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Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 20824

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


The greatest help after all is to take the children back to the garden that the Lord God planted. A boy must learn to sleep under the open sky and to tramp ten miles through the rain if he wants to be strong. He must learn what sort of men it was who made America, and he must not get into this fuss and flurry of our American civilization and think that patent leather shoes and white kid gloves are necessary for the salvation of his life.-Edward Everett Hale.

Selecting a camp site and general directions for the laying out of the camp grounds is treated very fully in the chapter on Camp Sanitation, so that this chapter will be devoted to methods that to the experienced camper may seem trite, but which the novice will appreciate.

[Illustration: Laying Out a Camp]

Advance Party

If the camp is a large one it is usually customary to send an advance party several days ahead to erect the tents and get the camp in readiness for the larger party. The successful management of a camp depends very much upon placing the tents in such a position as to give plenty of room and yet be compact. When tents are scattered the difficulty of control is increased. The above diagram is a suggestion for the laying out of a camp which provides for room and control.

Plan of Grounds

The following hints will help the advance party to layout the camp in a systematic and scientific manner. To find the right angle of the camp square, drive a peg at A, another 3 feet distant at B; attach a 5-foot cord from the peg at B, and a 4 foot cord from the peg at A. The point at which the two cords meet at C, where another peg may be driven in, will be the line at right angles to B-A.

[Illustration: Right Angle of Camp Square]

Measuring Device

The illustrations opposite show a device by which a camp, baseball grounds, running track, tennis court or any distance may be quickly and accurately measured. The first thing to do is to get an inch board and cut a round disc (a) about 12 inches in diameter. Cut two of them and tack them together. The diagram "b" is easier to cut out and will serve the purpose just as well. When the two are temporarily tacked together, bore a hole through the centre for the axle. The eight spokes should be of light material and not too pointed or they will sink in the ground and prevent accuracy. The spokes are tacked on one disc as shown in "c" and then the other disc is nailed on the outside.

[Illustration: A Measuring Device]

Paint the end of one spoke red, so that you can count it every time it comes around. By having the points that touch the ground exactly 9 inches apart, one revolution of the wheel will measure six feet. For an axle use a small piece of broom handle, and for a handle use a long light pole. By varying the length of the spokes you can make the wheel measure any desired distance.

Wall Tent

The line of the camp having been laid out, the next thing is the erection of the tents. The best way of setting up a wall tent (either the 12 x 14 or 14 x 16 size), the type used in most of the boys' camps, is the method used by the army and described in Kephart's "Book of Camping and Woodcraft." Four boys or men proceed as follows: Nos. 1 and 2 procure canvas, and Nos. 3 and 4 the poles.

Nos. 3 and 4 lay the ridge pole on the ground, in the direction that the tent is to stand; then lay the uprights at each end of ridge-pole and at right angles to it, on the side opposite that from which the wind blows. Then drop the tent pins and hammers at their respective ends of the tent; then drive a pin at each end of the ridge to mark front and rear. Meanwhile Nos. 1 and 2 unroll the tent and spread it out over the ridge-pole and on both sides of it.

Nos. 1 and 3 now go to the rear, and Nos. 2 and 4 to the front, and slip the pins of the uprights through the ridge-pole and tent. If a fly is used, it is placed in position over the tent, and the loops of the long guys over the front and rear pole pins. No. 4 secures center (door) loops over center pin in front, and No. 1 in rear. Each goes to his corner, No. 1 right rear, No. 2 right front, No. 3 left rear, No. 4 left front.

All draw bottom of tent taut and square, the front and rear at right angles to the ridge, and fasten it with pins through the corner loops, then stepping outward two paces from the corner, and a pace to the front (Nos. 2 and 4) or rear (Nos. 1 and 3) each securely sets a long pin, over which is passed the extended corner guy rope. Care must be taken that the tent is properly squared and pinned to the ground at the door and four corners before raising it.

[Illustration: Shelter Tents, Seton Tepee, Tent Made Of A "Fly", Wall


Nos. 1 and 3 now go to the rear, and Nos. 2 and 4 to the front pole, and raise the tent to a convenient height from the ground, when Nos. 2 and 3 enter and seize their respective poles, and all together raise the tent until the upright poles are vertical. While Nos. 2 and 3 support the poles, Nos. 1 and 4 tighten the corner guys, beginning on the windward side. The tent being thus temporarily secured, all set the guy pins and fasten the guy ropes, Nos. 1 and 2 to the right, Nos. 3 and 4 left, and then set the wall pins.

