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Camping For Boys By H. W. Gibson Characters: 22468

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


'Tis education forms the common mind;

Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.


A boy is better unborn than untaught.-Gascoigne

Camping should not be merely a time of loafing or "having fun." The boy who has returned from a camp, having learned some definite thing, whether it be different from the school curriculum or supplementary to his school work, has accomplished something and his outing has been of use to him. All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy, as well as "all work and no play." Recreative and constructive education forms a combination which appeals strongly to a boy. He would call it, "doing things," and in the doing would have fun galore.

In addition to nature study, woodcraft, first-aid instruction and similar types of educational activities in vogue in boy's camps, there are many other forms of educational activities which boys can engage in during the camping season.

Whittlers' Club

A "Whittlers' Club," organized to meet one hour several mornings a week, proved attractive to a group of boys in one camp. Under the leadership of a man who understood "Sloyd" [1] work the boys were taught how to handle a knife, and it is surprising how few boys really know how to handle this useful article found in every boy's pocket. They were also taught to know the different kinds of wood, bark, grain, and method of cutting and sawing wood for building and furniture purposes, etc. A popular model was a paper knife made of wild cherry. The bark was permitted to remain on the handle, while the other end was whittled evenly and smoothly for cutting leaves of books or magazines. With the aid of a pyrography set the name of the camp and that of the owner of the knife was burned on the handle.

[Transcriber's Footnote 1: Manual training developed in Sweden, using woodworking tools.]


Carved paddles, war clubs, hiking sticks, etc., were used to display the artistic ability of the boys who brought to camp pyrography sets. The camp name, date of hikes, miles travelled, and other interesting information was burned on these souvenirs. Shields containing the athletic records and names of honor boys were made and hung upon the walls of the permanent building.

Boat Building

[Illustration: Boat Building at Camp Durrell]

In one large camp an experienced boatman was engaged, and under his direction three large dories were built by the boys. Plans were carefully worked out, lumber purchased, and details of boat construction explicitly explained. It took three weeks to build the boats, but no boats of the fleet were used and appreciated as much by the boys as these which represented so much of their own labor and time. (See illustration.) Working plans and "knocked down" material for building boats may be purchased from a number of firms. Building a boat during the winter by boys who are contemplating going camping, aids to the anticipation of the delightful summer time.

[Illustration: "Pyramus and Thisbe," Players Scene from Midsummer Night's

Dream; Camp Becket]


"The Player's Scene," from "Midsummer Night's Dream," has been given several times outdoors with great success in the camps conducted by the writer. The boys were coached by a graduate of a School of Oratory, costumes were made by the boys out of all sorts of material, make-up was bought from a theatrical supply house and the scenery supplied by nature. Footlights were lanterns set in front of reflectors made from old tomato cans. The path leading to the natural amphitheatre was lighted by Japanese lanterns and the guests were seated on the ground. In the words of Hamlet, "The Play's the Thing," and boys and visitors are always enthusiastic over the presentation, while the players get a new conception of Shakespeare's plays and writings. "Hiawatha" was given with equal enthusiasm and success.

Lantern Talks

Since the invention of the inexpensive Reflectoscope, illustrated talks in camp are now possible. Travel talks, using postal cards from different parts of the world, postals telling the "Story of the Flag," "State Seals and their Mottoes," etc., are now published in series, and will be found to be very interesting and instructive. A number of the large camps have stereopticons. Lantern slides with accompanying lecture may be rented at reasonable rates, such as "The True Sportsman," and "Personal and National Thrift," sent out by the Moral Education League, Baltimore, Md., for the East. Any first-class firm dealing in lantern slides can furnish a number of valuable lectures with slides. A sheet hung between two trees on a dark night makes an excellent screen on which to show pictures.


Every camp should have a library or at least a small collection of good books. In most cases arrangements can be made with a near-by library or with the State Library for the loan of books for a certain period of time. Camps having permanent buildings should "grow" a library. The excellent library of 1,200 books in the camp of the writer was given by the boys (see illustration).

[Illustration: Book Identification]

Gummed book labels were sent to each boy with the suggestion that he paste them in books which he could bring to camp to present to the library. Some boys would bring as many as ten books from the home library, all good, readable books. The books are catalogued and a loan system established, under the "Department of Education," and the following rules govern the library and use of books:

1. Library open for one-half hour after dinner daily except on Sunday, when it will be open for one-half hour after breakfast.

2. Books can be kept out three days. If kept overtime a charge of two (2) cents per day is made. Books may be renewed if returned on day due, otherwise the usual charge will be made.

