Scouting For Girls, Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts
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In a word, "keep cool, make yourself comfortable, leave a record of your travels, and help your friends to find you."


No one truly knows the woods until he can find with certainty a number of wild plants that furnish good food for man in the season when food is scarce; that is, in the winter or early spring.

During summer and autumn there is always an abundance of familiar nuts and berries, so that we may rule them out, and seek only for edible plants and roots that are available when nuts and berries are not.

Rock Tripe. The most wonderful of all is probably the greenish-black rock tripe, found on the bleakest, highest rocks in the northern parts of this continent. There is a wonderful display of it on the cliffs about Mohonk Lake, in the Catskills. Richardson and Franklin, the great northern explorers, lived on it for months. It must be very carefully cooked or it produces cramps. First gather and wash it as clear as possible of sand and grit, washing it again and again, snipping off the gritty parts of the roots where it held onto the mother rock. Then roast it slowly in a pan till dry and crisp. Next boil it for one hour and serve it either hot or cold. It looks like thick gumbo soup with short, thick pieces of black and green leaves in it. It tastes a little like tapioca with a slight flavoring of licorice. On some it acts as a purge.

Basswood Browse or Buds. As a child I ate these raw in quantities, as did also most of my young friends, but they will be found the better for cooking. They are particularly good and large in the early spring. The inmost bark also has food value, but one must disfigure the tree to get that, so we leave it out.

Slippery Elm. The same remarks apply to the buds and inner bark of the slippery elm. They are nutritious, acceptable food, especially when cooked with scraps of meat or fruit for flavoring. Furthermore, its flowers come out in the spring before the leaves, and produce very early in the season great quantities of seed which are like little nuts in the middle of a nearly circular wing. These ripen by the time the leaves are half grown and have always been an important article of food among the wild things.

Many Indian tribes used to feed during famine times on the inner bark of cedar and white birch, as well as on the inner bark of the slippery elm and basswood, but these cannot be got without injury to the tree, so omit them.

When the snow is off the ground the plants respond quickly, and it is safe to assume that all the earliest flowers come up from big, fat roots.

A plant can spring up quickly in summer, gathering the material of growth from the air and soil, but a plant coming up in the early spring is doing business at a time when it cannot get support from its surroundings, and cannot keep on unless it has stored up capital from the summer before. This is the logic of the storehouse in the ground for these early comers.

Wapato. One of the earliest is wapato, or duck potato, also called common Arrowleaf, or Sagittaria. It is found in low, swampy flats, especially those that are under water for part of the year. Its root is about as big as a walnut and is good food, cooked, or raw. These roots are not at the point where the leaves come out but at the ends of the long roots.

Bog Potato. On the drier banks, usually where the sedge begins near a swamp, we find the bog potato, or Indian potato. The plant is a slender vine with three, five, or seven leaflets in a group. On its roots in spring are from one to a dozen potatoes, varying from an inch to three inches in diameter. They taste like a cross between a peanut and a raw potato, and are very good cooked or raw.

Indian Cucumber. In the dry woods one is sure to see the pretty umbrella of the Indian cucumber. Its root is white and crisp and tastes somewhat like a cucumber, is one to four inches long, and good food raw or boiled.

Calopogon. This plant looks like a kind of grass with an onion for a root, but it does not taste of onions and is much sought after by wild animals and wild people. It is found in low or marshy places.

Hog Peanuts. In the early spring this plant will be found to have a large nut or fruit, buried under the leaves or quite underground in the dry woods. As summer goes by the plant uses up this capital, but on its roots it grows a lot of little nuts. These are rich food, but very small. The big nut is about an inch long and the little ones on the roots are any size up to that of a pea.

Indian Turnip or Jack-in-the-Pulpit. This is well known to all our children in the East. The root is the most burning, acrid, horrible thing in the woods when raw, but after cooking becomes quite pleasant and is very nutritious.

Prairie or Indian Turnip, Bread-root or Pomme-blanche of the Prairie. This is found on all the prairies of the Missouri region. Its root was and is a staple article of food with the Indians. The roots are one to three inches thick and four to twelve inches long.

Solomon's Seal. The two Solomon's Seals (true and false) both produce roots that are long, bumpy storehouses of food.

Crinkle-root. Every school child in the country digs out and eats the pleasant peppery crinkle-root. It abounds in the rich dry woods.


We have in America about two thousand different kinds of Mushrooms or Toadstools; they are the same thing. Of these, probably half are wholesome and delicious; but about a dozen of them are deadly poison.

There is no way to tell them, except by knowing each kind and the recorded results of experience with each kind. The story about cooking with silver being a test has no foundation; in fact, the best way for the Woodcraft Boy or Girl is to know definitely a dozen dangerous kinds and a score or more of the wholesome kinds and let the rest alone.

Sporeprint. The first thing in deciding the nature of a toadstool is the sporeprint, made thus: Cut off the stem of the toadstool and lay the gills down on a piece of gray paper under a vessel of any kind. After a couple of hours, lift the cap, and radiating lines of spores will appear on the paper. If it is desired to preserve these, the paper should be first covered with thin mucilage. The color of these spores is the first step in identification.

All the deadly toadstools have white spores.

No black-spored toadstool is known to be poisonous.


The only deadly poisonous kinds are the Amanitas. Others may purge and nauseate or cause vomiting, but it is believed that every recorded death from toadstool poisoning was caused by an Amanita, and unfortunately they are not only widespread and abundant, but they are much like the ordinary table mushrooms. They have, however, one or two strong marks: their stalk always grows out of a "poison cup" which shows either as a cup or as a bulb; they have white or yellow gills, a ring around the stalk, and white spores.

Deadly Toadstools

All the deadly toadstools known in North America are pictured on the plate, or of the types shown on the plate.

The Deadly Amanita may be brownish, yellowish, or white.

The Yellow Amanita of a delicate lemon color.

The White Amanita of a pure silvery, shiny white.

The Fly Amanita with cap pink, brown, yellow, or red in the centre, shaded into yellow at the edge, and patched with fragments of pure white veil.

The Frosty Amanita with yellow cap, pale cadmium in centre, elsewhere yellowish white, with white patches on warts.

All are very variable in color, etc.

But all agree in these things. They have gills, which are white or yellow, a ring on the stalk, a cup at the base, white spores, and are deadly poison.

In Case of Poisoning

If by ill chance any one has eaten a poisonous Amanita, the effects do not begin to show till sixteen or eighteen hours afterward—that is, long after the poison has passed through the stomach and began its deadly work on the nerve centres.

Symptoms. Vomiting and purging, "the discharge from the bowels being watery with small flakes suspended, and sometimes containing blood," cramps in the extremities. The pulse is very slow and strong at first, but later weak and rapid, sometimes sweat and saliva pour out. Dizziness, faintness, and blindness, the skin clammy, cold, and bluish or livid; temperature low with dreadful tetanic convulsions, and finally stupor. (McIlvaine and Macadam, p. 627.)

