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Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 24566

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


If I can teach these boys to study and play together, freely and with fairness to one another, I shall make them fit to live and work together in society.-Henry van Dyke.

Purpose of Games

The spirit of camping is too frequently destroyed by over-emphasis upon competitive games. Play is necessary for the growing boy and play that engages many participants has the most value. America today is suffering from highly specialized, semi-professional athletics and games. "When athletics degenerate into a mere spectacle, then is the stability of the nation weakened. Greece led the world, while the youth of that great country deemed it an honor to struggle for the laurel leaf, and gymnasiums were everywhere and universally used and the people saw little good in an education that neglected the body. It is a significant fact that the degeneracy of Greece was synchronous with the degrading of athletics into mere professional contests. What had been the athletics of the people became a spectacle for the people." [1]

[Footnote 1: Emmett D. Angell in "Play," p. 19.]

Baseball League

Do not allow the athletics and games of the camp to become a mere spectacle for the campers. Something should be planned for every boy and every boy encouraged to participate in the program. Nothing has yet taken the place of the good old American game of baseball. Divide the camp boys into teams. Have a league playing a series of games. The teams may be named after the different colleges or prominent cities or as one camp named the league, the "Food League" after popular camp dishes, such as: "Prunes," "Beans," "Soup," "Hash," "Mush," "Chipped Beef." It is needless to state that the boys in the league not only had a lot of fun, but the camp paper contained very amusing accounts of the games played.

Arrange a schedule of games and keep accurate records of all games played either in the "Camp Log" or camp paper. A dinner given to the winning team adds to the excitement of the league's existence. Do not neglect the younger boys; have two "Midget" teams engage in a series for best two out of three games. Occasionally a game between the leaders and older boys is the exciting game of the season, especially if the leaders are defeated.

The same rule of participation should govern the athletics of the camp. Inter-tent games help to develop group loyalty, cooperation, fair play, and courtesy to opponents so desirable.


In some camps the boys are divided into two groups, those under five feet in height and those over five feet. Events are planned for these two groups. The system of grouping suggested by the School Athletic League, is that of grouping the boys according to physiological rather than chronological age, as follows: Pre-pubescent boys under 90 pounds. Pubescent boys or juniors, 90 to 110 pounds. Post-pubescent or intermediates, 110 to 130 pounds. Seniors, above 130 pounds.

The boys are weighed in competing costume. This system is looked upon as being fair and practical.

What to Avoid

The following should be avoided-Marathon runs, sustained effort in and under water and competitive long-distance running. The longest sprint race should be, for boys, 50 yards, for juniors, 75 yards. No adolescent who is not past the pubescent stage should run sprint races longer than 100 yards. Cross-country running is beneficial when taken at a slow pace and without competition. Every boy should be examined for heart weakness before entering the strenuous games.

The above is the opinion of physical directors from twenty-one different States and may be considered authoritative. This same opinion prevails among most of the experienced camp leaders and workers among boys.


The athletics usually planned for camp are: 50 yard dash for boys; 75-yard dash for juniors; 100 yard dash for seniors; running high jump; running broad jump; pole vault; 8 and 12-pound shot-put; baseball throw and relay race.


Ribbon awards presented to the winners at a special meeting of the campers aid considerably in fostering the true spirit of clean athletics and wholesome sport and are appreciated by the winners as souvenirs of the good-natured contest.

Camps possessing a stereopticon[1] should secure the set of slides and lecture accompanying from the Moral Education League of Baltimore, Md., entitled "The True Sportsman." Rental terms are five dollars a week and expressage.

[Transcribers Footnote 1: stereopticon: A magic lantern, with two projectors arranged to produce dissolving views.]

A perpetual cup for all-round proficiency, upon which is engraved the name of each year's winner, is a good way of recording the annual athletic meet.

A shield with the names of the winners of the season's events painted or burned upon it and hung up in the camp lodge helps to retain the interest of the winner in the camp after he has become a "grown-up" or alumnus.

