Camp Fire Yarn No. 5
LIFE IN THE OPEN
Exploration • Mountaineering
Patrolling Night Work Finding the Way Finding the North
• Weather WisdomIN SOUTH AFRICA one of the finest tribes were the Zulus. Every man was a good warrior and a good scout,
because he had learned scouting as a boy.
When a boy was old enough to become a warrior, he was stripped of his clothing and painted
white all over. He was given a shield with which to protect himself and an assegai or small spear for killing animals or enemies.
He was then turned loose in the "bush".
If anyone saw him while he was still white he would hunt him and kill him. And that white paint
took about a month to wear off -it would not wash off.
So for a month the boy had to hide away in the jungle, and live the best he could.
He had to follow up the tracks of deer and creep up near enough to spear the animal in order
to get food and clothing for himself. He had to make fire to cook his food, by rubbing two sticks together. He had to be careful
not to let his fire smoke too much, or it would catch the eye of scouts on the lookout to hunt him.
He had to be able to run long distances, to climb trees, and to swim rivers in order to escape
from his pursuers. He had to be brave, and stand up to a lion or any other wild animal that attacked him. He had to know which
plants were good to eat and which were poisonous. He had to build himself a hut to live in, well hidden.
He had to take care that wherever he went he left no foot tracks by which he could be followed
For a month he had to live this life, sometimes in burning heat, sometimes in cold and rain.
When at last the white stain had worn off, he was permitted to return to his village. He was
then received with great joy, and was allowed to take his place among the young warriors of the tribe. He had proved that
he was able to look after himself.
In South America the boys of the Yaghan tribe-down in the cold, rainy regions of Patagonia-also
undergo a test of pluck before they are allowed to consider themselves men. For this test the boy must drive a spear deep
into his thigh and smile all the time in spite of the pain.
It is a cruel test, but it shows that those savages understood how necessary it is that boys
should be trained to manliness and not be allowed to drift into being poor-spirited wasters who can only look on at men's
If every boy works hard at Scouting he will, at the end of it, have some claim to call himself
a Scout and a man, and will find that he will have no difficulty in looking after himself.
The Cub looks up to the Boy Scout,
and the Boy Scout looks up to the old scout or pioneer.TRAINING
FOR THE BACKWOODS
An old Canadian scout and trapper, over eighty years of age, Bill Hamilton, once wrote a book
called My Sixty Years in the Plains describing the dangers of the adventurous life of the early pioneer:
"I have often been asked," Hamilton wrote, "why we exposed ourselves to such dangers. My answer
has always been that there was a charm in the open-air life of a scout from which one cannot free himself after he has once
come under its spell. Give me the man who has been raised among the great things of nature. He cultivates truth, independence,
and self-reliance. He has generous impulses. He is true to his friends, and true to the flag of his country."
I can fully endorse what this old scout has said, and, what is more, I find that those men
who come from the farthest frontiers-from what we should call a rude and savage life-are among the most generous and chivalrous
of their race, especially toward women and weaker folk. They become "gentle men" by their contact with nature."Play Hard-Work
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America (1901-1909), also believed in
outdoor life. When returning from an hunting trip in East Africa he inspected some Boy Scouts in London, and expressed great
admiration for them. He wrote:- "I believe in outdoor games, and I do not mind in the least that they are rough games, or
that those who take part in them are occasionally injured. I have no sympathy with the overwrought sentiment which would keep
a young man in cottonwool. The out-of-doors man must always prove the better in life's contest. When you play, play hard;
and when you work, work hard. But do not let your play and your sport interfere with your study."Learn to Look after Yourself
The truth is that men brought up in a civilized country have no training whatever in looking
after themselves out on the veldt or plains, or in the backwoods. The consequence is that when they go
into wild country they are for a long time perfectly helpless, and go through a lot of hardship
and trouble which would not occur if they learned, while boys, to look after themselves in camp. They are just a lot of "tenderfoots".
They have never had to light a fire or to cook their own food- that has always been done for
them. At home when they wanted water, they merely had to turn on the tap- therefore they had no idea of how to set about finding
water in a desert place by looking at the grass, or bush, or by scratching at the sand till they found signs of dampness.
