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   Chapter 7 THE DAY'S PROGRAM

Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 16593

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


A Morning Prayer

The day returns and brings in the petty round of irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the man, help us to perform them with laughter and kind faces. Let cheerfulness abound with industry. Give us to go blithely on our business all the day. Bring us to our resting beds weary and content and undishonored, and grant us in the end the gift of sleep. -Robert Louis Stevenson.


All the major habits of life are formed during the teen period of life. If camping teaches a boy anything it teaches him the habit of being systematic. The day's program should be built upon a platform calculated not only to keep the camp running smoothly, but to develop within the boy and man those qualities requisite for a good camper, viz., truth, sincerity, self-control, courage, energy, skill, mental capacity, justice, patriotism, stamina, efficiency, executive power, consideration, kindliness, cheerfulness, self-reliance, good temper, good manners, tact, promptness, obedience, helpfulness, and cooperation. Camping has as good an effect on a boy's character as it has upon his health. It teaches him to be self-reliant, to look after his own wants, and not to be abnormally self-centered. It is marvellous how much more tidy and considerate a boy becomes after he has had a season in camp, looking after himself and his own belongings, as well as sharing in keeping his tent neat and clean, and having his part in the day's work. From "reveille" at 7 A.M. to "taps" at 9 P.M. the day's program should be definitely planned. In order to make this chapter of practical value the different periods of the day and its activities will be described very fully and enough suggestions given to make the day purposeful, educational, recreational and attractive in either a large or small camp.

Seven o'clock is usually the hour of beginning the day, although some camps make the rising hour six-thirty o'clock. The first morning in camp boys want to get up around four o'clock, thinking it about three hours later, on account of the sun streaming into their tent. After the first morning boys who wake early should be expected to keep silent and remain in their tent until "reveille" sounds. Consideration should be shown toward those who desire to sleep.


When the bugle sounds "reveille" everybody turns out in pajamas or swimming tights and indulges in a brisk ten-minute setting-up exercise. This should be made snappy, giving particular attention to correcting stooping shoulders and breathing. Boys should not be excused from this exercise unless ill. At the end of the exercise the flag is raised and the campers salute the stars and stripes as they are flung to the morning breeze. A small cannon is fired in some camps when the flag is raised. The honor of raising the flag may be given to the boys of the tent having won the honor tent pennant of the preceding day or to boys specially assigned. The spirit of patriotism is fostered by respect to the flag.


Flag-raising is followed by a dip in the lake. It should be understood that this is to be a dip or plunge and not a swim. Five minutes is sufficient time to be in the water. Place some responsible person in charge of the dip. A safe rule is never to permit boys in the water unless supervised. The boys should take soap, towels and tooth brushes with them when they go for the dip. A good morning scrub of the teeth with a brush saves many hours of pain. Boys are woefully negligent (because ignorant) of the care of their teeth. Saturday is "scrub" day in many of the large camps when all are required to take a "soap scrub." Marvellous how the "tan" disappears after this scrubbing period!


By this time every fellow is hungry enough to devour whatever food is set before him, whether he is fond of it or not, and there is an alacrity of response to the Mess Call of the bugle which only a camper understands and appreciates. When the campers are seated there is either silent or audible grace before the meal is eaten. Take plenty of time for the eating of the meal. Forty-five minutes is not too long. Encourage wholesome conversation and good natural pleasantry, but discountenance "rough house" and ungentlemanliness. The announcements for the day are usually given at the breakfast table followed by the reading of a chapter from the Bible and a short prayer.


A boy should be taught that all labor is noble, that "no one can rise that slights his work" and the "grand business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." With this kind of a spirit, blankets are taken out of the tent to be aired and the sides of the tent tied up, the camp is cleaned and put in a sanitary condition, the tents are put in order, and kitchen work, if part of the boys' duties, is attended to. All work should be finished by 9.30. No matter whether the boy pays twenty dollars a week or three dollars a week for the outing, labor of some sort should be a part of his daily life while at camp, for when one gets to love work, his life becomes a happy one. The world despises a shirker but honors a worker.

