Camp Fire Yarn No. 9
Comfort in Camp • Ground Camp Equipment
Camp Pitching Fire Building • Keeping
Some people talk of "roughing it" in camp. Well a "tenderfoot" may find it rough and uncomfortable.
But there is no "roughing it" for a backwoodsman; he knows how to look after himself and make himself comfortable. If he has
no tent, he doesn't sit down to shiver and grouse, but sets to work to rig up a shelter or hut for himself. He chooses a good
spot for it, where he is not likely to be flooded out if a storm of rain were to come on. Then he lights a camp fire, and
makes himself a soft mattress of ferns or straw.
A Scout is full of resource. He can find a way out of any difficulty or discomfort.
When you go camping, you must first decide where you will have your camp, and then what
kind of camp it shall be.
The nearer it is to your homes, the less will be the expense of travelling.
To my mind, the best place for a camp is close by a wood where you have permission to
cut firewood and to build huts. So if you know of an owner in your neighborhood who may let you use a corner of his wood,
there is your chance. Inside a wood the ground may be damp and the trees will continue dripping in wet weather. Be on the
look-out for this. If you build good rain-proof huts, you need no tents.
The seaside also gives some good camp grounds if you find a place where boats are available
and bathing possible. Sometimes you can get the use of a boathouse to live in. Don't forget that you will want good water
and some firewood.
Or you can go to mountains, moor, or river, and get permission to pitch your camp.
In choosing the camp site, always think what it would be if the weather became very rainy
and windy. Choose the driest and most sheltered spot, not too far away from your water supply. Remember that a good water
supply is of first importance. And make sure that your drinking water is pure.
Instead of a fixed or "standing camp", many Scouts prefer a "hike camp".
Of course, it is much better fun to go over new country. But to make a hike camp enjoyable
you want good weather.
In arranging your hike, your first point will be to select the line of country you want
to visit, and mark out from the map where you will halt each night. You will find that about five miles a day is as much as
you will want to do.
You might want to make a "trek-cart" for carrying your tents, blankets, groundsheets,
and so on.
At the end of each day's march you would get permission from a farmer to pitch your camp
in his field, or get the use of his barn to sleep in-especially if the weather be wet.
Before you know which type of tent you will want, you must decide whether it will be wanted
for a standing or moving camp.
For a standing camp, from which you don't mean to move, I prefer the kind used by explorers
called a "ridge tent" or "wall tent". They are unequalled for comfort and for making the camp look neat. If they have fly-sheets,
they will be quite waterproof, even if you touch the inside of the tent, and the fly-sheet will keep the tent cool in hot
sunshine and warm in frosty weather.
Smaller Scout tents also do very well for camp if you can have two or more for each Patrol.
You can make your own tent during the winter months-and this, perhaps, is the best way of all, as it comes cheapest in the
end. And if, while you are about it, you make one or two extra ones, you may be able to sell them at a good profit.
Where the expense of tents prohibits buying them, remember that used tents may often be
hired for a week or more at small cost.
Your next point is to look to the equipment-that is to say, what you will need in the
way of cooking gear, buckets, tools, and so on. Here is a rough list of things that are useful in a standing camp, but they
will not all be necessary in a bivouac or hike camp.
For Tent-Bucket, lantern and candles, matches, mallet, basin, spade, axe, hank of cord,
Patrol flag, and strap for hanging things on the tent pole.
For Kitchen-Saucepan or stewpot, fry-pan, kettle, grid-iron, matches, bucket, butcher's
knife, ladle, cleaning rags, bags for potatoes, etc.
For Each Scout-Waterproof groundsheet, two blankets or sleeping bag, cord or strap for
tying them up, straw mattress (to be made in camp-twine and straw required), ration bags. It is important that enough sleeping
bags or blankets be provided to enable each Scout to make up a separate bed.
Personal Equipment-Each Scout will need:
Complete Scout Uniform, including headgear
Pyjamas or change for night
Change of underwear
Plates, cup or mug
Knife, fork and spoon
shoes and socks
Haversack or pack
Soap, comb, brush,
toothbrush, in toilet bag.
