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By Gilcraft

When drawing up programs for Cub Camps beforehand Akela has to remember that Camping is not an essential part of Cub training but just an outdoor holiday. For this

reason, if for no other, little if anything should be done in the way of Star or Badge work as such, although incidentally a good deal of knowledge in such subjects may be acquired by the campers. At the same time, while a happy holiday spirit should prevail in the camp, that spirit does not flourish on laziness or lounging about with nothing to do. It is well known that the best holiday and recreation is a change of normal occupation. A certain amount of change is inevitable from the very fact of being in camp, sleeping under strange conditions, eating meals in the open, helping in their preparation, adapting oneself to unaccustomed surroundings, and feeling the freedom of the open air.

This feeling of freedom is both a benefit and a danger. It must not run riot; it must not mean a weakening of discipline; it must not mean a loss of manners; but it must not be fettered. It has to be used by Akela as a means of giving the Cubs happiness and of studying their characters. If it is to be utilized it is essential that quite a fair period of time should be left free each day in order that the Cubs in camp can follow their own desires. On this point Camping for Cubs gives us the following advice:

"Cubs need supervision, but it is an excellent thing to allow an hour after tea, or half an hour in the morning during 'Games in Camp' for the Cubs to amuse themselves. They should never be allowed to hang about for hours with nothing to do, but it is a mistake to think they must be `organized' all day. Akela or the Games Old Wolf will be the leader in all sorts of exciting explorations and tracking games out of camp every day, but when in camp during the hour suggested, some game might be started with some of the Pack, the joining in which is optional. It is rather trying to have always to play a game 'because all the others are going to' when you are simply longing to kick a football about with one or two particular friends. It is good for them to run their own games of stump cricket, etc., occasionally, while the Old Wolf lies near watching. Be ready with a program always, but don't wear yourself out unnecessarily. The Cubs and the camp generally will provide enough work for the most energetic Old Wolf to do, but don't try to do everything: let the Cubs 'feel their own feet.'

I have quoted this paragraph at length because it is of considerable importance. Too often do we forget that "Boys should be encouraged to control and inspire one another in all the subtle ways that suggest themselves to sympathetic teachers. Means should be devised for creating a specific and close relationship between the interests of the younger and those of the older. From the younger too much must not be expected in the matter of responsibility, but there may be a beginning, even with the youngest, and towards the end of a child's career opportunities should be increased." (The Education of the Adolescent.)

There can be no doubt that there has been and perhaps still is a grave tendency to over- organize the activities of boys at school and elsewhere, with the result that they have no initiative of their own, and are quite incapable of employing any free time that may arise in holidays and at other times. Many parents know this to the cost of their peace of mind! Artificial, ready-made pleasures such as the Cinema are used as a means of filling this gap, and the boy loses in character and misses the delight of simple things.

Personally I would go a good deal further than what is suggested in Camping for Cubs and let the campers divide themselves into little groups - not necessarily Sixes - and select their own activities for afternoon expeditions. With one Old Wolf to every six Cubs, it is possible for the Cubs to select their own pursuits and still be under adult supervision for any expedition that they may select. Free time in camp and a free choice of activities is really essential to the happy, family spirit which should prevail throughout the whole camp. It may be easy to run a camp as a martinet and lay down the law every time, but the results will be poor and not worth the trouble. The dangers that lie in too little freedom greatly outweigh the dangers that lie in too much freedom, but it is quite possible without much difficulty to steer between the two and voyage peacefully and happily in the sunshine.

So far as specific activities go, most Packs would vote in favor of bathing, especially sea bathing. This activity can be, and frequently is, overdone, but all Cubs like splashing about in the water. There is more to be said in favor of seaside camps for Cubs than for Scouts, but the choice of a safe site is essential, and its safety should be guaranteed beforehand by the local Scout people. Mere hearsay evidence on this vital point - it is vital, for lives depend on its accuracy - must never be accepted by Akela. The bathing rules must be carefully studied and scrupulously observed. In passing one might mention that they have to be interpreted by common sense. For instance it is essential to see that any bathing picquet that has been sitting about for some time is not allowed to go into the water until its members have been warmed up by a little exercise. They are likely to get cold while sitting about and are then very liable to cramp.

But apart from bathing the seaside holds other delights in the shape of shells, seaweed, and treasure-trove of all kinds. Even that saddest of sights - a dead sea-gull - is a "find" to Cubs. The stream and the burn may offer facilities for "splashing", but they cannot supply so many treasures. Whenever the campers are on the sea shore they are best divided into little groups each under the charge of an Old Wolf. To be able to keep an eye on some half-dozen active youngsters scrambling through pools and over rocks is just about the limit of grown-up competence!

The games indulged in camp should be of a "field" nature. By that I mean games which cannot normally be played indoors at all. The ordinary indoor relay races, and so on, should be rigorously excluded from any camp programs. Rounders, stool ball, modified basket ball, hide- and-seek (the real virile out-of-door kind with a good deal of running and some hard tackling, not the parlor variety), and many others of a similar kind, are all useful, are capable of much variety, and need little organization or control. Beware of the "organized game" which is so highly organized that it has forgotten completely how to be a game!

On Sundays and hot afternoons nature rambles will give much interest, and turn the Cubs' thoughts towards higher things without the need for much in the way of words from Akela. Again we must be aware of the "organized" nature walk. It is a voyage of discovery, and all the time we are discovering fresh lands and seeing new sights. As we come to each new sight we have a look at it, so that we can describe it to the King when we get back home, and march through the City to a Banquet at the Guildhall. From this comes a scent like the spicy breezes of Ceylon; that has a color like the blue in someone's eyes, This rises high into the air and would make a good wireless station; that gives forth sounds like Daddy in his bath. We can afford to be fantastic with our comparisons, because in that way we can remember better. All we want to do at this stage is to open the Cubs' eyes to what there is for them to see, to awaken their interest in nature; a more precise knowledge can safely be left till later.

But it is the more active expeditions that we will remember longest and with greatest gratitude. Akela should not be afraid of tiring the Cubs too much. Frequently we make the mistake of having expeditions which are too short in distance or in time, or both. It is not the Cubs who are likely to tire, it is we! Expeditions are too many and varied for it to be possible to describe their possibilities.

We are in unexplored country, all the maps end at this spot, and no white man has dared to venture further, but our Pack is going to place its name upon the map, and so we are going to advance into this unknown territory. As we go we will name every stream and every hill, even the paths along which run huge dragons that breathe forth smoke and emit cries of agony and terror when they spot us. We will be quite safe from them as our uniform protects us, and they are afraid.

Or again, the country ahead is full of lurking enemies who are determined on massacring the whole of our Pack. Ours is a peaceful mission; we do not kill or destroy; but we carry magic wands that will send any enemy we encounter to sleep, and make them powerless to harm others. Every Elm we touch is a Red Indian brave, and he who first touches him with his magic wand scores a coup that counts two to his Six, but he who touches an Oak - a big Chief - scores a grand coup of five.

And so on ad infinitum!

More Gilcraft Gleanings

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.