Leslie's Guiding History Site

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Daily Programmes at Camp

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The first guidance on programming for Guide Camps came early in Guiding's history.  The 1912 handbook, "How Guides Can Help to Build Up the Empire" gave a daily programme as well as activity hints.  In these early days, a lot of inspiration was taken from army camp routines, including the posting of 'sentries' each night to guard the camp.  The suggestion was: 

06.30 am - Turn out, wash, air bedding, coffee and biscuit.  Hoist Union Flag and salute it.

7 - 7.30 am - Parade for prayers, and physical exercise, or instruction parade.

7.30 am - Stow tents and tidy up.

8.00 am - Breakfast.

9.00 am - Scouting practice or signalling.

10.30 am - Biscuit and milk.  Sundays to church.

11.00 - 1.30 pm - Scouting games or swimming.

1.30 pm - Dinner

2 - 3.00 pm - Rest (compulsory).  No movement or talking allowed in camp.

3 - 5.30 - Scouting games.

5.30 pm - Tea.

6 - 7.30 pm - Recreation, camp games, first-aid practices.  Prepare beds.

7.30 pm - 8.30 pm - Camp fire and biscuit and milk.  Post sentries.

8.30 pm - To bed.

9.00 pm - Lights out.

Suggested camp activities included making a loom to create woven mattresses, shelter-building, pioneering, tree-felling, outdoor games and wide games, picnic hikes, swimming, and working on those Second Class and First Class tests suited to being doing outdoors.  Although Guides did post sentries as Scouts did, for Guides the advice was "Captains should see that there is no raiding of camps  Sentries can be posted to learn the duties but no Guides should no night sentry later than 9 pm."


Swimming rules applied - "Bathing unders strict supervision to prevent non-swimmers getting into dangerous water.  No girl must bathe when not well.  Bathing picket of two good swimmers will be on duty while bathing is going on, and ready to help any girl in distress.  This picket will be in the boat (undressed) with bathing costume and overcoat on.  They may only bathe when the general bathing is over and the last of the bathers has left the water."

By 1921, and the publication of 'Notes on Camping', the advice was: 

"Programme for a Day in Camp

6.45 am - Cooks get up.

7.00 am - Rest of Camp gets up.

8.00 am - Breakfast.

9.30 am - Prayers and Personal Inspection, followed by Tent Inspection and Inspection of Orderly work.

10.00 am - Work of some kind, drill, etc.

11.00 am - Canteens.  Work (Camp Craft).

1.00 pm - Dinner.

1.45 pm - Rest Hour.

3.00 pm - Court of Honour

3.15 pm - Free Time

4.00 pm - Tea

5.00 pm - Games, etc.

7.00 pm - Supper.

8.00 pm - Camp Fire.

9.00 pm - Bed.

9.45 pm - Lights Out.

Take the Guides out for long walks and picnics as much as possible, don't 'stick' to camp for the whole week."


Orderly Work for a Company in Five Patrols:

"Cooks - 1) Cook all meals.  2) Air store tent and keep it tidy.  3) Wait at table.  4) Light fire and keep it in all day, have boiling water for tea at 7.15 am.

Sanitary - Look after latrines, wash-houses, refuse pits, water pits, and incinerator.  Keep camp tidy.

Messengers - Fetch milk morning and evening, fetch letters, collect letters and take to post, go any messages, fetch stores, etc., supply orderlies to the Guiders.

Orderlies - Carry water to kitchen and wash-houses, collect wood.

Mess Orderlies - Lay meals and wash up."


For us viewing from modern times, it may seem like an awfully early start in the mornings, and a comparatively early bedtime, especially for the older Guides.  The reason behind it was the need to match the day's schedule to available daylight.  With the only artificial lighting coming from candles, whether in candlesticks or glass-sided lanterns, the light available after dark was minimal and for emergency use only, hence it was necessary to be up early to get a full day of activity in before dusk, and bedtime was scheduled to get as much sleep in after dark as possible.  

