CAMPS AND CAMPING
Source: Outdoor Sports and Games
How to select the best place and to pitch the tent--A brush bed--The
best kind of a tent--How to make the camp fire--What to do when it
rains--Fresh air and good food--The brush leanto and how to make it
Going camping is the best fun in the world if we know how to do it.
Every healthy boy and girl if given an opportunity should enjoy living
outdoors for a week or two and playing at being an Indian. There is
more to camping however than "roughing it" or seeing how much hardship
we can bear. A good camper always makes himself just as comfortable as
he can under the circumstances. The saying that "an army travels on
its stomach" means that a soldier can not make long marches or fight
hard unless he has good food. The surest sign of a "tenderfoot" is the
boy who makes fun of you because you try to have a soft dry bed while
he prefers to sleep on the ground under the mistaken idea that it is
manly or brave. He will usually spoil a trip in the woods for every
one in the party.
Another poor kind of a camper pitches his tent so that his bed gets
wet and his food spoiled on the first rainy day, and then sits around
cold and hungry trying hard to think that he is having fun, to keep
from getting homesick. This kind of a boy "locks the door after the
horse is stolen." If we go camping we must know how to prevent the
unpleasant things from happening. We must always be ready for wind and
rain, heat and cold. A camping party should make their plans a long
time ahead in order to get their equipment ready. Careful lists should
be made of what we think we shall need. After we are out in the woods,
there will be no chance to run around the corner to the grocer's to
supply what we have forgotten. If it is forgotten, we must simply make
the best of it and not allow it to spoil our trip.
It is surprising how many things that we think are almost necessary to
life we can get along without if we are obliged to. The true woodsman
knows how to turn to his use a thousand of nature's gifts and to make
himself comfortable, while you and I might stand terrified and
miserable under the same conditions.
Daniel Boone, the great wilderness traveller, could go out alone in
the untracked forest with nothing but his rifle, his axe and a small
pack on his back and by a knowledge of the stars, the rivers, the
trees and the wild animals, he could go for weeks travelling hundreds
of miles, building his bed and his leanto out of the evergreen boughs,
lighting his fire with his flint and steel, shooting game for his food
and dressing and curing their skins for his clothing and in a thousand
ways supplying his needs from nature's storehouse. The school of the
woods never sends out graduates. We may learn something new every day.
[Illustration: With a head shelter and a sleeping bag he can keep dry
The average city boy or girl does not have an opportunity to become a
skilled master of woodcraft, but because we cannot learn it all is no
reason why we should not learn something. The best way to learn it is
in the woods themselves and not out of books.
A party of four boys makes a good number for a camping trip. They will
probably agree better than two or three. They can do much of the camp
work in pairs. No one need to be left alone to look after the camp
while the others go fishing or hunting or to some nearby town for the
mail or for supplies. There is no reason why four boys of fifteen who
are resourceful and careful cannot spend a week or two in the woods in
perfect safety and come back home sounder in mind and body than when
they left. It is always better to take along some one who has "camped
out" before. If he cannot be found, then make your plans, decide what
you will do and how you will do it, take a few cooking lessons from
mother or the cook--if the latter is good-natured--and go anyway.
First elect a leader, not because he is any more important than the
rest but because if some one goes ahead and gives directions, the life
in camp will run much more smoothly and every one will have a better
If it is your first experience in camping, you had better go somewhere
near home. The best place is one that can be reached by wagon. If we
have to carry our supplies on our backs or in a canoe, the amount we
can take will be much less. After you have had some experience near
home you can safely try the other way. Where you go is of
comparatively little importance. Near every large city there is some
lake or river where you can find a good camping site. Campers always
have more fun if they are near some water, but if such a place is not
easily found near where you live, go into the woods. Try to get away
from towns or villages. The wilder the place is, the better.
You had better make sure of your camping ground before you go by
writing a letter to the owner of the land. It isn't much fun after we
have pitched the tent and made everything shipshape to have some angry
landowner come along and order us off because we are trespassers.
In selecting a place to camp, there are several very important things
to look out for.
1. Be sure you are near a supply of drinking water. A spring or a
brook is best, but even the lake or river will do if the water is pure
and clean. The water at the bottom of a lake is always much colder and
cleaner than the surface water. When I was a boy, I used a simple
device for getting cold water which some of you may like to copy. I
took an old-fashioned jug and fastened a strong string to the handle
and also fastened this string to the cork of the jug as the drawing
shows. The jug was weighted so that it would sink, by means of a piece
of stone tied to the handle. We used to go out to the middle of the
lake where the water was the deepest and lower the jug over the side
of a boat. When it reached bottom we would give the string a sharp tug
and thus pull out the cork. The bubbles coming to the surface showed
us when the jug was full. We then hauled it on board and had clear,
cold, drinking water from a lake that on the surface was warm enough
[Illustration: The jug by which we obtained pure, cold water]
2. The next important thing in selecting a camp is being near a supply
of firewood. A week in camp will consume an amazing amount of wood,
especially if we have a camp fire at night to sit around and sing and
tell stories before turning in. In most sections there is plenty of
dead wood that we can use for camp fires. This does not mean a lot of
twigs and brush. There is no use trying to go camping unless some one
knows how to use an axe. In another chapter I will tell you something
about the proper use of axes and hatchets. For the present it is
sufficient to say that an excellent place to practise handling an axe
is on the family woodpile. You will thus combine business and
pleasure, and your efforts will be appreciated by your family, which
would not be the case if, like George Washington, you began your
lessons in woodcraft on the favourite cherry tree.
Almost any kind of wood will burn when it is dry, but it takes
experience to know the kinds of trees that will burn when they are
green. If there is no dry wood in the neighbourhood, and we are
obliged to cut a tree down to get our supply, it is very important to
pitch our camp somewhere near the right kind of a tree and not be
obliged to carry our firewood a long distance. The best "green wood"
for the campers' fire is hickory, although birch is excellent. Hickory
is also the best dry wood. Other trees that will burn well when green
are cedar, white ash, locust or white oak. There are comparatively few
places, however, where dry wood is not available and of course it is
always best to avoid such a place.
3. The camp site should be in a fairly open spot. Thick woods and
underbrush are either hot or "damp" cool. If you can find a site that
is shaded during the heat of the day so much the better. It is unwise
to pitch the tent under a tree that stands alone on account of
possible danger from lightning. If your tent is shaded by a tree be
sure there are no dead limbs to blow off and wreck it during a storm.