An old camper always has with him in camp three or four little linen bags for carrying
his provisions. Of course, he makes these for himself before going out into camp.
The ration bag need not be bigger than 6 inches deep by 3 inches wide, and should have
a tape run through the hem of the neck with which to draw it tight.
While you are about it, it is also useful to make yourself some bigger bags to keep odds
and ends in, in camp-such as string, spare buttons, needle case, scissors, and so on.
I have linen bags, too, for putting my boots into when packing up. It prevents them from
dirtying the clothes among which they are packed.
If fresh meat is used, be sure that it is fresh, and remember that eggs, rice, and porridge
keep better. Fruit is easy to stew and good to eat. Chocolate is very useful in camp and on the march.
A good kind of bread for camp is what the Boers and most South African hunters used, and
that is "rusks". Rusks are easily made. You buy a stale loaf at the baker's at half-price, cut it up into thick slices or
square junks, and then bake these in an oven or toast them before a hot fire till they are quite hard. They do very well instead
of bread. Soft bread easily gets damp and sour and stale in camp.
In Scout camps the tents are not pitched in lines and streets as in military camps, but
are dotted about in Patrol units, fifty or a hundred yards apart or more, in a big circle round the Scoutmaster's tent, which,
with the flag and camp fire, is generally in the centre.
When you have chosen the spot for your camp, pitch your tent with the door away from the
If heavy rain comes on, dig a small trench about three inches deep all round the tent
to prevent it from getting flooded. This trench should lead the water away downhill. Dig a small hole the size of a teacup
alongside the foot of the pole into which to shift it if rain comes on. This enables you to slacken all ropes at once to allow
for their shrinking when they get wet.
If there is a spring or stream, the best part of it must be kept strictly clear and clean
for drinking water. Farther downstream, a place may be appointed for bathing, washing clothes, and so on.
The greatest care is always taken by Scouts to keep their drinking water supply very clean,
otherwise they may get sickness among them.
All water has a large number of germs in it, too small to be seen without the help of
a microscope. Some of them are dangerous, some are not. You can't tell whether the dangerous ones are there, so if you are
in doubt about the water, it is safest to kill all the germs by boiling the water. Then let it cool again before drinking
it. In boiling the water, don't let it merely come to the boil and then take it off, but let it boil fully for a quarter of
an hour, as germs are very tough customers, and take a lot of boiling before they get killed.
The cooking fire is made to leeward, or down-wind of the camp, so that the smoke and sparks
from the fire don't blow into the tents. Cooking fires are described on pages 102 and 103.
Scouts always take special care to keep the kitchen particularly clean, as, if scraps
are left lying about, flies collect and are very likely to poison the food, and this may bring sickness to the Scouts.
Note to Parents
Camping is the great point in Scouting which appeals to the boy, and the opportunity for teaching him
self-reliance and resourcefulness, besides giving him health.
Some parents who have never had experience of camp life themselves, look upon camping with misgivings
as possibly likely to be too rough and risky for their boys. But when they see their lads return full of health and happiness
outwardly, and morally improved in the points of practical manliness and comradeship, they cannot fail to appreciate the good
which comes from such an outing.
I sincerely hope, therefore, that your boys will be encouraged to go to camp whenever they can.
So keep the camp kitchen and the ground around it very clean at all times.
To do this you will want a wet and a dry pit. These are holes about eighteen inches square
and at least two feet deep. The top of the wet one is covered with a layer of straw or grass, and all greasy water is poured
through this into the pit. The covering collects the grease in the water and prevents it from clogging up the ground. The
straw or grass should be burnt every day and renewed.
Into the dry pit is put everything else that will not burn. Tin cans should be burnt first
and then hammered out flat before being put in the dry pit. Burn everything you can or your pit will very soon be full. The
rubbish should be covered with a layer of earth every evening.
