PLANNING FOR CAMP_
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal
Planning for a camp is a matter of hours of thought and pipe dreaming, every item receiving its due amount of consideration, first in general terms, then in detail, until the whole scheme is so well formulated and all needs so well recognized and provided for that the actual camp comes into existence quite easily and successfully.
It is much more economical and satisfactory to change an idea than a building, and it behooves us all to learn the trick as soon as possible. Start to think in the winter; the fall is even better. Begin at the beginning and let no step of the way be slighted.
Shall we have a camp, and where shall it be, are the first questions that come to mind. Of course have it, even though it be for a small group only, and very simple as to equipment. The benefits derived by body, mind and soul cannot be over-estimated. The joy of finding and seeing for the first time the things that can only be found and seen in the open, living away from stilted civilization, flings open a door which rarely closes again for any length of time. Most people, and especially children, are not so far away from nature but that love and appreciation of it can be easily awakened by its beauty of color, form and sound, or its prodigality which cannot be rivalled. Then to realize that all humanity is a part of this great system is to love all living things, to know they are good, and that it is fear which calls forth their antagonism, as has been proved time and time again. If such things as these can be learned by living in the open, have we not sufficient reason for providing the means to the end? Someone has said that "cutting the camp out of the Scout year is like leaving the yeast out of the bread."
A well ordered camp is built and run on the same lines as a well ordered house, as regards fundamentals. Whether it is made to accommodate a small group or an army, all who gather in it must have certain dominant needs provided for. They must eat, sleep, work, play, keep themselves and their surroundings clean, and live the group life. How these needs are met depends on the individual who makes and executes the plans. One knows how to make his camp comfortable, practical and hospitable wherever it is, and regardless of materials used, meeting all of his daily needs, while another, glorying in simplicity for a while, does without comforts which could easily be obtained. Still another casts off all law and order, to say nothing of many necessities, during his stay in the open.
But when planning a camp for girls who are to receive the greatest benefits from living out of doors, and living together, there is no reason why their environment should not be made pleasing to the eye, of benefit mentally, a comfort to the body, and in accord with the best known laws which govern camping.
Work of the Planning Committee_
There are specific responsibilities to be borne by Councils or Committees who undertake to promote and establish a Girl Scout camp. The most important of these are first, to secure the money for the initial cost, and second, to obtain a Director. The subsequent work of the Committee will be determined almost entirely by the character and capacity of the Director chosen.
The prime requirement for a Camp Director is that she be able to manage a camp and the children. This means first of all, a strong reliable character, with enthusiasm and love and understanding for people, and particularly for young people. She must also have an understanding of the Scout program, as well as the aims and purposes of the Scout organization, for the children in these camps are Scouts. She must have a practical knowledge of the administration of a large household.
If in addition to these qualities she is capable of organizing and planning, the Council can feel itself lucky, because their specific work in regard to the camp is ended, and they can with assurance turn over to the Director such questions as choice of location, the camp site, arrangements for transportation, price of board, determining and selection of equipment, the type of children, and the length of the camp year.
They must not forget to give the Director not only the responsibility but the requisite authority to act, and perhaps most important, be ready to give her financial backing.
It must be remembered, however, that many women who are quite capable of running a camp do not have the particular kind of organizing ability or business training needed to establish one in the first place. It may be necessary therefore, for the Committee to divide the work among its members, or even to engage a professional buyer, or business manager. In the rest of this book it has been assumed that the Director is of the former type, and will carry the initial responsibility.
The question of transportation is the first thing to be thought of when considering locations for a Girl Scout camp. The cost, facilities, accessibility and time required would all be determining factors which when settled make it possible to investigate locations within a given radius without waste of time.
There are many Scouts who would not go to camp if the cost of transportation equalled the price of one week's board, but who would on the other hand spend two weeks in camp with a smaller transportation cost. The question of shipping equipment and provisions is also to be considered, for these things can be bought to better advantage in large centers and transported by boat or rail to the camp site, than purchased from stores in a small community.
Travelling and shipping by boat is cheaper than by rail, and is often more satisfactory. Boat companies will give reduced rates to an organization sending many members on its line, while railroads rarely if ever do so.