3. From 9 o'clock A. M. to 12 o'clock M., and from 2 o'clock P. M., books may be taken away to read in the room, but must not be taken outside the building under any condition. Violation of this rule will deprive the violator of the use of the books for three days.

4. Please bring small change to pay fines.


The following announcement is sent by the writer to parents and boys concerning tutoring in camp:


Provides Opportunity For

(1) Those who, on account of illness or other unavoidable circumstances, have fallen behind their grade and wish to catch up by summer study.

(2) Those who, on account of poor work or failure in examination, cannot be promoted unless they do special work during the vacation time.

(3) Those who have not fully mastered a given subject and desire to review and strengthen themselves in the subject.

(4) Those who wish to use their summer in order to earn an extra promotion.


Many of our camp leaders are college men and have the requisite scholarship to conduct the academic feature of the camp. The instruction is very largely individual and is given in the morning and does not interfere with the recreation life. The combination of study and recreation makes tutoring attractive and stimulating.


Any subject in the grammar or high school curriculum.


Two or three periods per week will be given to each subject.


One dollar per week will be charged for each subject.

An accurate record is kept of every boy being tutored, on a card (see illustration), and a duplicate sent to his parent at the close of the season.

[Illustration: Report Cards]


To stimulate interest in photography, a contest is held during the latter part of the camping season for a cup, to be awarded to the boy securing the best collection of photographs of camp life. The award is determined upon: first, selection of subjects, and, second, execution of detail. Ribbon awards are given for the best individual photograph in these three classes: (a) portraits, (b) groups, (c) landscapes. The regulations governing the contest are:

1. Exposure, developing, and printing must be the work of the exhibitor.

2. Mounted or unmounted photographs may be submitted.

3. All photographs must be handed in before 12 o'clock noon (date inserted).

For camps having good dark rooms, the following rules may be suggestive:

1. Key to the dark room must be returned to the office immediately after using room and locking same.

2. If films are drying, inform the office of same, so that the next user may be notified and care taken not to disturb the films.

3. Room must be kept clean: (a) Do not wipe shelves with the hand towels. (b) Hang hand towels on nail provided. (c) Leave buckets and trays in clean condition. (d) Put paper, empty tubes, etc., in box provided for same and not upon the floor.

4. Use only the buckets provided, and not those used for kitchen or camp purposes.

5. Use only your own property and that provided by the camp, and never touch the property or films or plates of others.

Camp Paper

Every large camp has its official organ or camp paper. An editorial board is appointed, and the doings of the camp recorded in a permanent manner through the weekly issue or reading of the paper. Various names are given the paper, such as "The Camp Log," "Dudley Doings," "Seen and Heard," "Wawayanda Whirlwind," "The Maskwa," "The Wyanoka Log," "Kinoe Kamper." Some of these papers are printed and others are mimeographed and sold to the campers at five cents a copy. Most of them, however, are written in a book and read at the camp fire.


Where a camp is located so as to be near a farm, opportunity should be given city boys to study soil, rotation of crops, gardening, etc. In cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and under the leadership of a student of an Agricultural College, an experiment in raising vegetables may be tried in long-term camps. A plot of ground may be plowed and harrowed, and sub-divided into as many plots as there are tents, each tent to be given a plot and each boy in the tent his "own row to hoe," the boy to make his own choice of seed, keep a diary of temperature, sunshine, rainfall, when the first blade appeared; make an elementary analysis of soil, use of fertilizer and other interesting data. Prepare for an exhibit of vegetables. Whatever the boys raise may be cooked and eaten at their table. Free agricultural bulletins will be sent upon application to the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. Farmers' Bulletin 385 tells about Boys' Agricultural Clubs.


The subject of forestry is akin to camping. Much valuable instruction may be given boys regarding the forests of the locality in which the camp is located, kind of land, character and use of woods, how utilized-conservatively o

r destructively-for saw timber, or other purposes, protection of forests, forest fires, etc. Send to United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., for Forest Service Circular 130, "Forestry in the Public Schools;" Farmers' Bulletin 173, "A Primer of Forestry," Part I; Farmers' Bulletin 358, "A Primer of Forestry," Part II.


The Handbook of the Boy Scouts of America is full of information regarding knot tying, signalling, tracking, use of compass, direction and time calculator, etc., which every boy should know. Scoutcraft would furnish recreational education for scores of boys.