Another very important point for the health of the Scouts is to dig a trench to serve
as a latrine. On reaching the camping ground the latrine is the very first thing to attend to-and all Scouts should bear this
Before pitching tents or lighting the fire the latrine is dug and screens erected around
it. The trench should be two feet deep, three feet long, and one foot wide, so that the user can squat astride of it, one
foot on each side. A thick sprinkling of earth should be thrown in after use, and the whole trench carefully filled in with
earth after a few days' use.
There should also be a wet latrine made by digging a hole and half-filling it with stones
Even in a one-night camp, Scouts should dig a latrine trench. And when rearing away from
camp a Scout will always dig a small pit a few inches deep, which he will fill in again after use. Neglect of this not only
makes a place unhealthy, but also makes farmers and landowners disinclined to give the use of their ground for Scouts to camp
on. So don't forget it, Scouts!
Here are alternative programmes:
Campers roused, wash, etc.
Campers roused, wash, etc.
Washing-up, cleaning tents and ground, airing blankets, etc.
Washing-up, cleaning tents and ground, airing blankets, etc.
Inspection. Flag break;prayers.
Inspection. Flag break;prayers.
Wide games, and Scout activity.
Wide games, and Scout activity.
Tea, and biscuits.
Camp games or free.
Dinner, followed by free time.
Camp fire: one hour is long enough; a long yarn will provide variation from songs and choruses.
Camp fire: one hour is long enough; a long yarn will provide variation from songs and choruses.
N.B.-There should be silence in camp after "Lights Out" and in no case should there be
any noise after 10.30.
A night game should be included in the programme on one evening, and rising time next
day adjusted accordingly.
BATHING AND SWIMMING
When in camp, bathing will be one of your joys and one of your duties-a joy because it
is such fun, a duty because no Scout can consider himself a full-blown Scout until he is able to swim and to save life in
the water. But there are dangers about bathing for which every sensible Scout will be prepared.
First, there is the danger of cramp. If you bathe within an hour and a half after taking
a meal, that is, before your food is digested, you are very likely to get cramp. Cramp doubles you up in extreme pain so that
you cannot move your arms or legs-and down you go. You may drown-and it will be your own fault.
There must always be a bathing picket posted, while bathing is going on, of two good swimmers,
who will not bathe themselves but will be ready, undressed, prepared to jump in at any moment and help a bather if he is in
difficulties. The guards should not bathe until the others have left the water, and a life line must be available.
Many lives are lost every summer through foolishness on the part of boys bathing, because
they don't think of these things. Bathing must only be permitted in safe places and under strict supervision.
Be careful to get permission from the owners of land before you go on to it. You have
no right to go anywhere off the roads without leave, but most owners will give you this if you go and tell them who you are
and what you want to do.
When going over their land remember above all things:
Leave all gates as you found them.
Disturb animals and game as little as you possibly can.
Do no damage to fences, crops, or trees.
Any firewood that you require you must ask for before taking it. And be careful not to
take out of hedges dead wood which is being used to fill up a gap.
LOAFERS IN CAMP
A camp is a roomy place. But there is no room in it for one chap, and that is the fellow
who does not want to take his share in the many little odd jobs that have to be done. There is no room for the shirker cr
the grouser-well, there is no room for them in the Boy Scouts at all, but least of all in camp.
Every fellow must help, and help cheerily in making it comfortable for all. In this way
COMFORT IN CAMP
There are many ways of making a comfortable bed in camp, but always have a waterproof
groundsheet over the ground between your body and the earth. Cut grass or straw or bracken is good to lay down thickly where
you are going to lie.
I think you never find out how full of corners you are till you have to sleep on a hard
bit of ground where you cannot get straw or grass.
Of course, every Scout knows that the worst corner in him is his hip-bone, and if you
have to sleep on hard ground the secret of comfort is to scoop out a little hole, about the size of a tea-cup, where your
hip-bone will rest. It makes all the difference to your sleeping.
Your night's rest is an important thing; a fellow who does not get a good sleep at night
soon knocks up, and cannot get through a day's work like the one who sleeps in comfort. So my best advice is: make a good
thick straw mattress for yourself.
