During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
Not long ago I was shown a pattern schoolboy camp where there were rows of bell-tents smartly pitched and perfectly aligned, with a fine big mess marquee and clean well appointed cooks’ quarters with a kitchen range.
There were brick paths and wooden bathing houses and latrines, etc.
It was all exceedingly well planned and put up by the contractor. The officer who organised it all merely had to pay down a certain sum and the whole thing was done. It was quite simple and businesslike.
My only complaint about it was that it wasn’t camping. Living under canvas is a very different thing from camping. Any ass, so to speak, can live under canvas where he is one of a herd with everything done for him; but he might just as well stop at home for all the good it is likely to do him.
II hope, therefore, that when asked their advice. Scoutmasters will impress upon camp organisers that what appeals to the boys, and what keeps them occupied, and is at the same time an education for them, is real camping. That is, where they prepare their own encampment even to the extent of previously making their own tents and learning to cook their own food.
Then the pitching of tents in separate sites and selected nooks, by Patrols as far as possible, the arranging of watersupply and firewood, the preparation of bathing places, field kitchens, latrines, soak and refuse pits, etc., the use of camp expedients, and the making of camp utensils and furniture, will give a keen interest and invaluable training.
Where you have a large number of boys in a canvas town you are forced to have drill and bathing parades as a means of supplying mass occupation, whereas with a few Patrols, apart from their minor camp work, which fills up a lot of time, there is the continuous opportunity for education in Nature lore and in the development of health of body and mind through cross-country runs and hikes, and the outdoor life of the woods.
Get camp organisers to realise from the start the difference between camping and living under canvas, and you will have done a good turn to them and to their boys.