Suburban trolley lines offer advantages over both boats and railroads, and often take one quite beyond the crowded settlements to spots of real beauty. Unless absolutely necessary do not plan for any transportation that requires a change of cars or boat. A motor or stage ride, or short hike is always to be planned for.
Having investigated transportation facilities and charges various locations would next come to mind.
Waste no time on those which do not afford a lake, a river, the sea, or a brook of good size, if the camp is to be for a large group and open for several weeks. The daily swim is as essential to the happiness of the average Scout as is her mess, and the adequate water supply for washing purposes is an essential thing to the housekeeper.
A village or town which has a post office, telegraph office, a doctor, a store or two, a railroad station or boat landing, is often the camp Director's best friend, and such a place should be within hiking distance of every camp. It is there that arrangements should be made when possible, for supplying the camp with fresh milk, fresh vegetables, bread, and so forth. The risks taken by older people, or the small group that wish to be indeed far from all civilization, cannot be taken by the Director of a camp who has in her care a hundred or more children for every one of whom she is responsible. It is possible, as has been proved, to find a camp site so in the heart of the country or woods that one feels miles away from everything, and still be within reach of modern facilities.
The finding of the actual site when once the locality is determined is really quite exciting. So many lovely spots attract one's attention, but as natural beauty often deceives the unknowing, a thorough investigation is the only safe course to pursue.
The necessity for a road to the camp site is not to be forgotten. Transportation of people and supplies by row boat is too difficult.
Follow the river or brook, search the rim of the lake, or scan the edge of the sea for high ground, a knoll will do, for well drained ground, for the adequate drinking water supply (which must be tested), for fuel in abundance, if wood is to be used, for trees among which tents can be pitched or cabins built for sleeping quarters, for space for the main building, for an open space where games and drill can be enjoyed. Forget not the sun, the prevailing winds, and the western clearing where at the end of the day all the beauties of the sunset can be enjoyed, or the safe place for the campfire where songs and the real Scout Spirit bring the day to a happy end.
CAMP DIRECTORS AND COUNSELLORS_
No one doubts for a moment that camping is a good thing for children as well as for grown people, but like many so-called "good things" the results accruing from it depend upon the person or persons in charge.
For a Girl Scout camp the Director is generally engaged by a council or a committee and is made responsible for the camp as a whole, including the health, safety and happiness of the group, the standards established and the furthering of Scout principles and aims. The Director may engage as assistants, volunteer or paid counsellors. They may be Scout Captains or people who know little about the Scout work, but whoever they are all should qualify as to character, willingness to cooperate, love for children, ability to teach or to do well one or more things, and possess a personality which will make for happiness and success.
The number of counsellors will depend on the size of the group and the work to be done. One counsellor for sixteen girls or for every two patrols is none too many. There should be a head counsellor who takes the Director's place when necessary, and who assists her in many ways; a nurse who is responsible for the personal health of the Scouts and who teaches First Aid and Personal Health; a counsellor to have charge of each subject listed on the program, a handy-man if the camp is large and there is much heavy work to be done; a cook and cook's helper, and last but not least, someone to do all that no one else does—keep records of all kinds, write letters, arrange for the coming and going of campers, supervise the canteen, and be helpful generally.
It is most desirable when possible to engage Scout leaders as counsellors, but they should qualify as do all other counsellors, for the camp specialties.
The Director must think in universal terms and put personal feelings to one side. She must aim for oneness of purpose and solve all problems that seem to block the way. She must be an example always and her imagination, understanding, resourcefulness, strength, and devotion to her work are her tools. She should understand the necessary requirements of the various groups as concerns their religious training and make provisions for helping the girls to live up to these requirements. Those who must go to church every Sunday, observe Feast Days and Fast Days, should have a counsellor of their own faith to be responsible for them. For those girls whose belief makes it necessary to abstain from eating certain foods and being particular as to the dishes they use, arrangements must be made to meet their needs.
Because it is not always possible to allow each member of a large group to attend church on Sunday, especially as camps as a rule are not near communities, a simple Scout service should be arranged at which the Scout Promise and Laws are repeated, purely non-sectarian hymns are sung and a short talk given on Scout-like subjects. Great care must be taken to keep this service in accord with the policy of the Scout organization, which is absolutely non-sectarian.