Be sure that the drainage is good, so that in case of heavy rains, the
water will run off and not flood the camp. It is very important if
your camp is along some river or stream to be high enough to avoid the
danger of sudden floods. This can usually be determined by talking to
some one who knows the country. You can also tell it by studying the
previous high water marks in the trees. In case of floods there are
always some wisps of straw, pieces of brush, etc., caught and held by
the limbs of trees after the water settles back to its former level.
It is a good chance to practise your woodcraft by trying to find them.
Damp locations are very bad. The higher we can get, the drier it will
be. We avoid both fogs and mosquitoes. Usually there is some prominent
place that will give us a good outlook and where the breezes can reach
There are both good and bad points in pitching our tent on the site of
a former camp. As long as the former campers have not scoured the
surrounding neighbourhood for firewood nor have left a place littered
up with all sorts of rubbish and garbage to draw flies and vermin,
they may have fixed up things around the camp site to save us work and
to add to our comfort and pleasure. Each case will have to be decided
on its own merits.
[Illustration: A wall tent]
The three important things then are the water supply, the firewood
supply, and good drainage.
Next in importance to the camp site is the outfit, and the most
important thing is the tent. For a party of four boys on their first
camping trip, the best kind will be a wall tent. A tent, 11 x 14 feet
will be large enough to provide sleeping quarters and to have every
one comfortable. A simple shelter of canvas outside can be provided
as a dining-room but this is more of a luxury than a real necessity.
Canvas or duck is the common material from which tents are made. The
standard eight-ounce khaki duck used in the United States army will,
for this size tent, cost about twenty dollars. This will include a
fly, which is merely a second roof to the tent. The best material for
tents is balloon silk. It is much more waterproof than canvas and only
weighs a quarter as much. It is also much more expensive. A tent can
be made at home, which is of course the cheaper way. They can also be
hired from previous campers or from some awning maker who is also
usually a tent maker.
A canvas tent without a fly will leak in a rain storm if the roof is
touched on the inside either by our hands or our clothing. It may be
made partially waterproof by a coating of paraffine which has been
previously dissolved in turpentine. The simplest and at the same time
the warmest tent for an experienced camper who knows the tricks of the
trade is a leanto tent, one with one side entirely open, in front of
which a blazing fire may be kept burning. This is hardly adapted for
boys on their first trip, however.
Another very good and very simple tent is the "A" tent used in the
army. This looks like a "V" turned upside down. We can pitch it
without the aid of tent poles by simply hanging it be ween two trees
to which a rope has been stretched.
[Illustration: An "A" tent]
The Hudson Bay tent, trapper's tent, forester's tent, canoe tent, and
a dozen others, including an Indian tepee and wigwam, are all good
tents for special purposes. The pictures show the different styles and
all of them are designed for special uses, either for warmth or
lightness in carrying or ease in pitching. If we go camping in summer
and can have our equipment or "duffle," as the woodsmen call it,
carried by team, the wall tent will be the best one to take.
Tent pegs can always be cut in the woods, but it is far more
satisfactory to get them ready at home before we leave. If you do cut
your own pegs, select hardwood saplings to make them from and to
further harden the points, char them slightly in a fire. If you spend
a few winter evenings at home making the pegs, it will save you a lot
of time and trouble when you reach the camping ground. The best pegs
are made of iron or steel. This is especially true when the ground
where they are to be driven is hard or rocky, which is usually the
case. Steel tent pins may be bought for six cents apiece or possibly
the local blacksmith will make them for less. They should be a foot
A sod cloth is a strip of canvas eight or ten inches wide fastened to
the bottom of the tent wall. Its purpose is to keep the wind and rain
from blowing under the tent. After the tent is pitched a ditch should
be dug all around it to catch the rain and carry it away. The earth
that is dug from this trench may be thrown on the sod cloth to hold it
It is an excellent idea, if you are a beginner, to practise pitching
the tent at home so that you will understand it better when you are in
the woods. Besides this, you can try sleeping out a night or two to
see how you are going to like it.
[Illustration: A trapper's tent]
When you reach your camping place, the first step is to clear the
ground of all rubbish, loose stones, sticks and brush to have a clean
floor. Then unpack the tent and fit the pegs of the two upright poles
through the two holes in the ridge pole. Next raise the tent and peg
the guy ropes on the four corners first. A little practice will show
you how to do this. After all the ropes are pegged at a proper
distance from the tent, they should be tightened and the tent made
Always plan to have a full four hours of daylight to make your camp
ready. If the drive is a long one and you are obliged to get up very
early in the morning, you will have to do it, that is all. I made my
first camping trip when I was twelve years old. We had just reached
the camping ground, unloaded our kit and sent the team home that
brought us when--bang! over the mountain across the lake from where we
were going to camp, a terrific thunder shower came up and in a few
minutes it was pouring. There was our whole outfit--tent, bedding and
food--getting soaked because, instead of hurrying along during the
day, we had fooled away our time trying to catch fish in wayside
brooks that had never seen a fish and not realizing how important it
is to make haste as well as hay while the sun shines.
[Illustration: An Indian tepee]
We quickly pitched the tent, not as it should have been pitched, but
in a heap over the rest of our goods to keep out as much water as
possible and then ran for a nearby barn where we spent a cold hungry
night, wetter but wiser. The next day, out came the sun and dried our
things, but if the rain had continued we certainly should have been
obliged to go home or at least to a farmhouse to stay until the
weather cleared. We soon forgot our unpleasant experience but we have
not forgotten the lesson it taught--and that is not to waste time
along the road when there is work to be done at the journey's end.
Next to a good tent, the most important thing for the camper is a good
bed. It is even more important than good food because if we sleep
well, hunger will furnish the sauce for our grub, but if we spend the
night trying to dodge some root or rock that is boring into our back
and that we hardly felt when we turned in but which grew to an
enormous size in our imagination before morning, we will be half sick
and soon get enough of being an Indian. A canvas cot makes the best
camp bed if it can be taken along conveniently. There is one important
thing to look out for in sleeping on a cot. In my first experience of
the kind, I nearly froze. I kept piling things on me until all my
clothing, and even the camp towels and table-cloth were pressed into
service and was thinking about pulling some dry grass to pile on the
rest of the stuff. Still I shivered until I discovered that the cold
was coming up from underneath because there was nothing to keep it out
but the single thickness of canvas. When I put one of my blankets
under me, I was as warm as toast.
Very often it is impossible to carry cots on a trip, and that is
where a knowledge of woodcraft comes in. The softest, sweetest,
downiest bed in the world can be made with no other materials but
those which grow in the forest--if we know how. At least the tired
camper will think it is soft and will sleep on it like a top and wake
up refreshed in the morning. Perhaps if we had our choice we would
prefer our own bed at home, but in the woods we do not have this
choice. Most people call this a bed of "pine boughs."
