Leslie's Guiding History Site


Camp Organisation

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The first guidance on camp organisation came in the 1912 handbook "How Guides Can Help to Build Up the Empire".  It gave elementary information on tents, catering, sanitation and activities, and on approaches to take with parents.  Tents tended to be ex-army bell tents or ridge tents, hired, together with ex-army billies for cooking.  Personal kit was minimal, indeed from modern eyes it was very scanty indeed.

At that stage there were no qualifications needed by Guiders to run camps, although it was one of only two activities which needed parental permission (the other being attendance at places of worship).  Whilst many satisfactory camps were held, it seems that some may have been less well organised, as by 1921 new rules were introduced.

By the 1922 season, "Notes on Camping" had been published by the association.  This was more than mere 'notes', being a booklet giving advice on all aspects.  Guiders who wished to take their Guides to camp now had to pass the Guide Cook's badge and be able to cook out of doors, and "Must show a knowledge of the arrangements which should be made before holding a Camp of any given number of Guides, for: 1) Choice of Camp site.  2) Contracts with tradesmen.  3) Storage of food.  4) Shelter and bedding.  5) Sanitary arrangements, including latrines, wash-house, and refuse pits.  6) Cooking.  7) Necessary equipment.  8) Drying and airing of bedding, etc.  9) Transport.  Must draw up a list of Camp rules and personal equipment suitable for issuing to parents of intending campers.  Must draw up: A programme of a day in Camp, giving reasons for the various activities, and including menus of meals.  Or.  A plan showing the organisation of the orderly duties for a week on the Patrol system.  Must give a list of ten of the most useful articles suitable for stocking: 1) A medicine chest.  2) A dry canteen.  Draw up a menu for well-balanced meals for a week in Camp, showing knowledge of food values and economy.  Must have camped a week, or two week-ends, under canvas, and understand camp life in relation to woodcraft.  Know how to pitch, trench, air, and strike a tent.  Must understand Camp Hygiene and Elementary First Aid and Home Nursing in relation to camping.  Improvise one Camp gadget and erect screening.  Construct a Camp fire-place, erect a flagstaff, and know the ceremonial proper to the hoisting, breaking, and lowering of the flag.  

1922 saw the introduction of Camp Directors for South England, Midlands, East England, Scotland, and Wales - they were tasked with examining and appointing a Camp Adviser (recommended by the County Commissioner) for each County in her area.  County Camp Advisers were tasked with examining Guiders for the Camper's Test.  A 'Camp Permission Form' had been introduced, as well as a 'Parents' Consent Form'.  It read: "Parents' Consent Form.  1) A Camp for ___ will be held at ___ from ___ to ___.  2) Station ___.  3) Postal address ___.  4) Dr ___ of ___ has kindly promised to attend the Camp.  If parents will fill in the following form they will be informed immediately in case of illness.  5) Bathing will only be permitted (with parents' consent) at stated times and under strict supervision.  6) Fatigues.  All the work of the Camp will be performed by the Guides themselves, working in Patrols, and everyone will be expected to do her share cheerfully and thoroughly.  7) Uniform will always be worn unless it gets wet, in which case it will be worn again as soon as dry.  8) Visitors' Day will be on ___, when the Camp will be open to the public from ___ to ___ .  On all other days the Camp will be strictly private.  9) Fees for the ___ will be ___ of which ___ must be paid to the Captain when the Guide applies for Camp.  This cannot be returned in any case.  10) Health.  No Guide should have been in contact with any case of infectious illness for at least three weeks before Camp, and parents are strongly advised for their own satisfaction to assure themselves that their girls' heads and hands are perfectly clean.  If all parents will assist the Captain in these matters of health it will insure their girls enjoying a happy and healthy camp.  11) Food.  Guides will be expected to eat the food provided.  No food may be kept in the tents.  Please sign the following: I have read the above, and am willing for my daughter to attend the Camp and obey all orders as above.  My Postal address will be ____.  I do not believe my daughter to have been in contact with any infectious illnesses during the last three weeks, and I have done all in my power to insure that her head and hands are perfectly clean.  Signed ___.  Are there any points in your daughter's health that require special care?"

