The Self- Reliant Camper in1920′S

The Self- Reliant Camper. — 6. — 1 like this man. He is a sort
of something upon which to fall back. Are we on a canoe trip ?
He will do what he is told cooly, for he is to be relied upon.
Tired ? Yes, but to make a goal he will plod away and never
murmur. I have known such a man, and he has travelled miles
with me for days and weeks together, and the cool self-reliance,
the way he falls into the line of things, doing all quietly and
never asking a needless question, and never failing to ask a
necessary one, has earned him my admiration, because he gives
me a sense of satisfaction that is not surpassed in any companion
of the many arduous months that I have pursued as a camper.

The SELF-RELIANT Camper ought to have another name. I
re-christen him the *’ Handy Man.” He will give the camp and
the programme in hand first consideration, and, to refer to my
ideal, I have never known him to give a quarter of an hour a day
to his personal adornments, or to anything save that of canying
out the excursion or the tour. Elsewhere I have said that good
Camping, or Camping on the whole is one of the things that
helps to teach a man self-reliance and independence, and that is
precisely what it does. Perhaps the unself-reliant man, to use
a clumsy phrase, is the one who never finds it convenient to do a
thing that is needed in the camp at once, but always has some
personal thing to do first, and so gives the camp second place.

The SELF-RELIANT Camper is the one who practises method
and acknowledges by such practice the claims of the camp, and
I am far from despising the term ” business-like ” in regard to
these matters. If you go for a walk for pleasure it is one thing,
but if you take your home and have to provide for it, cook, clean,.


tidy, plan and purchase in accordance with the customs of civilised
life, give me the self-reliant man, who takes these things ih the right
spirit, for he is the most self-reliaxt Camper.

The Ideal Camper. — 7. — He it is who really enjoys it. This
makes him do it well. He forgets nothing that ministers to the
comfort and pleasure, simplicity and economy of Camping. He
wants to save all the opportunities he can for enjoying the best as-
pects of the Camping life. It may be rest, a bit of study, a space
spent in fraternal intercourse or conversation. A person unable
to enjoy Camping had better give it up, in fact, he generally does,
and I was inclined to say ” a good job too.” I once heard an
experienced camper say, on a brisk and rather chilly night, after
a lovely day down a great and glorious Irish lake, something that
I have not forgotten. The candles were alight in the tent, the
door was half closed, the ground we sat on was particularly soft
for our tent floor, the stove w^as burning beautifully, the kettle
was beginning to sing, the toils and pleasures of the day were
past : ‘* the three hours in this tent before we turn in, ‘ Skipper,’
are worth all the journey from England if only for one night.”
That was because he enjoyed it — he always kept in the spirit of it
too. The ideal Camper has to take the adverse circumstances
and turn them by sound philosophy into enjoyment. Is it very
very wet ? He imagines he enjoys the ” rest” in the tent. Is it
very very hot ? He sleeps with the tent door open. Is the
cooking a little indifferent ? He imagines it is jolly and does not
grumble. Is it a little cold in the night ? He says it is just fresh.
Something breaks ? He takes it again in the same spirit. Is he
hungry and it is not convenient to have a meal ? Hfe placidly
waits till the opportunity should provide the meal which he knows
will come.

Every pleasure has its drawbacks. The ideal Camper will
balance one thing with another, just as most people have to
balance the gains and losses in life — and alas, in business. He will
set apart in due order, times and seasons for regular and recur-
ring tasks. I know a camper who, as soon as he has reached the
spot where the camp is to be pitched, unpacks the stove and
starts the kettle boihng. That may or may not be idealistic, but
it is, at anvrate, “business.” He will keep his tent moderately


tidy. I do not think I very much like those tents in which you
can ” see nothing,” just as if everything had been put away and
must not be touched. Of the two I would rather have positive
untidiness in a camper than the methods of the fidget who wipes
away every straw, and sits as prim and stiff as a wooden doll.
The IDEAL Camper is extremely patient, and even if there is a
tendency to a little crossness — and there often is — he has the
good sense not to hear or say anything to the other fellow. He is
a wise man, because he knows the other chap who said a sharp
thing with a spice of acid in it, will repent it if left alone, and if
not, he will probably add to it. The worst of it is, an unpleasant
word said between two men in camp sticks for ever. Moral : then
don’t say that word.

The IDEAL Campek will differentiate, if he is a junior, between a
hasty order, spoken somewhat tersely bv his friend, and an
offensive expression by a stranger. An order should never be
taken as personal or offensive from a chief when two or more
are Camping in company.