[Illustration: Take-off; Cross-section of Take-off; Jumping Standards;]


Boys who like to make things may be put to work making various pieces of athletic apparatus. A Take-Off may be made of a plank or board, 8 inches wide and 36 inches long, sunk flush with the earth. The outer edge of this plank is considered the scratch line. Remove the earth to a depth of three inches and width of twelve inches.

To make a pair of jumping standards, first saw out the bottom blocks, each being 10 x 10 inches and 2 inches thick. In the center of each block chisel out a hole 2 x 2 inches and about 1 inch in depth. Into these holes fit the ends of the upright pieces, which should be 5 feet long and 2 inches square. Before securing the upright pieces, bore holes an inch apart, into which may be inserted a piece of heavy wire or large wire nail to hold up the cross piece or jumping stick. Be sure to space the holes alike on both uprights, so the crosspiece will set level when the standard is in use. Four 5-inch braces are fastened in at the lower part of the upright. Study the diagram and you will succeed in making a pretty good pair of standards.

Campus Games

After supper is usually a period in the camp life rather difficult of occupation. "Campus Games" appeal to most boys. These games are designed especially for the after-supper hour, although they may be played at any time.

Circle Jumping

Stand the boys in a circle with all hands clasped. One of the crowd lies down in the center with a rope as long as one-half the diameter of the circle. To the end of the rope is tied a small weight like a sand bag. He whirls the weight around with the full length of rope revolving with increasing rapidity. As it approaches the players, they hop up and let it pass under their feet. The one whose foot is touched is out of the game and the boy who keeps out of the way of the rope the longest is the winner.


Here is a Japanese game full of fun and action. Place a dozen or more boys in line, and have each fellow place his hands firmly on the shoulders of the boy in front of him. Choose one of the fellows for the "Wolf." The first boy at the head of the line is called the "Head" of the Serpent, and the last fellow is the "Tail." The "Wolf" stands near the head of the Serpent until a signal is given. Then he tries to catch the "Tail" without touching any other part of the snake. The boys who form the body of the Serpent protect the "Tail" by wreathing about in all sorts of twists to prevent the "Wolf" from catching the "Tail." This must be done without breaking the line. When the "Tail" is caught, the "Wolf" becomes the "Head," and the "Tail" becomes the "Wolf." The last boy in line is the "Tail." The game can be continued until every boy has been the "Wolf."

Rover, All Come Over

A line is marked dividing the campus. All the boys gather on one side. One boy in the center endeavors to have them step over the line by calling out, "Rover, Rover, all come over!" At the word "over" everybody is expected to run and cross the line, while the center man endeavors to catch one. The one caught must help him catch the others. If any one runs over before the center man calls "over," he has to go to the aid of the catcher. When all are caught the game begins again.

[Illustration: German Nine Pins-Camp Becket]

Indian and White Man

The game of "Indian and White Man" is interesting. A circle is drawn on the campus. It is supposed that the white people are travelling over the prairie, and at night time they prepare to camp. The circle represents their camp. The Whites lie down to sleep and sentries are posted. The Indians discover the camp and endeavor to capture the Whites. Then comes the battle royal. Every Indian captured in the white man's circle counts one, and every white man captured by the Indians outside the circle counts one for their side. The game continues until all of either side are captured. The players are divided into two groups. The Indians are concealed in the bushes or some place unseen by the Whites and they make the attack.

Such games as "Three Deep," "Bull in the Ring," "Tag Game," "Leap Frog," will be found to interest the boys during the after-supper period.

The following are campus games requiring apparatus:

German Bowling

Plant in the ground two posts, leaving at least 15 feet above ground. Spike a 10-foot piece across the top (see page 218). An ordinary ball used in bowling is used by plugging shut the holes and inserting a screw eye in one of the plugged holes. Tie tightly to this screw eye a strong piece of rope. A good-sized screw eye is fastened in the cross piece of the frame, and to this tie the ball. Nine bowling pins are used. The score is the same as bowling. The pins are knocked off by the return of the ball, as shown in the diagram.