If they lost their way, or did not know the time, they merely had to ask somebody else. They had always had houses to shelter
them, and beds to lie in. They had never had to make them for themselves, nor to make or repair their own boots or clothing.
That is why a "tenderfoot" talks of "roughing it" in camp. But living in camp for a Scout who
knows the game is by no means "roughing it". He knows how to make himself comfortable in a thousand small ways, he enjoys
it all the more for having seen the contrast.
And even there, in the city, he can do very much more for himself than the ordinary mortal,
who has never really learned to provide for his own wants. The man who has to turn his hand to many things, as the Scout does
in camp, finds that when he comes into civilization, he is more easily able to obtain employment, because he is ready for
whatever kind of work may turn up.EXPLORATION
A good form of Scout work can be done by Scouts going about either as Patrols on an exploring
expedition, or in pairs like knight-errants of old on a pilgrimage through the country to find people who need help, and then
to help them. This can be done equally well on bicycles as on foot.
Scouts carrying out such a journey should never, if possible, sleep under a roof. On fine nights
they should sleep in the open wherever they may be. In bad weather, they would get permission to occupy a hay loft or barn.
You should on all occasions take a map with you, and find your way by it without having to
ask the way of passers-by.Map Sketching
Also make a sketch-map. This does not need to be elaborate, as long as someone else can find
his way by it. Be certain to include the north line and a rough scale.
Explorers, of course, keep a log or journal, giving a short account of each day's journey,
with simple drawings or photographs of interesting things they see.The Object of Your Expedition
As a rule you should have some object in your expedition: that is to say, if you are a Patrol
of town boys, you would go off with the idea of scouting some special spot, say a mountain, or a famous lake, or possibly
some old castle or battlefield, or a seaside beach. Or you may be on your way to join one of the larger camps.
If, on the other hand, you are a Patrol from the country, you can make your way up to a big
town, with the idea of seeing its buildings, its zoological gardens, museums, etc.
You would, of course, have to do your daily good turn whenever opportunity presented itself,
but besides that, you should do good turns to farmers and others who may allow you the use of their barns and land, as a return
for their kindness.MOUNTAINEERING
Mountaineering is grand sport in many parts of the world. Finding your way and making yourself
comfortable in the mountains bring into practice all your Scoutcraft.
In mountain climbing you are continually changing your direction, because, moving up and down
in the deep gullies of the mountain-side, you lose sight of the landmarks which usually guide you. You have to watch your
direction by the sun and by your compass, and keep on estimating in what direction your proper line of travel lies. Then again
you are very liable to be caught in fogs and mists, which upset the calculations even of men who know every inch of the country.Lost
in the Mountains
I had such an experience in Scotland one year, when, in company with a Highlander who knew
the ground, I got lost in the mist. Supposing that he knew the way, I committed myself entirely to his guidance. But after
going some distance I felt bound to remark to him that I noticed the wind had suddenly changed. It had been blowing from our
left when we started, and was now blowing hard on our right cheek. However, he seemed in no way disturbed and led on. Presently
I remarked that the wind was blowing behind us, so that either the wind, or the mountain, or we ourselves were turning round.
Eventually it proved, as I expected, that it was not the wind that had turned, or the mountain. It was ourselves who had wandered
round in a complete circle. We were back almost at the point we started from. Scouts working on a mountain ought to practise
the art of roping themselves together, as mountaineers do.PATROLLING
Scouts go about Scouting as a Patrol or in pairs, or sometimes singly.
When patrolling, the Scouts of a Patrol seldom move close together. They spread out to see
more country. Also, in this way, they will not all get caught if cut off or ambushed by the "enemy".
A Patrol of six Scouts best moves in the shape of a kite with the Patrol Leader in the centre.
No. 2 Scout is in front, Nos. 5 and 4 to the right and left, No. 3 to the rear, and No. 6 with the leader (No. 1) in the centre.