But the IDEAL Camper, if a seemingly hasty thing is said, bears
no grudge. He knows after all that Jackson is his friend and
when he spoke sharply, was probably a little thirsty, hungry, tired
or had too much to do, and so he “let go” without really meaning
it. In short, the ideal Camper cultivates the constant smile.
But, it may be asked, should a man, because he goes Camping,
become an artificiality and carry the manners of Belgravia all the
time ? Certainly not. The term “wearing a smile” is open to all sorts
of constructions, but to put it in the inverse way, ” never look
sour ” in camp and don’t take offence, unless such is wilfully
aimed and meant. Be ideal in one thing anyhow, never say an
offensive word yourself, wilfully, and don’t sulk if you hear one.




If all that is said be true of boys’
camps, is it not true of others ? The
very demand for opportunities to let
out all that remains of boyhood in an
adult, so long as it does not lead to
license, is a good thing. The man who
alludes to the House of Commons as
being sometimes “rowdy,” forgets that if he were there, under the
like influence of heat and excitement, he would display a bit of
that same boyhood in man’s years, which he calls rowdyism.
The men who have most of the boy in them far on in life, are
those who make the best campers, and the tendency of mod-
ern education is not necessarily academical training wholly, but is
aided by athleticism. There is something more than the mere
*’form” of exercise in which youth so engages. There is the
blending of one personality with another. Thus acquaintances
are made, and ties are formed at College and School by an
atmosphere.” This spirit and this training alike have an

Another ground of success is that women have come into it.
They can, and they do, make tents, and possibly good ones.
They take a pride in their management, they like to camp with
their husbands, and do so by scores, possibly hundreds. They
take the neatness of the house to the management of the tent, the
skill in their cooking to the camp fire. This adds, in short, another
proof of my claim that Camping has come to stay.

Yet another ground of its success is that, as everybody knows,
it affords more enjoyment, for less money, than almost any other
form of recreation for a change or a holiday. This has been
shown. But without going into the economic aspect of the
question again, there is so much that is jolly and pleasant, so free,


as weii us liualthy, tliLit oiil- has s;Lid, ‘■ tin; health of camp life
commends it lo natural men and women.”

Let us follow that phrase out. By a ” natural ” person is meant
one who loves nature, and who profits by ils every aspect. To
them it is irreverent, not to say wicked, to speak of a wet day a:,
“heastiy.” It is equally wicked to speak of the sun in its greatest
hi;at and blaze as “atrociously hot, and makes one beastly un-
comfortable.” The msii of nature helps to make his Campinj; a
success because it jjratifies a craving that is in him. He likes to

see water, to bathe or fish in it. He camps there, when he can.
Campinf; helps him to gel lo the recesses and pleasant places of
the earth, and to feel he is an absolutely free man. By Camping,
h^’ afford it, oth -rwise he possibly could not.

Another great thing which is worth considering is that when
Mrs. Johnson packs up her trunks and joins her husband in the
lodgings at Yarmouth or Dover, the only change they get is that
the lodging-house servant lays their breakfast instead of Mary, the
maid, at home, and that they meet with people to whom they can
talk and talk, over the same kind of meals day following day. All



that makes their holiday. They left one house to go into another.
There is but a poverty-stricken variety of experience in a fortnight
thus spe.nt. None of the glorious freedom and independence, nor
yet the same beautiful rural surroundings that they might have,
three miles outside the same or some other town, in camp, either
stationary or portable, are theirs.

Camping has taken hold of a good many who are ” beginning
to see it,” and this fact is one of the inducements towards its
success. I have just visited an ideal family camp. It is on an
island in a river. There was the eating tent, the sleeping tent,
the servant’s tent, the cooking tent for wet weather, and the over-
boat tent. Here the family and their servants were spending a
“savage” holiday. The scenery was pleasant and they were
adjacant to a town. I asked if they liked it, for they have a line
home on a beautiful lake amongst the hills of middle Ireland.
“They were having a delightful time.” The brown limbs of the
children, the bronzed faces of the parents and grown-up branches
of the family, the enjoyment of the servants and the “handy-man,”
all was complete. At the end of a month they were not,
tired, but were counting with regret the remaining days in camp,
before they journeyed back to their home in Roscommon.

Some of us call this “Camping fever.” It is not Camping fever^
but an assurance of its growth in the future. I have no cart
blanche to advocate Camping for its own sake, but because of the
advantages which have been enumerated, and which are un-
doubted evidences of the success which it has achieved, whether
by cycle, motor car, van, or boat ; per club, or otherwise.

