The China Mail.
Hongkong, Thursday, August 7, 1924.
HINTS TO OUR BOY SCOUTS.
The following article, written by William Holt Jackson, for the "Weekly Scotsman" should prove of interest to our Boy Scouts and others who camp out during the holidays. We read:
The motto during the first few hours in camp should be "Give little time to personal things until camp labour is done." Immediately after arriving at the pitch there are a hundred and one jobs that need attention.
First pitch the tents - these should be dotted about fifty yards apart, if space permits, and depending of course, upon the size of the camp. There should always be plenty of room in each tent. It must be remembered that sleep is just as necessary as food, and overcrowding must never be permitted.
For beds, hay is not advisable as it becomes sodden and solid, and it is not comfortable unless crisp and dry. Soft bracken and heather make a fairly confortable bed, but oatstraw is best. Rather than spread this straw loose over the ground sheet, let each have a palliasse - an ordinary clean sack will serve the purpose - and fill it with straw. It will add both to the comfort and tidiness of the camp. For a pillow, a pillow slip or a small bag my be filled with straw or heather, but anything from a pair of boots to a spare coat has been used before now to save the expense of an air cushion.
If the tent be your own property screw a few hooks into the tentpole for hanging up coats and spare clothing. If the tent is hired property, there is on the market a leather strap to which are attached several hooks, and this can be buckled to the tent pole.
While the tents are being fixed up, the building of the fireplace, ovens and latrines, can be in progress; at the same time one member of the party can be fetching water another fuel. All those items need immediate attention. The kitchen should be built to the windward of the tents, and it is well to have it roped off.
The most useful fire is a "trench fire." A trench about three feet in length and nine inches wide is dug, and over this is put a fire bar. The latter can be made with two strips of iron with two cross pieces. The fire is made in the trench and the dixies are put on the fire bar. A portable boiler is useful when the camp is a large one. Plenty of hot water is then available and helps in cooking potatoes and vegetables.
Campers should see that the food store is by itself and well protected from air and sunshine, and most particularly flies. All rubbish that can be burnt must be cremated, that which will not burn must be buried at once. A rubbish pit should be dug near to the fire.
The latrines need considerable attention and accommodation must be provided in accordance with the size of the camp. They must be built to the windward of and well away from the tents, screened with canvas and out of any public thoroughfare, preferably near a group of trees towards which a deep trench should be dug as a drain. A handy man with strong boxes can provide the requisite structure.
All latrines must be filled in and redug daily and chloride of lime should be in frequent use. At the end of the camp pits and trenches should be levelled up.
Providing proper precautions are taken to ensure a supply of good water, well cooked food in clean utensils and the wearing of dry apparel, the health of the campers need give little trouble or anxiety. Of course minor accidents will always happen, such as burns, bruises, and cuts. And for these, such things as carron oll, a good ointment and Condy's fluid should have a place in all camp kits.
Every fine morning after the dispersion of the dew, take the blankets and all palliasses out of the tents and lay them down in the sun to air. Then brace up the valences and allow the fresh air to blow through the tents. Also take care that no food is eaten inside the tents - they are provided for sleeping - unless during wet weather, when it is unavoidable.
For each tent there should be a pail of water for drinking purposes, and this pail must have a cover. Perfectly pure water is never found in nature no matter how pure and sparkling it may seem. Even rain water before it reaches the ground is impure. Distilled water is practically pure, but it is seldom used for drinking purposes, except perhaps on board ship, as it is insipid.
When very thirsty there is a great temptation to drink from streams and ponds, and even from ditches. However, it is best to leave such water alone no matter how "dry" you are. There is no such thing as an effective portable filter.
The only way to render water safe for drinking purposes, is to boil it. Whether the water comes from pump, stream, or spring, if there is the least doubt as to its purity, boil it for ten minutes, or you run risks of illness.
The medicine chest when going into camp ought to contain, among other things, the following:- Lint, cotton wool, ammonia, plenty of boric powder and vaseline, scissors, needles, safety pins, and grey thread.
Keep your head cool, your feet warm, and your stomach in good order, is the golden rule for the prevention of sickness.
There are many kinds of tents and each has its use. Whether you have a bell tent, a patrol tent, or some other type, depends entirely upon the kind of camp and its sizes. Whichever you select, be sure that it is fitted with proper ventilators. Have plenty of ventilation, and it will repay you a hundredfold. The atmosphere inside a tent must be sweet for health and comfort. Get used to an open tent, one where the entrance flaps hang, especially at night, when fresh air is of the greatest importance to sound and refreshing sleep.
All tents should have ground flaps which turn under and inwards at the sides, whereupon to place the ground sheet, and thus ensure freedom from draughts. For many reasons start with a good rainproof tent. Also make certain that the water proofing on the ground sheets is not worn through or cracked. Protection from the damp is most essential, and everyone should realise that the heat of the body is apt to draw moisture from the ground.
The best known tents and probably those most used, are the Bell and Patrol tents.
Bell Tent.- The army pattern Bell tent is the thing for a "standing" camp, though its weight, 80 lbs. complete, will seem great in proportion to the accommodation it affords. Ten feet high, and having a base diameter of twelve and a half feet, it will hold thirteen and even more boys at a push. Naturally it is not advisable to crowd boys into a tent unnecessarily, and with eight in a tent there should be heaps of room.
Apart from its circular form, giving the greatest amount of space within, the tent is obtainable at a fairly moderate price, and this is worth consideration. It is strong and well made, though it's inmates are compelled to stoop except when standing in the centre, close to the pole. When purchasing a tent, have the door to lace up rather than to fasten with hooks and eyes. Should it he secondhand, see that any repairs which may have been made, are sound, and that the pole seating and crown are thoroughly sound.
Patrol Tent.- Of the Patrol tents there are many varieties, though most of them differ only in a small degree and very little in size and shape. The type with the double roof is by far the most satisfactory; the "fly sheet" is a great advantage during wet weather, as it is very difficult to prevent touching the canvas. On a tramping tour for two or three persons, this tent will be found most useful and portable. When pitching, care must be taken to get the ridge level, or rain will enter.