Making a Mattress
To make a mattress, set up a camp loom (as described at the end of this yarn) and weave
it out of bracken, ferns, heather, straw, or grass, six feet long, and two feet nine inches across. With this same loom you
can make straw mats, with which to form tents, or shelters, or walls (page 109).
Another good way of giving yourself a comfortable bed is to make a big bag of canvas or
stout linen, 6 ft. long and 3 ft. wide. This
will do to roll up your kit in for travelling. When you are in camp you can stuff it with
straw, or leaves, or bracken, etc., and use it as a nice soft mattress.
A pillow is also a useful thing for comfort in camp. For this you only need a strong pillow-case
about two feet long by one foot wide. This you can also make for yourself. It will serve as your clothes-bag by day and your
pillow by night with your clothes, neatly rolled and packed in it, serving as the stuffing.
I have often used my boots as a pillow, rolled up in a coat so that they don't slip apart.
How to Squat
It is something to know how to sit down in a wet camp. You "squat" instead of sitting.
Indians squat on their heels, but this is a tiring way if you have not done it as a child. It comes easy if you put a sloping
stone or chock of wood under your heels.
South African Boers and other camp men squat on one heel. It is a little tiring at first.
North American Indians were always clever with their fires. Four kinds of fires were used.
The Council Fire inside the teepee was a formal kind of thing. The Friendly Fire-somewhat larger than the Council Fire-was
to warm everybody in the village. The Signal Fire, was built for sending up smoke signals. The Cooking Fire was a very small
fire of glowing red-hot embers. Scouts use the same kinds of fires.
Clearing the Ground
Before lighting your fire, remember always to do as every backwoodsman does, and that
is to remove all grass, dry leaves, bracken, heather, from round the spot, to prevent the fire from spreading to the surrounding
grass or bush. Many bad bush fires have been caused by young "tenderfoots" fooling about with blazes which they imagined to
be camp fires. Where there is danger of a grass fire, have branches or old sacks ready with which you can beat it out.
Scouts should always be on the look-out to beat out a bush fire that had been accidently
started at any time, as a Good Turn to the owner of the land or to people who may have herds and crops in danger.
Laying the Fire
It is no use to learn how to light a fire by hearsay. The only way is to pay attention
to the instructions given you, and then practise laying and lighting afire yourself.
In the book called Two Little Savages, instructions for laying a fire are given in the
First a curl of birch bark as dry as it can be,
Then some twigs of soft wood dead
from off a tree,
Last of all some pine knots to make a kettle foam,
And there's afire to make you think you're sitting
right at home."
Remember the usual fault of a beginner is to try to make too big a fire. You will never
see a backwoodsman do that-he uses the smallest possible amount of wood for his fire.
First collect your firewood. Green, fresh-cut wood is no good, nor is dead wood that has
lain long on the ground. Get permission to break dead branches off trees for it.
To make your fire, you put a few stiks flat on the ground, especially if the ground be
damp. On this flooring lay your "punk"-that is, shavings, splinters, or any other material that will easily catch fire from
On this you pile, in pyramid fashion, thin twigs, splinters, and slithers of dry wood,
leaning on the "punk" and against each other. These are called kindling.
A good kind of kindling can easily be made by slitting a stick into several slices or
shavings, as shown. This is called a firestick. If stood up, with the shavings downwards towards the ground, it quickly catches
light and flares up.
A few stouter sticks are added over the kindling to make the fire.
Lighting the Fire
Set light to all this, putting your match under the bottom of the "punk".
When the wood has really got on fire, add more and larger sticks, and finally logs.
A "tenderfoot" after lighting his fire will blow out his match and throw it on the ground.
A backwoodsman will break the match in half before throwing it away. Why ? Because if the match is not really out and is still
smouldering it will tell him so-by burning his hand.
Several Kinds of Fires
A great thing for a cooking fire is to get a good pile of red-hot wood embers, and if
you use three large logs, they should be placed on the ground, star-shaped, like the spokes of a wheel, with their ends centred
in the fire. A fire made in this way need never go out, for as the logs burn away you keep pushing them towards the centre
of the fire, always making fresh red-hot embers there. This makes a fire which gives very little flame or smoke.