Remedy: "Take an emetic at once, and send for a physician with instructions to bring hypodermic syringe and atropine sulphate. The dose is 1/180 of a grain, and doses should be continued heroically until 1/20 of a grain is administered, or until, in the physician's opinion, a proper quantity has been injected. Where the victim is critically ill the 1/20 of a grain may be administered." (McIlvaine and Macadam XVII.)

Wholesome Toadstools

It is a remarkable fact that all the queer freaks, like clubs and corals, the cranks and tomfools, in droll shapes and satanic colors, the funny poisonous looking Morels, Inkcaps, and Boleti are good wholesome food, but the deadly Amanitas are like ordinary Mushrooms, except that they have grown a little thin, delicate, and anaemic.

All the Puffballs are good before they begin to puff, that is as long as their flesh is white and firm.

All the colored coral toadstools are good, but the White Clavaria is said to be rather sickening.

All of the Morels are safe and delicious.

So also is Inky Coprinus, usually found on manure piles. The Beefsteak Mushroom grows on stumps—chiefly chestnut. It looks like raw meat and bleeds when cut. It is quite good eating.

So far as known no black-spored toadstool is unwholesome.

The common Mushroom is distinguished by its general shape, its pink or brown gills, its white flesh, brown spores, and solid stem.


Snakes are to the animal world what toadstools are to the vegetable world—wonderful things, beautiful things, but fearsome things, because some of them are deadly poison.

Taking Mr. Raymond L. Ditmars[4] as our authority, we learn that out of one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in the United States, seventeen are poisonous. They are found in every State, but are most abundant in the Southwest.

These may be divided into Coral Snakes, Moccasins, and Rattlers.

The coral snakes are found in the Southern States. They are very much like harmless snakes in shape, but are easily distinguished by their remarkable colors, "broad alternating rings of red and black, the latter bordered with very narrow rings of yellow."

The Rattlesnakes are readily told at once by the rattle.

But the Moccasins are not so easy. There are two kinds: the Water Moccasin, or Cotton-mouth, found in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana, and the Copperhead, which is the Highland, or Northern Moccasin or Pilot Snake, found from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Illinois and Texas.

Here are distinguishing marks: The Moccasins, as well as the Rattlers, have on each side of the head, between the eye and nostril, a deep pit.

The pupil of the eye is an upright line, as in a cat; the harmless snakes have a round pupil.

The Moccasins have a single row of plates under the tail, while the harmless snakes have a double row.

The Water Moccasin is dull olive with wide black transverse bands.

The Copperhead is dull hazel brown, marked across the back with dumb-bells of reddish brown; the top of the head more or less coppery.

Both Moccasins and Rattlers have a flat triangular head, which is much wider than the thin neck; while most harmless snakes have a narrow head that shades off into the neck.

Rattlesnakes are found generally distributed over the United States, southern Ontario, southern Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

How Does a Snake Bite

Remember, the tongue is a feeler, not a sting. The "stinging" is done by two long hollow teeth, or fangs, through which the poison is squirted into the wound.

The striking distance of a snake is about one-third the creature's length, and the stroke is so swift that no creature can dodge it.

The snake can strike farthest and surest when it is ready coiled, but can strike a little way when traveling.

You cannot disarm a poisonous snake without killing it. If the fangs are removed others come quickly to take their place. In fact, a number of small, half-grown fangs are always waiting ready to be developed.

In Case of Snake Bite

First, keep cool, and remember that the bite of American snakes is seldom fatal if the proper measures are followed.

You must act at once. Try to keep the poison from getting into the system by a tight bandage on the arm or leg (it is sure to be one or the other) just above the wound. Next, get it out of the wound by slashing the wound two or more ways with a sharp knife or razor at least as deep as the puncture. Squeeze it—wash it out with permanganate of potash dissolved in water to the color of wine. Suck it out with the lips (if you have no wounds in the mouth it will do you no harm there). Work, massage, suck, and wash to get all the poison out. After thorough treatment to remove the venom the ligature may be removed.

"Pack small bits of gauze into the wounds to keep them open and draining, then dress over them with gauze saturated with any good antiseptic solution. Keep the dressing saturated and the wounds open for at least a week, no matter how favorable may be the symptoms."

Some people consider whiskey or brandy a cure for snake bite. There is plenty of evidence that many have been killed by such remedies, and little that they have ever saved any one, except perhaps when the victim was losing courage or becoming sleepy.

In any case, send as fast as you can for a doctor. He should come equipped with hypodermic syringe, tubes of anti-venomous serum and strychnine tablets.

Harmless Snakes

Far the greatest number of our snakes are harmless, beautiful, and beneficient. They are friendly to the farmer, because, although some destroy a few birds, chickens, ducklings, and game, the largest part of their food is mice and insects. The Blacksnake, the Milk Snake, and one or two others, will bite in self-defence, but they have no poison fangs, and the bite is much like the prick of a bramble.


(See Plate of Stars and Principal Constellations)

So far as there is a central point in our heavens, that point is the pole-star, Polaris. Around this star all the stars in the sky seem to turn once in twenty-four hours.

It is easily discovered by the help of the Big Dipper, a part of the Great Bear, known to every country boy and girl in the northern half of the world. This is, perhaps, the most important star group in our sky, because of its size, peculiar form, the fact that it never sets in our latitude, and that of its stars, two, sometimes called the Pointers always point out the Pole Star. It is called the Dipper because it is shaped like a dipper with a long, bent handle.

Why (the whole group) is called the Great Bear is not so easy to explain. The classical legend has it that the nymph, Calisto, having violated her vow, was changed by Diana into a bear, which, after death, was immortalized in the sky by Zeus. Another suggestion is that the earliest astronomers, the Chaldeans, called these stars "the shining ones," and their word happened to be very like the Greek arktos (a bear). Another explanation is that vessels in olden days were named for animals, etc. They bore at the prow the carved effigy of the namesake, and if the Great Bear, for example, made several very happy voyages by setting out when a certain constellation was in the ascendant, that constellation might become known as the Great Bear's constellation. Certainly, there is nothing in its shape to justify the name. Very few of the constellations indeed are like the thing they are called after. Their names were usually given for some fanciful association with the namesake, rather than for resemblance to it.

The pole-star is really the most important of the stars in our sky; it marks the north at all times; all the other stars seem to swing around it once in twenty-four hours. It is the end of the Little Bear's tail; this constellation is sometimes called the Little Dipper. But the Pole-star or Polaris, is not a very bright one, and it would be hard to identify but for the help of the Pointers of the Big Dipper.

The outside stars (Alpha and Beta) of the Dipper point nearly to Polaris, at a distance equal to five times the space that separates these two stars of the Dipper's outer side.

Indian names for the Pole-star are the "Home Star," and "The Star That Never Moves," and the Big Dipper they call the "Broken Back."

The great Bear is also to be remembered as the hour-hand of the woodman's clock. It goes once around the North Star in about twenty-four hours, the same way as the sun, and for the same reason—that it is the earth that is going and leaving them behind.

The time in going around is not exactly twenty-four hours, so that the position of the Pointers varies with the seasons, but, as a rule, this for woodcraft purposes is near enough. The bowl of the Dipper swings four-fifths of the width of its own opening in one hour. If it went a quarter of the circle, that would mean you had slept a quarter of a day, or six hours.