1933's Campcraft advised: 

"For any type of Guide camp an advance guard should arrive one or two days before the others to get things ready.  The advance guard will probably consist of most of the camp staff (leaving one Guider to bring the Company) assisted if necessary by one or two Rangers or Patrol Leaders.  The digging of latrines and the wash trenches should be done by a man two days before the camp opens.  The screening for all this can be erected by the forerunners, the stools made and put up, the store tent pitched and all the stores put away in boxes and tins.  If the Guides are coming to camp for the first time, the tents might be put up in readiness for them, but if they are old hands at the job, they might be left and each patrol can put up its own tent on arrival."  "When striking camp, if the work is properly organised it can all be done on one day, although a clearing-up party to be left behind is always popular."


"No two camps are ever the same, therefore, every programme has to be adaptable.  The main scheme can remain, but details will probably have to be altered at a moment's notice, according to the fancies of the weather and the Court of Honour."

"Company Camps: 

6.45 - Cooks get up.  7.00 - Reveille.  8.00 - Breakfast.  8.30 - Orderly Work.  10.00 - Tent and personal inspection.  Colours and Prayers.  10.30 - Cooks report at store tent.  Gadget making, Singing, etc.  11.15 - Bathing parade, Station Signalling.  12.25 - Get ready for dinner.  12.30 - Dinner.  1.10 - Canteen.  Court of Honour.  1.45 - Rest Hour.  2.45 - Free time, or bathing (if not in morning).  5.00 - High tea or picnic away from camp.  5.30 - Camp raiding, Woodcraft games, etc.  7.15 - Colours lowered.  7.45 - Supper.  8.00 - Camp Fire.  9.00 - Taps.  Start to bed.  9.30 - All in bed.  9.40 - Silence Whistle.


Prayers and Colours might be held just before or directly after breakfast, and inspection of camp kit and tents could follow after the orderly work was done.  Give something quiet after the bustle of orderly work, at which the Guides can sit down and relax.  They are then ready for some good hefty work, or bathing, towards the end of the morning.  The Court of Honour might meet at 9.45 am or at 9 pm. if preferred.  In the case of the latter, the Leaders would be allowed a few minutes' grace to get into bed.  The Rest Hour must be a silent one.  The camper wil nearly always go to sleep, but books, which can be borrowed out of the Camp Library, might be allowed to be read.  Free time for letters, etc., is put after the rest hour to allow one to continue into the other and to prevent unnecessary rushing about.  The expedition could be made to some place of interest, or if a nature competition is on foot, to allow the Guides an opportunity to get on with the work.  If tea is being taken out the party will probably start about this time.  Efforts should be made to get right away from the camp site every day, and to give the Guides the opportunity to see as much of the country as possible.  The official hour for lowering Colours is just before sundown.  If the entire camp is going out for an expedition, the Colours must be lowered, whatever time of day, before leaving the camp site, the idea of this being that there is no one to guard them.  The "Camp Fire" may take the form of a genuine fire round which the campers may gather for songs and yarns.  On a chilly night variations may be introduced in the form of country dancing, games or woodcraft competitions.  If preferred, 'Taps' or 'Lights Out' or some goodnight song may be sung after the last whistle has been blown.  It is the final signal for silence and often comes as a perfect end to a perfect day."


"The Holiday Spirit.  The great thing in planning all Guide camp programmes is to remember first that we are trying to show the Guides the wonders of the outside world, and secondly that it is to be above all things a real holiday.  Leave all the Clubroom atmosphere behind and don't mention the word test or badge till camp is over.  Let the Court of Honour make suggestions about the programme and plans for the day, because it is through them that one can get at the general feeling of the camp.  

The Patrol Spirit - The Patrol spirit can be kept up by means of charts, trophies or ribbons, which will record the daily progress of teh Patrols.  Points can be given for the tidiness of tent and person and good orderly-work, while others might be added for games, labour-saving devices, gadgets, etc.  Mention might here be made on camp equipment, in camp and out of it.  The official undress camp uniform of open-necked short-sleeved overall and camp hat or handkerchief to go over the head, in conjunction with sandshoes and no stockings, is extremely comfortable.  The British public will, however, judge us by outward appearances, and we must give them no room to criticise.  When going off the camp site, whether to Church Parade, for the milk or the post, full kit must be worn; and it's only when the camp bounds are safely passed on the return journey that the irksome stockings and high collar and tie may be discarded."

