Tramps, Hikes and Overnight Trips

Reach the place where you are going to spend the night in plenty of time to build your “lean-to,” and make your bed for the night. Select your camping spot, with reference to water, wood, drainage, and material for your “lean-to.” Choose a dry, level place..

A Full Chapter Excerpt from Camping For Boys: A Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them, by H. W. Gibson.

TRAMPS, HIKES AND OVERNIGHT TRIPS

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

–Walt Whitman

An Old Tramper’s Advice

It is an excellent thing for the boys to get away from the camp routine for a few days, and walk “the long brown path,” stopping overnight, doing their own cooking, building their “lean-to” or shelter, and roughing it. Walking is probably one of the best all-round cures for the ills of civilization. Several things should be remembered when one goes on a hike. First, avoid long distances. A foot-weary, muscle-tired, and temper-tried, hungry group of boys surely is not desirable. There are a lot of false notions about courage, and bravery, and grit, that read well in print but fail miserably in practice, and long hikes for boys is one of the most glaring of these notions.

Second, have a leader who will set a good, easy pace, say about three miles an hour, prevent the boys from excessive water drinking, and assign the duties of pitching camp, etc. Third, observe these two rules given by an old woodsman: (1) Never walk over anything you can walk around; (2) Never step on anything that you can step over. Every time you step on anything you lift the weight of your body. Why lift extra weight when tramping? Fourth, carry with you only the things absolutely needed, and roll in blanket and poncho, army style.

Map Reading

Before starting on a hike, study carefully the road maps. The best maps are those of the United States Geological Survey, made on a scale of two inches to the mile, and costing five cents each. The map is published in atlas sheets, each sheet representing a small quadrangular district. Send to the Superintendent of Documents, at Washington, D. C., for a list (Modern campers should visit www.usgs.gov/pubprod/).

Universal Map Measure

Tramps And Hikes

A mountaineer in Tennessee said: “We measure miles with a coonskin, and throw in the tail for good measure.” A better way is to purchase the Universal Map Measure, costing $1.50 (imported and sold by Dame, Stoddard Co., 374 Washington Street, Boston, Mass.), which accurately measures the distance upon the Government Survey Maps.

Shoe Wisdom

For tramping the boy needs the right kind of a shoe, or the trip will be a miserable failure. A light-soled or light-built shoe is not suited for mountain work, or even for an ordinary hike. The feet will blister and become “road-weary.” They must be neither too big nor too small nor too heavy, and be amply broad to give the toes plenty of room. The shoe should be water-tight. A medium weight, high-topped lace shoe is about right. Bathing the feet at the springs and streams along the road will be refreshing, if not indulged in too frequently. (See chapter on “Health and Hygiene” for care of the feet and proper way of walking.)

It is well to carry a spare shirt hanging down the back with the sleeves tied round the neck. Change when the shirt you are wearing becomes too wet with perspiration.

The Pack

The most practical and inexpensive pack is the one manufactured for the Boy Scouts of America. Price, sixty cents. It is about 14 by 20 inches square, and 6 inches thick, made of water-proof canvas, with shoulder straps, and will easily hold everything needed for a tramping trip.

A few simple remedies for bruises, cuts, etc., should be taken along by the leader (see chapter on “Simple Remedies”). You may not need them, and some may poke fun at them, but as the old lady said: “You can’t always sometimes tell.” Amount and kind of provisions must be determined by the locality and habitation.

Hiking Pack

Hiking Pack

The “Lean-to”

Reach the place where you are going to spend the night in plenty of time to build your “lean-to,” and make your bed for the night. Select your camping spot, with reference to water, wood, drainage, and material for your “lean-to.” Choose a dry, level place, the ground just sloping enough to insure the water running away from your “lean-to” in case of rain. In building your “lean-to,” look for a couple of good trees standing from eight to ten feet apart with branches from six to eight feet above the ground. By studying the illustration below, you will be able to build a very serviceable shack, affording protection from the dews and rain. While two or more boys are building the shack, another should be gathering firewood, and preparing the meal, while another should be cutting and bringing in as many soft, thick tips of hemlock or balsam boughs as possible, for the roof of the shack and the beds. How to thatch the “lean-to” is shown in this illustration.

If the camp site is to be used for several days, two “lean-tos” may be built facing each other, about six feet apart. This will make a very comfortable camp, as a small fire can be built between the two, thus giving warmth and light.

Frame of Lean-to

Method of Thatching

Method of Thatching

The Bed

On the floor of your “lean-to” lay a thick layer of the “fans” or branches of balsam fir or hemlock, with the convex side up, and the butts of the stems toward the foot of the bed. Now thatch this over with more “fans” by thrusting the butt ends through the first layer at a slight angle toward the head of the bed, so that the soft tips will curve toward the foot of the bed, and be sure to make the head of your bed away from the opening of the “lean-to” and the foot toward the opening. Over this bed spread your rubber blanket with rubber side down, your sleeping blanket on top, and you will be surprised how soft, springy, and fragrant a bed you have, upon which to rest your “weary frame,” and sing with the poet:

Then the pine boughs croon me a lullaby,
And trickle the white moonbeams
To my face on the balsam where I lie
While the owl hoots at my dreams.

–J. George Frederick.

What God puts in the blood is eliminated slowly and we are all impregnated with a love for the natural life which is irresistible. That was a great saying of the boy who was taken from the city for the first time on an all-night outing. Snugly tucked up in his blankets he heard the wind singing in the pines overhead. As the boy looked up, he asked, “Wasn’t God blowing His breath down at us?”