Every fifteen days the stars seem to be an hour earlier: in three months they gain one-fourth of the circle, and in a year gain the whole circle.

According to Flammarion, there are about seven thousand stars visible to the naked eye, and of these twenty are stars of the first magnitude. Fourteen of them are visible in the latitude of New York, the others (those starred) belong to the South Polar region of the sky. The following table of the brightest stars is taken from the Revised Harvard Photometry of 1908, the best authority on the subject.


1. Sirius, the Dog Star. 2. *Canopus, of the Ship. 3. *Alpha, of the Centaur. 4. Vega, of the Lyre. 5. Capella, of the Charioteer. 6. Arcturus, of the Herdsman. 7. Rigel, of Orion. 8. Procyon, the Little Dog-Star. 9. *Achernar, of Eridanus. 10. *Beta, of the Centaur. 11. Altair, of the Eagle. 12. Betelgeuze, of Orion's right shoulder. 13. *Alpha of the Southern Cross. 14. Aldebaran, of the Bull's right eye. 15. Pollux, of the Twins. 16. Spica, of the Virgin. 17. Antares, of the Scorpion. 18. Fomalhaut, of the Southern Fish. 19. Deneb, of the Swan. 20. Regulus, of the Lion.


Orion (O-ri-on), with its striking array of brilliant stars, Betelgeuze, Rigel, the Three Kings, etc., is generally admitted to be the first constellation in the heavens.

Orion was the hunter giant who went to Heaven when he died, and now marches around the great dome, but is seen only in the winter, because during the summer, he passes over during daytime. Thus he is still the hunter's constellation. The three stars of his belt are called the "Three Kings."

Sirius, the Great Dog-Star, is in the head of Orion's Hound, the constellation Canis Major, and following farther back is the Little Dog-Star, Procyon, the chief star of the constellation Canis Minor.

In old charts of the stars, Orion is shown with his hounds, hunting the bull, Taurus. This constellation is recognizable by this diagram; the red star, Aldebaran, being the angry right eye of the Bull. His face is covered with a cluster of little stars called the Hyades, and on his shoulder are the seven stars, called Pleiades.


Pleiades (Ply-a-des) can be seen in winter as a cluster of small stars between Aldebaran and Angol, or, a line drawn from the back bottom, through the front rim of the Big Dipper, about two Dipper lengths, touches this little group. They are not far from Aldebaran, being in the right shoulder of the Bull. They may be considered the seven arrow wounds made by Orion.

Serviss tells us that the Pleiades have a supposed connection with the Great Pyramid, because "about 2170 B.C., when the beginning of spring coincided with the culmination of the Pleiades at midnight, that wonderful group of stars was visible just at midnight, through the mysterious southward-pointing passage of the Pyramid."


On the opposite side of the Polar-star from the Big Dipper and nearly as far from it, is a W of five bright stars. This is called the Cassiopeia's Chair. It is easily found and visible the year round on clear nights.

Thus we have described ten constellations from which the woodcrafter may select the number needed to qualify, namely, the Little Bear, or Little Dipper, the Big Dipper or Big Bear, Cassiopeia's Chair, the Bull, Orion's Hound, Orion's Little Dog, the Pleiades and the Hyades; the Lyre (later).

The Moon

The moon is one-fourth the diameter of the earth, about one-fiftieth of the bulk, and is about a quarter of a million miles away. Its course, while very irregular, is nearly the same as the apparent course of the sun. It is a cold solid body, without any known atmosphere, and shines by reflected sunlight.

The moon goes around the earth in twenty-seven and a quarter days. It loses about fifty-one minutes in twenty-fours hours; therefore it rises that much later each successive night on the average, but there are wide deviations from this average, as for example, the time of the Harvest and Hunter's moons in the fall, when the full moon rises at nearly the same time for several nights in succession.

According to most authorities, the moon is a piece of the earth that broke away some time ago; and it has followed its mother around ever since.

The Stars as Tests of Eyesight

In the sky are several tests of eyesight which have been there for some time and are likely to be. The first is the old test of Mizar and Alcor. Mizar, the Horse, is the star at the bend of the handle of the Dipper. Just above it is a very small star that astronomers call Alcor, or the rider.

The Indians call these two the "Old Squaw and the Papoose on Her Back." In the old world, from very ancient times, these have been used as tests of eyesight. To be able to see Alcor with the naked eye means that one has excellent eyesight. So also on the plains, the old folks would ask the children at night, "Can you see the papoose on the old Squaw's back?" And when the youngster saw it and proved that he did by a right description, they rejoiced that he had the eyesight which is the first requisite of a good hunter.

One of the oldest of all eye tests is the Pleiades. Poor eyes see a mere haze, fairly good see five, good see six, excellent see seven. The rarest eyesight, under the best conditions, see up to ten; and, according to Flammarion, the record with unaided eyes is thirteen.

Vega of the Lyre

If one draw a line from through the back wall of the Dipper, that is, from the back bottom star, through the one next the handle, and continue it upward for twice the total length of the Dipper, it will reach Vega, the brightest star in the northern part of the sky, and believed to have been at one time the Pole-star—and likely to be again. Vega, with the two stars near it, form a small triangle. The one on the side next the North Star is called Epsillon. If you have remarkably good eyes, you will see that it is a double star.

The Nebula in Orion's Sword

Just about the middle of Orion's Sword is a fuzzy light spot. This might do for blood, only it is the wrong color. It is the nebula of Orion. If you can see it with the naked eye, you are to be congratulated.

On the Moon

When the moon is full, there is a large, dark, oval spot on it to the left, as you face it, and close to the east rim, almost halfway up; this is the Plain of Grimaldi; it is about twice the size of the whole State of New Jersey; but it is proof of a pair of excellent eyes if you can see it at all.


First among the trail signs that are used by Woodcrafters, Indians, and white hunters, and most likely to be of use to the traveler, are axe blazes on tree trunks. Among these some may vary greatly with locality, but there is one that I have found everywhere in use with scarcely any variation. That is the simple white spot meaning, "Here is the trail."

The Indian in making it may nick off an infinitesimal speck of bark with his knife, the trapper with his hatchet may make it as big as a dollar, or the settler with his heavy axe may stab off half the tree-side; but the sign is the same in principle and in meaning, on trunk, log, or branch from Atlantic to Pacific and from Hudson Strait to Rio Grande. "This is your trail," it clearly says in the universal language of the woods.

There are two ways of employing it: one when it appears on back and front of the trunk, so that the trail can be run both ways; the other when it appears on but one side of each tree, making a blind trail, which can be run one way only, the blind trail is often used by trappers and prospectors, who do not wish anyone to follow their back track.

But there are treeless regions where the trail must be marked; regions of sage brush and sand, regions of rock, stretches of stone, and level wastes of grass or sedge. Here other methods must be employed.

A well-known Indian device, in the brush, is to break a twig and leave it hanging. (Second line.)

Among stones and rocks the recognized sign is one stone set on top of another (top line) and in places where there is nothing but grass the custom is to twist a tussock into a knot (third line).

