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Scout Books

Site Contents

by Ernest Thompson Seton

Do you wish your boy to read and write? "Yes, why ask such a question? I send him to the best of schools."

Do you wish your boy to be a high-class, strong American with a sane outlook, a healthy body, and clean pleasures? Then send him to the place where such things are taught, not only by good teachers and good precepts, but chiefly by the all-pervading influence of the thought, the irresistible magic of atmosphere with its night and day insidious compulsion, an agency that can be found only in an isolated community, only in an outdoor community, only in a selected and harmonious community--that is, in a high-class summer camp.

Who was the father of the great outdoor movement, the back to nature idea, that is possessing America with such benignant force to-day? There can be little doubt that Moses was the first to recognize its value. He established for his people the Feast of Tabernacles, that is, an annual camp-out, a memorial of their fathers' big camping trip across the desert, and also to bring them back to things simple and primitive, so necessary to their continued national life.

We are just beginning to realize the importance of these things. Everyone of us who can, goes to the woods each year.

But a false idea has crept in. It is the fashion nowadays to go to camp for the summer, but what is meant by camp?

Is it an outing? Certainly not with one class. Too often with such, the very essentials are left out: The memorial of the days when the fathers of this country were roughing it, raking everything with their own hands; the total change of surroundings, thought and way of life; the simplicity, the bodily and mental discipline; the tonic of the sun by day; the open campfire and the sweet soothing air by night, --these most precious and healing things of all, are missing.

For these fashionable campers merely build in the wilderness another Fifth Avenue mansion, taking with them their city clothes, foods, servants, ways and thoughts; and call their new abode "a camp" because it has some bark slabs nailed on the outside.

Against all of this, the real campers should make a stand. We want the simple life, the primitive life, the outdoor life; with a different world and wholly different activities. Baseball and billiards may be good games, but not for a summer camp; because one can, and does get them, elsewhere. We need some studies, some reading, but not arithmetic or ancient history; they do not belong. Nature-work, Woodcraft, Scouting, Forestry, are ideal studies all of them, for they combine athletics, handicraft, brain work and observation, they are out of doors, and in these teacher and pupil are learning together.

But there is only one perfect place for these happy combinations, that is the Summer Camp.

The physical advantages of this primitive life can scarcely be over-estimated.

Not long ago I made the acquaintance of a family in which both girls were broken down nervous wrecks, one pronounced hopeless for she had St. Vitus Dance. The parents tried every known remedy. Then the wise old doctor said, "The only hope is camping out. Go as soon as the weather is warm enough, and never sleep indoors till they are cured." In the one case it took 6 weeks, and in the other 3 months, but when I saw them, they were strong and healthy, all traces of "nerves" had gone. I never knew a case of indigestion or nervous breakdown, insomnia or anaemia to continue long in camp.

Exposure to sun and air, as in camp life, is now the specific remedy for a dozen troublesome skin diseases.

Many a man have I known with weak lungs or even well on in consumption, who has been cured simply by camping out.

Its mental discipline is equally salutary.

Many a boy who was as helpless and useless as a baby, as selfish as a Turkish husband, has had his real awakening in the summer camp.

Many a girl who was spoiled, hopelessly irritable and selfish at home, has, under the stimulation and subtle ceaseless influence of a high, clean camp, been gently wrought into a new character, and made a desirable member of the home circle.

If your boy is peevish and spoiled at home, send him to camp. Is he disorderly in dress or manner? Send him to camp.

Is he inclined .to be a sissy and afraid to play the part of a man? Send him to camp.

Is he disrespectful to his parents and teachers? Send him to camp. There he will slowly, surely, kindly and firmly be brought into line, in one short summer.

"I do not know what you have done to my boy," said one father after his son had been three weeks in a good Woodcraft Camp, "but he is wholly changed since he came. He had no respect for anyone or anything. We could not get him in the morning, and he hated a bath. Now, he really shows some consideration, takes his regular morning dip, and is even drilling his little brother in matters of proper conduct."

Yes, these are the effects of the camp life, with its high, clean standards, and self-contained community, PROVIDED YOU SELECT YOUR CAMP.

Not the big military camp, where each boy is a mere private to be ordered about, and "treated rough"; not the loose camp where tent-life means mere unrestraint, but the up-to-date modern camp, with leaders who are trained to the work selected, tried and proven.

Camp where the four fundamentals of Woodcraft are not only taught but lived, all day and all night:

bulletThings to make a sound body.
bulletThings to make a sound mind.
bulletThings to make a sound spirit.
bulletThings to glorify service.

There must be ten thousand summer camps in America today. Many of them are not sound, but many of them are. You can easily learn which by looking up the record. If you want your boy or girl to set out on the way to high manhood or high womanhood, send him or her to a carefully selected camp.

The Birch Bark Roll

 

 

   

 

 


Additional Information:

Running Summer Camp ] Outfitting Summer Camp ] Camp Horn ] Gee-String Camp ]

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Games of Ball ] Bee Messengers ] Boat Plans ] Dead Bugs ] Choosing Up ] Counting Out ] Leap Frog ] Swimming ] Tag ] Water Periscope ] Circus in the Woods ] Boys' Vaulting-Poles ] [ Woodcraft Camps ] Deaf Scout Jamboree 2006 ] Do It Yourself Camps ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.