If there are eight in the Patrol, the Patrol Leader takes the Tender- foot with him, No. 2
takes No. 6, and No. 3 takes No. 7. Patrols going over open country where they are likely to be seen by enemies or animals
should get across it as quickly as possible, by moving at Scout's Pace, walking and running alternately for short spells of
fifty paces from one point of cover to another. As soon as they are hidden in cover they can rest and look round before making
the next move.
If you are the leading Scout and get out of sight ahead of your Patrol, you can bend branches
of bushes or of reeds and grass every few yards, making the heads point forward to show your path. In this way the Patrol
or anyone coming after you can easily follow and can judge from the freshness of the grass pretty well how long ago you passed.
Besides, you can always find your way back again. Or you can make marks in the sand, or lay stones, or show which way you
have gone by the signs which I have given you in Yarn No. 4.NIGHT WORK
Scouts must be able to find their way equally well by night or by day. But unless they practise
it frequently, they are very apt to lose themselves by night. Distances seem greater and landmarks are hard to see. Also you
are apt to make more noise than by day, by accidentally treading on dry sticks or kicking stones.
If you are watching for an enemy at night, you have to trust much more to your ears than to
your eyes. Your nose will also help you, for a Scout is well-practised at smelling out things. A man who has not damaged his
sense of smell by smoking can often smell an enemy a good distance away. I have done it many times myself.
When patrolling at night, Scouts keep closer together than by day, and in very dark places,
such as woods, they keep in touch with each other in single file by each catching hold of the end of the next Scout's staff.
When working singly in the dark, the Scout staff is most useful for feeling the way and pushing
Scouts working apart from each other at night keep up communication by occasionally giving
the call of their Patrol animal.
All Scouts should know how to guide themselves by the stars.FINDING THE WAY
Among the Red Indian scouts, the man who was good at finding his way in a strange country was
termed a "pathfinder". It was a great honour to be called by that name.
Many a "tenderfoot" has become lost in the veldt or forest, and has never been seen again,
because he knew no scouting, nor had what is called "eye for the country".
In one case a man got off a coach, which was driving through Matabeleland, while the mules
were being changed, and walked off a few yards into the bush. When the coach was ready to start the drivers called for him
in every direction, then searched for him. They followed the man's tracks as far as they could, in the very difficult soil
of that country, but could not find him. At last, the coach, unable to wait any longer, continued its journey, after someone
else had taken over the search. Several weeks afterwards, the man was discovered, dead, nearly fifteen miles from where he
had left the coach.
The coach through Matabeleland was pulled by eight mules.Don't Get Lost
It often happens that when you are tramping alone through the bush, you become careless in
noticing in what direction you are moving. You frequently change direction to get round a fallen tree, or over a rock or other
obstacle and, having passed it, do not take up exactly the correct direction again. A man's inclination somehow is to keep
edging to his right, and the consequence is that when you think you are going straight, you are really not doing so at all.
Unless you watch the sun, or your compass, or your landmarks, you are very apt to find yourself going round in a big circle.
In such a case a "tenderfoot", when he suddenly finds he has lost his bearings, at once loses
his head and gets excited. He probably begins to run, when the right thing to do is to force yourself to keep cool and give
yourself something useful to do-that is, to track your own footprints back again; or, if you fail in this, to collect firewood
for making signal fires to direct those who will be looking for you.
The main point is not to get lost in the first instance.Notice the Directions
When you start out for a walk or on patrol, note the direction by the compass. Also notice
which direction the wind is blowing; this is a great help, especially if you have no compass, or if the sun is not shining.
Every old scout notices which way the wind is blowing when he turns out in the morning.
To find the way the wind is blowing when there is only very light air, throw up little bits
of dry grass. Or hold up a handful of light dust and let it fall. Or wet your thumb and let the wind blow on it; the cold
side of it will then tell you from which direction the wind comes.Using Landmarks
Then you should notice all important landmarks for finding your way.
In the country the landmarks may be hills or prominent towers, steeples, curious trees, rocks,
gates, mounds, bridges-any points, in fact, by which you could find your way back again, or by which you could instruct someone
else to follow the same route. If you remember your landmarks going out you can always find your way back by them; but you
should take care occasionally to look back at them after passing them, so that you can recognize them for your return journey.