Guidance was also given on sites: "Camp Sites.  1) Do not wait until summer to think about your Camp site; look around during the Winter, and, if possible, inspect the site at least six months before the Camp; and try and see it at it's worst on a bad day.  2) Water.  Be sure there is an adequate supply within 100 yards of Camp.  Water from a main is preferable.  Never trust surface water.  Always have it tested when the site is first inspected, and, again, three or four days before the Camp.  Find out the history and source of any water not from a main.  3) Wood.  There must be a good supply handy, or fuel will have to be used for cooking.  4) Shelter.  The Camp should be sheltered by trees on the N. and S.W.  If possible, camp on a slope open to the S.E.  The ideal site is on a S.E. slope, pine woods or a hill for shelter on N. and S.W.; situated on a good loam; within 100 yards of water; near a bye-road; and with a good barn for use in wet weather.  5) Screening.  If there is not an abundance of natural screening, canvas must be used for latrines, and wash-houses, and may be camouflaged as far as possible.  6) Kitchen and Latrines.  Must be situated to leeward of the Camp and in a downstream direction.  7) Owner of Site.  Interview him before the Camp and tell him in detail what you want to do.  (1) Number of tents; (2) exact measurements of the trenches you wish to dig; (3) get permission to collect wood and make fires.  8) Trades People.  Interview the local trades people, and arrange for delivery of stores, etc.  Dont's.  1) Don't camp on clay or in a hollow, both are sure to be damp.  2) Don't camp on rock, as it is impossible to drive in the tent pegs, or dig trenches.  3) Don't camp near lakes or ponds, as it will be damp, unhealthy, often rocky, and the home of mosquito.  4) Don't camp on sandy beaches, as the tent pegs will not stay in, also flies and mosquitos abound there.  5) Don't camp near crew-yards or pig-sties.  6) Don't camp near public-houses or main roads."

"General Hints for Holding a Camp.

1) The Captain must be in close touch with her Guides, and know that she can really trust them before taking her Company to Camp.

2) Pay minute personal attention to every detail, the health and happiness of the camp may depend on it.

3) Size of Camp.  One Guider cannot manage more than a Patrol Camp, for a Company Camp it is essential to have at least three Guiders: (1) Captain and Commandant, (2) Quartermaster: To look after the stores and cooking.  (3) Orderly Officer: To organise the games, fetching, taking, and distributing of letters; attend to any Guide who is ill.

4) Go and see the local Doctor before the Camp and ask him to attend you in the event of any illness or accident.

5) Bathing.  Never let beginners and those who can swim bathe at the same time.  Have a picket of good swimmers on the bank, who do not go into the water until all the others have gone out.  Examine the bathing place carefully beforehand for rocks and holes.  In the case of sea bathing, the shore often changes after each high tide, especially on the East Coast.  If possible mark off a safe place with ropes floated on buoys, and anchored with tins filled with stones.  Always have a boat or raft, the latter can easily be made and floated with empty petrol tins; nine tins will float a 6 ft. raft.  Never bathe sooner than 1 1/2 hours after food.

6) Health.  Have a Red Cross tent, in which there should be a bed, medicine chest, and the name and address of the local Doctor.  Have a head inspection within the first hour of Camp.  If anything is found, immerse the infected head in neat methylated spirit, and repeat in 24 hours.  A head inspection must be done privately, and by the Captain herself.  

Impetigo.  Skin disease in blister form with heads that break.  Dress with lysol, 1 in 20 solution.  Make the Guide wash in your tent, and keep her washing materials and towels.  Let her look after the wood etc., and have nothing to do with the food.

Look for constipation on the second day in Camp, and give as much fruit as possible.  A good plan is to mix Epsom salts with the eating salt, half and half.

7) Keeping Clothes.  Never let any clothing, boots, etc., be on the ground, either at night or during the day.  The clothes worn nearest the skin must be put under the pillow, at the foot of the sleeping bag, or in a suit case during the night.  The top clothes will keep dry if hung on hangers as high up the pole as possible. 

If Guides have mackintoshes they are much better than thick coats.  Worn over a jersey they are quite as warm, and in wet weather they do not become sodden and difficult to dry.

8) Always have a barn or marquee for use in wet weather, and let it be large enough for games, drill, and country dancing.  Let the Guides run about with bare feet in wet weather while they are working, but when they sit down for meals, or come into the barn for games, etc., make them dry their feet at once, and put on dry shoes and stockings. 

After a wet day, take round hot drinks after the Guides are in bed, and if any seem very cold put their feet in hot mustard and water.  If any are very wet, rub them down first.  A small dose of amoniated quinine is sometimes a good thing after a wet day.  Boots well done with dubbin keep out the wet.  To dry wet boots, stuff with newspaper or put hot stones in and shake them round, care being taken that they are not hot enough to burn the leather.

9) Prayers.  Have these every morning, after the hoisting of the Union Jack and before personal inspection.  They may be held either before or after breakfast; if the former, each Guide must have a biscuit first.  Have five minutes silence for evening prayers, about 20 minutes before 'lights out'.

10) Patrol System.  Run the Camp on this system, and let the Leaders have a chance of teaching their Patrols.  Give the Patrols woodcraft names.

11) Courtesy.  Camp is the best opportunity of teaching this; let the Guides behave properly at meals; don't let them cross other tent doors without first asking permission of the occupants.

12) Food.  Never let the Guides keep any food in their tents.

