Running Summer Camp




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by Ernest Seton

Camp Grounds

In selecting a good camp ground the first thing to look for is a dry, level place, healthy, near good wood and good water. It is desirable to have the camp face the east and to have some storm break or shelter on the west and north; then it gets the morning sun and the afternoon shade in summer.

Sometimes local conditions make a different exposure desire. For obvious reasons it is well to be near one's boat landing.

Arriving at Camp

As soon as all are on the ground with their baggage, locate the places for the tents (ordinarily this should be done in advance). If the camp is a large one let the leaders allot the locations. Try to have each tent about twenty-five feet from the next, in a place dry and easy to drain in case of rain and so placed as to have sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Trench each tent carefully. Pitch at a reasonable distance from the water supply and from the latrine.


As soon as convenient appoint members to dig and prepare a latrine, or toilet, with screen. It should be located some distance from the camp and from the water, so that there will be no possibility of contaminating the water.

All litter and refuse should be handled in such a way that the camp grounds are clean, that the garbage is kept covered till disposed of by burning or burying. Woodcraft camps are known for their cleanliness and for the fact that when the camp is over the grounds are as clear of filth, scraps, papers, cans, bottles, etc., as though no human being had ever been there. Anything which draws flies should be carefully avoided.


Of course no group would go camping without having some one to act as the Guide or leader. The Guide should be in charge of the camp, supervise the swimming, games, the routine and daily life of the camp. He should decide matters of dispute and with the Tally Chief and Chief of the band, and any others they may care to add, decide matters which require decision. In large camps he will be assisted by assistant guides, each in charge of a group of boys, along with the Chief of each group.

Team Work

There is no place where team work is more needed than in camp. Here boys really "live together," and only as each and every member of the camp does his part will the camp be a complete success. This will mean that the work should be assigned daily to individuals or to groups, depending on the size of the camp. Even the first day rough assignments should be made and just as soon as everybody is settled down, methodic work should be begun. For small groups the following duties should be assigned:

bulletFirst, Health Chief. Gather up and destroy all garbage each day at a given hour and inspect the latrine hourly and see that all keep the rules.
bullet Second, Mail Chief. Take all letters to the post and bring back all the mail.
bulletThird, Cook. Is responsible for the preparation of the meals for the day.
bullet Fourth, Cook's Assistant, when needed. The assistant 'may get ice, or do other similar work.
bullet Fifth, Cook's Wood. Cut sufficient supply of wood for the cook's use.
bullet Sixth, Council Fire Wood. Have the wood cut and laid for the Council Fire with sufficient supply for the evening. Must keep the Council Fire bright, not big, but never dull.

These appointments in the case of larger camps will be given to a band or ten group. The main thing is to see that each boy or each tent group is definitely assigned to a duty and that the work is well done.

Camp Officers

If the tribe has not already elected a Tally Keeper it may do so with the approval of the Guide, making sure that the Tally Keeper is representative of the camp and one who will keep a record every day, all being written in the Tally Book.

Camp Program

There should be a regular routine so that everybody may know when things happen. The following is given as a good one; it may be changed to meet the needs of the camp:

bullet06:30 A.M. Turn out, bathe, etc.
bullet7:00 Breakfast.
bullet8:00 Air bedding in sun, if possible.
bullet10:00 Woodcraft games and practice.
bullet11:00 Swimming.
bullet12:00 M. Dinner.
bullet1:00 P.M. Rest hour.
bullet2:00 Games, etc.
bullet5:00 Swimming.
bullet6:00 Supper.
bullet7:00 Evening Council.
bullet9:15 Lights out.

Sometimes High Council for a few minutes instead of in the morning.

Whether the camp is large or small, the boys should learn to respond promptly. Those who fail to do so should be made to realize the consequence of their carelessness.

When the camp has several bands it is wise to work out the rules of the camp and its activities, so as to lay emphasis on the band or ten group. The group should gain or suffer according to the good work or bad work of its members. Some camps give points for good and bad work and the band or tent group is credited with the work of their members. This same idea should be carried out in competitions for the whole camp, so that the band which does the best work during the season would be given recognition of some sort.


bulletEach camp will make rules when necessary, but the following will be found good in every camp
bulletNo firearms.
bulletNo swimming, except at regularly appointed times and places.
bulletNo campers should leave camp without permission.
bulletLoose straw, cans, papers, bottles, glass, or filth of any kind lying around are criminal disorder.
bulletEach group is responsible for order as far as the half line between them and the next group.


The Guides should inspect at least once a day.

The officer appointed to inspect goes from tent to tent. Each Band is allowed fifty points for normal, then docked one to ten points for each scrap of paper, cans, or rubbish left lying about; also for each disorderly feature or neglect of the rules of common sense, decency, or hygiene, on their territory; that is, up to half-way between them and the next group. They may get additional points for unusually fine work; but it is always as a Band that they receive the points, though it was the individual that worked for them.

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 The Horns of the High Hikers

After the inspection, the Chief announces the winning Band saying: "The Horns of the High Hikers were won to-day by . . . Band." And the horns are accordingly hung on their standard, pole, or other place, for the day. At the end of the camp, the Band that won them oftenest carries them home for their own; and ever afterward are allowed put in one corner of their Tribal Robe a small pair of black horns.

What are they? Usually a pair of polished buffalo horns with a fringed buckskin hanger, on which is an inscription saying that they were won by . . . Band at such a camp. When buffalo horns cannot be got, common cow horns or even horns of wood are used.

The Birch Bark Roll






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.