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By Dan Beard

Novelties for Crockett's Day
How to Run a Costume Race, a Leap-Frog Race, a Wheel-Barrow Race, and a Push-Wagon Race

Next come the real woodsmen's tests, for be it known that the Son of Daniel Boone who can win the observation race, the hawk-eye test, and the notch for the sign language is a boy possessing all those qualities which make a woodsman scholar and a successful man.

We are following in the footsteps of old Mother Nature, for she makes the play of all small animals a schooling for the pursuits of their mature life. To make the Davy Crockett Midsummer Field Day a success, enlist the sympathy of your parents and teachers, and if your Fort is in a big town or city, go to the mayor or councilman, and obtain permission to make your camp for that day in the public park. 

In this political work you will find your parents and teachers of great assistance in showing you how to go about securing the required permission, and if you approach the officials properly you will find that even the toughest politician has a soft place in his heart for the boys. 

If, however, you live in a small settlement, there are open fields and pastures all around within reach where you can pitch your tents, and make a corral of your prairie-schooners for head-quarters and dressing-rooms for the athletes.

Wherever you have the space to do so, make your camp in the center of an oval tract. The camp ground should be protected by a fence made of a rope attached to upright sticks. The spectators can camp and picnic upon the outside edge of the race-track, where they will have a full view of all the events. These may comprise all that are usual in athletic contests, but particular attention must be paid to such tests of skill as are peculiar to our order, many of which have already been described in the previous chapters of this book.

Prairie-Schooner Race

The most exciting race of the meet is often the one run with the prairie-schooner with the hoops and canvas removed. The course for this race should be over ground which has both hills and level stretches. Each schooner has a crew of two-one to push and one to steer. In going over the level ground, one boy runs behind, with his hands upon the pusher, shoving the cart, while the other one steers by means of the strings attached to the front axle. 

When they reach the brow of a hill, the pusher is allowed to drop the pusher flat on the cart, and the boy who has been running behind leaps aboard and coasts down the hill. The crew must arrange between themselves when to change places, for one boy cannot push the cart through the whole race with any hope of winning. The changing places by the boys requires considerable practice; it can then be done without any apparent slacking of the speed of the cart. During the change, learn to keep up the speed of the cart, and thus allow the boys to alternately rest. When you come to a down grade, both rest while enjoying the coast.

The length of the course had better be decided after some trial trips, because much depends upon the nature of the ground where the race is run.

Observation Race

tbp231.gif (9837 bytes)
Fig. 231.
At the Starting Line, with Backs to the Direction They are to Run

The next event is a very important one. It is the Observation Race. Each object accurately observed counts one point for the observer, and the best time counts three points; second best time, two points; third best time, one point; no points counted for boys coming in after this. 

The contestants for this race are all blindfolded, placed with their heels to the line, with their backs to the direction in which they are to run (Fig. 231), and before the bandages are removed from their eyes, small articles are placed at short intervals upon each side of the course to the finish line. The length of the course should be adapted to the average age of the contestants. 

When the tomato-cans, handkerchiefs, hats, a boy with a dog, a girl with a fan, a man with a red necktie, etc., have been placed along the line, the starter cries, "Attention! Are you ready ?" Then, at the sound of the report of the pistol, each lad tears the bandage from his own eyes and races down the track, using great care to mentally note every object he sees on either side during the run. When he crosses the finish line, he must stand with his back to the course until he has made his report to the judges. This he must do in a low tone, so that his comrades may not overhear him and be tempted to make use of his observation. The boy making the most points wins the contest. The winner's name is then announced through a megaphone.

Sign Language Contest

tbp232.gif (9243 bytes)
Fig. 232.
Sign Language and Observation Competition

The next new feature is the Sign-Language Contest. The contestants line up as shown in Fig. 232; the umpire stands alongside of them, to see that everything is conducted fairly, and the sign maker and recorder place themselves about five hundred yards or more away. 

The recorder, who stands with the sign maker, calls out warning to be ready, or signals the boys with a handkerchief, and then the sign maker gives combinations of signs described under the head of "Sign Language," in Chapter XII of this book. 

When he has finished he gives the signal, and the first of the contestants, accompanied by a judge, previously appointed, meets the recorder, and tells him as nearly as he can remember what the sign man has said and the order in which he said it. 

No one else is allowed to speak during this time, and no remarks or suggestions are to be made, but the boy's answers are marked on the tally-sheet, with a cross for every correct answer, and an 0 for every incorrect one, and a one-half mark for correct ones out of the order in which they were made. The next boy follows in turn, and so on until they have all made their reports. The score is then added up, and the winner gets the sign-language notch.

Hawk-Eye Test

The next event is the Hawk-Eye Test. The boys line up on this occasion as they did in the former. The sign man takes his position with the recorder as he did before. He has concealed in the breast of his wammus some disks about five inches in diameter, consisting of circular pieces of pasteboard or tin on which have been pasted bright-colored paper. Thus he has a red, yellow, blue, green, black, and a white disk. 

He also has some small objects, such as an orange, an apple, a potato, a banana, or even a kitten, a guinea-pig, or a little dog. When the signal is given and all is ready, the sign maker thrusts his hand in his wammus, nulls out one object, holds it aloft, being careful to hold it perfectly steady for about one second, then returns it quickly to its hiding-place. 

When he has gone through the list of objects in his possession, time is called, and the boys make their reports as before. One point each is allowed for each of the objects correctly named when held aloft by the sign maker; one point for naming correctly the color of the red disk; one point for naming the yellow disk; three points for the blue disk, and two points for the green disk. The boy winning the greatest number of points is awarded the hawkeye notch.

You can make a big success of this occasion if you work for it, and if it is a big -success it will be the talk of the town, besides which you will have had the time of your lives.

Now, get together, boys; lay out your plans for field day; then every lad stand on his feet, give three cheers for our bully old pioneer ancestors, three more for the President of the United States if you live in the United States, or for the Premier of Canada if you are Canadians, and end up with the club yell, then get to work on your plans for the midsummer campaign.

The Boy Pioneers






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.