The same holds good when you arrive in a strange town by train. The moment you step out from
the station notice where the sun is, or which way the smoke is blowing. Also notice your landmarks- which in this case would
be prominent buildings, churches, factory chimneys, names of streets and shops-so that when you have gone down several streets
you can turn round and find your way back to the station without difficulty. It is wonderfully easy when you have practised
it a little, yet many people get lost when they have turned a few corners in a town they do not know.Concentrate on Your Job
When you are acting as scout or guide for a party, move ahead of it and fix your whole attention
and all your thoughts on what you are doing. You have to go by the very smallest signs, and if you talk and think of other
things you are very apt to miss them. Old scouts generally are very silent people, from this habit of fixing their attention
on the work in hand.
Very often a "tenderfoot" out for the first time will think that the leading scout looks lonely
and will go up to walk or ride alongside of him and begin a conversation-until the scout shows by his manner or otherwise
that he does not want the "tenderfoot" there. On small steamers you may see a notice, "Don't speak to the man at the wheel".
The same thing applies to a scout who is guiding a party. When acting as scout you must keep all your thoughts on the one
subject, like Kim did when Lurgan tried to mesmerize him.USING A COMPASS
I am certain that you know that the needle of a compass has the habit of swinging round until
it points in one definite direction.
If you followed the direction indicated by one end of the needle you would come out at a spot
north of Canada, about 1400 miles from the North Pole. The reason for this is that at this spot there is a powerful magnetic
force. It is this force which attracts the north point of the needle and make it point to "Magnetic North".
North is only one of the compass points. Every sailor knows the other points of the compass
by heart, and so should a Scout. I have talked about north, but that is only because we usually think of north as a starting
point. That is just for convenience-we could just as well use south.
Explorers seldom refer to compass points. They use compass degrees instead because they are
When you look at the compass chart you will notice that it is marked not only with the points,
but also with figures running clock-wise from 0 at the north point round to north again which also has the figure 360. So
any point can be given either as a compass name or as a degree number. Thus, east is 90 degrees, south is 180, west is 270,
and so on. Instead of saying S.E. we can say 135 degrees.How a Compass Helped My Career
Knowing the right way to use a compass helped to give me a good start in my army career.
It was this way.
With a number of other young officers I was being tested in surveying. We had to take a reading
with our compass to a certain spot, and from there to another point, and from there to a third point. If one did it correctly,
this last reading should land us exactly at the spot whence we started.
But it means extreme care to take an accurate reading. If you misread your compass by not much
more than a hair's breadth you would fail. Only one of our party had been exact enough to succeed, and who do you think that
As a result of this and a few good marks in other subjects, I got promoted with extra pay,
with which I was able to buy the best horse I ever had.FINDING THE NORTH WITHOUT A COMPASS
Besides the "Magnetic North" which you find with your compass, there is the other north of
the North Pole at the top of the earth. This is the real north and for that reason is named "True North".North by the Sun
If you have no compass to show you "Magnetic North", the sun will tell you by day where "True
North" is, and from that you can figure out the other directions.
At six o'clock in the morning Greenwich Mean Time the sun is east. At nine it is south-east.
At noon it is south. At three o'clock in the afternoon it is south-west, and at six o'clock it is west. In
winter it will have set before six o'clock, but will not have reached west when it is set.
This applies roughly in the Northern Hemisphere. (In the Southern Hemisphere, at six o'clock the sun is east, at nine north-east,
at noon north, at three north-west, at six west.)
The Phoenicians who sailed round Africa in ancient times noticed that when they started the
sun rose on their left-hand side-they were going south. Then they reported that they came to a strange country where the sun
rose in the wrong quarter, namely on their right hand. The truth was that they had gone round the Cape of Good Hope, and were
headed north again, up the east side of Africa.
To find the south at any time of day by the sun, hold your watch flat, face upwards, so that
the sun shines on it. Turn it round till the hour hand points at the sun: allow for Summer Time if it is in operation. Without
moving the watch, lay a pencil or stick across the face of the watch so that it rests on the centre of the dial and points
out half-way between the figure XII and the hour hand. The direction in which it points is south. This applies only in the
Northern Hemisphere. (In the Southern Hemisphere turn the XII, instead of the hand, to the sun, and south will then lie between
the two as before.)North by the Stars
Various groups of stars have been given names because they seemed to make some kind of picture
outline of men and animals.