These signs are also used in the whole country from Maine to California.

In running a trail one naturally looks straight ahead for the next sign; if the trail turned sharply without notice one might easily be set wrong, but custom has provided against this. The tree blaze for turn "to the right" is shown in No. 2, fourth row; "to the left" in No. 3. The greater length of the turning blaze seems to be due to a desire for emphasis as the same mark set square on, is understood to mean "Look out, there is something of special importance here." Combined with a long side chip means "very important; here turn aside." This is often used to mean "camp is close by," and a third sign that is variously combined always with the general meaning of "warning" or "something of great importance" is a threefold blaze. (No. 4 on fourth line.) The combination (No. 1 on bottom row) would read "Look out now for something of great importance to the right." This blaze I have often seen used by trappers to mark the whereabouts of their trap or cache.

Surveyors often use a similar mark—that is, three simple spots and a stripe to mean, "There is a stake close at hand," while a similar blaze on another tree nearby means that the stake is on a line between.

Stone Signs

These signs done into stone-talk would be as in the top line of the cut.

These are much used in the Rockies where the trail goes over stony places or along stretches of slide rock.

Grass and Twig Signs

In grass or sedge the top of the tuft is made to show the direction to be followed; if it is a point of great importance three tufts are tied, their tops straight if the trail goes straight on; otherwise the tops are turned in the direction toward which the course turns.

The Ojibways and other woodland tribes use twigs for a great many of these signs. (See second row.) The hanging broken twig like the simple blaze means "This is the trail." The twig clean broken off and laid on the ground across the line of march means, "Here break from your straight course and go in the line of the butt end," and when an especial warning is meant, the butt is pointed toward the one following the trail and raised somewhat, in a forked twig. If the butt of the twig were raised and pointing to the left, it would mean "Look out, camp, or ourselves, or the enemy, or the game we have killed is out that way." With some, the elevation of the butt is made to show the distance of the object; if low the object is near, if raised very high the object is a long way off.

These are the principal signs of the trail used by Woodcrafters, Indians, and hunters in most parts of America. These are the standards—the ones sure to be seen by those who camp in the wilderness.

Signal by Shots

The old buffalo hunters had an established signal that is yet used by the mountain guides. It is as follows:

Two shots in rapid succession, an interval of five seconds by the watch, then one shot; this means, "where are you?" The answer given at once and exactly the same means "Here I am; what do you want?" The reply to this may be one shot, which means, "All right; I only wanted to know where you were." But if the reply repeats the first it means, "I am in serious trouble; come as fast as you can."

Totems in Town

A totem is an emblem of a man, a group of men, or an idea. It has no reference to words or letters.

Before men knew how to write they needed marks to indicate ownership. This mark must be simple and legible and was chosen because of something connected with the owner or his family. Later some of the trades adopted a symbol; for instance the barbers in the early days were "blood letters" and were closely associated with the medical profession. Their totem indicate their business and we have the red and white barber pole of today. It was among the Indians along the West coast of America that the science and art of totems reached its highest development, though they have a world-wide usage and go back in history to the earliest times.

Out of this use of totems as owner marks and signs grew the whole science of heraldry and national flags.

Thanks to the fusion of many small armies into one or two big armies, that is, of many tribes into a nation, and also to modern weapons which made it possible to kill a man farther off than you could see the totem on his shield, national flags have replaced the armorial devices, and are the principal totems used today.

But a new possibility has been discovered in modern times. Totems will serve the ends of commerce, and a great revival of their use is now seen.

The totem is visible such a long way off and is understood by all, whether or not they can read or know our language, is copyrightable and advertisable, so that most of the great railway companies, etc., now have totems.

There are not less than one hundred common totems used in our streets today. Among the familiar ones seen are the American eagle, with white head and tail, the Austrian eagle with two heads, the British lion, the Irish harp, the French fleur de lis, etc. Among trades the three balls of the pawnbroker, the golden fleece of the dry-goods man, the mortar and pestle of the druggist, and others are well known. Examples of these and others are given in the illustration but any wideawake Woodcraft Girl will be able to find many others by careful observation.


[4] This article is chiefly a condensation of his pamphlet on "Poisonous Snakes of the United States," and is made with his permission and approval.




Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good-fortune; Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Strong and content, I travel the open road....

* * * * *

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Walt Whitman.

A Girl Scout likes to hike and camp. She learns to know the stars, and becomes acquainted with the plants and animals about her. She gains independence from her ability to help herself, and health and strength from exercise in the sunshine and fresh air.

These are the good things of camping. The bad things are catching cold from damp ground, or insufficient bedding, uncomfortable nights, and weary feet. But a wise Scout does not rough it. She knows how to make herself comfortable by a hundred little dodges. The aim of camping is to make things simpler for the Camper. She must make up her mind whether she is ready for an overnight hike, a week-end trip or a good vacation in the open air, and plan accordingly.

For a walking trip a Girl Scout must travel light and learn to do with a minimum amount of clothing, utensils and food. On the other hand, if she is going to spend the week out, why not be as comfortable as possible? This requires more of an outfit, but it is worth it. To know how to do this one must, of course, have first learned the simple rules of camping in Girl Scout training.


Hikes are a good way to get this training. Extreme heat, or a downpour of rain is the only kind of weather which should interfere with a hike. Soft rains or snowstorms are very pleasant to hike in.

Skirts are dangerous for cross-country travel on account of brambles, rock work and climbing over brooks. Knickerbockers or bloomers should be worn.

In the city when starting off for a hike use squad or double file formation through the streets, railroad stations, ferries, etc. Silence is maintained in this formation.

Hiking Order—In the country, even along unused roads, hike in single file on the left side of the road. The advantage of this formation is that all danger from passing traffic in any direction is averted. It is not necessary to keep step, and talking, laughing, singing, etc., may be indulged in. Permission to break this order is only given when in woods, or fields, where there is no danger.

When returning home use Scout's Pace if weary. This helps to make the distance seem shorter.

Scout's pace is a walking and running device which serves to increase endurance when covering a long distance. It consists in taking a certain number of walking steps followed immediately by the same number of running steps, returning to the walking steps, and so forth. The number of steps may vary, according to the place, nature of the road and object of the walk. Fifty steps walking, fifty steps running and alternating steadily for twelve minutes will take one a mile, and this is one of the measures of distance that is useful to know. For ordinary use on hikes the use of twenty steps running and walking is preferable.


With a little knowledge as to the care of her feet the city girl can make a good showing at her first camp. Prepare feet by brushing vigorously with a dry flesh brush. Strengthen muscles by standing on toes in bare feet, raising body gradually fifty or seventy-five times. Frequent changes of stockings, bathing of tired feet in hot water at night and cold water in the morning, will overcome most of the hiker's troubles. The cold water hardens the skin. Boric acid powder is good for naturally damp feet. Blisters should be cleansed with iodine, then carefully pricked with a sterile needle to let out the water (hold the needle in the flame of a match), then washed with iodine and covered with a few layers of sterile gauze fastened with adhesive plaster.

