the noted biologist, is authority for the following statement; [Camp Conference, p.61] "The source of danger in water is always human or animal pollution. Occasionally we find water which is bad to drink on account of minerals dissolved on its way through the ground or on account of passage through lead pipes, but the danger is never from ordinary decomposing vegetable matter. If you have to choose between a bright, clear stream which may be polluted at some point above, and a pond full of dead leaves and peaty matter, but which you can inspect all around and find free from contamination, choose the pond. Even in the woods it is not easy to find surface waters that are surely protected, and streams particularly are dangerous sources of water supply. We have now got rid of the idea that running water purifies itself. It is standing water which purifies itself, if anything, for in stagnation there is much more chance for the disease germs to die out. Better than either a pond or stream, unless you can carry out a rather careful exploration of their surroundings, is ground water from a well or spring; though that again is not necessarily safe. If the well is in good sandy soil with no cracks or fissures, even water that has been polluted may be well purified and made safe to drink. In a clayey or rocky region, on the other hand, contaminating material may travel for considerable distance under ground. Even if your well is protected below, a very important point to look after is the pollution from the surface. I believe more cases of typhoid fever from wells are due to surface pollution than to the character of the water itself. This is a danger which can, of course, be done away with by protection of the well from surface drainage, by seeing that the surface wash is not allowed to drain toward it and that it is protected by a tight covering from the entrance of its own waste water. If good water cannot be secured in any of these ways, the water must be purified. It has been said that what we desire in water supply is innocence and not repentance; but if you cannot get pristine innocence, you can, at least, secure works meet for repentance and make the water safe, by filtering through either a Pasteur or a Berkefeld filter-either of those filters will take out bacteria, while no other filters that I know of will or by various chemical disinfectants, not any of them very satisfactory-or, best of all, by boiling, which will surely destroy all disease germs."

Indians had a way of purifying water from a pond or swamp by digging a hole about one foot across and down about six inches below the water level, a few feet from the pond. After it had filled with water, they bailed it out quickly, repeating the bailing process about three times. After the third bailing the hole would fill with filtered water. Try it.

Drinking Cups

Insist upon the boys bringing to camp a supply of inexpensive paper cups or collapsible pocket drinking cups. Filthy and dangerous diseases are not infrequently transmitted by the use of a common drinking cup.

Paper Drinking Cup.

Take a piece of clean paper about 6 inches square and fold it on the dotted lines, as shown in Figure 1, so as to make a triangle. Do not use paper having anything printed on it, as there is danger of poison from the ink. The other folds are made in the dotted lines, as shown in Figure 2. Each pointed end of the triangle is turned over on one side, as shown in Figure 3, then the sheets of the remaining points are separated and each one folded down on its respective side. This practical idea is furnished by R. H. Lufkin in Popular Mechanics for February, 1911.

Board of Health

Boys should be encouraged to cooperate in keeping the camp clean. A Board of Health may be organized, to be composed of an equal number of boys and camp leaders with the camp physician, or director of the camp as chairman.

[Illustration: A Paper Drinking Cup]

The duties of the board will be to inspect daily the toilets, sinks, and drains, the water supply, the garbage disposal and waste barrels; condemn everything that is unsanitary, and correct all sanitary disorders. The board will also arrange for a series of talks upon "Sanitation and Health," such as:

Sunshine and Health

Johnnie and the Microbes

Dirt and Cleanliness

Fresh Air

Flies and Filth

Health-Its Value and Its Cost.

Have the boys write essays upon these subjects and give credits or points for original interpretation, accuracy of report of talk given, and observance and correction of sanitary disorders.


Clean up as you go. Sunshine and dryness are great microbe killers. It is better to keep clean, than to get clean. Dirt, dampness and disease can often be avoided by decency, dryness and determination. Uncleanness is at the root of many of the evils which cause suffering and ill health. Fire is the best disinfectant. Typhoid fever and cholera are carried by dirty habits, by dirty water and dirty milk.


Camp Sanitation-Review and Herald Pub. Assn., Washington, D. C. 6 cents. A twelve-page folder of useful hints on what to do and what not to do.

Wastes and Their Disposal-Henry J. Barnes, M.D. Health-Education League, Boston, Mass., 4 cents. An authoritative booklet written by the Professor of Hygiene, Tufts Medical School. This League publishes a number of very valuable and comprehensive booklets on health subjects.

Good Health-Francis Gulick Jewett. Ginn and Co., 40 cents. Gives detail instruction in matters of health and hygiene. Prepared especially for younger people.

Health-B. Franklin Richards. Pacific Press Pub. Co., $1.00. Written in language easily understood and filled with sensible suggestions.

[Illustration: "The Sardines"-Eight Boys in a 12X14 Tent-Camp Becket]

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