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Problems of a Scottish Provincial Town
Chapter XI. A Town's Camp


IN a former chapter reference has been made to the advantages of camping-out for boys, and the institution of a summer camp as a permanent feature of the Boys' Club is urged. There is, however, no reason why this healthy feature should be confined to the members of the Boys' Club. In several cities of America the Municipal Camp is now a recognised department of the civic life, and the results have fully justified its existence. A camp will specially appeal to all healthy youths and young men. It introduces many new elements into their lives. They are taught how to spend a holiday in the best and truest sense. Their health, moral and physical, is renewed and strengthened. Such a camp means, too, that many of the poorer youths, who would otherwise spend whatever little holiday fell to them in loafing at street corners, or in aimless wanderings with noisy gangs, are enabled to leave their squalid surroundings for, perhaps, the first time in their lives, to taste the joy of a fresh, manly holiday, with true comradeship and every healthy influence. Why not, therefore, a Town's Camp for Dunfermline, under the auspices of the Carnegie Trust? The difficulties are few ; the advantages many.

A site should first be secured, preferably on the coast, but not so far from the town as to cause excessive expense in travelling. Here should be erected a rough wooden cook-house and lavatories, and perhaps, also, a wooden shelter and mess-room combined. Canvas military tents for sleeping purposes would be sufficient. Camp equipment can always be hired, but it would be better, and probably cheaper eventually for such a camp as this to own its own stores, such as ground waterproof sheets, blankets and palliasses, with the necessary cooking and table utensils.

I am not proposing a camp conducted on military lines, with drill. For many, such a camp is not possible; to others it would not be wholly satisfactory. My experience is that a camp can be conducted as efficiently without drill and military organisation as with them. This is perhaps hardly the occasion to go into minute details as to the working of a camp; they would require a book to themselves. The broad lines to be followed, however, may be indicated.

Camp out, if possible, near the sea. The site is generally healthier, and the variety of recreation is greater. See that you have an adequate and pure water supply. Make only necessary regulations and see that they are adhered to. Let there be a trustworthy senior in charge of each tent. The question of amusements will present no difficulties. Let the campers bathe, and boat, and fish. Take them occasionally for whole-day tramps and hill rambles, picnicing by the way. Provide football, hockey, and cricket. In the evenings gather round the camp fire for a sing-song, or the telling of tales, or for little talks and the exchange of confidences. Do not overcrowd the tents. Seven is usually a sufficient number. On cold nights see that each camper has sufficient blankets.

The expense of running a summer camp is not considerable ; indeed, such a camp may easily be made self-supporting. The railway companies all issue low-priced tickets for such camps, and a moderate weekly charge to each camper should leave a very small balance to be defrayed from the organising fund.

Here, then, would be a camp open to the youths and young men of the city on payment of a sum within the reach of most of them. Many would join the camp as independent units, but naturally contingents of varying numbers would come to camp under the charge of their own officers from the various religious and social organisations of the town.

For the management of the camp when in occupation, careful arrangements and organisation will be necessary. A reliable old army man as storekeeper and cook will be essential, and if the camp is large more than one such may be necessary. But more important still will be the officers in charge of the camp, for with these the success or failure of the camp will mainly rest. I believe that there are many social workers, teachers, and others, with the necessary qualifications, who would gladly give a week or more of their time for personal service at such a camp, and I suggest that it would be one of the functions of the Civic Union, which is discussed in another part of this work, to call into being, to draw together, and to organise, workers for this and similar social service.

The camp would naturally commence on a small scale, gradually extending its operations as it became known and appreciated. Unless a special department were created by the Carnegie Trust for the management of this and similar schemes, it is not unreasonable to suppose that a progressive Civic Union would very gladly undertake the necessary work of organisation and control.


 


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