by Dan Beard
As these shelters are collected for boys of all ages, they have been divided under two
general heads, "The Tomahawk Camps" and "The Axe Camps,"
that is, camps which may be built with no tool but a hatchet, and camps that
will need the aid of an axe.
The smallest boys can build some of the simple shelters and the older boys
can build the more difficult ones. The reader may, if he likes, begin with the
first of the book, build his way through it, and graduate by building the log
houses; in doing this he will be closely following the history of the human
race, because ever since our arboreal ancestors with prehensile toes scampered
among the branches of the pre-glacial forests and built nest-like shelters in the
trees, men have made themselves shacks for a temporary refuge. But as one of the
members of the Camp-Fire Club of America, as one of the founders of the Boy
Scouts of America, and as the founder of the Boy Pioneers of
America, it would
not be proper for the author to admit for one moment that there can be such a
thing as a camp without a camp-dye, and for that reason the tree folks and the
"missing link" whose remains were found in Java, and to whom the scientists gave the
awe-inspiring name of
Pithecanthropus erectus, cannot be counted as campers, because they did not know
how to build a camp-fire; neither can we admit the ancient maker of stone
implements, called eoliths, to be one of us, because he, too, knew not the joys
of a camp-fire. But there was another fellow, called the Neanderthal man, who
lived in the ice age in Europe and he had to be a camp-fire man or freeze! As
far as we know, he was the first man to build a camp-fire. The cold weather made
him hustle, and hustling developed him. True, he did cook and eat his neighbors
once in a while, and even split their bones for the marrow; but we will forget
that part and just remember him as the first camper in Europe.
Recently a pygmy skeleton was discovered near Los Angeles which is claimed to
be about twenty thousand years old, but we do not know whether this man knew how
to build a fire or not. We do know, however, that the American camper was here
on this continent when our Bible was yet an unfinished manuscript and that he
was building his fires, toasting his venison, and building "sheds"
when the red-headed Eric settled in Greenland, when Thorwald fought with the
"Skraelings," and Biarni's dragon ship made the trip down the coast of
Vineland about the dawn of the Christian era. We also know that the American
camper was here when Columbus with his comical toy ships was blundering around
the West Indies. We also know that the American camper watched Henry Hudson
steer the Half Moon around Manhattan Island. It is this same American camper who
has taught us to build many of the shacks to be found in the following pages.
The shacks, sheds, shanties, and shelters described in the following pages
are, all of them, similar to those used by the people on this continent or
suggested by the ones in use and are typically American; and the designs are
suited to the arctics, the tropics, and temperate climes; also to the plains,
the mountains, the desert, the bog, and even the water.
It seems to be natural and proper to follow the camp as it grows until it
develops into a somewhat pretentious log house, but this book must not be
considered as competing in any manner with professional architects. The
buildings here suggested require a woodsman more than an architect; the work
demands more the skill of the axe-man than that of the carpenter and joiner. The
log houses are supposed to be buildings which any real outdoor man should be
able to erect by himself and for himself. Many of the buildings have already
been built in many parts of the country by Boy Pioneers and Boy Scouts.
This book is not intended as an encyclopedia or history of primitive
architecture; the bureaus at Washington, and the Museum of Natural History, are
better equipped for that purpose than the author.
The boys will undoubtedly acquire a dexterity and skill in building the
shacks and shanties here described, which will be of lasting benefit to them
whether they acquire the skill by building camps "just for the fun of the
thing" or in building them for the more practical purpose of furnishing shelter for overnight pleasure hikes, for the wilderness trail, or
for permanent camps while living in the open.
It has been the writer's experience that the readers depend more upon his
diagrams than they do upon the written matter in his books, and so in this book
he has again attempted to make the diagrams self-explanatory. The book was
written in answer to requests by many people interested in the Boy Scout
movement and others interested in the general activities of boys, and also in
answer to the personal demands of hundreds of boys and many men.
The drawings are all original and many of them invented by the author himself
and published here for the first time, for the purpose of supplying all the boy
readers, the Boy Scouts, and other older "boys," calling themselves
Scoutmasters and sportsmen, with practical hints, drawings, and descriptions
showing how to build suitable shelters for temporary or permanent camps.
Daniel Carter Beard