–Dr. Lilburn.

Hot Stones

If the night bids fair to be cold, place a number of stones about six or eight inches in diameter next the fire, so they will get hot. These can then be placed at the feet, back, etc., as needed, and will be found good “bed warmers.” When a stone loses its heat it is replaced near the fire and a hot one is taken. If too hot, wrap the stone in a shirt or sweater or wait for it to cool off.

Night Watchers

Boys desire adventure. This desire may be gratified by the establishment of night watchers, in relays of two boys every two hours. Their imaginations will be stirred by the resistless attraction of the camp-fire and the sound of the creatures that creep at night.

Observation

Many boys have excellent eyes but see not, and good ears but hear not, all because they have not been trained to observe or to be quick to hear. A good method of teaching observation while on a hike or tramp is to have each boy jot down in a small notebook or diary of the trip the different kinds of trees, birds, animals, tracks; nature of roads, fences; peculiar rock formation, smells of plants, etc., and thus be able to tell what he saw or heard to the boys upon his return to the permanent camp or to his home.

Cameras

One of the party should take a Brownie No. 2 or small folding Kodak (small pocket cameras). Photos of the trip are always a great pleasure and a memory reviver. A practical and convenient method of carrying small folding cameras is described in “Forest and Stream.” A strap with a buckle having been attached to an ordinary leather belt is run through the loops at the back of the camera-case. The camera may be pushed around the belt to the point where it will be least in the way.

Lamps

A very convenient lamp to use on a hike is the Baldwin Camp Lamp, made by John Simmons Co., 13 Franklin Street, New York City. (Price, $1.00.) It weighs only five ounces when fully charged with carbide, and is but 4-3/4 inches high. It projects a strong light 150 feet through the woods. A stiff wind will not blow it out. It can be worn comfortably in your hat or belt.

Lantern

Rocky Mountain Lantern

The “Rocky Mountain Searchlight,” made of a discarded tomato can, a candle, and a bit of wire for a handle, is a camp product that will be found to be very useful in an emergency.

The can is carried lengthwise, with the wire handle run through a hole in the closed end on through the entire length of the can and out the open end. Do not wrap the handle wire around the can. It will slip off. Two cuts, crossing each other, make the candle opening, with the cut edges bent inward. The candle is pushed upward as it burns down, the flame being kept in the middle of the can. The cut edges prevent it from falling out until the last hold is melted away. The “Searchlight” gives good service when hung in the tent or on a nearby tree, but is especially valuable in lighting up a rough path on a rainy, windy night.

Rocky Mountain Lantern

Camp Hanger

Camp Hanger

The camp hanger shown in the illustration can be hung from the ridgepole of the tent, and is particularly useful when from two to four persons occupy the tent. It can be raised and lowered at will by attaching the hanger to a pulley arrangement. The hanger may be made of wood in any length. Ordinary coat hooks are fastened to the side with screws. A common screw-eye is used for the line at the top. A snap hook attached to the rope facilitates its removal at will.

A boy of ingenuity can make a number of convenient things. A good drinking cup may be made from a piece of birch bark cut in parallelogram shape, and twisted into pyramid form, and fastened with a split stick. (See illustrations below.) A flat piece of bark may serve as a plate. A pot lifter may be made from a green stick about 18 inches long, allowing a few inches of a stout branch to remain. By reversing the same kind of stick and driving a small nail near the other end or cutting a notch, it may be used to suspend kettles over a fire. A novel candlestick is made by opening the blade of a knife and jabbing it into a tree, and upon the other upturned blade putting a candle. A green stick having a split end which will hold a piece of bread or meat makes an excellent broiler. Don’t pierce the bread or meat. Driving a good-sized green stake into the ground at an angle of 45 degrees and cutting a notch in which may be suspended a kettle over the fire, will provide a way of boiling water quickly.

For suggestions in building a camp-fire and cooking on hikes, see chapter on “Cooking on Hikes.”

Cool Stuff to Make

Birch bark cup, Camp fire tongs, Camp Broiler, Bark Plate,
A Novel Candlestick, Pot Lifter, Pot Hook, To Boil Water Quickly.

____________________
“Tramps, Hikes and Overnight Trips” is a Chapter Excerpt from Camping For Boys: A Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them, by H. W. Gibson. Learn more at www.BetterDaysBooks.com.

Originally published in 1913, Camping for Boys is a classic “… handbook of suggestions for those in charge of camps for boys and for boys who go camping…” based on H. W. Gibson’s 23 years of experience in the late 19th and early 20th Century “boys’ camp movement,” out of which arose such positive, character and culture-shaping organizations as the Boy Scouts of America. While aimed chiefly at leaders planning camp activities for groups of six to one hundred boys (especially Christian leaders hoping to build youthful character with an inspiring blend of outdoor fun, Bible study and Traditional moral instruction), Camping for Boys includes a treasure trove of exciting woodcraft lore sure to thrill every red-blooded American boy, with instructions for building tents and lean-to’s, making – and using! – real bows and arrows, etc., along with useful lessons in Camp Cooking, Personal Hygiene, First Aid, Athletics, Games, Nature Study, Weather Forecasting and much, much more!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Tramps, Hikes and Overnight Trips

  1. I read a great book on camping by an ex-SAS soldier who said that the best method of surviving in the outdoors is to make life as easy as possible for yourself. There’s nothing to be gained by showing-off, as you say. It’s hard enough making your own shelter without passing out because you didn’t take enough water.

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