Record Books

Boys like to carry home some permanent record of personal achievements while at camp, autographs of fellow campers, etc. A rather unique record is used by the boys at Camp Wawayanda. The illustration shows the card which was used. "A Vacation Diary," in the form of vest pocket memorandum book, bound in linen, is published by Charles R. Scott, State Y. M. C. A. Committee, Newark, N. J. Price, 10 cents.


Scientific kite flying is one of the best things a boy can indulge in. Hiye-Sho-To, a Japanese, gives this interesting information about kites. "To all Japanese the kite is symbolic of worthy, soaring ambitions, such as the work upward to success in school, or in trade, and so on. When a child is born, little kites are sent up by modest households to announce the arrival. Kites are also flown to celebrate birthdays. To lose a kite is considered an omen of ill-luck."

"For the control of a box kite, I prefer the lightest steel wire to a cord. This wire is about the thickness of an ordinary pin, with a tensile strength at the point of breaking of quite three hundred pounds. In handling a kite with such a wire-ground connection, a boy should always have rough gloves on his hands, that the wire may not cut them.

"Having a kite of this kind, or even two and three, so that on a single wire he can keep sending them higher and higher into the atmosphere, a boy can begin what we were wont to call in Yeddo our 'kite education.' First, he can make himself his own weather prophet. Self-registering thermometers are no longer very expensive. He can wire one of these to his kite, and, by knowing the length of wire he has in hand and the amount he pays out while the kite is up, ascertain just what the air temperature is 200 feet, 500 feet, 1,000 feet, 3,000 feet above him.

[Illustration: Box Kites]

"There are wind gauges of cheap construction, moisture gauges which will note the coming of rain, small cameras that will automatically take pictures while the kite is in the air, that may be attached to these kites, and from the work of which valuable information may be obtained."

The following instruction for making a box kite was given in "The American

Boy," April, 1909.

"Any boy can make a box kite. The material used may be any tough, light wood, such as spruce, cypress, bass-wood, or cedar. Cut four pieces 42 inches in length, and sixteen pieces 18 inches in length. The cuts show clearly how they are to be put together. Use glue and small brads at every point. The bridle cord is fastened 6 inches from each end of the box. This is best done before the cloth is put on the kite. Light cheese cloth may be used, and should be secured with glue and small brads at the last lap. When the cloth is in place paint it with thin varnish or glue to fill up the meshes and stretch it.

"The reason why box kites made by boys have a tendency to lie down flat on the ground is that they are not proportioned correctly. The proportions given here are correct. The painting, decorating, and tinting are matters of personal taste and skill."

The principle of kite flying is simple. Air is a fluid like water, but on account of the many changes of temperature, to which it is subjected, it constantly changes its density and is found to consist of layers or strata. These layers are not all flat and parallel, but take every variety of shape as the clouds do. In flying a kite you simply pull it up one of those layers just as you would pull a sled or wagon up a hill. Always run facing the wind.


Aeroplane season is now a calendar event in the boy's life. Many boys are engaged in building these fascinating little ships of the air. "The Boy's Book of Model Aeroplanes," by Francis A. Collins, Century Co. ($1.20 net), gives complete directions how to build these marvellous new toys. Form a club and conduct an "Aviation" meet during the season. Spon and Chamberlain, 123 North Liberty Street, New York City, sell a complete full-sized set of drawings for building three model aeroplanes. Price, 50 cents.


[Illustration: A Parachute Idea]

The parachute, in its various forms, has always been a favorite with boys. The idea is to make an umbrella-shaped contraption out of tissue paper and a stick, so that when it descends from any considerable height it will open out and float slowly to the ground. This part is easy enough. The trouble has always been to get it up in the air high enough to repay one for his efforts in making it. The idea that a common sling shot had propelling power sufficient for this purpose led to experiments which proved that the idea was a happy one. The combination of sling shot and parachute makes a very fascinating outdoor amusement device. Every time you shoot it into the air you try to make it go higher than last time.

To make the parachute, get a tough stick about two feet long and whittle it to a shape similar to Fig. 2. The bottom must be heavy enough to fall first so that the parachute will fall in the right direction to be opened out. You can weight the end by tying a piece of lead or a spool on it. Cut your tissue paper to a shape shown in Fig. 2 and place a thread through every scallop. If the paper tears right through, a good plan is to reinforce the edges of the circle by pasting a strip of tough paper or muslin all around. A parachute made of silk or any fine mesh cloth will be much more lasting, but not quite so buoyant.

The sling shot is made with a rubber band, some string, and a forked stick. The greater its propelling power, the more successful will the toy be.