[Illustration: German Bowling]

Tether Ball

The upright pole should be standing ten feet out of the ground and firmly imbedded in the earth so as not to vibrate.

[Illustration: Tether Ball]

The pole should be 7-1/2 inches in circumference at the ground and tapering toward the upper end. Paint a black or white 2-inch band around the pole 6 feet above the ground. Draw a circle about the pole on the ground having a 3-foot radius. A 20-foot line must bisect the circle. Use a tennis ball having a netted or tightly fitting linen cover. The ball is fastened to a string with a ring and suspended from the top of the pole by a piece of heavy braided fish line. The cord should allow the ball to hang 7-1/2 feet. Tennis racquets are used. The two players stand at point marked with an X in the diagram. In the toss-up for courts the loser is the server. The ball may be struck in any manner with the racquet, the endeavor being to wind the string upon the pole above the painted band.

Volley Ball

Stretch a tennis net across the campus and mark a court fifty feet long, to be divided equally by the net. The play consists in keeping in motion the ball over the net from one side to the other, until one fails to return it, which counts as an out. The ball used is similar to a football, only smaller. The game consists of twenty-one points.

Many of the camps have tennis courts and hold tournaments. This game is so universal and familiar that no description will be made.


Aquatic sports may be arranged so that active interest will be taken by all the boys, or they may be simply an exhibition of the swimming abilities of several boys. The former is decidedly preferable. Events should be arranged for the small as well as the large boys.

[Illustration: The Human Frog at Camp Kineo]


The program of events should include a short dash, swimming under water, diving for form, fancy swimming and special st

unts, ribbon awards or inexpensive cups to be given the winners. The Life Saving Corps will have an opportunity to give an exhibition of their skill and alertness, as well as patrol the swimming beach. Good reliable fellows should be appointed to watch each swimmer when in the water. Run no chances at any time that boys are in the water. The following water games have been suggested by A. B. Wegener.

1. Three-legged swimming. 2. Tug of War. 3. Bobbing for Corks. 4. Plunging through hoops for height or distance. 5. Diving for objects. 6. Egg Race; holding the egg in a spoon either in the mouth or hand. 7. Tag games. 8. Potato race; using corks instead of potatoes. 9. Candle race; candles are lighted and must be kept lighted. 10. Various land games may be adapted for water use, such as ball passing (using a water polo ball), relay race, etc.

Water Basket Ball

Two peach baskets, or rope baskets, or two iron rings are hung upon poles five feet above the water and forty feet apart. The game is played similarly to basket ball, except that the players are allowed to advance with the ball. Tackling and ducking are fouls and penalized by allowing a free throw for goal from a point fifteen feet away. There is no out of bounds, and a basket may be thrown from any place in the water. A field goal counts two points, and a goal from a foul one point.

Water Baseball

The outfit required is a tennis ball, a broom stick and four rafts- one large and three small. The batsman and catcher stand on the big raft. On a small raft, ten yards away, stands the pitcher and the other two rafts are placed at easy swimming distance for bases. In striking, everything counts-bunt, swat or foul tip. The moment bat and ball come in contact the batsman starts for first base. There are five men on a side. Lots of fun. Avoid remaining in fresh water too long as it has a tendency to weaken vitality.

Old Clothes Race

The contestants are dressed in a full suit of old clothes. At the word "go" they dive into the water and swim to a float placed at a certain distance away, undress and return. This is a very funny race.


Two boats manned by four boys each. One boy is the spearman and is armed with a light pole about eight or ten feet long, having a soft pad of rags, or better yet, of water-proof canvas duck to keep it from getting wet and soggy. If a flat-bottom boat is used, the spearman stands on one of the end seats. A quarter-deck or raised platform should be built on an ordinary boat or canoe. The battle is fought in rounds and by points. If you put your opponent back into the boat with one foot it counts you 5; two feet, 10. If he loses his spear you count 5 (except when he is put overboard). If you put him down on one knee on the "fighting deck," you count 5; two knees, 10. If you put him overboard it counts 25. One hundred points is a round. A battle is for one or more rounds as agreed upon. It is forbidden to strike below the belt. The umpire may dock for fouls.

