How to Camp Out – Things Every Camper Should Know

Healthful Sports for Boys

.A chapter from the Better Days Books release Healthful Sports For Boys: The American Boy’s Ultimate Guide to Building Confidence, Strength and Good Moral Character Through Sports, Games, Camping, Boating, Swimming, Cycling, Skating, Sledding, Sleight of Hand Magic and More! by Alfred Rochefort.

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HOW TO CAMP OUT–

THINGS EVERY CAMPER SHOULD KNOW...

Camping out is not in itself a game, but it would be hard to imagine a more delightful way for the boy or the man who has still something of the boy in him to spend a vacation.
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Of course, boys in the country have more opportunities to learn about camping than boys living in the city. One thing is that they are more familiar with tools, but city boys are perhaps more eager for the life, as it is so primitive and in such striking contrast to their usual way of living.
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Before going into camp there are many things for the camper to learn if he does not know how, and one of these things is how to make a fire. If one has matches, kindling and wood there is no trick in making a camp fire, but there is a good trick in making a fire where there are no matches and the wood is green or wet. Of course, you know that men built fires in houses and camps many, many hundreds of years ago, but you may not know that up to one hundred years ago matches, which are now so cheap and so abundant, were practically unknown. How, then, did they start fires?
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Our own Indians get fire– I have seen them do it– by rotating a hard upright stick in a cup-shaped hollow of lighter wood, in which dry charcoal or the fungus-like shavings of punk were placed. Cotton or any other substance that ignites easily would answer as well. This is getting fire by friction.
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Every hunter in the West and among the Indians and Mexicans of two continents now carries a flint and steel, and a dry substance to catch and retain the spark. This substance with a full outfit can now be had in most stores that supply sporting goods, and every camper should have a supply.
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The back of a jackknife, a bit of flint-like rock, such as quartz, and some very dry cotton lint– kept for protection in a close box – will do just as well as the manufactured outfit, and it can nearly always be had. If you carry half-charred cotton rags in a box or bottle you will find them of use in making fire.
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.SHELTER

Camps are either temporary, that is changed from day to day, or they are permanent and may be visited year after year, or they may be used for a few weeks at a time. Temporary camps are the ones we are considering, and these can be elaborate or very, very simple. I prefer the latter, and I am sure the boys will agree with me.

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During the autumn and when the weather is dry and the nights not too cool, the best way to camp is in the open, sleeping on beds of boughs, about a roaring fire, and with one blanket under and another over.
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Small dog tents, such as our soldiers carried in the Civil War, are cheap and very convenient. Each man carried a section, and two made a tent, into which two men crawled when it rained, but in dry weather they preferred to sleep in the open, even when it was freezing.
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Shelters of boughs, arranged A fashion from a ridge pole make good temporary shelters and are first rate as wind brakes at night.
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If you have to sleep on the ground, you should have a poncho, that is a blanket faced with rubber on one side, to keep the body from too close a contact with the wet earth. The ideal camping place is near a good spring or beside a stream of pure water, in a natural grove with plenty of dry dead wood in the vicinity. The dry wood should be protected from rain if you are camping in the same place for some time.
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The camp fire should be made of two thick green sticks or legs to be used as andirons. These should be placed about eighteen inches apart, so as to keep the lighter, dryer fuel off the ground. They will also serve to support the cooking pots. Where stones can be had, they serve well for andirons.
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A shack built of crossed logs requires some time to build and some skill to make, but it is not beyond the reach of any boy who has seen – and who has not– an old-fashioned log shanty.
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Be sure to select a dry place for your camp, and if you are to stay for any time take care to keep it scrupulously clean, burning every scrap that might attract flies or the smaller wild animals, or might make a stench.
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Mr. Beard, an authority in such matters, writes:
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“Never pitch your tent in a hollow or depression, or you may find yourself in the middle of a pond. Soldiers always dig a ditch around their tents. The floor, which is often your bed, can be covered with straw, if straw is obtainable; if not, fir boughs; these lie flatter than spruce. It is best to lay the foundation of good-sized branches, cover them with smaller ones, and over all place a deep layer of fir twigs broken off the length of your hand and laid shingle-fashion, commencing at the foot of your bed, or the doorway of your shack or tent, each succeeding row of boughs covering the thick ends of the previous row. A properly made bough bed is as comfortable as a mattress, but one in which the ends of the sticks prod your ribs all night is not a couch that tends to make a comfortable night’s rest.
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“Candles, lamps and lanterns add to the luggage of a camper and may be dispensed with, yet it often happens that you will need a light at night. If you do, remember that almost any sort of fat or grease will burn with a wick.”
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Boys from our cities have even a greater desire to get back to the heart of Mother Nature than have country boys, perhaps because they find a greater novelty in the forests, the streams and the untrammeled conditions of our primitive ancestors. But even the boy brought up on the farm heartily enjoys the freedom of the camp, and he takes naturally to all its requirements.