13) Canteens.  Have a canteen daily at 11 am for the sale of cocoa, lemonade, sweet and plain biscuits, plain and milk chocolate, and good boiled sweets; note paper, post cards, pencils, note books, stamps, hair ribbon, shoe laces, needles, darning wool, tape, cottons, etc.

Impress on Guides:

1) To leave gates as they find them.  2) Never to walk across growing crops.  3) Never to climb fences except by a stile.  4) Never to roam about woods without permission, on account of game.  5) Never to cut trees, branches or hedges without permission.  6) Never to light a fire without permission.  7) Always to leave any camping ground as though they had not been there."

By 1933 the first edition of "Campcraft for Girl Guides", subtitled 'the Official Camping Handbook' had been published.  By this time Guides had been camping for 20 years, and yet the opening paragraph read "People are still to be met with who hold up their hands in horror at the idea of Camp.  'Sleeping on the ground - in a field!  Aren't you afraid?'  'Of what?  Damp, tummy pains (caused by amateur cooking) or midnight visits from a ghostly quadruped?'"  Guides might have been running camps for over 20 years by that time, but the task of reassuring the public clearly wasn't complete!  It also advised "It is not a good thing to go to the same site year after year.  The place loses its freshness; the children know all its charms and peculiarities; and most of the feeling of adventure has vanished."  To find a new site, the advice is "Friends, especially those who own a park or fields, should always be attacked first.  If they will not, or cannot, provide you with the perfect site, they probably can help you to procure it from a neighbour.  You may wish, however, to go far afield into unknown country.  Either your own Commissioner, or the one in whose district you wish to go, will in this case put you into communication with the nearest Camp Advisor, who is supposed to keep a list of all good camping sites in the neighbourhood."  In seeking a site, the essentials were considered to be soil, situation, shelter, water, distance (from home and from local amenities), space, fuel, and transport.  Camp funds were a key topic - the advice given was "Every Guide should be expected to save something (however small) towards her camp fees.  This may be augmented from other sources, as the Guider thinks fit.  If economy has to be considered, it should not find a place in the Commissariat department.  People who run camps are too fond of the idea that 'anything will do'.  There is no excuse at all for children not being fed well in camp.  Prices are coming down and a party of over twenty can be fed excellently at the rate of 1/- to 1/3 per head per day.  Of course, there will be many Guides who cannot afford this; but the money should be raised by other means, viz., entertainments, sales of work, or even donations."  Weekly savings scheme cards were also suggested, and it was suggested that "expense can be cut down if everything which can be made is made by the Guides themselves, viz., Palliasse covers, camp hats or bonnets, overalls and even a lean-to tent for the cook place."

The Camp Equipment List was growing longer too.  For a camp of 20 it was suggested:

5 or 6 ordinary sized bell tents - three for Guides, one for Guiders, one hospital tent, one for drying wet gear.  Ground sheets - either individual ones 6 ft. x 3 ft., or circular in sections, which can easily be moved.  Extra small ground sheets to sit on at meals.  Screening poles, guy lines and pegs for washhouse, 3 stools for latrines, 6 lengths of wood to support seats, 3 tins for toilet paper, 3 American cloth covers for toilet seats, roofing for latrines, spade and pick axe, axe and saw, hammer and assorted nails, 3 trowels, course sand paper and drawing pins, latrine bucket, swab and scrubbing brush, 4 buckets for wash cubicles, 4 basins for washhouse, 4 small tubs or foot baths for washhouse, 3 washing up buckets for Patrols or one tub, short lengths of board for latrine trench, toilet paper, lysol and chloride of lime, 2 trestle table tops (legs would be lashed from gathered wood), extra rope, string and tent pegs.  Camp notice board and letter-box.  Camp work basket for sewing kit.  Flag for hoisting.  2 lanterns.  Store tent.  4 dixies.  1 steamer or fish kettle.  Small saucepan.  Large frying pan or baking tin.  2 pudding cloths.  3 7 lb. jam jars (to steam puddings in).  2 large knives and forks.  2 or 3 wooden spoons.  Coarse grater for cheese and vegetables.  4 enamel or china bowls.  4 enamel or china jugs.  2 buckets for water.  Colander.  Basin or tub for washing-up unless done in Patrols.  Saucepan cleaner, mop and swab.  Large dishes for serving.  Butter muslin.  Pastry board and pin, or jar for rolling.  Soap and soda.  Bricks and iron grids for fireplace.  4 posts, tarpaulin or ground sheets, guylines and pags - for fire shelter and wood pile.  Tin and wooden boxes for the stores.  Tin opener and corkscrew.  Extra knives, forks, spoons, plates and mugs.  Salt and pepper holders.  Wire netting for incinerator.  Camp bed, soft pillow, hanging lamp or lantern, camp chair - for hospital tent.  Carron oil for burns and scalds, iodine for cuts, Boracic powder, Zinc ointment for sunburn, Oil of cloves for toothache, Cinnamon and ammoniated quinine, Castor oil, Liquid paraffin, Epsom's salts, ammonia for stings, adhesive plaster, roller bandages, cotton wool, Boracic lint, Jaconet, Thermometer, Hot-water bottle, Safety pins, Pair of scissors, 2 triangular bandages, Sal volatile - in first aid chest.  Canteen - Chocolate (1d. and 2d. bars, good brand), Fruit drops, or good make of boiled sweets, Toffee, Peppermint bulls-eyes, Buscuits - sold at 2 or 3 a 1d., Fruit (not raw plums), writing paper, envelopes, postcards, black hair ribbons, shoe and boot laces, safety pins, pencils, still lemonade (made from lemons or powder).  (Guiders are warned that it is illegal to sell stamps over the counter of the canteen.).  Palliasse cover per person (bag about 6 ft. x 3 ft., it is best if the top has a flap which will button over like a pillow case.  Plus 3 blankets.