Scares. — 8. — A writer, in reviewing one branch or share that
I have taken in promoting Camping, spoke of the horrors of
damp, and of the luke-warm coffee and half-cooked chops and
all that. I feel I am within my right in characterising such
writing as cheap journalism,’ sheer piffle of the unknowing.
Perhaps not a day in the year passes without someone saying,
“What if it rains ? ” “I dare not expose myself,” and so on. A
camp, to be a success, must be sanitary. It cannot be too well
understood, it cannot be too well enforced, that a properly
constituted camp has all the comforts of the home, all its physical”
securities from physical ills. I frequently camp, for instance, in

26 THE camper’s HANDBOOK

hard frosts and snow. ” I should die of cold,” has been said.
It would be a very improperly constructed and imperfectly
laid camp that would allow one to shiver with cold wheji it was
preventable. Of course, one may be as snug and comfort-
able, as I have proved by 25 years Easter Camping, with all its
inclemencies, cold winds and frosts, as at other times. And some-
how, one gets hardened,! gets to “know” it, gets used to it, and
takes it as a matter of course. Proper equipment makes it a
success. And this is a very important point. If a person
desires to enjoy Camping in all weathers he must have a thoroughly
efficient equipment.

It is also said by the inexperienced, and therefore unknowing,
^’ I should think it is awfully jolly when it is fine, but in our
beastly climate you can’t depend upon the weather.” Some of
the best days and hours have been spent in ceaseless rain. In-
deed, busy, active, and enthusiastic campers have so much to do,
so many places to visit, and have their time so full in what is,
after all, the major portion of the weather, namely, fine, that when
a wet day does come, they are rather glad, by way of a change
and variety, of having to loaf, lie about, read or write a little, to
have someone to talk to, or go somewhere to talk to someone else.
Instances by the score could be named where I have personally
camped, in all parts of Great Britain, under these conditions,
and enjoyed it.

Careless Camping.—^. — I cannot say much in defence of
such Camping as the following, nor can I see how it can be suc-
cessful : Three or four men who become smitten with a Cycle-
Camping fever go to places at which they know others will camp.
They take nothing, they possess nothing, they say that they want
nothing. They can go to the farmhouse or village store and
get some bread and a pat of butter ; they can borrow a cup
and drink at the brook, or they will buy a tin of fruit. They
will lie down under a hedge ; if it rains, they will huddle
themselves in their waterproofs. I do not consider that
heroic, so long, that is, as it is not necessary. Nor do I hesitate
to say that it is foolish from a health point of view, to say nothing
from the point of view of comfort. Why should people expose
themselves unnecessarily, when, for a few shillings and a few

THE camper’s handbook 27

hours’ labour, they might have some sort of protection that will
make them comfortable ? Camping, to be a success, should, and
indeed it must, have such conditions met as run no risk of making
the camper miserable.

Company. — lo. — By the increase of Camping and its popu-
larity, the strongest element of all to its success comes in the
” Co.” Almost anyone who i likes may now have someone to
share his joys and sorrows, his toils and rest, his daylight hours
and his night slumbers. Whilst there is danger in all alliances, I
am free to confess that in the majority of cases I have known,
experienced or observed, the companion ministers largely ta
the success of the camp. The trouble in former times was
for a man to find a sociable, equitable, and capable camper, for
all these qualities are necessary to success.

I have been accustomed to camp singly and in company, and
therefore know what it is to camp alone, particularly with my cycle
and the latter generally after a fortnight with somebody else who
has returned home, and left me to wander awheel with a little
eleven ounce tent, round the rocky and often wild and remote
shores of Ireland, which I am gradually encircHng. I do not
READILY say that I have not enjoyed myself, alone ; there are so
many points in favour of the lonely camp, as well as against it.
Of course, the advantages are in favour of having a chum, and in
another part of this work that chum’s duties will be assigned him .
What he should do, and how he should do it will be duly set
forth, and indeed a great deal depends on his efficiency and
willingmess as to whether the camp in company is better than the
camp alone. Some of the j oiliest camps I have had during the
sixteen hundred miles that I have cycled round the sea-board of
Ireland, have been absolutely alone. To stop, to go, as and when-
ever I would. So it has after all, its points, and herein is the
advantage of versatility to make Camping a success. A man must
philosophically make the best of everything as it comes along. A
hill, we will walk it quietly. A head wind, take it easily. A rough
road, make the best of it as part of the variety in the day’s con-
ditions. A shower comes on, shelter or face it according to
circumstances and demands. If in the course of travel, projects
that had been planned are cut off, — part of the variety. And so

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