[Illustration: How the bough bed is made]
Why I do not know as it never should be made of pine under any
circumstances. The best wood for the bough bed is balsam. If this does
not grow in the neighbourhood, hemlock, spruce, or even cedar will do.
To make a bough bed properly means a lot of work. The first step is to
cut four straight sticks. The side pieces should be six feet and a
half long and the end pieces three feet and a half. They should be
notched on the ends with an axe and either nailed or tied together
from saplings or from a tree that you have felled. Small balsam boughs
should be broken off with the fingers and laid one on the other until
the whole bed is filled with them. On this, the rubber blanket or
poncho should be spread and the blankets over all. All the boughs
should be shingled with the stems down to keep them in the best
condition. This kind of a bed will require remaking every day.
A better bed for the boy camper is made as follows: Take a piece of
heavy bed ticking and sew it into a bag about three feet by six feet.
When you reach camp you can make a regular mattress by filling it with
whatever material is most easily found. Dry leaves? grass, hay, even
moss or wet filler can be used if nothing dry can be found, but in
this case the rubber blanket will be an absolute necessity. Of course
it is much better to use some dry material.
Be sure to have a comfortable bed. No matter what ideas you may have
about cowboys and soldiers rolling up in their blankets and snatching
a few hours' sleep under the stars by lying on the bare ground, a boy
who is used to a good bed at home will never have much fun out of a
camping trip if he tries to sleep on the ground with a rock for his
For a summer camping trip, one blanket is enough. You must learn to
roll up in it. Lie flat on your back and cover the blanket over you.
Then raise up your legs and tuck it under first on one side and then
the other. The rest is easy. This beats trying to "roll up" in it,
actually. The common summer blankets used at home are not much use for
the camper. These are usually all cotton. A camper's blanket should be
all wool. You can buy a standard U.S. Army blanket, size 66 x 84
inches, for five dollars. They can often be purchased in stores that
deal in second hand army supplies for much less and are just as good
as new except for some slight stain or defect.
A sleeping bag is expensive but is excellent for cold weather camping.
It is much too hot for the boy camper in summer.
Do not sleep in your clothing. Unless it is too cold, undress, about
as you do at home. If the blanket feels tickly, it would not be a
great crime, no matter what the tenderfoot says who wanted you to
sleep on the ground, to take along a sheet. I have never done this,
At the end of this chapter, you will find a list of things to take
The camp fire and the cooking fire should be separate. Almost any one
can kindle a fire with dry materials. It takes a woodman to build a
fire when it has been raining and everything is wet. The boy's method
of taking a few newspapers, and a handful of brush or leaves will not
First look around for an old dead top of a pine or cedar. If you
cannot find one, chop down a cedar tree. Whittle a handful of
splinters and shavings from the dry heart. Try to find the lee side of
a rock or log where the wind and rain do not beat in. First put down
the shavings or some dry birch bark if you can find it, and shelter it
as well as you can from the rain. Pile up some larger splinters of
wood over the kindling material like an Indian's wigwam. Then light it
and give it a chance to get into a good blaze before you pile on any
larger wood and put the whole fire out. It sounds easy but before you
try it in the woods I advise you to select the first rainy day and go
out near home and experiment.
To make a fire that will burn in front of the tent all night, first
drive two green stakes into the ground at a slant and about five feet
apart. Then lay two big logs one on each side of a stake to serve as
andirons. Build a fire between these logs and pile up a row of logs
above the fire and leaning against the stakes. You may have to brace
the stakes with two others which should have a forked end. When the
lower log burns out the next one will drop down in its place and
unless you have soft, poor wood the fire should burn for ten hours.
With this kind of a fire and with a leanto, it is possible to keep
warm in the woods, on the coldest, night in winter.
[Illustration: The frame for a brush leanto]
This is the way to build a brush leanto: First cut two sticks and
drive them into the ground. They should have a point on one end and a
fork on the other. Lay a stout pole across the two forks like a gypsy
fire rig. Then lean poles against the crosspiece and finally thatch
the roof with spruce, hemlock or other boughs and pile up boughs for
the sides. A brush camp is only a makeshift arrangement and is never
weather proof. It is simply a temporary shelter which with the
all-night fire burning in front will keep a man from freezing to death
in the woods. Any kind of a tent is better or even a piece of canvas
or a blanket for the roof of the leanto will be better than the roof
of boughs. Be careful not to set the leanto on fire with the sparks
from your camp fire.
Mosquitoes have probably spoiled more camping trips that any other one
thing. The best tents have mosquito net or cheese cloth fronts which
may be held close to the ground by a stick on the bottom. Perhaps the
easiest way to secure protection is for each boy to take along a few
yards of cotton mosquito netting and by means of curved sticks build a
canopy over his bed.
A smoky fire called a "smudge" will sometimes keep the pests away from
the neighbourhood of the tent or if we build it in the tent will drive
them out, but the remedy is almost as bad as the disease. As a rule
they will only be troublesome at night and the net over our bed will
enable us to sleep in peace.
The most common "dope" used in the woods to keep off mosquitoes is
called oil of citronella. It has a very pungent odour that the
mosquitoes do not like and the chances are that you will not like it
either. At the same time it may be a good plan to take a small bottle
You may safely count on finding mosquitoes, no matter where you go or
what the people tell you who live there. Perhaps they have never tried
sleeping in the woods and do not know. Be sure therefore to take
along some netting or cheese cloth to protect yourself against them.
Everything that you can do at home to get ready for your camping trip
will add to your pleasure when you get out in the woods. If any part
of your kit needs fixing, fishing rods wound or varnished, your
jackknife ground, your camera fixed, or if your clothing needs any
patches or buttons, do it at home.
No one ever does half that he plans to on a trip like this unless he
does not plan to do anything. Take along a few books to read for the
rainy days and have them covered with muslin if you ever expect to put
them back into your library.
If you have been putting off a visit to the dentist, by all means do
it before you get out where there are no dentists. An aching tooth can
spoil a vacation in the woods about as easily as anything I know of.
As a final word of advice to the beginner in camping, let me tell you
a few things that my own experience has taught me.
A felt hat is better than a cap as it is sun and rain proof.
Wear a flannel shirt and take one extra one. You can wash one and wear
the other. Be sure to have a new shirt plenty loose in the neck as
camp washing in cold water will make it shrink. Do not go around in
gymnasium shirts or sleeveless jerseys. One of my companions did this
once and was so terribly sunburned that his whole trip was spoiled.