The work of the day is sometimes done by tent groups or by boys grouped in alphabetical order, each group being under a leader whose part is assigned daily by the Camp Director (see chapter on Organization). In the writer's camp, work is considered a great privilege. For instance, if three bushels of peas must be picked from the camp garden for dinner, a call is made for volunteers. From forty to fifty hands will go up and after careful choosing, six boys are selected to do this coveted work, much to the disappointment of the others. It is all in the way work is presented to the boys, whether they will look upon it as a privilege or an irksome task.

9.30 to 11.00

If tutoring is a part of the camp's plan, the morning will be found a desirable time for tutor and boy to spend an hour together. Manual training, instruction in woodcraft, field and track athletics, boating, life-saving drills, rehearsal for minstrel shows or entertainments, photography, tennis, baseball, are some of the many activities to be engaged in during this period. One day a week, each box or trunk should be aired, and its contents gone over carefully. A sort of "clean up" day.


About this time the Life Saving Crew will be getting ready for their drill and patrolling of the swim. The other campers will be taking in their blankets and after shaking them well and folding, will place them on their beds for the inspection, which usually comes at noon. At 11.20 boys who cannot swim should be given instruction by those who can swim. If this is done before the regular swim there is less danger and greater progress is made.


This seems to be the popular hour for swimming in nearly all the camps. It follows the ball game, the tennis match, the camp work, and usually the temperature of air and water is just right for a swim. Allow no swimmer to go beyond the line of patrol boats. Have some one on shore who is keen to observe any boy who may be in need of assistance.

Twenty minutes is sufficient length of time to be in fresh water. When the boys come out of the water, have a towel drill, teaching the boy how to use the towel so that his back may be dried as well as every other part of his body. This rubbing down induces circulation of the blood and gives that finish to a swim which makes the boy feel like a new being. It is unwise to permit boys to lie around undressed after a swim, for physiological as well as moral reasons. Swimming tights should be wrung out dry, either by hand or by a wringer kept near the swimming place, and hung out on a rope or rustless wire, stretched back of the tent. Do not permit wet clothes

to be hung in the tent, on the canvas or tent ropes.


Beds or bunks should be made up for inspection. Three men or boys may be appointed as inspectors. Considerable interest and pride is taken by the boys in having their canvas home look neat. This training in neatness, order and cleanliness is invaluable. (See chapter on Awards.) The inspection should not take over twenty minutes. While this is going on those who have kitchen or table duty will be busily engaged getting tables in readiness for dinner.


Mess call for dinner. This meal should be the heartiest meal of the day, and plenty of time given to the eating of the food. Mail is usually given out at this meal in camps where there is but one delivery a day.

1.15, "Siesta."

"Siesta," or rest hour, follows dinner. In the early days of boys' camps this suggestion would have been laughed at, but today it is looked upon as highly hygienic and considered one of the best things of camp and strongly to be commended. The boy is advised to lie down flat on his back, in his tent or under the shade of a friendly tree, and be quiet. He may talk if he wishes, but usually some one reads aloud to his fellows. This gives the food a chance to digest, and the whole body a nerve and muscle rest before the active work of the afternoon.

2.00 to 4.30

These hours will be spent in various ways. Usually it is the time for athletic sports, baseball games, quoit[1] tournaments, tennis tournaments, excursions afield, boat regatta, archery, water sports, scouting games and other activities in which most of the campers can engage. The big outdoor events should occupy this time of the day.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: Flat rings of iron or rope are pitched at a stake with points for encircling it. A ring used in this game.]


Where daily inspection is a part of the camp plan the boys will begin getting everything in readiness for that important event. A general bustle of activity will be in evidence and every boy on the qui vive[2] to have his tent win the coveted honor pennant, usually given for the neatest tent,

[Transcriber's Footnote 2: Sentinel's challenge. On the alert; vigilant.]


Inspection is conducted during the absence of the boys. While the inspectors are making the round of tents, the boys should assemble either in the permanent building of the camp or under some big tree, to listen to a practical talk by the camp physician, a demonstration in first aid work, the reading of a story, or to something equally educational in character. This is a valuable hour when occupied in this manner. (See chapter on inspection, awards, etc.)


Rather than depend upon "sunset" as the time to lower the flag, it is much better to set an hour for "colors." Promptly at this hour the bugler blows "colors." No matter where a camper may be he should stand erect, uncover and remain attentive until after the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and firing of the cannon. The flag is lowered very slowly during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and camp should be a place of silent patriotism. Those who have witnessed this ceremony in a boys' camp will never forget its impressiveness. The flag should never be permitted to touch the ground, and should be carefully folded and in readiness for hoisting the next morning.