The Plough or the Big Dipper is an easy one to find. It is shaped something like a plough or
dipper. It is the most useful star group for a Scout to know, because in the northern part of the world it shows him where
north is. The Plough is also called the Great Bear. The stars in the curve make its tail. It is the only bear I know that
wears a long tail.
Pole Star-The two stars in the Plough called the Pointers tell you where the North or Pole
Star is. It is the last star in the tail of the Little Bear. All stars and constellations move round the sky during the night,
but the Pole Star remains fixed in the north.
Orion-Another group of stars, or constellation, represents a man wearing a sword and belt,
and is named Orion. It is easily recognized by three stars in a line, the "belt", and three smaller stars in another line,
close by, the "sword". Two stars to right and left below the sword are Orion's feet, two more above the belt are his shoulders,
and a group of three small stars between them make his head.
The Zulus call Orion's belt and sword the "Ingolubu", or three pigs pursued by three dogs.
The Masai tribe in East Africa say that the three stars in Orion's belt are three bachelors being followed by three old maids.
You see, scouts all know Orion, though under different names.
The great point about Orion is that by him you can always tell which way the North or Pole
Star lies, and you can see Orion whether you are in the south or the north part of the world.
If you draw a line, by holding up your staff against the sky, from the centre star of Orion's
belt through the centre of his head, and carry that line on through two big stars till it comes to a third, that third star
is the North or Pole Star.
Southern Cross-On the south side of the world, in South Africa, South America, New Zealand
and Australia, the Plough is not visible. Here the Southern Cross points toward south (see diagram). If you carry your eye
along the same direction, A, as the long stem of the Cross for a distance of about three times its length, the point you hit
will be about due south. Or if you imagine a line between the two Pointers and another imaginary line, B, standing upright
on this first line and continued until it cuts the line A in continuation of the stem of the Cross, the point where A and
B cut each other will be the south.WEATHER WISDOM
Every Scout ought to be able to read signs of the weather, especially when going tamping, and
to read a barometer.
He should remember the following points:
Red at night, shepherd's delight (i.e. fine day coming).
Red in morning, shepherd's warning
Yellow sunset means wind.
Pale yellow sunset means rain.
Dew and fog in early morning means fine weather.
dawn means fine weather.
High dawn means wind (high dawn is when the sun rises over a bank of clouds, high above the horizon).
clouds, fine weather.
Hard-edged clouds, wind.
Rolled or jagged clouds, strong wind.
" When the wind's before the rain,
Soon you may make sail again;
rain's before the wind,
Then your sheets and halyards mind.'"
PATROL PRACTICES IN FINDING THE WAYUse compass directions whenever possible, such as "N.W.
corner of room", "E. side of camp site", etc.
Practise moving in the direction of a compass point. Take a direction, say N.E. Pick out some
landmark-tree, mound, rock- in line with the direction given; this mark should not be too far away. Walk to that point, and
repeat the operation by picking out another mark on which to move.
Then continue further practice using degrees instead of points.
Practise finding compass directions with watch and by the stars.
Send out Patrols with compass directions to take them by separate routes to meeting place.
When possible, point out constellations in night sky. Learn to recognize the Great Bear and
the Pole Star and Orion.
Night movements can be practised in daylight by covering the eyes with a bandage made of several
thicknesses of black crepe or similar material. The staff should be used.
Use local map for map reading and finding way by the map.GAMES IN PATHFINDING
Follow the MapA Patrol is taken in patrol formation into a strange town or into an intricate
piece of strange country, with a map. Here sealed instructions are opened, telling where the Patrol is, and where it is to
go to. Each Scout now in turn leads the Patrol, say, for seven minutes if cycling, fifteen minutes if walking. Each Scout
is to find the way entirely by the map, and points are given for ability in reading.On Trek
Make a "wilderness" trek, each Scout carrying his kit and food. Walk in single file, with a
Scout 200 yards out in front to indicate the road to follow by Scout signs. Make a bridge over a stream or a raft over a lake;
cross boggy ground on faggots.
