I WRITE my notes this month from camp. I hope that many a Scoutmaster will have been able, like me, to take his holiday this year in camp. If he has enjoyed it half as much as I am enjoying mine, he will have done well.
I am certain that a week or two of such life is the best rest-cure and the best tonic for both mind and body that exists for a man, whether he be boy or old ‘un. And for both it is a great educator. By camp I mean a woodland camp, not the military camp for barracking a large number at one time under canvas. That is no more like the kind of camp I advocate than a cockchafer is like a goose.
A Boy Scouts’ camp should be the woodland kind of camp, if it is going to be any real good as an educator. Many, nay most, military camps are liable to do more harm than good to boys, unless exceptionally well-managed and closely supervised. Whereas a woodsman’s camp, if properly carried out, gives the lads occupation and individual resourcefulness all the time.
A large camp has of necessity to be carried on with a considerable amount of routine discipline. Parades have to be held to give the boys instruction and occupation, fatigue parties, tent inspections, roll-calls, bathing parades, and so on. Were it not for the fresh, open-air life this kind of camp might almost as well be carried on in town barracks; it teaches the boys nothing of individuality, resourcefulness, responsibility, nature lore, and many little (though really great) bits of character education for which the woodsman’s camp is the best, if not the only, school.
But such a camp can only be carried out with a small number of boys; from thirty to forty being the full number with which it is possible. And then only if the Patrol system is really and entirely made use of.
Of course, it is easy for one to write from an ideal camp of the kind and imagine that everybody has the same advantages, but I don’t altogether mean to do that. I know the difficulties that one has to contend with as a Scoutmaster in England, but I want to put the ideal before those who have not perhaps thought out the question very carefully, and who, by custom or example, are inclined to take the military form of camp as being the usual and right one for boys. The ideal can then be followed as nearly as local circumstances will allow.
(Headquarters’ Gazette, September, 1911).
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