Supper hour cannot come too promptly for active boys. The announcement of the day's inspection should be made at the meal and the honor pennant or flag presented to the successful tent, and accepted by one of the boys. This occasion is usually a time of rejoicing, also a time of resolve-making on the part of tent groups to "do better tomorrow." The record of each tent is read by one of the inspectors, and at the end of the week the tent having the best record gets a special supper or "seconds" on ice cream day.


About this time, with the going down of the sun, nature seems to quiet down, and it is the psychological time for serious thought. Many camps devote twenty minutes to Bible study (for suggested lessons, see chapter on Religion and Moral Life). Tent groups under their leader study thoughtfully the meaning of life and the great lessons taught by God through nature. Night after night the boys consciously or unconsciously acquire through this study the requisites of a good camper mentioned in the first part of this chapter.


Campus games, boating, preparation for the bonfire, etc., will occupy the time until dark. Every boy should be engaged in some recreative play, working off whatever surplus energy he may have at hand so that when the time for "turning in" comes, he will be physically tired and ready for bed.


The evening program varies. Some nights there will be a minstrel show, other nights a camp fire, or mock trial, an illustrated talk, or "village school entertainment," or a play, or a musical evening or "vo-de-ville." Leave about two nights a week open. The boys prefer to have occasional open evenings when they are free to loaf around, and go to bed early. Plan the evening "stunts" very carefully.


The bugler blows "tattoo"[1] which means "all in tents." After the boys have undressed and are ready for bed, the leader reads a chapter from the Bible, and in many camps the boys lead in volunteer prayer, remembering especially the folks at home.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: Signal on a drum or bugle to summon soldiers to their quarters at night. Continuous, even drumming or rapping.]

From a hill near camp, or from a boat on the lake come the notes of a familiar hymn such as "Abide With Me," "Lead, Kindly Light," "The Day is Past and Over," "Sun of My Soul," or "Nearer, My God to Thee," played by the bugler. Every boy listens and the ear records a suggestion which helps to make the night's sleep pure and restful. Try it. Taps played slowly, follows the hymn. As the last notes are being echoed upon the still night air the lights are being extinguished in the tents, so that when the final prolonged note ends the camp is in darkness and quiet, and all have entered into a nine-hour period of restoration of body and mind. Who knows, but God himself, how many of the boys, and even leaders, while wrapped warmly in their blankets have silently breathed out that old, old prayer so full of faith, which has been handed down from generation to generation:

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray Thee Lord my soul to keep.

A prayer echoed by the camp director, for now is the only time of the day's program when he begins to breathe freely, and is partially able to lay aside his mantle of responsibility. A cough, a sigh, and even the moaning of the wind disturbs this ever vigilant leader and he thinks of his charges, until finally, weariness conquers and sleep comes.


How shall the day be ordered? To the sage

The young man spoke. And this was his reply:

A morning prayer.

A moment with thy God who sends thee dawn

Up from the east; to thank heaven for the care

That kept thee through the night; to give thy soul,

With faith serene, to his complete control;

To ask his guidance still along the way.

So starts the day.

A busy day.

Do with a will the task that lies before.

So much there is for every man to do,

And soon the night when man can work no more.

And none but he to life's behest is true

Who works with zeal and pauses only when

He stretches forth his hand to help the men

Who fail or fall beside him on the way.

So runs the day.

A merry evening.

When toil is done, then banished be the care

That frets the soul. With loved ones by the hearth

The evening hour belongs to joy and mirth;

To lighter things that make life fresh and fair.

For honest work has earned its hour of play.

So ends the day.

-John Clair Minot in the "Independent"


Association Boys' Camps-Edgar M. Robinson. Association Boys, Vol. I.,

No.3, 1902.

The Day's Program-C. Hanford Henderson. "How to Help Boys," Vol.

III., No.3, 1903.

The Camp Conference-Secretary's Report, 1905-06 (out of print).

The Camp Conference-"How to Help Boys," July, 1903.

[Illustration; The Story Hour-Sunday Afternoon-Camp Wawayanda]

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