Joseph R. Johnson in Suburban Life MagazineJuly11908
Some Delights of Camping Out
How Educational Features are Combined With the Recreative—Typical Boys’Camps Play Very Important Part in Our National Life —A Particular Camp in the Picturesque Temag-ami District of Canada and a Few of Its Characteristic Pastimes.
Joseph R. Johnson in Suburban Life Magazine
To go camping! What mystic words to conjure with! It matters little whether it be suggested to boys and girls
whose tents have been pitched in their own backyard until that time when they might have a broader field for the expression of that love for outdoors latent in most mankind, or to the youngsters who have already known the delights of the virgin forest. Most children have been camping some time in their life, or have found an almost equal amount of delight in planning the trip whose fulfilment next year is sure to witness—so much do we procrastinate in this world. Yet, despite this vast host of the younger generation, with hopes deferred, it
is significant that each succeeding summer is witnessing a constantly increasing exodus from the heated pavements of the cities to the cool, mossy footpaths of the woods.
American parents are realizing more and more the benefits their offspring may obtain from a sojourn, be it ever so limited, by the lakes and the woods with which this continent is so ideally supplied. Very often the children have found places in the adults’ own camp; on the other hand, when this has not been possible, the bdys or girls have been trusted to the care of men and women even better qualified than the parents to look after the youngsters’ welfare. Boys and girls who have been camping need little
advice; the greater number of those who desire to go, yet never have had the opportunity, need much.
Of varieties of summer camps, there arc many. Most of these are rather expensive and, possibly, beyond the reach of many boys who possess as keen an appreciation of a few months spent under the greenwood tree as their more fortunate acquaintances. Yet, even for them, there is a delightful alternative of forming a party, with older, more experienced brothers to bear the brunt of the camp’s management, and get just as much real good from the outing as though they had passed the time at some regularly established camp in Canada. The Young Men’s Christian Associations, too, are doing a splendid work to-day through their summer camps. In practically every city in this country, the local branch sends out its full quota of boys to its summer camp.
One characteristic of these Young Men’s Christian Association camps, and the wellestablished large organizations in Canada, where from fifty to one hundred and fifty boys are cared for in systematic manner, is the way in which educational features are combined with the purely recreative. Boys may frolic, breathe good air, consume plain, wholesome, nutritious food, and sleep the sleep that comes only in the woods after a day of tramping; but with it all must be accepted the equally valuable educational side. To learn the secrets of the forest, to study woodcraft under past masters like the Indian guides, to secure an appreciation of what nature really is and means, all the while that a boy is growing physically in the open air—these are the things which make the summer camp for boys, no matter what its scope, the undeniable power for good in the land that it is.
These camps are everywhere ; in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, of the New England States; in the numerous available places of the Middle West or in Canada—the latter a section of this continent that is each year claiming increasing thousands of campers. In the vast army of American health and recreation seekers the most important division is that in which must be grouped the younger generation, whose parents realize, through hearsay, if not actual experience, that an incalculable amount of good is to be derived through a summer spent in the woods. For these growing
boys and girls, although the latter, like their older sisters, are numerically few, ample provision is made to-day, so that the youth of the country may enjoy its fill of the dreamed-of. but possibly unhoped-for, joy of actual life in the woods. To show to the sons and their sires, and their mothers, too —for the latter usually possess the determining voice in decisions of this kind— what possibilities there are in the summer camps of this country and Canada, I will endeavor to point out just what is aimed at and done in a typical boys’ camp which plays so important a part in our national life. It is the sort of thing most earnestly advocated by President Theodore Roosevelt, himself, an excellent example of the value of the theories he expounds.
This particular camp in Canada, in the picturesque Temagami district, is conducted in two divisions, possibly, I should say three, for provision is also made for older men as well as for the boys. The two main divisions are the “Manitou Wigwam” for the smaller boys, whose ages are between eleven and fifteen; the other, “Temagami Wigwam,” is for older youths, whose ages run from fifteen to twenty.
For the older men who desire to enjoy the benefits of this camp, men who have graduated from college and still like to associate with the youths, whose struggle with the world is yet before them, there is a club, not a wigwam. For the latter exponents of the simple life of the woods, it is possible to make the briefest sort of stay; as it is realized that, while boys may devote one or more months to this life in the open, it is
often impossible for the city-tired business man to spend more than one or two weeks in the health-giving Canadian woods.
The club, 'however, is an organization of comparatively recent growth ; here, as elsewhere, the principal camps are those of the youths, the two above-mentioned wigwams. The juvenile occupants of “Manitou Wigwam" are taught all the essentials of camping (how to put up a tent, start a fire, make their beds, the selection of a proper camping place, etc.), swimming and canoeing, and at the same time are instructed in the elements of forestry, natural history and wood-lore.
Their older brothers, Temagami’s pro tern “Indians,” if they have not previously learned the things intuitive to the real redskins, and which are part of Manitou’s “curriculum,” are taught these secrets of the woods. Possessing a permanent camp, these older boys make long canoe trips through the district, camping, fishing and exploring, with Indians for their guides. Hardly a summer passes in which new islands are not discovered. Everywhere they blaze the way with their mystic club symbol, “K. K. K.”