To prevent the upright poles from sinking in the ground under the pressure of the canvas, place a flat stone or piece of wood under the pole.

Guying the Tent

One of the troubles with tents is their remarkable proclivity for tightening and slackening with the varying conditions of the weather. This means a constant loosening or tightening of the guy ropes, and the longer the guy ropes the more they will shrink or stretch according as they are wet or dry. This may be overcome to some extent by using very heavy corner posts securely driven into the ground and spiking a pole across them, and very short guy ropes fastening to this pole. (See page 47.) A shower, or even ordinary dew, will cause the canvas to shrink, therefore be sure to slacken the guys, or you may have a torn tent or broken ridge pole.


Dig a trench around the tent and do it before you have to. If you have ever gotten out in the middle of the night when the rain was coming down in torrents, to dig a ditch or trench, you will appreciate this bit of advice.

Warn the boys not to touch the roof of the tent on the inside when it is raining, for it will surely leak wherever it is touched.

There is a right and a wrong way of driving stakes into the ground. Study illustrations, p. 47.

Peg Wisdom

In taking down the tent, don't pound loose the tent pins or pegs, but with a looped rope and a pull in the direction from which they are driven they can easily be removed.


After pitching your tent, put everything in order. Run a stout line, either of rope or rustless wire, between the two upright poles, about a foot below the ridge pole. A very convenient thing to throw clothes over. In some camps they have a shelf suspended from the ridge pole, divided into compartments, one for each boy in the tent. Nails driven in the upright poles afford convenient pegs to hang things on. Be sure the nails are removed before taking down the tent or a rip in the canvas will be the result.

A bundle of elder leaves in a tent will keep away flies. If ants show a desire to creep into your tent, dust cayenne pepper into their holes and they will no longer trouble you.

When there is no wooden floor in the tent, strew small hemlock twigs. They make a fine carpet and the odor is both pleasant and healthful.

In addition to the different styles of tents shown in the illustrations on page 43, the following description of how to make a ten-foot teepee is given by Charles R. Scott in his Vacation Diary:

Making a Teepee

Sew canvas together making oblong ABCD 20 by 10 feet; with E as centre and EA as a radius, draw half-circle AFD. From remaining canvas cut smoke flaps LKCM and ONBP. Sew piece of canvas at C and B making pocket for ends of smoke poles. Sew ML to HI and PO to GJ on one large piece of canvas. Sew lash to E to tie teepee to pole. Sew 6 or 7-foot lash to K and N to set smoke flaps with. Make holes in pairs from L to D and O to A for lacing pins. Ten poles 12 feet long are needed. Make tripod of nine of these and tie teepee at E to pole two feet from top and place over tripod.

In "Recreation," April, 1911, in an article on "Tent Making Made Easy," H. J. Holden tells how to make ten different tents with but one piece of canvas.

[Illustration: The Ten Foot Teepee]

Tent Wisdom

The best type of tent to use in a permanent camp is a wall tent, either 12 x 14 or 14 x 16, which will accommodate from four to six fellows. An eight ounce, mildew-proofed duck, with a ten or twelve ounce duck fly will give excellent wear. Have a door at each end of the tent and the door ties made of cotton cord instead of tape. Double pieces of canvas should be sewed in all the corners and places where there is unusual strain. Manilla rope is best for guys, and metal slides are preferable to wood. If the tents are made to order, have a cotton cord about two feet long sewed in each seam just under the eaves, so that one end shall hang down inside the tent and the other outside. The walls of the tent can then be rolled up and tied so that the tent will be thoroughly aired. Make sure that the end of the ridge pole and of the upright poles have iron bands to prevent splitting of the poles.

Bed on Ground

For a short-term camp, pine boughs make the best kind of a bed (see chapter on Tramps and Hikes for description of bed). Sometimes a rubber blanket is spread upon the ground and the boys roll themselves up in their blankets. An old camper gives the following suggestion to those who desire to sleep in this fashion:

The bed should be made in the afternoon while the sun is shining. To make the bed, clear the ground of twigs and stones. The space should be about 6 x 3 feet.