Canoe Tag

Any number of canoes or boats may engage in this water game. A rubber football is used. The game is to tag the other canoe or boat by throwing this into it. The rules are as in ordinary cross tag.

Whale Hunt

The "whale" is made of a big log of wood with a rough-shaped head and tail to represent a whale. Two boats are used, each manned by the boys of one tent-the leader acting as captain, a boy as bowman or harpooner, the others as oarsmen. Each boat belongs to a different harbor, the two harbors being some distance apart. The umpire takes the "whale" and lets it loose about half-way between the two harbors and on a signal the two boats race out to see who can get to the "whale" first. The harpooner who first arrives within range of the "whale" drives his harpoon into it and the boat promptly turns around and tows the "whale" to its harbor. The second boat pursues and when it overtakes the other, also harpoons the "whale," turns around and endeavors to tow the "whale" to its harbor. In this way the two boats have a tug-of-war and eventually the better boat tows the "whale" and possibly the opposing boat into its harbor.


[Illustration: Diagram For "Chute"]

A "Shoot-the-Chute" is great fun and one should be built in every permanent camp and "Swimming Hole." The one described is by A. D. Murray and has stood the test of several years in a number of camps.

The plan drawn is for a chute 40 feet long, 3 feet wide and 18 feet high. These dimensions can be changed in length and height, but not in width. The chute is built of 7/8-inch matched pine boards, to the same width as sheet zinc, usually 3 feet; the boards being firmly cleated together on the under side by 2 x 6-inch cleats 5 feet apart, throughout the length of the chute. Boards should be screwed to the cleats from the face of the chute with 1-1/2-inch screws, the heads being counter sunk. The several lengths of zinc are soldered into one piece, the joints being on the under side (as shingles on a roof) fastened to the boards with 8-oz. tacks; set in from the edge about 1 inch and about 6 inches apart. The side strips of maple (soft wood will not do on account of the danger of splintering) 2 inches wide and 3 inches high, rounded slightly on upper edge, are placed directly over the edge of the zinc and covering the tacks. Screw the strips firmly to the chute with 2-inch screws from the under side. These ought to be placed not more than 2 feet apart. Probably each will have two or more strips in making a piece of sufficient length. If so, care should be taken to have the pieces joined on a bevel with a slant from outer edge toward bottom of chute so as to leave no edge. The utmost care should be used to have a perfectly smooth surface on the inside of the chute. A pump or bucket is needed at the top of the chute to wet the surface before the swimmer starts his slide. The supports A, B, C, should be firmly braced with 2 x 4-inch timber, D, and lower end of chute should extend over the pier at least 1 foot and not nearer the surface of the water than 3 feet perpendicularly, allowing the swimmer to enter the water as in a dive. The chute can be fastened to the supporting braces through timbers E, F, into maple side strips with a good heavy log screw. A platform 3 feet wide and 4 feet long near the top of chute, and set just waist deep from the top of chute will make starting easy.


Richard the Lion-hearted, of England, said the five essential points of archery-standing, nocking[1], drawing, holding, and loosing-"honestly represented all the principles of life."

Archery develops the muscles in all-round fashion, particularly those of the shoulder, arm and wrist.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: A nock is the groove at either end of a bow for holding the bowstring or the notch in the end of an arrow that fits on the bowstring.]

The Target

A target can be made of a burlap sack, or oil cloth, about five feet square. Stuff this with hay or straw. It may be flattened by a few quilting stitches put right through with a long packing needle. On this the target is painted. In scoring, the centre is 9, the next circle 7, the next 5, the next 3 and the last circle 1. The shortest match range for the target is forty yards.

The Bow

The bow may be made from any of the following woods-mulberry, sassafras, southern cedar, black locust, black walnut, apple, slippery elm or hickory. In making a bow, select wood with straight grain. The length of the bow should be about the height of the boy using it, or if the boy is between ten and fifteen years of age, his bow should not be less than four feet in length and not more than five feet. When buying a bow get one of lancewood backed with hickory.