Two sets of underwear are plenty, including the one you wear.
Take along a silk handkerchief to wear around your neck.
Wear comfortable shoes. A camping trip is a poor place to break in new
hunting boots or shoes.
Take bandanna handkerchiefs and leave your linen ones at home.
If you have to choose between a coat and a sweater take the sweater
and leave the coat at home. A coat is out of place in the woods.
Khaki or canvas trousers are excellent. So are corduroy. An old pair
of woollen trousers are just as good as either.
A poncho is almost necessary to your comfort. It is merely a rubber or
oilskin piece with a slit in it to put your head through. The right
size is 66 x 90 inches. With it you can keep dry day or night, either
using it as a garment or as a cover. When you are not using it you can
cover it over your bed or food supply.
Take along a good pocket knife and compass. Better leave the revolver
home. Also always carry a waterproof box of matches.
You will require some kind of a waterproof "duffle" bag to carry your
personal things--tooth brush, extra clothing, mirror, fishing tackle,
towel, soap, medicine, in fact whatever you think you will need. If it
is your first camping trip you will come home without having had any
use whatever for more than half the things you take. That is the
experience of every one, so do not become discouraged.
If you camp within reach of a post-office, address some stamped
envelopes to your home in ink before you leave. Then you will have no
excuse for not writing a letter home.
You can make an excellent pillow by rolling up your trousers. Be sure
to take everything out of the pockets first, including your knife, and
roll them with the top inside so that the buttons or your belt buckle
will not bore into your ear.
If you fall overboard and come ashore to dry out, stuff your shoes
full of dry grass or old paper to keep them from shrinking. When they
are dry, soften them with tallow or oil. Every one who goes camping at
some time or other gets wet. The only advice I can give you is to get
dry again as soon as possible. As long as you keep moving it will
probably not injure you. Waterproof garments are of little use in the
woods. They are always too warm for summer wear and by holding the
perspiration, are more of an injury than a benefit.
Never wear rubber boots in the woods or you will surely take cold.
Better have wet feet. The best foot wear is moccasins. If you wear
them see that they are several sizes too large and wear at least two
pairs of heavy woollen stockings with them.
How to make the camp fire range--Bread bakers--Cooking utensils--The
grub list--Simple camp recipes
Most boys, and I regret to say a few girls too, nowadays, seem to
regard a knowledge of cooking as something to be ashamed of. The boy
who expects to do much camping or who ever expects to take care of
himself out in the woods had better get this idea out of his head just
as soon as possible. Cooking in a modern kitchen has been reduced to a
science, but the boy or man who can prepare a good meal with little
but nature's storehouse to draw on and who can make an oven that will
bake bread that is fit to eat, with the nearest range fifty miles
away, has learned something that his mother or sister cannot do and
something that he should be very proud of. Camp cooking is an art and
to become an expert is the principal thing in woodcraft--nothing else
is so important.
We often hear how good the things taste that have been cooked over the
camp fire. Perhaps a good healthy appetite has something to do with
it, but it is pretty hard even for a hungry boy to relish half-baked,
soggy bread or biscuits that are more suitable for fishing sinkers
than for human food. A party without a good cook is usually ready to
break camp long before the time is up, and they are lucky if the
doctor is not called in as soon as they get home.
There is really no need for poor food in the woods. Very few woodsmen
are good cooks simply because they will not learn. The camp cook
always has the best fun. Every one is ready to wait on him _"if he
will only, please get dinner ready"_
One year when I was camping at the head of Moosehead Lake in Maine, I
had a guide to whom I paid three dollars a day. He cooked and I got
the firewood, cleaned the fish and did the chores around camp. His
cooking was so poor that the food I was forced to eat was really
spoiling my trip. One day I suggested that we take turns cooking, and
in place of the black muddy coffee, greasy fish and soggy biscuit, I
made some Johnny cake, boiled a little rice and raisins and baked a
fish for a change instead of frying it. His turn to cook never came
again. He suggested himself that he would be woodchopper and scullion
and let me do the cooking. I readily agreed and found that it was
only half as much work as being the handy man.
The basis of camp cooking is the fire. It is the surest way to tell
whether the cook knows his business or not. The beginner always starts
with a fire hot enough to roast an ox and just before he begins
cooking piles on more wood. Then when everything is sizzling and
red-hot, including the handles of all his cooking utensils, he is
ready to begin the preparation of the meal. A cloud of smoke follows
him around the fire with every shift of the wind. Occasionally he will
rush in through the smoke to turn the meat or stir the porridge and
rush out again puffing and gasping for breath, his eyes watery and
blinded and his fingers scorched almost like a fireman coming out of a
burning building where he has gone to rescue some child. The chances
are, if this kind of a cook takes hold of the handle of a hot frying
pan, pan and contents will be dumped in a heap into the fire to
further add to the smoke and blaze.
When the old hand begins to cook, he first takes out of the fire the
unburned pieces and blazing sticks, leaving a bed of glowing coals to
which he can easily add a little wood, if the fire gets low and a
watched pot refuses to boil to his satisfaction. When the fire is
simply a mass of red coals he quietly goes to cooking, and if his fire
has been well made and of the right kind of wood, the embers will
continue to glow and give out heat for an hour.
Of course, if the cooking consists in boiling water for some purpose,
there is no particular objection to a hot fire, the fire above
described is for broiling, frying and working around generally.
[Illustration: A type of camp fire that will burn all night]
There are all sorts of camp fireplaces. The quickest one to build and
one of the best as well, is the "hunter's fire," All you need is an
axe. Take two green logs about six to eight inches thick and five feet
long and lay them six inches apart at one end and about fourteen
inches at the other. Be sure that the logs are straight. It is a good
plan to flatten the surface slightly on one side with the axe to
furnish a better resting place for the pots and pans. If the logs roll
or seem insecure, make a shallow trench to hold them or wedge them
with flat stones. The surest way to hold them in place is to drive
stakes at each end. Build your fire between the logs and build up a
cob house of firewood. Split wood will burn much more quickly than
round sticks. As the blazing embers fall between the logs, keep adding
more wood. Do not get the fire outside of the logs. The object is to
get a bed of glowing coals between them. When you are ready to begin
cooking, take out the smoky, burning pieces and leave a bed of red-hot
coals. If you have no axe and can find no logs, a somewhat similar
fireplace can be built up of flat stones, but be sure that your stone
fireplace will not topple over just at the critical time.