"Wet Seather - A wet day in camp need not be so wearying as is generally supposed1  The cook place is kept moderately dry by an improvised shelter; the Colour is not put up, unless a small storm flag can be provided; prayers can be held in the barn, school, or other solid shelter, so necessary to complete the perfect camp site.  A strict watch must be kept on tents and bedding.  If there has been a wet night the latter must be thoroughly inspected and anywhich is damp orat all doubtful must be dried.  The tent guy lines must be slackened, pegs knocked in and if a strong wind is blowing the tent must be steadied on the windward side.  Most of the children, except those who are unwell, or prone to rheumatism, may go out, rain or shine.  Long coats or mackintoshes will hide the fact that skirts have been discarded; stockings in this case would not be worn and sandshoes are best to walk in.  Guide hats are a good solid shelter for the head, if an iron can be borrowed to revive the brims before going home.  Keep the children on the go all the time, and when back in camp again dry feet, shoes and stockings and a good hot meal will do away with any chance of cold.  If the rain seems likely to continue the tents may have to be abandoned for the more solid shelter.  Hardiness is one thing, but fool-hardiness is quite another.  While in camp the Guider is responsible for the children under her care and it is no use risking too much for the sake of a little extra trouble.

Sundays - Sunday in camp is sometimes rather a problem.  Anti-Guides have been heard to remark that camping tends to make us 'godless gypsies'.  It is well to know at times what the outside world thinks of us, but in this case one feels that the accusation is without foundation.  The ordinary routine work of the camp will have to be done in any case, but it should be our effort to make the rest of the day so different, yet happy and jolly, that it will stand out by itself among the memories of camp.  By past experience it has been found that there is a unanimous vote for a church Parade.  This should be, of course, entirely optional.  (See Rules 4 and 33.)  A 'Guides Own' may be held as well as, or instead of, the Church Parade; if in the case of the former, after tea is a good hour."

Orderly Work:

"Cooks - Rise at 6.45 pm.  Half the patrol put on overcoats, light the kitchen fire and get the water on.  The other half dress, and finish cooking the breakfast while the 'early birds' get dressed.  10.30 am - Report at the store tent.  Cook the dinner.  4.15 pm - Half the patrol put on the water for tea and do any necessary cooking.  7.15 pm - Half the patrol warm up hot drinks.  The cooks wash over the pots and pans and keep the kitchen tidy.  They put on dixies, etc., after each meal is served to boil water for washing up.

Wood - Collect, saw and stack firewood.  Keep the cooks supplied with wood, and keep the camp tidy.  Bring out supplies from the store tent and food throm the kitchen and extra utensils from the table.  Wash up serving dishes and extra things which have been used.  Lay the camp fire and light as required.  Cover the wood stack at night and when it rains.

Sanitary - Sprinkle chloride of lime into latrine trench and cover it with earth to depth of two inches, twice a day if necessary.  Scrub seats with disinfectant soap putting a little lysol into the water.  Burn out latrine incinerator, and empty night latrine (if bucket) or fill in hole.  Move seats up the trench when necessary.  Be responsible for screening and roofing of latrine, adjusting when necessary.  See that there is a plentiful supply of earth and paper in each cubicle.  Dig fresh grease pits when necessary.  Re-thatch lattice of grease pit every morning and burn up greasy leaves.  Cover the day's refuse with earth and ashes, 2 in. deep.  Provide the Colour Party.

Water - Supply the cooks with water.  If it has to be carried from some distance a big receptacle outside the wash tents should be kept filled, otherwise each Guide can fetch her own washing water.  Fetch the milk from the farm once or twice daily.  Post all letters.  Prepare vegetables for the cooks between 8.30 and 10.00 am."


"Many camps err on the side of being over strenuous.  It is well to remember that the Guides are on their holiday, and we do not wish them to return home nervous wrecks.  A good ten hours sleep will do them no harm after a tiring day in camp.  It is always best to get them to bed in the light, the necessity for lanterns in the tents thus being avoided.  It serves no useful purpose to let them get up too early in the morning when the dew is at its heaviest, 7.a.m. is quite early enough for Reveille.  Remember also that Guides should be given plenty of time to have their meals in peace; rush ruins the digestion.  Above all, the campers must be very strict about the Rest Hour.  So many reasons why she should be excused from this are brought forward by the ingenious Guide.  there is only one safe rule, i.e., never to listen to any of them.  Any other portion of the programme may be set aside on occasion, but not this."

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