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
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.