Let’s take a vacation and close up our workshops. We need a change to fit us for school in the fall. Vacation suggests good times outdoors, and camping is one of the best of good times. We generally think of camping as sleeping in a tent in the woods or on the banks of a lake or stream or motor camping with Daddy. But not all of us can go away this summer, so I shall tell how to camp out in the backyard or in a vacant lot nearby, a plan anyone can follow. Make sure to get permission first.
Of course, backyard camping keeps you close to home. But when you awaken in the dead of night, it does not require a great deal of imagination to fancy that you are in deep woods a thousand miles away. Camping at home is packs of fun, and you probably will want to sleep out all summer, once you have become accustomed to it.
The backyard camp is a good training camp in which to learn the knack of pitching and striking a tent, building a cooking fire, and cooking food fit to eat. And it is an advantage to the tenderfoot to have home near at hand in case things go wrong, in case the tent leaks like a sieve or blows away, the eats don’t fill the hungry spot, or the mosquito repellent fails to work properly.
Figure 1 shows the way I would organize my backyard camp. Almost any type of tent will do, but the small pup tent, or shelter tent, is quite the thing for the backyard camp because it requires little space. It is an inexpensive tent, too. When you become a Scout, you will use it frequently on overnight hikes. The illustration shows a tent made of a tarpaulin, or several widths of eight-ounce cotton duck fabric sewed together, with a triangular piece to enclose the rear, and a similar piece to protect the front. If you will support one end of the ridgepole upon the fence rail, as shown, only one upright pole will be necessary. Drive stakes at the sides to fasten the tent to. Keep the tent taut in dry weather, but slacken it before a storm to prevent its ripping when rained upon.
To keep surface water from flooding the tent, dig a narrow trench around it, with an outlet at one side for a drain. Spread an old rug, piece of carpet, or burlap upon the ground, and place a poncho or raincoat upon it before making your bed. Ask Mother to sew up a mattress sack of unbleached muslin, three feet wide and five feet long, with one end left open. Straw is the best filling, but dried grass will do. After filling the sack, fasten the open end with safety pins.
The backyard campfire is used only for cooking; therefore, it is small, and not dangerous. But scrape away the grass from the spot on which the fire is to be built, or place a piece of sheet iron upon the grass. Gather dry tree branches or shrubbery cuttings for starting your cooking fire, and allow yourself only two matches for lighting, which are twice as many as should be necessary. With your knife make a small pile of whittlings. Then enclose the pile with short pieces of branches placed wigwam fashion, and all will be laid for lighting. Light a match, shield it from the wind with one hand, and when the match stick is burning brightly, slip it between the sticks and ignite the small shavings. Shield the windward side of the wood with hand or hat until the fire has got a good start, and then feed with other pieces of branches and heavier wood.
A second-class Scout is required to know how to cook meat and potatoes without cooking utensils. Figure 2 shows the stick method of supporting a wienie over the fire. Select a green stick with forked end, and whittle sharp points upon the fork.
Build a fireplace, like that shown in Figure 1, for the support of cooking utensils. Dig up pieces of grass and sod to form a fire pit four inches wide at one end and twelve inches wide at the other end, and place the sod pieces, dirt side up, at the sides of the pit. The narrow end of this fireplace will support a frying pan. Iron bars or lengths of pipe may be placed across the wide end to support pots and kettles, or a crane, shown in the illustration, may be used. Make the crane uprights forked, and place a broom handle or curtain pole in the forks for the supporting pole. Then bend S-shaped hooks out of heavy wire, and interlock them, as shown in Figure 1, to support the kettle at the desired distance above the fire.
A flashlight is handy in camp, but you must have a lantern for continuous lighting. The candle lantern shown in Figure 6 is made of a tin can with a hole punched out of the side. Use a nail and hammer, as shown in Figure 7. Then insert a candle and attach a wire handle.
The illustration shows how to set up a camp table, cupboard, and box seats. Other ideas will occur to you–try them out!