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   Chapter 8 MORAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE

Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 21634

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


THE RELIGIOUS INSTINCT NATURE'S TEACHINGS SUNDAY IN CAMP BIBLE STUDY HOW AND WHEN TO TEACH THE BIBLE COURSE OF CAMP BIBLE STUDY BIBLE STUDY COURSE FOR BOY SCOUTS DEVOTIONS IN TENT DAILY BIBLE READINGS A "NOVEL" BON-FIRE READING OF STORIES ON SUNDAY PURPOSEFUL READING CHAPEL SERVICES BIBLIOGRAPHY

The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head and hands folded upon her breast.-Emerson.

Camp life should help boys to grow not only physically and mentally, but morally. Religion is the basis of morality. The highest instinct in man is the religious. Man made the city with all its artificiality, but, as some one has said, "God made the country." Everything that the city boy comes in contact with is man-made. "Even the ground is covered with buildings and paving blocks; the trees are set in rows like telegraph poles; the sunlight is diluted with smoke from the factory chimneys, the moon and stars are blotted out by the glare of the electric light; and even the so-called lake in the park is a scooped-out basin filled by pumps. Little wonder that a boy who grows up under these conditions has little reverence for a God whose handiwork he has not seen."[1]

[Footnote 1: Walter M. Wood in Association Boys, June. 1907.]

Nature's Teachings

When a boy's soul is open to the influence of nature he feels the presence of the divine in the forest. There is an uplift, an inspiration, a joy that he never experiences in the city. He does not know how to express himself, but somehow he feels the spiritual atmosphere pervading the woods which his soul breathes in as really as his nostrils do the pure air, and he is ready to Go forth, under the open sky and list to Nature's teachings. -Bryant.

For as Martin Luther said, "God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but in trees and flowers and clouds and stars."

Sunday

Sunday in a boys' camp should be observed by the holding of a service in the morning, with song, scripture reading, prayer and a short talk. The afternoon is usually occupied by letter writing, Bible study, or reading, the day closing with a vesper service in the evening just as the sun is setting. Boisterousness should not be encouraged. Unnatural restraint, however, is contrary to the spirit of the day. The day should be different from other days. Many camp boys date their first real awakening to the best and highest things in life from a Sunday spent in camp.

Every real camper has experienced a Sunday similar to this one described by Howard Henderson. "A quiet Sunday in the deep woods is a golden day to be remembered for many a year. All nature combines to assist the camper in directing his thoughts to the great Author of all the beauty that he beholds. 'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.' The trees under which one reclines rear their heads heavenward, pointing their spire-like minarets far up toward the blue-vaulted roof. It inspires the very soul to worship in these unbuilt cathedrals with wilderness of aisle and pillars, which for elegance and beauty have never been equalled by the architects of any age. And the music of the trees combined with the notes of the bird songsters, give a joy which is unknown in listening to a city choir."

Bible Study

The Bible becomes a new book to boys when studied under such an environment. As one boy wrote home to his father after a Sunday spent in a camp where Sunday was observed in this manner, "Dad, it is so different here, from a Sunday at home; I understood the talk and the Bible study was great; it was a bully day!"

The following Bible course was worked out by the author and has been used in scores of boys' camps. These lessons were taught to groups of boys at eventide when nature seemed to quiet down and the boys were most responsive to good, sensible suggestion. The camp was divided into tent groups, each group being taught by their leader or an exchange leader, one group occupying a big rock, another the "Crow's Nest," or "Tree House," another getting together under a big tree, another in their tent. No leader was permitted to take more than twenty minutes for the lesson. It is unwise to take twenty minutes for what could be said in ten minutes. The boys all had a chance to take part in the discussion. Each lesson was opened and closed with prayer, many of the boys participating in volunteer prayer. In teaching a lesson don't spend too much time in description unless you have the rare gift of being able to make your scene live before your hearers. Talk plainly and to the point. Naturalness should characterize each lesson. Boys hate cant[1] and apologies and lack of definiteness. Your best illustrations will be drawn from the life of the camp and from nature.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: Monotonous talk filled with platitudes.

Hypocritically pious language.]

In some camps these lessons were taught in the morning directly after breakfast, while the boys were seated at the tables.

There are "Sermons in stones, and good in every thing," therefore the purpose of these lessons should be to help boys hear these sermons and learn nature's lessons of purity, strength and character.