It is desirable to change the stockings every day. Wash them at night and hang them out to dry and keep them well darned. Two pairs at least are necessary. Never risk your health by putting on stockings even slightly damp with dew. A hole will cause a blister. Woolen stockings are preferable. For very long hikes it helps to wear two or three pairs, and to lather the outside of the stocking with a cake of soap slightly moistened.


Shoes should be the shape of the feet and have low, wide heels. It rests the feet to take the shoes off once or twice during a long tramp. Grease the shoes every few days with mutton fat or other grease. There is no such thing as waterproof leather, but it can be made so by being greased. After being wet, shoes should be well dried and greased, but should not be dried in a hot place, for this would ruin the leather. These may seem trifling details, but remember, "no army is stronger than its feet."

Things to Remember

Keep the feet straight when walking. If a Girl Scout notices the tracks of an Indian, the first hikers in this country, she will find them invariably straight forward. Scientists have agreed that the dancing school habit of turning out toes is one of the causes of flat feet, which disqualified so many men for army service.

Start the walk slowly. Keep the pace of the slowest of the party. "Slow and easy goes far in a day." Practice deep breathing. Inhale for five steps, hold your breath for five counts, and let it out, again counting five.

Take short steps when climbing. Do not run down hill. It causes stiffness, for which a hot bath and another walk the next day are the best cure.

When lunch is carried it should be divided among the troop. Each Scout should carry her knapsack on her back, to leave the hands free. It is a great mistake to start on a hike with one's arms laden.

Do not plan to go too great a distance in the time at your disposal. Remember that aside from the time you need for going and coming you expect to enjoy yourselves cooking and eating, and you need time for both. For an over-night hike, when you carry your equipment select a spot not more than two miles distant.

Good things to carry in one's pocket are a drinking cup, a geological survey map (ten cents), a small pocket compass, a camper's knife, a small soapstone to sharpen it, a match box, and a note-book and pencil.

Plan a definite object for the hike. Note how many kinds of trees, wild flowers or birds one can find.

Practice building fires for cooking, or getting material for a bed such as balsam, etc. Inquire for points of historical interest and make them the goal of the hike. There is hardly a town that has not some place connected with the early history of the nation.

Personal Equipment

Spending the nights under the stars is one of the great fascinations of camping. Each person requires two waterproof ground cloths or ponchos, two pairs of light wool blankets, safety pins, heavy cord, sleeping garments, rain coat, and toilet articles, including such things as soap, toilet paper, sewing kit, electric flashlight, mirror, first aid kit, provision for mosquitoes or flies, five yards of bar netting, and oil of citronella.

In order to ensure protection from the rain spread one waterproof covering or poncho on the ground using half underneath so that the upper half may be folded over the head in case of rain. Put blankets under as well as over you, and a second waterproof covering over the blankets.


When living out of doors, one may make shift for shelter, or even go hungry for a space, but there is no substitute for comfortable clothing that is safe to use if one would keep well. Horace Kephart, the master camper, devotes much space to this subject, and we can do no better than to follow his advice from Camping and Woodcraft.

"* * * One soon learns that the difference between comfort and misery, if not health and illness, may depend on whether he is properly clad. Proper, in this case does not mean modish, but suitable, serviceable, proven by the touchstone of experience to be best for the work or play that is in hand. When you seek a guide in the mountains, he looks first in your eyes and then at your shoes. If both are right, you are right.

"The chief uses of clothing are to help the body maintain its normal temperature and to protect it from sun, frost, wind, rain and injuries. To help, mind you—the body must be allowed to do its share.

"Perspiration is the heat-regulating mechanism of the body. Clothing should hinder its passage from the skin as little as possible. For this reason one's garments should be permeable to air. The body is cooled by rapid evaporation, on the familiar principle of a tropical water bag that is porous enough to let some of the water exude. So the best summer clothing is that which permits free evaporation—and this means all over, from head to heel. In winter it is just the same, there should be free passage for bodily moisture through the underclothes, but extra layers or thickness of outer clothing are needed to hold in the bodily heat and to protect one against wind; even so all the garments should be permeable to air. * * *"

"Underclothing, for any season, should be loosely woven, so as to hold air and take up moisture from the body. The air confined in the interspaces is a non-conductor, and so helps to prevent sudden chilling on the one hand, and over-heating on the other. A loose texture absorbs perspiration but does not hold it—the moisture is free to pass on to and through the outer garments. In town we may indure close woven underwear in summer, if thin enough, because we exercise little and can bathe and change frequently. In the woods we would have to change four times a day to keep * * * as dry.

"Wool versus Cotton—Permeability also depends upon material. Ordinary cotton and linen goods do not permit rapid evaporation. They absorb moisture from the skin, but hold it up to the limit of saturation. Then, when they can hold no more, they are clammy, and the sweat can only escape by running down one's skin.

"After hard exertion in such garments, if you sit down to rest, or meet a sudden keen wind, as in topping a ridge, you are likely to get a chill—and the next thing is a 'bad cold' or lumbago, rheumatism, or something worse.

"Wool, on the contrary is permeable. That is why (if of suitable weight and loose weave) it is both cooler in summer and warmer in winter than cloth made of vegetable fibre. 'One wraps himself in a woolen blanket to keep warm—to keep the heat in. He wraps ice in a blanket to keep it from melting—to keep the heat out.' In other words, wool is the best material to maintain an equable normal temperature."

Camp Site

"The essentials of a good camp site are these:

1. Pure water.

2. Wood that burns well. In cold weather there should be either an abundance of sound down wood, or some standing hard wood trees that are not too big for easy felling.

3. An open spot level enough for the tent and camp fire, but elevated above its surroundings so as to have good natural drainage. It must be well above any chance overflow from the sudden rise of a neighboring stream. Observe the previous flood marks....

7. Exposure to direct sunlight during a part of the day, especially during the early morning hours.

8. In summer, exposure to whatever breezes may blow; in cold weather, protection against the prevailing wind.

9. Privacy.

"Water, wood, and good drainage may be all you need for a 'one-night stand,' but the other points, too, should be considered when selecting a site for a fixed camp.

"Water—Be particularly careful about the purity of your water supply. You come, let us say, to a mountain brook, that issues from thick forest. It ripples over clean rocks, it bubbles with air, it is clear as crystal and cool to your thirsty throat. 'Surely that is good water.' But do you know where it comes from? Every mountain cabin is built close to a spring-branch. Somewhere up that branch there may be a clearing; in that clearing, a house; in that house, a case of dysentery or typhoid fever. I have known several cases of infection from just such a source. It is not true that running water purifies itself.

"When one must use well-water let him note the surrounding drainage. If the well is near a stable or out house, or if dish water is thrown near it, let it alone. A well in sandy soil is more or less filtered by nature, but rocky or clayey earth may conduct disease germs a considerable distance under ground. Never drink from the well of an abandoned farm: there is no telling what may have fallen into it.

"A spring issuing from the living rock is worthy of confidence. Even if it be but a trickle you can scoop out a basin to receive it that soon will clear itself.