Box Furniture

Instead of using for firewood the boxes in which groceries, etc., are shipped to camp, have the boys make useful camp furniture from them. Get the book, "Box Furniture," by Louise Brigham: The Century Co.; price, $1.50. It tells what to do with boxes, and how to make all sorts of convenient furniture.

Camp Clock

Mark the ground around the camp flag pole with white stones or stones whitewashed, like a sun dial. The sun's rays will cast the shadow of the pole so that the time of day may be accurately ascertained. (See illustration.) In the handbook of the Boy Scouts of America is the following description for making a Sun dial or Hunter's Clock: "To make a sun dial prepare a smooth board about 15 inches across, with a circle divided into 24 equal parts, and a temporarily hinged pointer, whose upper edge is in the middle of the dial. Place on some dead level solid post or stump in the open. At night fix the dial so that the 12-o'clock line points exactly to North, as determined by the North or Pole Star. Then, using two temporary sighting sticks of exactly the same height (so as to permit sighting clear above the edge of the board), set the pointer exactly pointing to the Pole Star, that is, the same angle as the latitude of the place, and fix it there immovably. Then remove the two sighting sticks."

[Illustration: Camp Clock]


Some Quotations to Burn or Paint on the Sun Dial.

"My face marks the sunny hours,

What can you say of yours."

"Grow old along with me,

The best is yet to be."

Translation of motto on Cathedral Sun dial, St. Augustine.

"The hours pass and we are held accountable."

The illustration shows how to locate the North or Pole Star.

F. O. Van Ness gives the following directions for making a pair of moccasins:

[Illustration: Sioux Moccasin]

Fig. 1. Place foot on leather or canvas and draw outline of foot. Turn same and make pattern for other foot.

Fig. 2. Distance GB equals length of foot plus one inch; distance AC equals width across instep plus one-half inch; cut DF halfway between B and G; cut EG halfway between A and C. Cut piece reverse of this for other moccasin. Place B of Fig. 2 to B of Fig. 1, and sew overhand with wax cord the edges from B to A and B to C, bringing A and C of Fig. 2 together at A of Fig. 1. Sew AG to CG.

Fig. 3 is the tongue and DF of Fig. 3 is sewed to DF of Fig. 2. Cut pairs of half-inch slits a, b, c, d in Fig. 2, and run lace through.


For the afternoon "siesta" make a "rough-and-ready" hammock, by taking apart a flour barrel or sugar barrel, and in the end of each stave bore a three-quarter inch hole with a heated poker, or bit and auger. Then lace thin rope (clothes line is good) through the holes. This can be accomplished easily by noting method of lacing in figure "A." The stay-blocks "B" should be 12 inches long. Figure "C" shows hammock ready for use.

[Illustration: Rough and Ready Hammock]

A Toboggan

Get a cheese box. Knock in the end very carefully, so as not to split it, pull out all the nails and lay it flat, and you have a piece of very thin board about 4-1/2 feet long and 11 inches wide. Next take a piece of inch plank of same width as the cheese box, and three feet in length, and to this fasten the unrolled cheese box by using small lath nails, letting one end curl up over the plank. To the edge of this protruding piece of cheese box tack a narrow strip of wood. Tie a heavy cord to its ends, run the cord through the two hooks screwed into the planks and draw down the end until it is curved just right. The illustration shows how it is made.

[Illustration: Home Made Toboggan.]

Handy Funnel

[Illustration: A Handy Funnel]

A funnel may be made by taking an ordinary envelope and cutting off the part shown in dotted lines as in the illustration. Then clip a little off the point, open out, and you have an excellent funnel.

Onion Ink

Dip a pen in an onion and press until the juice comes; then, with plenty of juice on the pen, write your message. To read it warm it over the fire, when the writing will stand out clearly.



Field and Forest Handy Book-D. C. Beard. Charles Scribner's Sons, $2.00.

Jack of All Trades-D. C. Beard. Charles Scribner's Sons, $2.00.

The Boy Pioneers-D. C. Beard. Charles Scribner's Sons, $2.00 net.

The Boy Craftsman-A. Neely Hall. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., $2.00.

Woodworking for Beginners-C. G. Wheeler. Putnam and Company, $2.50.

Amateur Mechanics, Nos. 1 and 2. Popular Mechanics. 25 cents each. How to

Build a Biplane Glider-A. P. Morgan. Spon & Chamberlain, 50 cents net.

Problems in Furniture Making-Fred D. Crawshaw. Manual Arts Press, $1.20.

Box Furniture-Louise Brigham. Century Co., $1.60 net.

The Boys' Book of Model Aeroplanes-Francis A. Collins. Century Co., $1.20 net. Postage extra.

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