If you only have your jack-knife, the best fire is a "Gypsy Rig". Cut
two crotched sticks, drive them into the ground and lay a crosspiece
on them just as you would begin to build the leanto described in the
preceding chapter, but of course not so high above the ground. The
kettles and pots can be hung from the crossbar by means of pot hooks,
which are pieces of wood or wire shaped like a letter "S." Even
straight sticks will do with two nails driven into them. These should
be of different lengths to adjust the pots at various heights above
the fire, depending on whether you wish to boil something furiously or
merely to let it simmer. Do not suspend the kettles by running the bar
through them. This is very amateurish. With a gypsy fire, the frying
pan, coffee pot and gridiron will have to be set right on the bed of
An arrangement for camp fires that is better and less work than the
logs is obtained by using fire irons, which are two flat pieces of
iron a yard or so long resting on stones and with the fire built
The whole object of either logs or irons is to furnish a secure
resting place for cooking utensils above the fire.
There are several kinds of ovens used for baking bread and roasting
meat in outdoor life. The simplest way is to prop a frying pan up in
front of the fire. This is not the best way but you will have to do it
if you are travelling light. A reflector, when made of sheet iron or
aluminum is the best camp oven. Tin is not so satisfactory because it
will not reflect the heat equally. Both the top and bottom of the
reflector oven are on a slope and midway between is a steel baking pan
held in place by grooves. This oven can be moved about at will to
regulate the amount of heat and furthermore it can be used in front of
a blazing fire without waiting for a bed of coals. Such a rig can
easily be made by any tinsmith. A very convenient folding reflector
oven can be bought in aluminum for three or four dollars. When not
used for baking, it makes an excellent dishpan.
[Illustration: A reflector camp oven]
The standard camp oven that has been used by generations of pioneers
and campers is the Dutch oven. It is simply an iron pot on short legs
and is provided with a heavy cover. To use it, dig a hole in the
ground large enough to hold it, build a fire and fill the hole with
embers. Then scoop out a place for the pot, cover it over with more
embers and ashes and let the contents bake.
For the boy who wants to go to the limit in depending on his own
resources, the clay oven is the nearest to real woodcraft. This is
made in the side of a bank by burrowing out a hole, with a smoke
outlet in the rear. A hot fire built inside will bake the clay and
hold it together. To use this oven, build a fire in it and when the
oven is hot, rake out the coals and put in your bread or meat on flat
stones. Close the opening with another stone and keep it closed long
enough to give the oven a chance. This method is not recommended to
beginners who are obliged to eat what they cook, but in the hands of a
real cook, will give splendid results. The reflector oven is the best
for most cases if you can carry it conveniently.
The kind of a cooking equipment that we take with us on a camping trip
will depend on what we can carry conveniently, how much we are willing
to rough it and what our stock of provisions will be. One thing is
sure--the things that we borrow from home will rarely be fit to
return. In making a raid on the family kitchen, better warn the folks
that they are _giving_ us the pots and pans instead of merely
_lending_ them. Very compact cooking outfits can be bought if one
cares to go to the expense. An aluminum cook kit for four people, so
made that the various articles nest one into the other, can be bought
for fifteen dollars. It weighs only ten pounds and takes up a space
of 10 x 12 inches. Such a kit is very convenient if we move camp
frequently or have to carry our outfit with us, but for the party of
boys going out by team it is not worth the expense. You will need
several tin pails, two iron pots, a miner's coffee pot--all in one
piece including the lip--two frying pans, possibly a double boiler for
oatmeal and other cooked cereals, iron spoon, large knife, vegetable
knife, iron fork and broiler. A number of odds and ends will come in
handy, especially tin plates to put things on. Take no crockery or
glassware. It will be sure to be broken. Do not forget a can opener.
Camp fire utensils should never be soldered. Either seamless ware or
riveted joints are the only safe kind. Solder is sure to melt over a
hot open fire.
The personal equipment for each boy should be tin cup, knife, fork,
and spoons, deep tin plate, extra plate and perhaps one extra set of
everything for company if they should happen to drop in. A lot of dish
washing can be avoided if we use paper or wooden plates and burn them
up after the meal.
The main question is "What shall we take to eat." A list of food or as
it is commonly known "the grub list" is a subject that will have to be
decided by the party themselves. I will give you a list that will
keep four hungry boys from staying hungry for a trip of two weeks and
leave something over to bring home. If the list does not suit you
exactly you can substitute or add other things. It is an excellent
plan for the party to take a few home cooked things to get started on,
a piece of roasted meat, a dish of baked beans, some crullers, cookies
or ginger snaps. We must also consider whether we shall get any fish
or game. If fishing is good, the amount of meat we take can be greatly
This list has been calculated to supply a party who are willing to eat
camp fare and who do not expect to be able to buy bread, milk, eggs or
butter. If you can get these things nearby, then camping is but little
different from eating at home.
Ten lbs. bacon, half a ham, 4 cans corned beef, 2 lbs. cheese, 3 lbs.
lard, 8 cans condensed milk, 8 lbs. hard tack, 10 packages soda
crackers, 6 packages sweet crackers, 12-1/2 lbs. of wheat flour,
12-1/2 lbs. of yellow cornmeal, can baking powder, 1/2 bushel
potatoes, 1 peck onions, 3 lbs. ground coffee, 1/2 lb. tea, sack salt,
7 lbs. granulated sugar, 3 packages prepared griddle cake flour, 4
packages assorted cereals, including oatmeal, 4 lbs. rice, dried
fruits, canned corn, peas, beans, canned baked beans, salmon,
tomatoes, sweetmeats and whatever else you like.
Be sure to take along plenty of tin boxes or tight wooden boxes to
keep rain and vermin away from the food. Tell your grocer to pack the
stuff for a camping trip and to put the perishable things in tight
boxes as far as possible.
If you are going to move camp, have some waterproof bags for the
flour. If you can carry eggs and butter, so much the better. A tin
cracker box buried in the mud along some cold brook or spring makes an
excellent camper's refrigerator especially if it is in the shade.
Never leave the food exposed around camp. As soon as the cook is
through with it let some one put it away in its proper place where the
flies, ants, birds, sun, dust, and rain cannot get at it.
Always examine food before you cook it. Take nothing for granted. Once
when camping the camp cook for breakfast made a huge pot of a certain
brand of breakfast food. We were all tucking it away as only hungry
boys can, when some one complained that caterpillars were dropping
from the tree into his bowl. We shifted our seats--and ate some more,
and then made the astonishing discovery that the breakfast food was
full of worms. We looked at the package and found that the grocers had
palmed off some stale goods on us and that the box was fairly alive.