A COURSE IN BIBLE STUDY

LESSON 1. THE HILLS-PRAYER

Psalm 121.

Christ going into the mountains to pray.

Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; Mark 1:35; Matt. 6:6-15.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Unnatural not to pray. Even Pagans pray, but they pray through fear.

More things are wrought through prayer than this world dreams of.

-Tennyson.

Pray to Christ as friend to friend. The Lord's Prayer.

He prayeth well who loveth well

Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best who loveth best

All things both great and small,

For the dear God who loveth us

He made and loveth all.

-Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner."

Strength received through prayer. A time and place for prayer.

LESSON 2. THE BIRDS-DEPENDENCE UPON GOD

Matt. 6:26; Psa.147:9; Luke 12:24; Matt. 10:29-31.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

God feeding the birds. How much more does God care for you. Not one forgotten, the most worthless, the most restless.

God loves the birds. He loves you. Show your love to Him by caring for the birds.

Isa. 40: 28-31.

Abraham Lincoln and the bird fallen from the nest.-"Gentlemen, I could not have slept tonight if I had not helped that little bird in its trouble, and put it back safe in the nest with its mother."

LESSON 3. FLOWERS-PURITY

Matt. 6:28-30. Beauty of flowers.

Isa. 55:10-13. Provision for summer growth and beauty.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

(Bring wild flowers to the class.)

Flowers come up out of the dirt yet unsoiled.

Possible for boys to keep clean and pure, surrounded by evil.

Evil thoughts determine evil deeds.

"My strength is as the strength of ten

Because my heart is pure."-Sir Galahad.

Purity of character, the lily.

Know thyself. Keep thyself pure. 1 Cor. 3:16,17.

White Cross Pledge.

Virtue never dwelt long with filth and nastiness.-Count Rumford.

LESSON 4. TREES-GROWTH

Psalm 1. (Hold the session under the biggest and best proportioned tree.)

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Cedars of Lebanon-Strong in the Lord.

The oaks-From acorns grew.

The fruit tree-Living for others.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Stunted trees. Crooked trees.

Scarred trees. Grafted trees.

Matt. 1:16-20; Jer. 11:7, 8.

Things that interfere with a boy's growth.

LESSON 5. WATER-LIFE

(Hold the session along the shore.)

Psa. 65:9-13. God's liberality.

Isa. 55: 1. Freeness of the gospel.

John 4:14. Woman at the well.

Rev. 22:11. The last invitation in the Bible.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

The joy of living. The fun at camp.

Friendship.

Temporal life vs. eternal life.

Water will only satisfy thirst temporarily.

Water revives-Christ satisfies.

Eternal life for the asking.

LESSON 6. ROCKS-CHARACTER

(Hold the session on or near some big boulder or rock.) Matt. 7:24-27. A good foundation. 1 Cor. 3:9-14.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

All boys are building character day by day.

All builders have a choice of foundation.

All foundations will be tried.

Only one foundation will stand.

Jesus Christ is the Rock of Ages.

"Every thought that we've ever had

Its own little place has filled.

Every deed we have done, good or bad

Is a stone in the temple we build."-Sargant.

Character, not reputation, will alone stand the final test.

LESSON 7. STORMS-TROUBLE

Matt. 8:23-27. Need of help.

Phil. 4:6. A strong deliverer.

Psa. 107:28-30. A safe place.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Boys have real troubles, real temptations, real shipwrecks.

Difficulties in school life, at home, in camp.

Almost ready to give up.

Have faith in Christ as a Saviour.

"The inner side of every cloud

Is bright and shining,

I therefore turn my clouds about,

And always wear them inside out

To show the lining."

"Look ever to Jesus. He'll carry you through."

LESSON 8. SPORTS-MASTERY

(Teach this lesson after a field day.)

1 Cor. 9:24-27. The race of life. Mastery of self.

Heb. 12:1, 2. Run with patience.

1 Tim. 6:12. A good fight.

Rev. 2:10. Faithfulness.

Ecele. 9:11. Not always to the swift.

Eccle. 9:10. Wholeheartedness.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

"Each victory of self will help you some other to win."

Self-control.

Value of training. You are either master or slave.

The Bible, the book of instruction.

Solomon's rule of self-defence. Prov. 15: 1.