A "Hip Hole"

A shovelful of di

rt is removed, making a shallow, transverse trench, about midway of the bed. This trench is the "hip hole" and the making of it properly is what renders the bed comfortable. In making the bed the following order should be observed:

(1) spread the rubber blanket;

(2) the blanket spread so that one-half only covers the prepared couch;

(3) then spread the woolen blankets so that the "hip hole" is in the right place;

(4) add the pillow;

(5) fold the blankets over you and pin them with big safety pins across the bottom and along the side.

To Keep Warm

Stewart Edward White in "Camp and Trail" tells how to keep warm when sleeping on the ground: "Lie flat on your back. Spread the blanket over you. Now raise your legs rigid from the hip, the blanket, of course, draping over them. In two swift motions tuck first one edge under your legs from right to left, then the second edge under from left to right, and over the first edge. Lower your legs, wrap up your shoulders and go to sleep. If you roll over, one edge will unwind but the other will tighten."

A bed tick[1] 6-1/2 feet long and 2-1/2 feet wide, to be filled with grass, leaves, straw or any available stuff makes a comfortable bed.

[Transcribers Footnote 1: Cloth case for a mattress or pillow or a light mattress without springs.]

To Make a Bed

A comfortable bed used at Camp Durrell, is made by driving four posts in the ground and nailing a frame work of saplings on these posts. Rope is then interwoven from side to side in somewhat the fashion of the old-time cord bed. Pine boughs are then placed "shingle" fashion in the cording, making a very comfortable bed.

Double-Deck Bunks

Many of the long-term camps, however, have cots or bunks with canvas bottoms. This is the best way to sleep for boys who are going to be in camp the entire summer. The following type of double-deck bunk is in use at Camps Adirondack, Becket, Wawayanda and Dudley. The illustrations give a clear idea of its construction. Use wood as free from knots as possible. Spruce seems to be the best kind as it is both light in weight and very durable. The top section upon which the canvas beds are tacked is bolted to the uprights which makes a bunk easily taken apart. Three of these uprights, one at each end and one in the middle, will make a bed section accommodating four boys, two on the "first floor" and two on the "second floor." In this manner eight boys may be comfortably housed in a 12 x 14 or 14 x 16 foot tent, with room for baggage in the center, as shown in the illustration on page 37.


Always remember that to keep warm while sleeping in a cot or bunk, you must have as much thickness of blanket under you as above you. Usually boys will pile blankets on top of them and have only one blanket under them and then wonder why they are cold.


A pillow may be made out of a bag of muslin or dark denim and stuffed with a sweater or extra clothing. Much better-take a small pillow with you with removable and washable "case" made of dark green or brown denim.

[Illustration: Bunk Diagram]

Kitchen Ware

In purchasing kitchen ware, a mistake is frequently made by getting a cheap kind of ware unfitted for the hard usage of camp life. The kind manufactured for hotels and restaurants and of sufficient capacity, is more expensive, but will outwear two outfits of the cheaper type and is really more economical in the long run. In the buying do not omit that most adaptable and convenient of all cooking utensils for camp-a wash boiler. Get one that is copper-lined and made of the heaviest tin.

Table Ware

Campers prefer the white enamel ware on account of its appearance and wear. If the imported kind is purchased it will last for at least three long-term seasons. Avoid tin and the cheap gray enamel ware. Each boy should be provided with a large plate of the deep soup pattern, cereal bowl not too large, a saucer for sauce and dessert, a cup, knife, fork, table spoon and tea spoon. In a small camp the boy usually brings his own "eating utensils." When the table is set with white oil cloth, white enamelled dishes, both serving and individual, with decorations of ferns, wild flowers or blossoms, the food always seems to taste better and the meal proceeds with that keen enjoyment, which is not only conducive to good digestion but promotive of good fellowship. A dirty table and dishes and rough-house table manners are a disgrace to a camp even as small as six boys. Cleanliness, courtesy and cheerful conversation contribute to the making of character while at meals.

Table Tops

Table tops should be made of matched boards and battened. Screw the battens[1] to the boards. The tables should be thirty-six inches in width. The length must be determined by the number of persons to be seated. The seating of boys in tent groups is considered the best plan.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: Narrow strip of wood for flooring.]