"Sometimes a subaqueous spring may be found near the margin of a lake or river by paddling close in shore and trailing your hand in the water. When a cold spot is noted, go ashore and dig a few feet back from the water's edge. I have found such spring exit in the Mississippi some distance from the bank, and by weighting a canteen, tying a string to it and another to the stopper, have brought up cool water from the river bed.

"Disease germs are of animal, not vegetable origin. Still waters are not necessarily unwholesome, even though there is rotten vegetation in them. The water of cedar and cypress swamps is good to drink wherever there is a deep pool of it, unless polluted from some outside source. Lake water is safe if no settlements are on its border; but even so large a body as Lake Champlain has been condemned by state boards of health because of the sewage that runs into it.

"When a stream is in flood it is likely to be contaminated by decayed animal matter.

"Alkaline Water—When traveling in an alkali country carry some vinegar or limes or lemons, or (better) a glass stoppered bottle of hydrochloric acid. One teaspoonful of hydrochloric (muriatic) neutralizes about a gallon of water, and if there should be a little excess it will do no harm but rather assist digestion. In default of acid you may add a little Jamaica ginger and sugar to the water, making a weak ginger tea.

"Muddy Water—I used to clarify Mississippi water by stirring corn meal in it and letting it settle, or by stirring a lump of alum in it until the mud began to precipitate, and then decanting the clear water. Lacking these, one can take a good handful of grass, tie it roughly in the form of a cone six or eight inches high, invert it, pour water slowly into the grass and a runnel of comparatively clear water will trickle down through the small end.

"Stagnant Water—A traveler may be reduced to the extremity of using stagnant or even putrid water; but this should never be done without first boiling it. Some charred wood from the camp fire should be boiled with the water; then skim off the scum, strain, and set in water aside to cool. Boiling sterilizes, and charcoal deodorizes. * * *"

Arriving at Camp

As soon as the camp site is decided upon locate the tent. (This should be done in advance when the party is of any size). Each tent should be about twenty-five feet from the next, on a dry place and easy to drain in case of rain, and so placed as to have the sun in the morning and the shade in the afternoon. Each tent should be trenched and placed some distance from the water supply and from the latrine.


"For fixed camps, situated where there are wagon roads or other adequate means of transportation, the best cloth shelter is a wall tent, rectangular or square, of strong and rather heavy material. * * * The best all-round size of wall tent for two people, if weight and bulk and cost are of any consequence, is the so-called 9 x 9 or a 9 x 12, built with 3-1/2-foot walls, instead of 3-foot, and 8-foot center, instead of 7-1/2-foot. For four persons a 12 x 14 is commonly used; but a 14 x 14 with 4-foot walls and a 9-foot center has double the head-room of the standard 12 x 14, and 2-1/2 feet more space between cots, if these are set lengthwise of the tent, two on a side.

"Before selecting a tent, consider the number of people to occupy it and their dunnage, and the furniture. Then draw diagrams of floor and elevation of various sizes, putting in the cots, etc., according to scale; so you can get just what you want, no more, no less.

Camp Sanitation

"Nothing is cleaner, sweeter, wholesomer, than a wildwood unspoiled by man, and few spots are more disgusting than a "piggy" camp, with slops thrown everywhere, empty cans and broken bottles littering the ground, and organic refuse left festering in the sun, breeding disease germs, to be spread abroad by the swarms of flies. I have seen one of nature's gardens, an ideal health resort, changed in a few months by a logging crew into an abomination and a pest hole where typhoid and dysentery wrought deadly vengeance.

"Destroy at once all refuse that would attract flies. Or bury it where they cannot get at it.

"Fire is the absolute disinfectant. Burn all solid kitchen refuse as fast as it accumulates. When a can of food is emptied toss it on the fire and burn it out, then drop it in a sink hole that you have dug for slops and unburnable trash, and cover it with earth or ashes so no mosquitoes can breed in it after a rainfall.

"The sink should be on the down hill side of camp, and where it cannot pollute the water supply. Sprinkle kerosene on it or burn it out frequently with a brush fire. * * *"

The Latrine

One of the first tasks of the camper is to dig a trench for a latrine and build a screen around it. The latrine should be on a lower level than the camp, away from the water supply and in the opposite direction from which the prevailing winds come toward the camp, two hundred feet from sleeping and mess tents. Bushes or a tent fly may be used as a screen and shelter. A small lean-to serves admirably. Dig trenches four feet long, one foot wide and two feet deep. Allow six inches (length) per day for a Scout. Cover after using with fresh dirt. It is imperative to fill and re-sod all trenches dug. Whether you camp only for lunch or for the summer leave no trace that you have been there. Remember the animals how they scratch the soil and cover up any waste that they leave, and be at least as clean as they.

Lime does not keep the flies away. Plenty of fresh dirt is better.

Team Work

Only as each and every member does her part will the camp be a complete success. The daily tasks should be assigned to individuals or groups, as in:

The Pine Tree Patrol System

The chief advantage of this system is that whenever the need for work of any description arises, there is always someone whose duty is to perform that particular task, thus avoiding the inevitable question of "Who will do it?" The Pine Tree Patrol system does not in the least interfere with regular schedule of Scout activities; on the contrary, it saves time since more than one hand on each spoke of the wheel keeps it in continual motion. When the system seems too complicated for a small camp, the captain can simplify it to suit the circumstances.

Each girl in the Patrol is assigned a number which requires of her:

1. Certain well defined duties to perform for her Patrol.

2. Certain specific knowledge expected of her in the exercise of her "specialty."

3. Proper care of her special "station gear."

4. Willingness to teach her understudy all she knows.

5. Willingness to learn the duties of the next higher numbers.

The front rank (Reds) is in touch with and under the Senior (Patrol Leader); the rear rank (Blues) is in touch with and under the Junior. The Senior receives her orders from the Captain and transmits them not only to 3, 5 and 7, but to Junior as well. The Senior and ranking Patrol officer keeps an eye on the Junior and her rear rank. The Captain, of course, is the general overseer, but the Senior has charge of all routine troop duties, superintends camp details and is virtually a first Lieutenant to the Captain. The Junior is a second Lieutenant and assists the Senior in the supervision of the camp.

The Senior (No. 1) looks after the flags, tentage, blankets, equipment and personal baggage, while the Junior (No. 2) has charge of food, fires, water, cooking, and kitchen work. They appease the demands of the outer and inner man.

The Scribe (No. 3)—She is secretary, bookkeeper, log writer, recorder, correspondent, tent pitcher and First-Aid Scout.

The Baker (No. 4) is the Junior's first aid. She is charged with the care and use of cereal foodstuffs all the way from corn on the cob to flap-jacks and "sinkers," and the cooking outfit and kitchen fire.

The Lighter (No. 5) has care of the lamps, lanterns, candles, matches, oils and all "leaky" stuff. She understands telegraphy and electricity and is chief signal Scout and assistant tent pitcher. She must keep the camp well illuminated.

The Water Scout (No. 6) locates water for all purposes and carries it to camp. She acts as Fire Chief and Fire Watchman. She provides and cooks meat, vegetables and "greens."

The Handy Scout (No. 7) is field engineer, carpenter, bridge builder, the general maker, mender, patcher, splicer and tinker; cares for tools and trek-cart, mends the tents and clothing, and makes the furniture.