LESSON 9. NIGHT-SIN

Psa. 19. Night unto night.

John 3:19-20. Evil deeds.

Rom. 13:11-14. Awake out of sin.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Bad thoughts come to us in the dark.

Dark places productive of crime.

Mischief at camp during the night.

Darkness cannot hide us from God.

"Thou God seest me."

North star a guide for sailors-Jesus Christ a safe guide.

"Character is what a man is in the dark."

-D. L. Moody.

LESSON 10. CHUMS-FRIENDSHIP 1 Sam. 18:1-4. True friendship. 1 John 4:11. Love one another. 1 Cor. 13:4-7. To the end.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Chum means "to abide with," to share the same tent. Camp chums. David and Jonathan. The genuine article. Helping each other. The Friend-Jesus Christ.

LESSON 11. CAMP FIRES

Build a camp fire along the shore. Read alternately the twenty-first chapter of the gospel of St. John. The fire on the beach. John 21:9.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Jesus was there-Jesus is here.

Peter confessed Him there. John 21:15-17.

Who will confess Him here?

Peter denied Him by another fire. Luke 22:54-62.

Will you deny Him here?

P. S. Make this a decision meeting.

LESSON 12. FISHING-PERSONAL WORK

Luke 5:1-11. Fishers of men.

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS

Sometimes fish are caught and used as bait to catch others. When a boy becomes a Christian he should bring to others the same blessing.

Patience is essential in fishing-same in winning boys to Christ. Every fisherman expects to catch fish. To lead others to Christ is the noblest work in the world. Dan. 12: 3.

Tent Devotions

In some camps a bit of Scripture is read each night in the tent just before retiring. The following readings having been prepared by W. H. Wones, C. C. Robinson, Arthur Wilson and Charles R. Scott for use at Camp Wawayanda. Just before taps, if you have a good cornetist, have him go a short distance from the camp and play a well known hymn, like "Abide With Me," "Nearer, My God, to Thee," "Lead, Kindly Light," then play "taps." The effect is wonderful, and prevents all inclination toward noise or "rough house."

JULY

TOPIC: VACATION

1. Personal Work on a Journey. John 4:5-15. 2. Its Results. John 4:27-30, 39, 42. 3. The Disciples' Trip for Service. Mark 6:7-13. 4. Their Interrupted Vacation. Mark 6: 30-42. 5. A Night on the Lake. Mark 6:45-56. 6. A Foolish Journey. Luke 15:11-17. 7. A Wise Return. Luke 15:18-24. 8. The Welcome Guest. John 12:1-9. 9. A Fishing Experience. John 21:1-14. 10. Spending a Night on a Mountain. Luke 9:28-36. 11. Vacation Suggestion: "Keep Sweet." Psalm 34:8-15. 12. Vacation Suggestion: "Stick to Principle." Psalm 119:25-32. 13. Vacation Suggestion: "Confess Christ. "; Matthew 10:24-33. 14. Vacation Suggestion: "Keep up Bible Study."; Psalm 119:1-8. 15. Vacation Suggestion: "Write Good Letters." 1 Corinthians 16:3-13. 16. Speaking for Christ While Traveling; Acts 8:26-39. 17. A Queen's Visit. 1 Kings 10:1-10. 18. An Adventurous Voyage. Acts 27:1-13. 19. Shipwreck. Acts 27:14-26. 20. All Saved. Acts 27:27-44. 21. Praying for a Prosperous Journey. Romans 1:8-16. 22. A Traveler's Adventures. 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. 23. A Merry Heart Desirable. Proverbs 15:13-17. 24. Keeping from Sin. Romans 6:16-23. 25. Meeting a Stranger. Luke 24:13-27. 26. A Delightful Surprise. Luke 24:28-35. 27. Jacob's Bivouac. Genesis 28:10-22. 28. David's Prayer in the Cave. Psalm 142:1-7. 29. Avoiding Sinful Pleasure. Hebrews 11:23-27. 30. Peter's Counsel. 1 Peter 4:1-10. 31. The Greatest Pleasure. Psalm 16: 1-11.