Making A Bow

The making of the bow and arrow is described by A. Neeley Hall, as follows: "Cut your piece of wood five feet long, and, after placing it in a bench vise to hold it in position, shape it down with a drawknife or plane until it is one inch wide by one-half inch thick at the handle, and three quarters inch wide by one-quarter inch thick at the ends. The bow can be made round or flat on the face toward the archer. Cut a notch in the bow two inches from each end, as shown in the illustration, from which to attach the bow-string. A cord with as little elasticity as possible should be used for this. A good string can be purchased for twenty-five cents.

[Illustration: Notch for Bowstrings; Length of Bow 5 feet. Wire nail with head cut off (arrow head) Old Canvas Stuffed (target); Loop (in bowstring); slip knot.]

With a home-made bow-string, a loop should be made in one end and bound with thread, as shown in illustration, p. 227. Slip the loop over the upper notch, bend the bow until the center of the string is about five inches away from the handle, and attach the loose end to the lower notch by means of a slip-knot similar to that shown in the drawing. The bow should then be sandpapered until smooth, and thoroughly oiled with linseed oil. Glue a piece of velvet about three inches wide around the center for a handle."

Making Arrows

Arrows are divided into three parts: the head, sometimes called the pile, the shaft and the feathers. The shaft is generally made of hickory, ash, elm or pine, and its length is dependent upon that of the bow. For a five-foot bow, make the length two feet and the width and thickness about one-half inch. For target practice a wire nail driven into the end of the pile, as shown on page 227, with the head of the nail filed off and pointed, makes an excellent head. Feathering is the next operation. Turkey and goose feathers are generally used. Strip off the broader side of the vane of three feathers and glue them to the shaft one inch and a quarter from the notch, spacing them equally from each other. One feather should be placed at right angles to the notch. This is known as the cock feather and should always point away from the bow when the arrow is shot.


The rules for the five essential points are these:

Standing: In taking position to draw the bow, the heels must be seven to eight inches apart, feet firm on the ground, yet easy and springy, not rigid.

Nocking: This is manipulating the bow string. Hold the string with two fingers and the arrow between the first and second fingers. Grip firmly, but not so as to give awkwardness to any finger.

Drawing: In drawing stand with the left shoulder toward the target, turning the head only from the neck and looking over the left shoulder. Then raise the bow with the left hand, keeping the upper end inclined one or two degrees from the body. With the right hand draw the arrow to chin-level and below the ear.

Holding: Steady the aim a moment and keep the point of aim directly in view, looking along the whole length of the arrow.

Loosing: In letting the arrow go, do not jerk, but loose smoothly, and be certain your bow arm does not move when loosing. To get a clean, sharp loose is more than half way to hitting the target.


Indoor and Outdoor Game.(188)-A. M. Chesley. American Sports Publishing


An Athletic Primer, Group XII., No. 87-J. E. Sullivan. American Sports

Publishing Co.

Official Handbook Y. M. C. A. Athletic League, Group XII., No.

302.-American Sports Publishing Co. Tether Tennis, Volley Ball, Etc., No.

188.-American Sports Publishing Co.

The above booklets are published at 10 cents each, and should be in the hands of every camp leader, also the latest guides in Baseball and Tennis.

At Home in the Water-George H. Corsan. Association Press, 75 cents. Twenty pages of this excellent book are devoted to water sports, and it also contains complete rules for Water Polo, a splendid game for adults, but unwise to play in a boys' camp.

The Birch Bark Roll-Ernest Thompson-Seton. Doubleday, Page & Co., 25 cents.

Two Little Savages-Ernest Thompson-Seton. Doubleday, Page & Co., $1.75.

These books give valuable hints on Archery, which is peculiarly adapted for camp life and sport.

The Witchery of Archery-Maurice Thompson. Charles Scribner's Sons, $1.50.

Fascinating and entertaining.

[Illustration: A Lesson in Nature's Classroom]

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