A Director's specific duties vary according to the size and type of the camp and the number and duties of her assistants. She should, however, in all cases see that the program adopted is being lived up to, that the camp is in a sanitary and safe condition in every respect, that the proper food is being served, that camp regulations are being obeyed and that any illness is being cared for. She should improve every opportunity to give the children something of usefulness and value by calling their attention to the best and diverting it from all that is not helpful.
She should cultivate the ability to read the temperature of the group and when necessary to forestall difficult situations, discuss with it squarely, fairly, openly and truthfully any misunderstanding or dissatisfactions and do away with them as soon as possible.
If a Director is responsible for the money spent in running the camp she should see that there is no waste and that the greatest possible returns are procured for all expenditures. These will include such items as food, cartage, labor, salaries, canteen supplies, materials for occupational activities, necessary replenishing of household equipment, and telephone calls.
It is hardly possible to equip and run a camp on the income from a low rate of board, but the running expenses should be met and the children will help by cooperating to this end if encouraged to do so, even to the point of cheerfully foregoing some of the things they like and want and are accustomed to having at home.
The condition of the equipment during and at the end of the camp season is largely in the hands of the Director. Careful supervision, and a few rules that are carried out, make it possible to use the same equipment for many seasons before it begins to show wear. An occasional accident may happen but this is unusual. It is well to remember either when working with an individual or a group that it is only possible to form habits by constant repetition. To tell a child to do something and not to see that it is done, is of little value to the child or anyone else. One of the chief duties of a Director is to know that the things are done which have been mapped out as essential to the welfare of the camper.
Counsellors should meet often, even daily, with the Director and report on the work being done, make suggestions for improvements and establish a basis of cooperation. At such meetings plans for any special occasion should be made and duties assigned. If the children need time to themselves and entertainments for relaxation and to break the routine, it is also true that the Director and Counsellors must have free time to work out their individual problems and indulge in some form of play. An occasional afternoon out of camp or the opportunity to have a little party by themselves is suggested. In a large camp near the city, a full day a week should be allowed to each Counsellor.
The Director's work is unending from the opening to the closing of camp, but she has a rare opportunity to work with girls, to help them in many ways, some of which are quite personal, and perhaps to be an influence for great good in their lives. All depends however, on what she is herself, and what she considers is the purpose of the camp.
No one is fitted to be a counsellor in a Girl Scout camp who does not like to work with girls and who does not in a measure understand children. The desire to be with them, to learn from them, and to help them, is the only reason for accepting such a position. In addition one should be equipped to teach at least one subject and able to make it of such interest that it opens the mind to a new world. The ability to cooperate is another essential quality, for when living with a group, we may interpret individually, but what we interpret must be of common understanding. While patience and sympathy are both needed in group living, sentimentality is to be avoided.
Hours of work have nothing to do with the duties of a camp counsellor. She is on duty in one sense twenty-four hours out of every day, but her work need not be arduous. If she becomes aware of anything which seems to be, or is likely to become, a detriment to the camp it is her duty to report the matter to the Director. There is a great deal of work which can be done by counsellors which cannot be stipulated, but which rests with them as individuals.
The right word at the right moment always bears fruit. A suggestion of tidiness to an untidy girl, a suggestion of kindness to the girl who is quick and impulsive, a suggestion to use better language, or to lower her voice or to improve her table manners, or to be more Scout-like, if made to a child alone, and at an opportune moment, means much and is appreciated. The best results are obtained when we can realize that each child holds within herself the perfect Scout ideal and that because of her limited ideas, lack of understanding, environment, the negative suggestions constantly being made to her, she fails to express it. One work of the camp counsellor is to help her by example, and by word, to give up these erroneous ideas, and to stress being a Scout.
Nearly all children have a dramatic instinct and love to act. Help them to act the part of a Scout. In this way they are forming a habit that means something.
A Girl Scout camp is the Scout's own camp, and she should feel the responsibility of making it and keeping it in as Scout-like a way as possible. There are two things for her to work for, the Camp spirit and the maintaining of Scout standards. It is said that with a group, "morale" is in importance to work, as three is to one. This theory has been proved by experts who have experimented with small and large groups. It is well to make the Scout Laws the Laws of the camp. They must, however, be understood and lived up to to be effective and for this reason time must be taken each day to talk about them, discuss them and make them of practical value.
