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Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 10535

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre

Observe degree, priority and place,

Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,

Office and custom, in all lines of order.

-Troilus and Cressida. Act 1, Scene 3.


It matters very little if the camp be a large or small one, all will agree that system and organization must prevail if the camp is to be a "place of known delight and proved desire." Order is said to be Heaven's first law, and a boys' camp should not be operated contrary to this recognized law. What is everybody's business usually becomes nobody's business. Much soup has been spoiled by the stirring of too many cooks. A boys' camp becomes a place of discord when everybody takes a hand in "running it." There must be one whose word is absolute and final, and who is recognized as the leader or director of the camp; at the same time the campers should have a voice in the government and share in planning and participating in its activities. (See chapter on Leadership.)

The following charting of organization will explain the "degree, priority and place" of those who are to be responsible for the administration and welfare of the camp.

Cooperative Self-Government

This form of organization recognizes maturity, experience, ability, cooperation, justice and altruistic service. Self-government wholly by the boys is unwise. There must always be a paternal guidance of hot, impulsive and indiscriminate youth. Boys desire adult leadership and where a wise combination is formed of man and boy working together, there will be found the highest type of efficient, wholesome, happy and purposeful camp life.

Council Meetings

Frequent council meetings should be held. When the senior council, composed of the leaders and director, meet for planning and to discuss the work, it should be understood that whatever is said or discussed at the meeting, must not be talked over in the presence of the boys, particularly matters of discipline, awarding of honors and camp policy. Joint meetings of the junior and senior councils should be held weekly. Each "tent" is represented on the junior council by electing one of their tent-mates, who shall present the views of his constituents at council meetings.

[Illustration: Camp Organization Chart]


The director should have the power of appointing the chairmen or heads of departments, and the chairmen the privilege of selecting associates from the two councils. The policy of each department must be ratified by a joint meeting of the councils before it becomes operative. Prevent bickering over minor parliamentary details. Keep in mind first, last and always, the highest welfare of the camp. Let the "voice of the people" be heard, yet see that the legislation introduced is in the interest of the highest good of the campers. The chart suggests the work of the various departments.


In all well-organized and purposeful camps for boys, three rules are considered absolutely essential for the safety and welfare of the campers. These rules are:

1. No fire-arms, air-rifles or explosives of any kind allowed.

2. No one of the party shall enter the water for swimming or bathing, except during the designated period.

3. No tobacco used in any form.

Every boy going to camp agrees, in signing his application, to observe whatever rules are decided upon as best for the welfare of all. Boys should be trusted and expected to do as the majority think best. There should be a happy understanding and mutual confidence existing which should make a long list of rules unnecessary. When the boys arrive in camp, the director should outline and explain the purpose and policy of the camp in kind, but unmistakable terms.

A camp of a dozen boys and their school teacher, in the White Mountains, was operated for three delightful weeks, upon the following "agreement," which all the boys and their leader signed.

We, the members of Camp Bejoyful, do hereby subscribe cheerfully to the following rules and regulations and will be governed by them while we are members of this camp.

We further agree to pay any penalty the other members of the camp may think fit to impose upon us for breaking these rules or resolutions.

We will not lose our tempers.

We will not use any language we would not use in the presence of ladies.

We will not tell stories we would not tell or want told to our sisters.

We will perform cheerfully any duties our Camp Master asks us to perform.

We will at all times respect the rights and feelings of others.

We will remember that the command to "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," is obligatory at all times and in all places.

The motto of this camp shall be "Noblesse oblige."

The Whistle

Unless the camp is conducted under the auspices of the Boys' Brigade or some military organization, where boys prefer the military discipline, it is unwise to introduce it in a camp for boys. T

he type of discipline to be used will depend upon the type of leader. Some camps are controlled by the use of a whistle. When the attention of the boys is desired, the leader blows a shrill blast of the whistle and the boys immediately respond by absolute silence and await the announcement or whatever the leader or director desires to say to them. Never blow the whistle unless necessary. Secure first the attention of the boys if you want their interest. Camp boys become accustomed to continuous blowing of the whistle in the same manner that city boys become used to the noise of the street-car gong. Blow your whistle and wait. Cause for a second blast should be considered serious.


"In a camp where through the thoughtlessness of a boy a misdemeanor had been committed, the leader explained at the camp fire how mean the action was and said that he did not believe there was a boy in camp who, if he had realized its contemptible nature, would for one moment have thought of doing such a thing. He concluded his remarks by saying, 'If there is any boy here who knows who did this thing, I earnestly request that he will keep it to himself and not breathe the name of the offender to anyone in camp.' Especially did he request that on no account should the offender's name be told to him. There were a few rather red faces about the camp fire, but the name of the offender was never known and no similar misdemeanor occurred while the camp was open.

Self-Imposed Discipline

"In another camp two boys had thoughtlessly violated the understanding regarding swimming and they spent an hour on the hillside with the leader discussing the situation. After the leader had explained to them his responsibility to the parents of each boy in camp and how insecure parents would feel if they thought their boys were not being properly taken care of, he asked them: 'Now, if you were in my place, what would you do with two such fellows?' And they both replied that they thought the two boys should be sent home as an example to the rest of the camp. The leader agreed with them and the two boys, who had pronounced their own sentence, left the next morning for home. That leader has today no better friends among boys than those two particular fellows." [1]

[Footnote 1: E. M. Robinson, Association Boys, June, 1902. ]

Seven Things Which God Hates

Solomon in his book of Proverbs says, "These six things does the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs; 16:19.)

Liars and Sneaks

Punish the liar heavily. Help the boy to see that to make a mistake and own up to it, is regarded in a much more favorable light than to sneak and lie out of it. Have him understand that the lie is the worst part of the offence. It is awful to have the reputation of being a liar, for even when a boy does tell the truth nobody believes him because of his past reputation. Never indulge suspicion. Above all discountenance sneaking; nothing is more harmful than to maintain a feeble discipline through the medium of tale-bearing.

Never keep a boy in camp who is out of tune with the camp life or its standards, and whose presence only serves to militate against the real purpose of the camp. "Grouchitis" is a catching disease.

Meditation Log

The methods of punishment are as varied as the colors of the rainbow. In one camp, a "Meditation Log," upon which the boy sits and thinks, and thinks, and thinks, and-. No doubt he is a sadder and wiser boy for his period of meditation. A "wood pile" where boys saw from one to five or more sticks of cord wood into stove lengths, is an economic mode of punishment, for it not only provides wood for the kitchen stove, but hardens the boys' muscle as well as helps him to remember his mistakes and to avoid repetition. Walking around the campus for a certain length of time carrying an oar over the shoulder, is another method. Curtailing a boy's privileges, such as swimming, boating, taking away his dessert, are other methods in vogue in boys' camps. When a boy swears, if he is a "scout," the other "scouts" pour a cup of cold water down the offender's sleeve or back, for each offence. Some boys have been cured of swearing by having their mouths washed out with "Welcome Soap," publicly, along the shore of the lake or stream, with camp-mates as silent spectators. Make the "punishment fit the crime," but always the kind of punishment which the boy will acknowledge is deserved and just. Never punish in anger.

Private Talks

A "heart-to-heart" talk with the boy during a walk in the woods, or in some quiet place of the camp, will do more good to get him to see and realize his need of adjustment to camp life and enlist his willingness to try again and to "do his best" than any form of physical punishment.

When it becomes necessary to send a boy home, always telegraph or write his parents, telling them on what train or boat they may expect him and the reason for sending him home.

[Illustration: Raising the Flag-Camp Kineo.]

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