The Wood Scout (Patrol Mascot) (No. 8) is usually the youngest girl. She keeps fires well fed, the rations dry and the garbage burned. She carries a spade, pick axe and cutting axe.

This system may be used in either a small or large camp; if the latter, corresponding numbers of each Patrol work together.


6:30 A. M. Junior, Baker, Water Scout and Wood Scout report half an hour before Mess.

8:00 A. M. Tent Inspection.

8:30 A. M. Senior, Scribe, Lighter and Handy Scout report.

8:30-9:30 A. M. Main work for day accomplished by both Senior and Junior groups.

Caution in Use of Knife and Axe

The Knife

1. Always whittle away from you.

2. Keep your fingers behind the blade.

3. Keep saying to yourself: "If this knife slips, can it cut my fingers?"

4. Learn how to sharpen your knife and keep it sharp.

The Chopping Block

"A chopping block is the first thing needed about a camp. The axe, when not in use, should always be stuck in that particular block, where one can find it when wanted, and where it will not injure men or dogs."

The Axe

"Do not let the axe lie outdoors on a very cold night; the frost would make it brittle, so that the steel might shiver on the first knot you struck the next morning...."

The axe is a most dangerous tool, and a glancing blow may cripple one for life.

1. Do not put your foot on a stick you are chopping.

2. Always have in mind where a glancing blow may throw the axe, and keep your foot away from that danger.

3. In splitting short sticks for kindling hold them by one end flat on the chopping block and strike the blade into the other end.

4. Do not hold the stick on end in one hand while splitting it.

5. Cut or split small wood on a chopping block or log. Never let the axe strike into the ground, as a hidden stone may ruin the edge.

The Camp Fire

"The forest floor is always littered with old leaves, dead sticks and fallen trees. During a drought this rubbish is so tinder-dry that a spark falling in it may start a conflagration; but through a great part of the year the leaves and sticks that lie flat on the ground are too moist at least on their under side, to ignite readily. If we rake together a pile of leaves, cover it higgledy-piggledy with dead twigs and branches picked up at random, and set a match to it, the odds are that it will result in nothing but a quick blaze that soon dies down to a smudge. Yet that is the way most of us tried to make our first outdoor fires.

"One glance at a camper's fire tells what kind of a woodsman he is. It is quite impossible to prepare a good meal over a heap of smoking chunks, a fierce blaze, or a great bed of coals that will warp iron and melt everything else.

"If one would have good meals cooked out of doors, and would save much time and vexation; in other words, if he wants to be comfortable in the woods, he must learn how to produce at will either (1) a quick, hot little fire that will boil water in a jiffy, and will soon burn down to embers that are not too ardent for frying; or (2) a solid bed of long-lived coals that will keep up a steady, glowing, smokeless heat for baking, roasting or slow boiling; or (3) a big log fire that will throw its heat forward on the ground, and into a tent or lean-to, and will last several hours without replenishing.

"Luncheon Fire—For a noonday lunch, or any other quick meal, when you have only to boil coffee and fry something, a large fire is not wanted. Drive a forked stake into the ground, lay a green stick across it, slanting upward from the ground, and weight the lower end with a rock, so that you could easily regulate the height of a pot. The slanting stick should be notched, or have the stub of a twig left at its upper end, to hold the pot in place, and to be set at such an angle that the pot swings about a foot clear of the ground.

"Then gather a small armful of sound, dry twigs from the size of a lead pencil to that of your finger. Take no twig that lies flat on the ground, for such are generally damp or rotten. Choose hard wood, if there is any, for it lasts well.

"Select three of your best sticks for kindling. Shave each of them almost through, for half its length, leaving lower end of shavings attached to the stick, one under the other. Stand these in a tripod, under the hanging pot, with their curls down. Around them build a small conical wigwam of the other sticks, standing each on end and slanting to a common center. The whole affair is no bigger than your hat. Leave free air spaces between the sticks. Fire requires air, and plenty of it, and it burns best when it has something to climb up on; hence the wigwam construction. Now touch off the shaved sticks, and in a moment you will have a small blast furnace under the pot. This will get up steam in a hurry. Feed it with small sticks as needed.

"Meantime get two bed-sticks, four or five inches thick, or a pair of flat rocks, to support the frying pan. The firewood will all drop to embers soon after the pot boils. Toss out the smoking butts, leaving only clear, glowing coals. Put your bed-sticks on either side, parallel and level. Set the pan on them, and fry away. So, in twenty minutes from the time you drove your stake, the meal will be cooked.

"Dinner Fire—First get in plenty of wood and kindling. If you can find two large flat rocks, or several small ones of even height use them as andirons; otherwise lay down two short cuts off a five or six inch log, facing you and about three feet apart. On these rocks or billets lay two four foot logs parallel, and several inches apart, as rests for your utensils. Arrange the kindling between and under them, with small sticks laid across the top of the logs, a couple of long ones lengthwise, then more short ones across, another pair lengthwise, and thicker short ones across. Then light it. Many prefer to light the kindling at once and feed the fire gradually; but I do as above, so as to have an even glow under several pots at once, and then the sticks will all burn down to coals together.

"This is the usual way to build a cooking fire when there is no time to do better. The objection is that the supporting logs must be close enough together to hold up the pots and pans, and, being round, this leaves too little space between them for the fire to heat the balance evenly; besides, a pot is liable to slip and topple over. A better way, if one has time, is to hew both the inside surfaces and the tops of the logs flat. Space these supports close enough together at one end for the narrowest pot and wide enough apart at the other for the frying pan.

"If you carry fire-irons much bother is saved. Simply lay down two flat rocks or a pair of billets far enough apart for the purpose, place the flat irons on them, and space them to suit the utensils.

"If a camp grate is used, build a crisscross fire of short sticks under it.

"Split wood is better than round sticks for cooking; it catches easier and burns more easily.

"Camp Crane—Pots for hot water, stews, coffee, and so on, are more manageable when hung above the fire. The heat can easily be regulated, the pots hanging low at first to boil quickly, and then being elevated or shifted aside to simmer.

"Set up two forked stakes about five feet apart and four feet to the crotches. Across them lay a green stick (lug-pole) somewhat thicker than a broomstick. Now cut three or four green crotches from branches, drive a nail in the small end of each, or cut a notch in it, invert the crotches, and hang them on the lug-pole to suspend kettles from. These pothooks are to be of different length so that the kettle can be adjusted to different heights above the fire, first for hard boiling, and then for simmering. If kettles were hung from the lug-pole itself, this adjustment could not be made, and you would have to dismount the whole business in order to get one kettle off.

"If forked stakes are not easily found in the neighborhood, drive straight ones, then split the tops, flatten the ends of the cross poles and insert them in the clefts of the stakes.

"You do not want a big fire to cook over. Many and many a time I have watched old and experienced woodsmen spoil their grub, and their tempers, too, by trying to cook in front of a roaring winter campfire, and have marveled at their lack of common sense. Off to one side of such a fire, lay your bed log as above; then shovel from the campfire enough hard coal to fill the space between the logs within three inches of the top. You now have a steady, even heat from end to end; it can easily be regulated; there is level support for every vessel; and you can wield a short-handled frying pan over such an outdoor range without scorching either the meat or yourself.