To teach your Scouts individually, ideas of direction and distance, send each out in a different
direction on some such order as this: "Go two miles to the North-north-east. Write a report to show exactly where you are,
with a sketch map to explain it. Bring in your report as quickly as possible". Then test by ordnance maps or otherwise to
see how far he was out of the distance and direction ordered.
Send out Scouts in pairs, to compete each pair against the other. Each pair to be sent by a
different route to gain the same spot, finding the way by map, and to reach the goal without being seen by the others on the
way. This develops map-reading, eye for country, concealment, look-out, etc.
For judging time: send out Scouts in different directions, each with a slip of paper that tells
him for how long he is to be away- say seven minutes for one, ten for another, and so on. Note down exact time of starting,
and take it again on the return of the Scouts. They must be put on their honour not to consult watches or clocks.Find the
Scouts are posted thirty yards apart, and each lays his staff on the ground pointing to what
he considers the exact north (or south), without using any instrument. He steps back three paces away from his staff. The
umpire compares each stick with the compass. The one that is nearest, wins. This is a useful game to play at night, or on
sunless days as well as sunny days.Night Patrolling
Scouts can practise hearing and seeing at night by acting as "sentries", who stand or walk
about, while other Scouts try to stalk up to them. If a sentry hears a sound he calls or whistles. The stalking Scouts must
at once halt and lie still. The umpire comes to the sentry and asks which direction the sound came from. If he is right, the
sentry wins. If the stalker can creep up within fifteen yards of the sentry without being seen, he deposits some article,
such as a
handkerchief, on the ground at that point, and creeps away again. Then he makes a noise to
cause the sentry to sound an alarm, and when the umpire comes up, he explains what he has done. This game can also be practised
by day, with the sentries blindfolded.Compass Points
Eight staffs are arranged in star fashion on the ground, all radiating from the centre. One
staff should point due north. One Scout takes up his position at the outer end of each staff, and represents one of the eight
principal points of the compass.
The Scoutmaster now calls out any two points, such as S.E. and N., and the two Scouts concerned
must immediately change places. To change, Scouts must not cross the staffs, but must go outside the circle of players. Anyone
moving out of place without his point being named, or moving to a wrong place or even hesitating, should lose a mark. When
three marks have been lost the Scout should fall out. As the game goes on blank spaces will occur. These will make it slightly
harder for the remaining boys.
To make the game more difficult sixteen points may be used instead of eight.
When played indoors the lines of the compass may be drawn in chalk on the floor.Alarm: Catch
A red rag is hung up in the camp or troop room in the morning. The umpire goes round to each
Scout in turn, while they are at work or play, and whispers to him, "There is a thief in the camp". But to one he whispers,
"There is a thief in the camp, and you are he- Marble Arch!" or some other well-known spot about a mile away. That Scout then
knows that he must steal the rag at any time within the next three hours, and bolt with it to the Marble Arch. Nobody else
knows who is to be the thief, where he will run to, and when he will steal it. Directly anyone notices that the red rag is
stolen, he gives the alarm, and all stop what they may be doing at the time, and dart off in pursuit of the thief. The Scout
who gets the rag or a bit of it wins. If none succeeds in doing this, the thief wins. He must carry the rag tied round his
neck, and not in his pocket, or hidden away.Surveying the Country
As soon as a camp has been pitched, the first thing to be done is to find out about the country
around the camp site, and this makes an excellent subject for a Patrol competition.
Each Patrol Leader is given a sheet of paper upon which to make a sketch map of the country
for perhaps two miles around. He then sends out his Scouts in all directions to survey and bring back a report of every important
feature-roads, railways, streams, etc.- choosing the best Scouts for the more difficult directions. Each Patrol Leader makes
up his map entirely from the reports of his own Scouts.
The Patrol whose leader brings to the Scouter the best map in the shortest time, wins.
Note-Many of these games and practices can be carried out in town just as well as in