Fortunately in every Scout camp a group of girls will be found who are born leaders. Those in that group who are awake to the Scout ideals are of the greatest help in all matters and should be encouraged. They can accomplish much by way of example and in some cases can handle a situation as well if not better than a Director. Work delegated to them should be explained carefully and inspected for their sake as well as others, and any lack of thoroughness or judgment pointed out and explained that they may learn the better way.
Those girls who are negative in thought and action, should be watched and every effort made to help them to come into line. They are bound to have followers and this group causes trouble generally through misunderstanding and ignorance. There should be but one interest on the part of each camper and that is to be a Scout, not only in looks but in thought and deed. This is sometimes hard, for conditions are not all as they are in one's home, and to adjust one's ways of living, especially in regard to eating, is not easy.
It might be well for the camper to realize that the object of a Scout camp is to give the best and as much as can be paid for by the income from board, and that the price of board is small in order that all Scouts may share in the joys of living in the open. With these facts in mind it is easier to accept conditions that may not be just to our liking. Wherever we choose to live, indoors or out of doors, alone or as one of a group, we have to face certain facts which must be dealt with and not ignored if we would be healthy and happy and have our surroundings livable.
In dealing with these facts there is certain work to be done which a good many people call "drudgery," but if this work were neglected those very people would be the first to complain.
We must eat to live, therefore, food must be prepared, cooked, and served, dishes washed and wiped, tables set, and kitchen and mess hall kept clean in every respect.
We must sleep to maintain health so beds and bed-clothing are necessary. These need care as well as the sleeping room, and all personal belongings in it.
We must be clean to be decent, and try as hard as we will, trash collects and must be properly disposed of. Wash houses and latrines are necessary and they must be kept clean.
Who should be more interested in doing this work and in doing it well than the Scout herself? She should take the greatest pride in keeping her camp up to the highest standard always. It can be done without great effort on the part of any one Scout if each one tries to remember a few things, among them:
1. That thoughtfulness reduces the amount of work to be done and saves time and money.
2. That unless the work is done conditions will be unbearable and camp will close.
3. That the work she does benefits herself as well as others. It is the waste and trash thrown or laid down where it does not belong, work half done that has to be done over, thinking of our own desires instead of the Scout standards, that are at the root of any trouble. Do not call the camp duties drudgery, call them opportunities for service.
4. The fact that the Girl Scout pays board does not absolve her from this work. If the Scouts do all that they can to be of service, and serve cheerfully, many opportunities are offered them that otherwise would be prohibitive.
Every girl entering a Scout camp has placed before her a camp program which if taken advantage of offers her the best the camp affords. There are always girls who accept the program and use it in full. They know that in order to BE PREPARED they must grasp every opportunity to develop along Scout lines. On the other hand there are girls who seem too lacking in interest, too blind to the opportunities, too inert to take advantage of it, and they leave camp having missed the very things for which they came.
The helpful Scouts who belong to the former group are real camp helpers, and the Director can always depend upon them, the Counsellors can depend upon them, and they are the power which makes or mars the success of the camp.
It is in camp that girls have the opportunity to express themselves along lines quite different from those used during their ordinary daily life. Entertainments are always hailed with delight, and any Scout who does a good stunt, takes part in a play, or gives expression through dancing, reciting, or singing, is contributing to the fun and joy of all.
Aside from parties and plays and other fun-giving times, there is Scout work which can be done in camp better than anywhere else. This work includes the study of nature lore, woodcraft, certain forms of handicraft, swimming, and hiking. The advantage of spending a part of each day on these subjects as well as the Grade Tests and Merit Badge tests, is found in the fact that the Counsellors are prepared to give the work in the best possible way and under the best conditions.
Also there is inspiration in seeing what other girls do and in trying to do as well if not a little better. Then too, what is learned in camp is taken back home to the girls who have not been privileged to go to camp, and they gain through the camper's experience. There are a few things which every Scout should know after living in the open for a few weeks. One is that we are dependent upon people, and that people are dependent upon us; therefore, we must equip ourselves to give; another is that the great out of doors is full of interesting things which can give us far greater happiness if we learn to know them and try for a time for each year to live with them, than the things to which we turn during the winter for recreation and excitement.