We all enjoy the recollection of it more than we did the actual
It is impossible in a book of this kind to say very much about how to
cook. That subject alone has filled some very large books. We can
learn some things at home provided that we can duplicate the
conditions in the woods. So many home recipes contain eggs, milk and
butter that they are not much use when we have none of the three.
There is a book in my library entitled "One Hundred Ways to Cook Eggs"
but it would not do a boy much good in the woods unless he had the
eggs. If you ask your mother or the cook to tell you how to raise
bread or make pies and cakes, be sure that you will have the same
ingredients and tools to work with that she has.
It might be well to learn a few simple things about frying and
boiling, as both of these things can be done even by a beginner over
the camp fire. There are a few general cooking rules that I will
attempt to give you and leave the rest for you to learn from
You use bacon in the woods to furnish grease in the frying pan for
the things that are not fat enough themselves to furnish their own
Condensed milk if thinned with water makes a good substitute for sweet
milk, after you get used to it.
To make coffee, allow a tablespoonful of ground coffee to each cup of
water. Better measure both things until you learn just how full of
water to fill the pot to satisfy the wants of your party. Do not boil
coffee furiously. The best way is not to boil it at all but that would
be almost like telling a boy not to go swimming. Better let it simmer
and when you are ready for it, pour in a dash of cold water to settle
the grounds and see that no one shakes the pot afterward to stir up
A teaspoonful of tea is enough for two people. This you must not boil
unless you want to tan your stomach. Pour boiling water on the tea and
let it steep.
Good camp bread can be made from white flour, one cup; salt, one
teaspoonful; sugar, one teaspoonful and baking powder, one
teaspoonful. Wet with water or better with diluted condensed milk.
Pour in a greased pan and bake in the reflector oven until when you
test it by sticking a wooden splinter into it, the splinter will come
out clean without any dough adhering to it.
If you want to make the kind of bread that has been the standard
ration for campers for hundreds of years you must eat johnny-cake or
pone. It is really plain corn bread. Personally I like it better than
any of the raised breads or prepared flours that are used in the
woods. It should always be eaten hot and always broken by the hands.
To cut it with a knife will make it heavy. The ingredients are simply
one quart of yellow meal, one teaspoonful of salt and three cups--one
and one-half pints--of warm water. Stir until the batter is light and
bake for a short hour. Test it with the wooden splinter the same as
wheat bread. It may be baked in an open fire on a piece of flat wood
or by rolling up balls of it, you can even roast it in the ashes. A
teaspoonful of sugar improves it somewhat and it can be converted into
cake by adding raisins or huckleberries. For your butter, you will use
bacon grease or gravy.
Indian meal, next to bacon, is the camper's stand-by. In addition to
the johnny-cake, you can boil it up as mush and eat with syrup or
condensed milk and by slicing up the cold mush, if there is any left,
you can fry it next day in a spider.
The beginner at cooking always makes the mistake of thinking that to
cook properly you must cook fast. The more the grease sputters or the
harder the pot boils, the better. As a rule, rapid boiling of meat
makes it tough. Game and fish should be put on in cold water and after
the water has boiled, be set back and allowed to simmer. Do not throw
away the water you boil meat in. It will make good soup--unless every
one in camp has taken a hand at salting the meat, as is often the
All green vegetables should be crisp and firm when they are cooked. If
they have been around camp for several days and have lost their
freshness, first soak them in cold water. A piece of pork cooked with
beans and peas will give them a richer flavour. The water that is on
canned vegetables should be poured off before cooking. Canned tomatoes
are an exception to this rule, however.
Save all the leftovers. If you do not know what else to do with them,
make a stew or soup. You can make soup of almost anything. The Chinese
use birds' nests and the Eskimos can make soup of old shoes. A very
palatable soup can be made from various kinds of vegetables with a few
bones or extract of beef added for body.
The length of time to cook things is the most troublesome thing to
the beginner. Nearly everything will take longer than you think.
Oatmeal is one of the things that every beginner is apt to burn, hence
the value of the double boiler.
Rice is one of the best camp foods if well cooked. It can be used in a
great variety of ways like cornmeal. But beware! There is nothing in
the whole list of human food that has quite the swelling power of
rice. Half a teacupful will soon swell up to fill the pot. A
tablespoonful to a person will be an ample allowance and then, unless
you have a good size pot to boil it in, have some one standing by
ready with an extra pan to catch the surplus when it begins to swell.
There are certain general rules for cooking which may help the
beginner although they are not absolute.
Mutton, beef, lamb, venison, chicken, and large birds or fish will
require from ten to twenty minutes' cooking for each pound of weight.
The principal value of this is to at least be sure that you need not
test a five-pound chicken after it has been cooking fifteen minutes to
see if it is done.
Peas, beans, potatoes, corn, onions, rice, turnips, beets, cabbage,
and macaroni should, when boiled, be done in from twenty to thirty
minutes. The surest test is to taste them. They will be burned in
that many seconds, if you allow the water to boil off or put them in
the middle of a smoky fire where they cannot be watched.
Fried things are the easiest to cook because you can tell when they
are done more easily. Fried food however is always objectionable and
as little of it should be eaten as possible. You are not much of a
camp cook if a frying pan is your only tool.
A bottle of catsup or some pickles will often give just the right
taste to things that otherwise seem to be lacking in flavour.
In frying fish, always have the pan piping hot. Test the grease by
dropping in a bread crumb. It should quickly turn brown. "Piping hot"
does not mean smoking or grease on fire. Dry the fish thoroughly with
a towel before putting them into the pan. Then they will be crisp and
flaky instead of grease-soaked. The same rule is true of potatoes. If
you put the latter on brown butcher's paper when they are done, they
will be greatly improved.
Nearly every camper will start to do things away from home that he
would never think of doing under his own roof. One of these is to
drink great quantities of strong coffee three times a day. If you find
that after you turn in for the night, you are lying awake for a long
time watching the stars and listening to the fish splashing in the
lake or the hoot owl mournfully "too-hooing" far off in the woods, do
not blame your bed or commence to wonder if you are not getting sick.
Just cut out the coffee, that's all.
The use of an axe and hatchet--Best woods for special purposes--What
to do when you are lost--Nature's compasses
The word "woodcraft" simply means skill in anything which pertains to
the woods. The boy who can read and understand nature's signboards,
who knows the names of the various trees and can tell which are best
adapted to certain purposes, what berries and roots are edible, the
habits of game and the best way to trap or capture them, in short the
boy that knows how to get along without the conveniences of
civilization and is self-reliant and manly, is a student of woodcraft.