AUGUST

TOPIC: NATURE

1. The Story of Nature's Creation. Genesis 1:11-22. 2. The First Garden. Genesis 2:8-17. 3. God's Care for His Creation. Matthew 6:25-34. 4. The Symbol of Peace. Genesis 8:1-11. 5. The Sign of God's Promise. Genesis 9:8-17. 6. The Burning Bush. Exodus 3:1-6. 7. The Accompaniment of God's Presence. Exodus 19:16-25. 8. Nature Halts to Accomplish God's Purpose. Joshua 10:5-14. 9. Nature's Tribute to God's Glory. Psalm 97:1-12. 10. The Midnight Hymn. Psalm 8:1-9. 11. The Sunrise Hymn. Psalm 19:1-14. 12. The Thunder-storm Hymn. Psalm 29:1-11. 13. The God of Storm. Matthew 8:23-33. 14. Nature has no perils for the God-fearing Man. Job 5:8-27. 15. The Full Ear. Matthew 13:1-9,18,23. 16. Harmful Weeds. Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43. 17. The God of Nature Protects Us. Psalm 121:1-8. 18. He Cares for Us. Psalm 147:1-20. 19. God's Voice After the Storm. 1 Kings 19:5-13. 20. The Tree of Life. Proverbs 3:13-21. 21. The Trees Desire a King. Judges 9:8-15; Joshua 24:15. 22. The Root Out of Dry Ground. Isaiah 53:1-12. 23. Water Without Price. Isaiah 55:1-13. 24. The Perfect Vine. John 15:1-14. 25. The Light Brighter than the Sun. Acts 9:1-20. 26. A Wonderful Star. Matthew 2:1-11. 27. Sand or Rock? Matthew 7:24-27. 28. Broken Branches. Matthew 21:1-11. 29. The Unprofitable Tree. Matthew 7:15-21. 30. The Profitable Tree. Psalm 1:1-6. 31. Do Good in all Seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1-12.

BOY SCOUT COURSE

For a Boy Scout Camp, the following course, "Boy's Scout Guide Book Study," was prepared by W. S. Dillon:

THE SCOUT'S OATH

Lesson 1. To Do My Duty to God and My Country.

Daniel 1:8; 6:4-10.

Lesson 2. To Help Other People at All Times. Exodus 3:1-11.

Lesson 3. To Obey the Scout Law. Exodus 20:3-17; Luke 10:26, 27;

Matthew 7:12.

THE SCOUT SALUTE AND SIGN

Lesson 4. Judges 12:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 6:14.

THREE CLASSES OF SCOUTS THE TENDERFOOT

Lesson 5. Luke 5:1-11.

THE SECOND CLASS SCOUT

Lesson 6. Have at Least One Month's Service as a Tenderfoot.

2 Samuel 15:1-6.

Lesson 7. Signalling. 1 Samuel 20:20-22; 35-39.

Lesson 8. Lay and Light a Fire. Fire Lighting Contest.

1 Kings 18: 22-24.

FIRST CLASS SCOUT

Lesson 8. Signalling. Daniel 5: 1-31.

Lesson 9. Go on Foot to a Given Point and Return and Give a Report

of the Trip. Numbers 13:1-3; 17-21; 23-33.

Lesson 10. Produce an Article of Carpentry, Joinery or Metal Work. 2

Chronicles 2:11-16.

Lesson 11. Bring a Tenderfoot Trained in the Points Required for a

Tenderfoot. John 1: 40-42.

THE SCOUT LAW

Lesson 12. A Scout's Honor is to be Trusted. Genesis 39:7-10.

Lesson 13. Loyalty. Esther 4:8-16.

Lesson 14. A Scout is a Friend to All, and Must NEVER BE A SNOB.

Luke

9:46-48.

Lesson 15. A Friend to Animals. 1 Samuel 17:12-16.

Lesson 16. Obey Orders. Jonah 1:1-3.

Lesson 17. Cheerfulness and Willingness.

Acts 16 :25; Phillippians 4:11-13.

Lesson 18. Thrift. Matthew 6:19-21.

THE GREAT SCOUT MASTER

Lesson 19. Matthew 23:10.