There are five camp buildings in this particular summer settlement, these serving for eating-quarters, kitchens, general assembly-room, etc. The boys, however, sleep in large, airy tents, with board floors and double flies. For the exploring trips,
Indian guides are utilized, although each boy is expected to aid in the work. In the main camp, most of the work is done by paid employes, though the care of their
tents is entrusted to the boys themselves. On the expeditions, it naturally follows that it is the best part of the experience to share in the work, serving as a “cookee,” or assistant to the cook. The latter is invariably the guide who knows just how to prepare, in most appetizing manner, the just-caught fish, or other food, that somehow never tasted so good before.
At night a big camp-fire is always started after supper, and around this the boys gather to swap stories, endlessly question the Indian guides, and join in a rousing camp song. Few rules obtain in such a summer camp as this, although the younger boys must have paternal permission to enjoy certain privileges, such as smoking, buying things, and doing certain things permitted to the older residents of the camp.
Ample provision is made for recreation, aside from the things enumerated above. There are tennis courts, baseball diamonds, cricket and basket-ball fields, and places for playing quoits and other sports, all these adjoining the camp buildings. Rising at seven, a plunge in the lake starts the day right,with breakfast, a doubly welcome institution. Then follows a day of fishing, canoeing, swimming, exploring and playing various sports ; even instruction in certain subjects which would seem to belong rather to the class-room being available, if a boy’s parents, or he himself, so desires. With such a routine claiming their attention, the juvenile campers are never at a loss for means to fill to the brim the happy summer days.
As with practically all these summer camps, a college graduate is in charge of the boys in this section of the Temagami district. He is assisted in his work by a
staff of college men, most of them graduates, who teach in leading preparatory schools of this country during the winter months. In the hands of these men, peculiarly fitted for this work through previous association with boys of the same age, rests the control of the camps. Each day, one of the number serves as officer of the day. From him must be obtained permits for expeditions into the woods, the settlement of all difficulties, the assignment of various tasks to members of the staff, in looking after the welfare of the boys in their charge, etc. Invariably, there is the greatest good fellowship between the members of the staff and the boys themselves, the former becoming fellow playmates rather than pedagogical masters. Freedom of the right sort is the keynote of the success achieved by all these health-giving summer camps.
Both wigwams of the camp on Devil’s Island—and this is indicative of practically all other summer camps—have a regular season, that lasts from July 7 to September 7, thus taking cognizance of the ordinary school calendar. The camps, however, are open June 15 and do not close until September 20, as many boys find it possible and profitable to spend a longer period than the two months allotted to most. One month is the minimum period for boys to spend at such a place.
In the matter of cost—a most important consideration to most American families today, with financial panics depleting bank accounts and pocketbooks—the rate for the “Temagami,” or older group, is about $170 for two months, or $115 for one month. During the weeks immediately preceding July or following the close of the regular season in September, the rate charged is $3
per day. For the younger boys, the two months and the one month cost respectively $160 and $100.
Boys’ camps are in the vast majority; that is quite natural when one considers that the average girl cares little for this sort of outdoor life. It does not fit in well with furbelows and other feminine finery dear to a woman's heart, even when she is still a child. Some few girls’ camps there are. Their manner of being conducted, their purposes and their general results have so
much in common with the boys’ camps, dwelt on at such length in this article, that to detail a typical camp would possess too much repetition, and would only serve to tire the patient reader.
Far more interesting and legitimately to be included in this necessarily brief article is a real girls’ camp, that is remarkable for its quality of being different. This camp is
located in a clearing in the forest away up in the hills of New Hampshire, at Eagle Point, on Lake Stinson, with the graceful curves of Mt. Carr in the background, one hundred and fifty odd miles from Boston. It is called “Camp Eagle Point,” and is under the direction of competent women who have charge of the sports and general health and give instruction in handicraft and music.
“Camp Eagle Point” is a real bloomergirl colony, for that much-maligned costume is the badge of membership. The real essence of the simple life, without any of its discomforts, is the key-note of the institution. Three years old this summer, it was started largely as an experiment, though its permanency was assured the first year. It offers all the advantages of the ideal out-of-door life: all the amusements are healthy outdoor recreations, the costume of the girls being adapted to the requirements of the camp. They wear dark green bloomers and sailors’ working blouses of unbleached duck. Only once a day, for dinner in the evening, do the Eagle Point campers don more conventional attire, though, the meal itself is served in true “camping-out” style.
Of amusements and recreations there is no dearth, for facilities for almost every sport are to be found. “Camp Eagle Point” is, in fact, possessed of all the conveniences of a well-equipped, modern country house, from a tennis court to a telephone. The daily programme includes mountain-climbing, horseback riding, tennis, golf, swimming and rowing. Trips to nearby points of interest every week or so are a recent innovation.
There is a social side to the summer-life of these bloomer-girl campers in occasional “hops,” to which are bid young people from the neighboring town of Plymouth. On such occasions the living-room of the lodge is decorated with fir boughs, ground pine and daisies, the camp colors being green and white. Dance orders are of birch bark. On Sundays, religious services at the camp attract people from a radius of seven miles.
Although the general conditions are much the same in camps all over the country, each camp usually has some particular features which endear it to those who spend their summers at it.
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