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IF LOST

.But all boys, even trained foresters, are apt to get lost in strange woods; but no matter the person, it is well to know what to do under such circumstances. As a rule the denser growth of moss on trees is on the north side. This knowledge may help find the direction; but it is better to carry a small pocket compass.

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When the sky is clear, the sun and the stars help to guide the course, and if followed one is saved from traveling in a circle, as the lost are pretty sure to do in a dense forest.
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If twigs are broken from bushes they will serve to show the course to those out searching. A good plan is to follow down the course of a stream, which always flows into a larger body of water and will lead to some abode. If a hill is accessible, the lay of the land may be had from its summit.
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In any event, should you be lost, do not get rattled. You will be missed in camp and a search will be made by your friends. If you have to stay in the woods all night, make the best of it. Others have made the best of it by sleeping near the foot of a tree or beside a log. It will be more cheery if you can make a fire without danger to the woods.

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THE OUTFIT

.Now the camping outfit, including enough provisions for the proposed stay, must be carried, and unless the stay is to be short, a wagon or pack animals should be provided for this purpose. In the army and out West mules are used for this purpose, but any quiet horse will do just as well.

The old sawbuck saddle, shaped like the letter X, answers very well, but the Mexican pack, known as the aparcho, is much better. It is made of a plated straw matting, on which is fastened a strong wicker-work saddle, and a properly folded blanket, for you must be careful that the animal’s back does not get sore. The saddle is fastened by pliant ropes, or broad belts of leather, called in the West “cinches,” to fasten which securely requires some skill, as they pass through a circular ring and are secured by a hitch or peculiar knot that holds well and can be unfastened with a quick jerk.
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For a journey of ten miles or more I would not advise you to make the pack load more than two hundred pounds, though I have known mules to carry three hundred pounds at a pace of twenty miles a day over rough trails.
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If the pack is heavy, it may be lightened by having each camper carry his own blankets, in a roll, the case resting on the right shoulder. I would advise each to carry a canteen if there is danger of your being long away from good water.
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You should have the following articles: A long-handled frying pan, a bunch of a half dozen pieces of telegraph wire, each two feet long, with which to make a spider or broiler; by simply laying them across the fire or over the hot coals you have a gridiron; you may bundle it up when its work is done; three or four assorted tin buckets for cooking purposes and for water; a tin coffee pot; a long iron fork; a long iron spoon; some cheap tin cups, plates and spoons, and some forks and knives.
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Do not depend upon the fish and game for food supply, but take along some boneless bacon and fat pork. With the latter, you can cook your fish, and the former is good for a relish with whatever fresh meat you may secure. Then you should have some good ground coffee in a tightly closed box. Some tea in a screw-top glass preserve jar, sugar, salt, prepared flour, corn meal, rice, beans, oatmeal, condensed milk, evaporated cream, crackers, and as much canned or dried fruits as you can transport without overloading– these are not necessaries, but all of them will come handy.
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Worth Remembering: It is not well for a lot of boys, no matter how strong and intelligent, to go off camping unless one of their number has had practical experience in that kind of life. It would be better to have a man in the party and to follow his instructions, as a soldier obeys his superior.
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Before starting off it will be well to learn just what each member of the party can do best, and assign him to that work for the time. Afterwards it might be advisable to take turns at the work thought to be least agreeable.
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Cooking, washing dishes, gathering fuel and keeping the camp in order are just as essential as hunting or fishing, more so, indeed; for cooking, etc., are necessary, while fishing and hunting are pleasures.
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Keep your own person clean and carry along needles and thread so that you may be able to repair the rents in your own clothes.
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Before going into camp every boy should know how to wash, dry and fold his own flannel shirt, stockings and hand-kerchiefs.
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The captain of the camp should write out his orders and post them so that they can be read by all; nothing should be left to chance.
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Under all circumstances keep your temper and remember your companions are entitled to a good time as well as yourself.

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Don’t be selfish, and don’t go camping with boys who have that vulgar characteristic.
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This is a sample chapter from the Better Days Books release Healthful Sports For Boys: The American Boy’s Ultimate Guide to Building Confidence, Strength and Good Moral Character Through Sports, Games, Camping, Boating, Swimming, Cycling, Skating, Sledding, Sleight of Hand Magic and More! by Alfred Rochefort. To order your copy, visit www.BetterDaysBooks.com.

Originally published in 1910, Alfred Rochefort’s HEALTHFUL SPORTS FOR BOYS is an optimistic “Can Do!” prescription for the kind of vigorous, competitive, yet thoroughly wholesome boyhood that for more than two centuries has reliably bred great American men of character, courage and good common sense. In our 21st Century, “post-modern” era of video games, virtual reality and “couch potato kids,” Rochefort’s vision of active boys creating fun with their own minds and muscles is a reminder of everything great about boys and about America, and a Clarion Call to a new generation to “get up and get great!” — Before it’s too late!

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