If you want to keep a fire flaming during the night for light or to warm you, use the
star fire with one long log reaching to your hand, so that you can push it in from time to time to the centre without the
trouble of getting up to stoke the fire.
To keep your fire smouldering overnight, cover it over with a heap of ashes. It
will then be ready for early use in the morning, when you can easily blow it into a glow.
Here is a way they use in North America for making a fire for heating your tent.
Drive two stout stakes into the ground about four feet apart, both leaning a bit backwards.
Cut down a young tree with a trunk some six inches thick; chop it into four-foot lengths. Lay three or more logs, one on top
of another, leaning against the upright stakes. This "reflector" forms the back of your fireplace. Two short logs are then
laid aft fire-dogs, with a log across them as front bar of the fire. Inside this "grate" you build a pyramid-shaped fire,
which then gives out great heat. The "grate" must, of course, be built so that it faces the wind.
Putting Out the Fire
A Scout is very careful about fires. When he uses one he sees that it is well out before
he leaves the place. The fire should be doused with water and earth, and stamped down well, so that there is not a spark left
that might later start a fire". Finally the original turf-which was put on one side before you made the fire-is put back so
that hardly a trace is left.
Tongs are useful about a camp fire. They can be made from a rod of beech or other tough
wood, about four feet long and one inch thick. Shave it away in the middle to about half its proper thickness; put this part
into the hot embers of the fire for a few moments, and bend the stick over till the two ends come together. Then flatten away
the inside edges of the ends so that they have a better grip-and there are your tongs.
Making Fire without Matches
What would you do if you needed a fire and had no matches ?
A Zulu boy's way of getting over the difficulty is to find a piece of hard stick and drill
a hole with it in a piece of soft wood. By twirling it rapidly between his hands he manages to make embers which then set
light to dry grass or the lining of the bark of trees, and from this he makes his fire.
It is a long way from South Africa to Australia-across thousands of miles of ocean. Yet,
when you get to Australia, you find that the aborigines there had many of the same customs and many of the same dodges that
were practised by the people of South Africa.
The Red Indians of North America also have their method of fire-lighting, which is very
much used by the Boy Scouts there.
In this case, the boy takes the spindle of hard wood and holding it upright with one hand,
the palm of which is protected by a wood or stone hand piece, he twists it rapidly round by means of a bow whose string is
twisted round the spindle.
The point of the spindle then works its way into a board of soft wood, which the boy holds
in place with his foot.
A little slit at the side of the board leads to the hole made by the spindle, and the
hot ember which comes away from the wood falls into this small opening and sets fire to the tinder which the boy has placed
So a fellow who has once learnt this way of making fire, and knows which kind of wood
to use (for not all kinds are suitable), can go out into the backwoods, without having to carry a match-box with him and can
keep himself warm or cook his grub at any time he would wish by lighting his fire in the backwoods way.
You sometimes get wet in camp, and you will see "tenderfoots" remaining in their wet clothes
until they get dry again. No old Scout would do so, as that is the way to catch cold.
When you are wet, take the first opportunity of getting your wet clothes off and drying
them, even though you may not have other clothes to put on, as happened to me many a time. I have sat naked under a waggon
while my one suit of clothes was drying over a firs
The way to dry clothes is to make a fire of hot embers, and then build a small beehive-shaped
cage of sticks over it. Hang your clothes all over this cage, and they will very quickly dry.
In hot weather it is dangerous to sit in your clothes when they have become wet from your
perspiration. On the West Coast of Africa I always carried a spare shirt hanging down my back, with the sleeves tied round
my neck. As soon as I halted I would take off the wet shirt I was wearing, and put on the dry, which
had been hanging out in the sun on my back. By this means I never got sick when almost
everyone else did.
The camp ground should at all times be kept clean and tidy, not only (as I have pointed
out) to keep flies away, but also because Scouts are always tidy, whether in camp or not, as a matter of habit. If you are
not tidy at home, you won't be tidy in camp; and if you're not tidy in camp, you will be only a "tenderfoot" and no Scout.