Novel Bonfire

The author experienced something very unusual one Sunday afternoon in a camp where he was invited to speak. The talk was on "Trees or Growth," one of the studies of the course described. During the talk a number of things were referred to that enter into the growth of a tree which either mar or hinder it from becoming a symmetrical, beautiful tree and a similar comparison was made regarding a boy's growth. The question was asked of the boys, "What are some of the things which interfere with a boy's growth physically, mentally and morally?" A number of things, such as smoking, swearing, impurity, etc., were given, and finally one of the small boys piped up "reading dime novels." His answer was received with howls of derision, especially from the older boys. "Hold on," I said, "let's discuss the matter; if dime novels are good for a boy's growth mentally, we want to know about it, but if they are detrimental to this particular kind of desired growth, of course, we want to cut it out." The discussion brought out the fact that a number of the boys had smuggled a lot of this kind of literature into camp and were just loafing through their time in the woods, gloating over the wonderful and daring escapades of Wild West heroes. The boys finally decided that their mental growth was retarded by such reading. Then came the question, "What are you going to do about it?" "We don't usually have a bonfire on Sunday," I said. "I am inclined, however, to ask your leader for a special dispensation and we will have one.

You are to furnish the fuel, your leader the kerosene oil and I will provide the match. The fuel is to consist of all the dime novels in the camp." "Whew!" "I know it will take grit to do this, but it is a test of your sincerity and determination to progress along right lines." "We're game?" yelled the boys, "and we mean business."

The start was made for the place where the bonfires were usually held. By the time I reached the spot, the boys were coming from their tents with bundles of novels. Every boy was requested to tear each novel in half and throw it upon the heap. When everything was ready, the boys uncovered and in the silence that came upon the group, the match was struck and the flames began to leap upward, until finally, all that remained was the small piles of ashes. For the majority of the boys it meant the burning up of the dross and the beginning of better and nobler thinking. I shall always remember this novel bonfire. This is what I mean by making Bible study and camp talks effective.

Reading

Sunday afternoon is the time for reading good, wholesome stories. Take the boys out into the woods where they can squat under a big tree, or if the day is warm seek the cool shelter of the tent and while the boys are lying down read a short story or several chapters of a story like "Dr. Grenfell's Parish," by Norman Duncan, "Just Boys," by Mary Buell Wood, "Some Boys I Know," "Chapel Talks," or "The Story of Good Will Farm," by George W. Hinckley. If the group is made up of older boys who like to discuss life problems, read a chapter or two from Robert Speer's excellent books, "A Young Man's Questions" and "Young Men Who Overcame." Make sure that whatever you read has the uplift note. The real purpose of the afternoon's reading should be that of instilling in the boys' minds some of the cardinal virtues of Christian character.

Don't moralize; let the story do its own moralizing. Boys are hero worshippers. If the hero or the heroic appeal of the story is of a sane type and not abnormal there will be created naturally within the boy a desire to emulate the good deeds of the hero in the everyday life of the camp, which is much better than the parrot-like vocalization unfortunately many times encouraged by well-meaning men.

Chapel

A pile of stones made to serve as an altar or pulpit, a chapel having the branches of a friendly pine as its roof and under which are built a reading desk and seats of white birch, a cathedral with towering columns of pine and cushions of pine needles, a rocky shore along the ocean-all are places where boys have heard the appeal for right living and responded with an earnest decision that marked an advance step in their moral and religious growth.

Make much of the music at these outdoor services on Sunday. A choir of men and boys responding in the distance to the hymns of the camp boys, in antiphonal manner, a cornetist playing a hymn in the distance, make an impression never to be forgotten.

The great test of camp life is not the fun the boy had, or his gain in weight, height or lung capacity, or the friendships formed, or his increased knowledge in woodcraft, but his advancement in character-making and gain in spiritual vigor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS HELPFUL IN THE PREPARATION OF BIBLE STUDY LESSONS:

Lessons from Life (Animal and Human)-Thomas Whittaker. Macmillan, $2.50.

Sermons in Stones-Amos R. Wells. Doubleday, Page & Company, $1.00.

Parables from Nature-Mrs. Gatty. Colportage Library, 15 cents.

A Good Bible Dictionary and Concordance.

BOOKS UPON THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF Boys:

The Boy and the Church-Eugene C. Foster. The Sunday School Times Co., 75 cents net.

Starting to Teach-Eugene C. Foster. Association Pres., 40 cents.

The Child and His Religion-George E. Dawson. University of Chicago, 75 cents net.

Religion in Boyhood-Ernest B. Layard. E. P. Dutton and Company, 75 cents net.

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