No one can hope to become a master woodsman. What he learns in one
section may be of little value in some other part of the country.
A guide from Maine or Canada might be comparatively helpless in
Florida or the Tropics, where the vegetation, wild animal life, and
customs of the woods are entirely different. Most of us are hopeless
tenderfeet anywhere, just like landlubbers on shipboard. The real
masters of woodcraft--Indians, trappers, and guides--are, as a rule,
men who do not even know the meaning of the word "woodcraft."
Some people think that to know woodcraft, we must take it up with a
teacher, just as we might learn to play golf or tennis. It is quite
different from learning a game. Most of what we learn, we shall have
to teach ourselves. Of course we must profit from the experience and
observation of others, but no man's opinion can take the place of the
evidence of our own eyes. A naturalist once told me that chipmunks
never climb trees. I have seen a chipmunk on a tree so I know that he
is mistaken. As a rule the natives in any section only know enough
woods-lore or natural history to meet their absolute needs. Accurate
observation is, as a rule, rare among country people unless they are
obliged to learn from necessity. Plenty of boys born and raised in the
country are ignorant of the very simplest facts of their daily
experience. They could not give you the names of a dozen local birds
or wildflowers or tell you the difference between a mushroom and a
toadstool to save their lives.
[Illustration: The wilderness traveller]
On the other hand, some country boys who have kept their ears and eyes
open will know more about the wild life of the woods than people who
attempt to write books about it; myself, for example. I have a boy
friend up in Maine who can fell a tree as big around as his body in
ten minutes, and furthermore he can drop it in any direction that he
wants to without leaving it hanging up in the branches of some other
tree or dropping it in a soft place where the logging team cannot
possibly haul it out without miring the horses. The stump will be
almost as clean and flat as a saw-cut. This boy can also build a log
cabin, chink up the cracks with clay and moss and furnish it with
benches and tables that he has made, with no other tools than an axe
and a jackknife. He can make a rope out of a grape-vine or patch a
hole in his birch bark canoe with a piece of bark and a little spruce
gum. He can take you out in the woods and go for miles with never a
thought of getting lost, tell you the names of the different birds and
their calls, what berries are good to eat, where the partridge nests
or the moose feeds, and so on. If you could go around with him for a
month, you would learn more real woodcraft than books could tell you
in a lifetime. And this boy cannot even read or write and probably
never heard the word "woodcraft." His school has been the school of
hard knocks. He knows these things as a matter of course just as you
know your way home from school. His father is a woodchopper and has
taught him to take care of himself.
If you desire to become a good woodsman, the first and most important
thing is to learn to use an axe. Patent folding hatchets are well
enough in their way, but for real woodchopping an axe is the only
thing. One of four pounds is about the right weight for a beginner. As
it comes from the store, the edge will be far too thick and clumsy to
do good work. First have it carefully ground by an expert and watch
how he does it.
If I were a country boy I should be more proud of skilful axemanship
than to be pitcher on the village nine. With a good axe, a good rifle,
and a good knife, a man can take care of himself in the woods for
days, and the axe is more important even than the rifle.
The easiest way to learn to be an axeman is to make the acquaintance
of some woodchopper in your neighbourhood. But let me warn you. Never
ask him to lend you his axe. You would not be friends very long if you
did. You must have one of your own, and let it be like your watch or
your toothbrush, your own personal property.
A cheap axe is poor economy. The brightest paint and the gaudiest
labels do not always mean the best steel. Your friend the woodchopper
will tell you what kind to buy in your neighbourhood. The handle
should be straight-grained hickory and before buying it you will run
your eye along it to see that the helve is not warped or twisted and
that there are no knots or bad places in it. The hang of an axe is the
way the handle or helve is fitted to the head. An expert woodchopper
is rarely satisfied with the heft of an axe as it comes from the
store. He prefers to hang his own. In fact, most woodchoppers prefer
to make their own axe handles.
You will need a stone to keep a keen edge on the axe. No one can do
good work with a dull blade, and an edge that has been nicked by
chopping into the ground or hitting a stone is absolutely inexcusable.
To chop a tree, first be sure that the owner is willing to have it
chopped. Then decide in which direction you wish it to fall. This will
be determined by the kind of ground, closeness of other trees, and the
presence of brush or undergrowth. When a tree has fallen the
woodchopper's work has only begun. He must chop off the branches, cut
and split the main trunk, and either make sawlogs or cordwood lengths.
Hence the importance of obtaining a good lie for the tree.
Before beginning to chop the tree, cut away all the brush, vines, and
undergrowth around its butt as far as you will swing the axe. This is
very important as many of the accidents with an axe result from
neglect of this precaution. As we swing the axe it may catch on a bush
or branch over our head, which causes a glancing blow and a possible
accident. Be careful not to dull the axe in cutting brush. You can
often do more damage to its edge with undergrowth no thicker than
one's finger than in chopping a tree a foot through. If the brush is
very light, it will often be better to use your jack-knife.
In cutting a tree, first make two nicks or notches in the bark on the
side to which you wish it to fall and as far apart as half the
diameter of the tree. Then begin to swing the axe slowly and without
trying to bury its head at every blow and prying it loose again, but
with regular strokes first across the grain at the bottom and then in
a slanting direction at the top. The size of the chips you make will
be a measure of your degree of skill. Hold the handle rather loosely
and keep your eye on the place you wish to hit and not on the axe. Do
not work around the tree or girdle it but keep right at the notch you
are making until it is half way through the tree. Do not shift your
feet at every blow or rise up on your toes. This would tire even an
old woodchopper in a short time. See that you do not set yourself too
fast a pace at first. A beginner always starts with too small a notch.
See to it that yours is wide enough in the start.
[Illustration: The right way to chop a tree--make two notches on
[Illustration: The wrong way--this looks like the work of a beaver]
When you have cut about half way through, go to the other side of the
tree and start another notch a little higher than the first one. A
skilled man can chop either right-or left-handed but this is very
difficult for a beginner. If you are naturally right-handed, the
quickest way to learn left-handed wood chopping is to study your usual
position and note where you naturally place your feet and hands. Then
reverse all this and keep at it from the left-handed position until it
becomes second nature to you and you can chop equally well from either
position. This you may learn in a week or you may never learn it. It
is a lot easier to write about than it is to do.
When the tree begins to creak and show signs of toppling over, give it
a few sharp blows and as it falls jump sideways. Never jump or run
backward. This is one way that men get killed in the woods. A falling
tree will often kick backward like a shot. It will rarely go far to
either side. Of course a falling tree is a source of danger anyway, so
you must always be on your guard.