Camp prospectus and kit list: "Company Camp of the ___ Girl Guides.  Date: ___ to ___.  Address: ___.  Cost: ___ (inclusive or exclusive of transport fare).  Transport: ___ (if by train, give time of train and station; if by motor, the time it will be at Company Headquarters.  Also state how and where luggage is to be collected).  Visiting day will be; ___ from: ___ to: ___.

1) The Guides will sleep in tents, on straw mattresses.  Solid shelter has been obtained for sleeping quarters in case of wet weather.  2) The food will be good and ample.  No food sent to individual Guides will be delivered.  3) The bathing will be under the strict supervision of a competent Life-saver.  4) No patent medicines may be bought.  First-aid supplies when required can be obtained from ___ who is competent to deal with small accidents and sickness.  5) There will be 1 1/2 hour's rest i nthe middle of the day.  6) Every care will be taken for the comfirt, health and well-being of the Guides, but the Captain cannot hold herself responsible for any accident which may occur.  

Kit List.  (Everything must be clearly marked in some way, so as to distinguish it.  The Captain will not hold herself responsible for lost property).  

1 palliasse cover - 6 ft. x 3 ft. (straw is provided).  2 blankets, at least, coloured if possible.  1 pillow case.  1 bath and 2 face towels.  1 glass cloth.  1 jersey, jumper or other woolly wrap.  1 extra skirt (any colour).  1 overcoat or waterproof.  3 pairs black stockings.  1 pair sandshoes.  2 pairs strong boots or shoes.  1 pair dark blue knickers.  1 change of underclothes.  1 pair warm pyjamas or nightgown.  1 overall or apron.  Guide uniform.  Camp overall.  Handkerchiefs.  Hair, nail and tooth brush and hair comb.  Nail scissors.  Soap, sponge or flannel.  Tooth powder.  2 enamel plates.  1 small bowl (for soup).  1 enamel mug.  1 knife, fork, desert and tea spoons.  Notebook and pencil.  Signalling flag (if required).  1 extra black hair ribbon.  small ball of string.  Each Patrol can provide boot and badge cleaning outfits, a dish cloth, unless swabs are provided by the camp, and a mirror."

"The good camper will have arranged at the very beginning of things for some place where wet shoes and clothes may be dried.  But the golden rule is to keep as much as possible from getting wet.  A bathing cap, a mackintosh and one pair of shoes each is the proper costume for a thoroughly wet day.  No stockings, of course.  But even so equipped it is advisable to keep as many Guides as possible under shelter in really heavy weather, and the kitchen shiould be well covered in to protect the cooks."

The 1942 and 1944 editions of "Campcraft" had the same introduction: 

"No attempt has been made to rewrite Campcraft in order to bring it into line with wartime camping.  Guiders should remember that in all cases they must find out from their Camp Adivsers what are the restrictions put upon camping in the localities in which they wish to camp.  All camps must be camouflaged and, as far as possible, hidden from view.  Large camps are nowhere to be encouraged, and, where possible, camps should be held within easy reach of home.  In dangerous areas access to some form of adequate shelter should be available.  The responsibility of taking Guides to camp in wartime is offset by its increased value as training.  In the small woodland camp so common to-day there are great opportunities for all forms of woodcraft.  The difficulties of transport have reduced the amount of equipment generally taken, thus making for independence and ingenuity.  Programmes have more room for wide games and the practice of all kinds of Scoutcraft than was the case in a large number of the seaside camps held before the war.  The Guide whose wartime training includes camping will be the better equipped to face life.  In spite of the great efforts that have been made to keep on camping under all difficulties, there has of necessity been a great drop in the number of those going to camp since the war.  A complete generation of Guides to whom the joys of camp are a closed book would be a tragedy.  Headquarters therefore looks with confidence to all Guides, knowing that they will do all in their power to carry on the great tradition of camping that our Movement has had in the past."