A broom is useful for keeping the camp clean, and can easily be made with a few sprigs
of birch bound tightly round a stake.
A Scout is tidy also in his tent, bunk, or room, because he may be suddenly called upon
to go off on an alarm, or something unexpected. If he does not know exactly where to lay his hand on his things, he will be
a long time in turning out, especially if called up in the middle of the night.
So on going to bed, even when at home, practise the habit of folding up your clothes and
putting them where you can find them at once in the dark and get into them quickly.
Songs, recitations and small plays can be performed round the camp fire, and every Scout
should be made to contribute something to the programme, whether he thinks he is a performer or not. A different Patrol may
be responsible for each night of the week to provide for the performance. The Patrol can then prepare beforehand for the Camp
CLEANING CAMP GROUND
Never forget that the state of an old camp ground, after the camp has finished, tells
exactly whether the Patrol or Troop which has used it was a smart one or not. No Scouts who are any good ever leave a camp
ground dirty. They sweep up and bury or burn every scrap of rubbish. Farmers then don't have the trouble of having to clean
their ground after you leave, and they are, therefore, all the more willing to let you use it again.
It is a big disgrace for any Troop or Patrol or lone camper to leave the camp ground dirty
Remember the only two things you leave behind you on breaking up camp:
Your thanks to the owner of the ground.
Another point to remember is that when you use a farmer's ground you ought to repay him
for the use of it. If you do not do this with money you can do it in other ways. You can-and ought to-do jobs that are useful
for him. You can mend his fences or gates, or dig up weeds, and so on.
You should always be doing good turns both to the farmer and to the people living near
your camp, so that they will be glad to have you there.
PATROL PRACTICES IN CAMPING
The best practice in camping is camping whenever possible- single nights, weekends, and
In going to camp with the Troop it is essential to have a few "Standing Orders", which
can be added to from time to time, if necessary. The Patrol Leaders are held fully responsible that their Scouts carry them
Such orders will contain the camp routine and might point out that each Patrol will camp
separately from the others, and that there will be a comparison between the respective cleanliness and good order of tents
and surrounding ground.
Each Patrol usually has its tents grouped together, well away from the other Patrols,
but within call of the Scoutmaster's tent which generally is in the centre.
Bathing in camp is under strict supervision to prevent non-swimmers getting into dangerous
water. The following rules would be strictly followed:
No Scout shall be allowed to bathe except under the personal supervision of the Scouter
in charge of the party or some responsible adult appointed by him for the purpose. The safety of the place must have been
previously ascertained and all reasonable precautions must be taken, including the provision of a life line.
A picket of two good swimmers, preferably trained swimmers and life savers, must be
on duty, undressed, in a boat or on shore as the circumstances may demand, ready to help any boy in distress. The picket itself
may not bathe until the others have left the water.
In the Boy Scouts of America, a so-called "buddy-system" is used. In this system, the
Scouts are divided into pairs, or buddies. The two boys of the buddy team are of about equal swimming ability. When in the
water, each buddy is responsible for the safety of the other, under the general supervision of the Scouter in charge of the
Making a Camp Loom-Plant a row (No. 1 row) of five stakes firmly in the ground, 7 or 8
inches apart. Opposite to them, at a distance of 6 to 7 ft., drive in a row (No. 2 row) of two stakes and a crossbar (or of
five stakes). Fasten a cord or twine to the head of each stake in No. 1 row and stretch it to the corresponding stake in No.
2 row and make it fast there. Then carry the continuation of the cord back over No. 1 row for some 5 ft. extra, and fasten
it to a loose crossbar or "beam". Fasten other cords from the other stakes in No. 1 row to the stakes of No. 2 row, and then
to the beam, tying them here the same distance apart that the stakes are apart.
The beam is now moved up and down at slow intervals by one Scout, while another Scout
lays bundles of fern or straw in layers alternately under and over the stretched strings. The bundles are thus bound in by
the rising or lowering of the cords attached to the beam.
If you move the beam first slightly to the right and then to the left so that the strings
fall first on one side and then on the other side of the stretched strings it will twist the cords and make the binding much