If you wish to cut the fallen tree into logs, for a cabin, for
instance, you will often have to jump on top of it and cut between
your feet. This requires skill and for that reason I place a knowledge
of axemanship ahead of anything else in woodcraft except cooking.
With a crosscut saw, we can make better looking logs and with less
Next to knowing how to chop a tree is knowing what kind of a tree to
chop. Different varieties possess entirely different qualities. The
amateur woodchopper will note a great difference between chopping a
second growth chestnut and a tough old apple tree. We must learn that
some trees, like oak, sugar maple, dogwood, ash, cherry, walnut,
beech, and elm are very hard and that most of the evergreens are soft,
such as spruce, pine, arbor vitae, as well as the poplars and birches.
It is easy to remember that lignum vitae is one of the hardest woods
and arbor vitae one of the softest. Some woods, like cedar, chestnut,
white birch, ash, and white oak, are easy to split, and wild cherry,
sugar maple, hemlock, and sycamore are all but unsplitable. We decide
the kind of a tree to cut by the use to which it is to be put. For the
bottom course of a log cabin, we place logs like cedar, chestnut, or
white oak because we know that they do not rot quickly in contact with
the ground. We always try to get straight logs because we know that it
is all but impossible to build a log house of twisted or crooked ones.
It is a very common custom for beginners to make camp furniture,
posts, and fences of white birch. This is due to the fact that the
wood is easily worked and gives us very pretty effects. Birch however
is not at all durable and if we expect to use our camp for more than
one season we must expect to replace the birch every year or two.
Rustic furniture made of cedar will last for years and is far superior
Getting lost in the woods may be a very serious thing. If you are a
city boy used to signboards, street corners, and familiar buildings
you may laugh at the country boy who is afraid to go to a big city
because he may get lost, but he knows what being lost means at home
and he fails to realize when he is in a city how easy it is to ask the
nearest policeman or passer-by the way home. Most city boys will be
lost in the woods within five minutes after they leave their camp or
tent. If you have no confidence in yourself and if you are in a
wilderness like the North woods, do not venture very far from home
alone until you are more expert.
It is difficult to say when we are really lost in the woods. As long
as we think we know the way home we are not lost even if we may be
absolutely wrong in our opinion of the proper direction. In such a
case we may soon find our mistake and get on the right track again.
When we are really lost is when suddenly a haunting fear comes over us
that we do not know the way home. Then we lose our heads as well as
our way and often become like crazy people.
A sense of direction is a gift or instinct. It is the thing that
enables a carrier pigeon that has been taken, shut up in a basket say
from New York to Chicago, to make a few circles in the air when
liberated and start out for home, and by this sense to fly a thousand
miles without a single familiar landmark to guide him and finally land
at his home loft tired and hungry.
No human being ever had this power to the same extent as a pigeon, but
some people seem to keep a sense of direction and a knowledge of the
points of compass in a strange place without really making an effort
to do it. One thing is sure. If we are travelling in a strange country
we must always keep our eyes and ears open if we expect to find our
way alone. We must never trust too implicitly in any "sense of
Forest travellers are always on the lookout for peculiar landmarks
that they will recognize if they see them again. Oddly shaped trees,
rocks, or stumps, the direction of watercourses and trails, the
position of the sun, all these things will help us to find our way
out of the woods when a less observing traveller who simply tries to
remember the direction he has travelled may become terrified.
Rules which tell people what to do when they are lost are rarely of
much use, because the act of losing our way brings with it such a
confusion of mind that it would be like printing directions for terror
stricken people who are drowning.
Suppose, for example, a boy goes camping for a week or two in the
Adirondacks or Maine woods. If he expects to go about alone, his first
step should be to become familiar with the general lay of the land,
the direction of cities, towns, settlements, mountain ranges, lakes,
and rivers in the section where he is going, and especially with the
location of other camps, railroads, lumber camps, and so on in his
immediate neighbourhood, say within a five-mile radius. It is an
excellent plan to take along a sectional map which can usually be
bought of the state geologist. One can by asking questions also learn
many things from the natives.
Such a boy may start out from his camp, which is on the shore of a
lake, for example, on an afternoon's fishing or hunting trip. If he is
careful he will always consult his compass to keep in mind the general
direction in which he travels. He will also tell his friends at camp
where he expects to go. If he has no compass, he at least knows that
the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and he can easily
remember whether he has travelled toward the setting sun or away from
it. Rules for telling the points of compass by the thickness of the
bark or moss on trees are well enough for story books. They are not of
much value to a man lost in the woods.
Suddenly, say at four o'clock, this boy decides to "turn around" and
go back to camp. And then the awful feeling comes to him that he
doesn't know which way to turn. The woods take on a strange and
unfamiliar look. He is lost. The harder he tries to decide which way
the camp lies, the worse his confusion becomes. If he would only
collect his thoughts and like the Indian say "Ugh! Indian not lost,
Indian here. Wigwam lost," he probably would soon get his bearings. It
is one thing to lose your way and another to lose your head.
When you are lost, you are confused, and the only rule to remember is
to sit down on the nearest rock or stump and wait until you get over
being "rattled." Then ask yourself, "How far have I gone since I was
not sure of my way?" and also, "How far am I from camp?" If you have
been out three hours and have walked pretty steadily, you may have
gone five miles. Unless you have travelled in a straight line and at a
rapid pace, the chances are that you are not more than half that
distance. But even two or three miles in strange woods is a long
distance. You may at least be sure that you must not expect to find
camp by rushing about here and there for ten minutes.
We have all heard how lost people will travel in circles and keep
passing the same place time after time without knowing it. This is
true and many explanations have been attempted. One man says that we
naturally take longer steps with our right leg because it is the
stronger; another thinks that our heart has something to do with it,
and so on. Why we do this no one really knows, but it seems to be a
fact. Therefore, before a lost person starts to hunt for camp, he
should blaze a tree that he can see from any direction. Blazing simply
means cutting the bark and stripping it on all four sides. If you have
no hatchet a knife will do, but be sure to make a blaze that will show
at some distance, not only for your own benefit but to guide a
searching party that may come out to look for you. You can mark an
arrow to point the direction that you are going, or if you have
pencil and notebook even leave a note for your friends telling them
your predicament. This may all seem unnecessary at the time but if you
are really lost, nothing is unnecessary that will help you to find
As you go along give an occasional whack at a tree with your hatchet
to mark the bark or bend over the twigs and underbrush in the
direction of your course. The thicker the undergrowth the more
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