OUTDOOR SPORTS FOR GIRLS





What to wear--Confidence--Horseback riding--Tennis--Golf--Camping





A generation ago the girl who joined her brother in his sports would

have been considered a "tom boy," but in recent years girls have

discovered that with comparatively few exceptions they can join in the

sports and recreations of their brothers and in some cases attain a

remarkable degree of skill.



Girls' schools have done much to spread this idea. A rational outdoor

costume and a desire to be physically well also has helped "the

outdoor girl" to be regarded as the highest type of womanhood. Only

her grandmother sighs over tanned cheeks and muscular arms.



The girl who is not a good sport is the exception rather than the

rule. Besides, our grandmothers worked at their gardening, which is

out-of-door exercise, and a preventive, as Kipling tells, of the

"hump" we get from having too little to do. He says:



_"The cure for this ill is not to sit still,

Or frowst with a book by the fire,

But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,

And dig till you gently perspire."_



From a feminine standpoint the first question must be, "What shall I

wear?" There is no need to be handicapped by skirts, at least when

one's exercise is taken in company with a crowd of girls. The bicycle

introduced the bloomer girl and this costume is now generally regarded

as proper for outdoor girls. In camp one should in addition wear a

sailor blouse, and a pair of sneakers, which though rather heating for

the feet are very comfortable and very satisfactory for long tramps

through the woods. The rubber soles give a firm footing on slippery

moss and dead leaves, while high heels might cause a wrenched ankle or

a bad fall. It is perfectly allowable for a girl to wear a

broad-brimmed hat to avoid sunburn, which might be so serious as to

spoil a vacation. A gradually acquired coat of tan is much more

desirable. The hat prevents headaches or sunstroke, neither of which

may be dared with impunity by a delicate girl, unless she wears her

hair on top of her head.



In regard to hair, which is of great importance to its owner, though

very much of a nuisance after the age when it may be worn boyishly

short, the one word is that it must be fixed to stay without

re-pinning or tucking back at frequent intervals. For bathing, a girl

must either be willing to have her hair well soaked or else to put a

cap on so tightly that it cannot be loosened. To hesitate to try a

dive for fear of getting wet hair spoils much of the sport of

swimming. Each moment of hesitation makes her more convinced that

perhaps, after all, she had better not try that dive, because she

probably would not be able to do it anyway. The lack of confidence is

disastrous. I have known girls who could swim perfectly well in the

shallows but could not keep up at all in water out of their depth. And

yet they have not been touching the bottom in the shallow water, but

they _could_ if they wished. Learning to swim in water that is over

your head is really better, though it is more "scary" at first. If you

do learn in that way you can thereafter look upon the deepest water

with confident scorn.



Confidence is a necessary possession for the beginner in almost any

sport. It is so much easier to do anything if we are quite positive

that we can. Probably, because you are a girl and are modest, you

will have to assume this attitude, but in horseback riding, for

example, an instant of fear while on the horse's back will "give you

away" to the beast. Since he is as keen as a dog to know when you fear

and dislike him, he will undoubtedly take advantage of it. If you are

quite positive that you can learn to ride and that the horse under you

is harmless, you will keep a firm hold on the reins instead of

clinging to the saddle horn in a panic.



The trying part of learning to ride is that the first day's experience

is painfully stiffening. This applies to almost any unusual exercise.

But to withdraw on account of that you may as well resign yourself to

taking exercise no more severe than that afforded by a rocking chair.

It does not pay to stop when you are stiff. Sticking to it is the only

way that will train those hitherto unused muscles to perform their

duties with no creaking of the hinges. A good night's rest is the

utmost limit of time that should intervene between each trial.



A girl has the physical disadvantage of less endurance than a boy, and

she does have to care for herself in that respect, and leave untried

some forms of exercise that would be overexertion for her. A girl may

"paddle her own canoe," of course, without risk of overstraining

herself, but when it comes to moving it from place to place out of the

water, the feather-light canoe of poetry becomes heavy reality. Two

girls can carry a canoe between them for a short distance without much

difficulty, but if one is alone it is far better to drag the canoe

over the ground, which is not particularly hard on it, unless the

ground is rough. The boy's way of carrying it balanced upside down on

his shoulders requires considerable strength.



Devotees of tennis will claim first place for that among girls'

sports. The amount of practice and quickness of thought and motion

that maybe acquired in a game of tennis is remarkable; the fascination

of the game itself rather than the benefits to be derived from it will

hold the attention. The main trouble is in the learning, which

requires unflagging energy and constant practice. An overmodest

beginner will make the mistake of playing only against her likewise

beginning friends; the result is that she takes a discouragingly long

time finding out how to use her racket properly and never gets a

chance to return a really good serve.



It is really just as well at some point in your practising to see some

well-trained athlete do the thing you are trying to learn.



A girl can accomplish a great deal with her brain as well as with her

muscles in athletics. Some one once remarked that he learned to swim

in winter and to skate in summer. He meant that after he had in its

proper season practised skill in the winter sport, his brain, during

the warm months, kept repeating to the muscles those directions until

by the next winter they had a very fair idea of what they had to do,

and responded more quickly and easily. It is rather consoling to think

you do not lose time, but rather progress, between seasons.



The girl who goes camping with a crowd of boys and girls realizes how

much depends on the mere strength of the boys; at the same time she

herself has an opportunity of showing not only her athletic

proficiency and nerve, but also her superior common sense. She will

really have to leave the heavy work of pitching the tents and chopping

the wood to the boys, but she cannot sit down and fold her hands

meanwhile. She can be collecting materials for the beds of balsam on

which they hope to sleep in comfort, or she may gather chips for the

fire, or she may be helping to unload the wagon or canoes in which

they have come. When the tents are pitched she has a woman's

prerogative of "putting the house in order," and during the time of

camping keeping it so.



If there is actually a case of nothing for her to do, far better for

her to sit down and keep quiet than to get in the way of the boys and

bother them. A young man who in his first season as a guide in the

Canadian woods took out a party of girls from a summer school on a

camping trip told me that he would never do it again, because they

gave him no relief from a continual rain of questions. A case where

zeal for knowledge outruns discretion.



After the tents are pitched and the fire made by the boys, it is

plainly up to the girls to get supper. Let us hope they have practised

cooking for some time before they went camping. Every one gets so

desperately hungry in the outdoor life that meals are of first

importance, as tempers are apt to develop unexpectedly if many

failures are turned out. If the girls are good cooks, however, and

wash the dishes after each meal the division of labour will be fair to

all concerned.



A girl is more or less dependent on her boy friends for instruction in

sports and considerably anxious for their approval. Even if she has a

woman instructor, in nine cases out of ten she requires some kind of

praise from some man before she is satisfied with her performance.

Sister may tell her that she steers her canoe with beautiful

precision, but unless brother remarks carelessly that "the kid

paddles pretty well" she will hesitate to take her canoe in places

where expert paddling is required. When you know that you can do some

things as well as any boy you still have to rest content with the

grudging assurance that "you do pretty well for a girl."





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