A "Horse" Idea

A wooden horse made after the following sketch will support the table top and seats. The seat may be a plank about twelve inches wide and one and one-eighth inches thick.

[Illustration: Wooden Horse Table and Seat Support]


Permanent buildings are largely planned according to the ideas of the director or organization operating the camp and this, therefore, is a matter which cannot be fully treated in a book of this character. Convenience, harmony with natural surroundings, and adaptability are the three things which govern the planning and erection of permanent camp buildings. "Wilderness Homes," by Oliver Kemp, contains many suggestions for camps of this character. In "Recreation" for April, 1911, is an excellent article by William D. Brinckle on "Log Cabins."


The following practical suggestions on surveying in a boys' camp have been especially prepared by H. M. Allen. Surveying is an important subject for study and practice, as it is both interesting and useful and may serve as a stepping-stone in the later education of the boy.

The surveying may be roughly divided into two parts, simple and advanced. The simple work includes that which can be carried on with a few cheap instruments easily secured or made by the boys. The advanced work requires better instruments and is adapted to high school boys. Only the simple work will be described.


The instruments needed in simple surveying are, compass, measuring tape, draughtsman's scale, protractor, drawing materials and a small home-made transit. The leader should, if possible, become familiar with some good textbook on surveying, such as Wentworth's Plane Trigonometry and Surveying. He should also get some civil engineer to give him a little instruction in the rudiments. It is well also to get some practice before going to camp. Any vacant lot or gymnasium floor will be suitable. If the leader is near a small lake that will be especially desirable.

The transit is easily made. A flat board should be selected, about twelve inches in diameter, which will not warp. Upon this a circle is marked about ten inches in diameter. For this purpose use a pair of drawing compasses. Then with a protractor lay off the degrees of the circle. A small brass protractor can be bought for 15 cents, a good one, large size, costs 80 cents. A good plan is to mark the circle on bristol board [1] which can be tacked in the board. Then a pointed piece of wood ten inches long should be fastened with a nail in the center of the circle. At the ends of the pointer pins should be placed vertically so that they are in line with the pivot nail. This will form a sight for measuring the angles. The board is then mounted upon a pointed stick or tripod. You will need a hatchet and a half dozen sharpened sticks for markers and a boy for rod man. You are now ready for the survey.

[Transcribers Footnote 1: Smooth, heavy pasteboard.]

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Top View of Transit, Protractor, Sighting Pins,

Board for Circle, Support]

Camp Survey

To make a map of the location of the camp, the first thing is to locate a base line on a level piece of ground. At the two ends A and B stakes are placed and the length carefully measured with the tape. Then from one end of the line stretch a string about ten feet long, toward the other stake. Under this string place the compass. In this way the direction of the line may be learned.

In figure 1, the base line runs about 10 degrees west of north. Drive a stake where the tent is to be located. This place will be called C. Then place the transit at A and measure the angle formed by the imaginary lines AC and AB. In the example the angle is about 45 degrees. Then place the transit at B and measure the angle there, formed by the lines AB and BC. Then the angle at C should be measured and the sum of the angles thus measured will be 180 degrees, if the work is correct.

[Illustration: Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4]

Now make a drawing of the survey. Draw on paper a line corresponding to the line AB, making a certain scale, say 100 feet to the inch. If the real line is 200 feet long, the line on the paper will be 2 inches. With the protractor the angles at B and A may be drawn or plotted. This will give the location of the point C. With the scale determine on the plan the length of the other sides of the triangle ABC. The actual distances should next be measured with the tape to test the accuracy of the survey.

Next place a stake along the side of the lake at a point D. Then in a similar manner measure the triangle with the transit. With the protractor the lines AD and BD can be plotted on the plan. With the scale the length of the lines AD and BD can be estimated from the map. The rest of the lake is surveyed in the same manner. It is only necessary to take other points on the lake and survey the resulting triangles. It is a good idea to use four-foot stakes with flags placed so as to be easy to sight to them.

Finally a tracing may be made with carbon paper giving only the shore line and leaving out the lines of the triangles and the map is finished. The boys in one camp surveyed a lake a mile long with home-made instruments with excellent results.

Boys should be taught how to use the compass and a map in tracing their way through an unknown country. Also to travel by the stars or by the moss on the trees.

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