"Fire for Baking—For baking in a reflector, or roasting a joint, a high fire is best, with a backing to throw the heat forward. Sticks three feet long can be leaned against a big log or a sheer-faced rock, and the kindlings started under them.

"Often a good bed of coals is wanted. The campfire generally supplies these, but sometimes they are needed in a hurry, soon after camp is pitched. To get them, take sound hardwood, either green or dead, and split it into sticks of uniform thickness (say, 1-1/4-inch face). Lay down two bed-sticks, cross these near the end with two others, and so on up until you have a pen a foot high. Start a fire in this pen. Then cover it with a layer of parallel sticks laid an inch apart. Cross this with a similar layer at right angles, and so upward for another foot. The free draught will make a roaring fire, and all will burn down to coals together.

"The thick bark of hemlock, and the hard woods generally, will soon yield coals for ordinary cooking.

"To keep coals a long time, cover them with ashes, or with bark which will soon burn to ashes. In wet weather a bed of coals can be shielded by slanting broad strips of green bark over it and overlapping them at the edges.

"Fire in a Trench—In time of drought when everything is tinder-dry, or in windy weather, especially if the ground be strewn with dead leaves or pine needles, build your fire in a trench. This is the best way, too, if fuel is scarce and you must depend on brushwood, as a trench conserves heat.

"Dig the trench in line with the prevailing wind. The point is to get a good draught. Make the windward end somewhat wider than the rest, and deeper, sloping the trench upward to the far end. Line the sides with flat rocks if they are to be found, as they hold heat a long time and keep the sides from crumbling in. Lay other rocks, or a pair of green poles along the edges to support vessels. A little chimney of flat stones or sod, at the leeward end, will make the fire draw well. If there is some sheet-iron to cover the trench a quite practical stove is made, but an open trench will do very well if properly managed.

"The Indian's Fire—Best where fuel is scarce, or when one has only a small hatchet with which to cut night wood. Fell and trim a lot of hardwood saplings. Lay three or four of them on the ground, butts on top of each other, tips radiating from this center like the spokes of a wheel. On and around this build a small hot fire. Place butts of other saplings on this, radiating like the others. As the wood burns away, shove the sticks in toward the center, butts on top of each other as before. This saves much chopping, and economizes fuel. Build a little wind break behind you and lie close to the fire. Doubtless you have heard the Indian's dictum (southern Indians express it just as the northern ones do): 'White man heap fool; make um big fire—can't git near; Injun make um little fire—git close. Uh, good.'


"The best kindling is fat pine or the bark of the paper birch. Fat pine is found in the stumps and butt cuts of pine trees, particularly those that died on the stump. The resin has collected there and dried. This wood is usually easy to split. Pine knots are the tough, heavy resinous stubs of limbs that are found on dead pine trees. They, as well as fat pine, are almost imperishable, and those sticking out of old rotten logs are as good as any. In collecting pine knots go to fallen trees that are almost rotted away. Hit the knot a lick with the pole of the axe and generally it will yield; if you must chop, cut deep to get it all and to save the axe edge. The knots of old dead balsams are similarly used. Usually a dead stump of pine, spruce, or balsam, all punky on the outside, has a core very rich in resin that makes excellent kindling.

"Hemlock knots are worthless and hard as glass—keep your axe out of them.

"The thick bark of hemlock is good to make glowing coals in a hurry; so is that of hard woods generally. Good kindling sure to be dry underneath the bark in all weather, is procured by snapping off the small dead branches, or stubs of branches, that are left on the trunks of small or medium-sized trees, near the ground. Do not pick up twigs from the ground, but choose those among the downwood that are held up free from the ground. Where a tree is found that has been shivered by lightning, or one that has broken off without uprooting, good splinters of dry wood will be found. In every laurel thicket there is plenty of dead laurel, and, since it is of sprangling growth, most of the branches will be free from the ground and snap-dry. They ignite readily and give out intense heat.

"The bark of all species of birch, but of paper birch especially, is excellent for kindling and for torches. It is full of resinous oil, blazes up at once, will burn in any wind, and wet sticks can be ignited with it.

"Making Fire in the Wet—It is a good test of one's resourcefulness to make a fire out of doors in rainy weather. The best way to go about it depends upon local conditions. If fat pine can be found, the trick is easy; just split it up, and start your fire under a big fallen log. Dry fuel and a place to build a fire can often be found under big up-tilted logs, shelving rocks, and similar natural shelters, or in the core of an old stump. In default of these, look for a dead softwood tree that leans to the south. The wood and bark on the under side will be dry; chop some off, split it fine, and build your fire under the shelter of the trunk.

"Lighting a Match—When there is nothing dry to strike it on, jerk the tip of the match forward against your teeth.

"To light a match in the wind, face the wind. Cup your hands, with their backs toward the wind, and hold the match with its head pointing toward the rear of the cup; i. e., toward the wind. Remove the right hand just long enough to strike the match on something very close by; then instantly resume the former position. The flame will run up the match stick, instead of being blown away from it, and so will have something to feed on.

"Fire Regulations—On state lands and on national forest reserves it is forbidden to use any but fallen timber for firewood. Different states have various other restrictions, some, I believe, not permitting trampers to light a fire in the woods at all unless accompanied by a registered guide.

"In New York the regulations prescribe that fires will be permitted for the purposes of cooking, warmth and insect smudges; but before such fires are kindled sufficient space around the spot where the fire is to be lighted must be cleared from all combustible material; and before the place is abandoned fires so lighted must be thoroughly quenched.

"In Pennsylvania forest reserves no fire may be made except in a hole or pit one foot deep, the pit being encircled by the excavated earth. In those of California, no fire at all may be lighted without first procuring a permit from the authorities.

"Fire regulations are posted on all public lands, and if campers disregard them they are subject to arrest.

"These are wise and good laws. Every camper who loves the forest, and who has any regard for public interest, will do his part in obeying them to the letter. However, if he occupies private property where he may use his own judgment, or if he travels in the wilderness far from civilization, where there are no regulations, it will be useful for him to know something about the fuel value of all kinds of wood, green as well as dead, and for such people the following information is given:

"The arts of fire building are not so simple as they look. To practice them successfully in all sorts of wild regions we must know the different species of trees one from another, and their relative fuel values, which as we shall see, vary a great deal. We must know how well, or ill, each of them burns in a green state, as well as when seasoned. It is important to discriminate between wood that makes lasting coals and such as soon dies down to ashes. Some kinds of wood pop violently when burning and cast out embers that may burn holes in tents and bedding or set the neighborhood afire; others burn quietly, with clear, steady flame. Some are stubborn to split, others almost fall apart under the axe. In wet weather it takes a practiced woodsman to find tinder and dry wood, and to select a natural shelter where fire can be kept going during a storm or rain or snow, when a fire is most needed.

"There are several handy little manuals by which one who has no botanical knowledge can soon learn how to identify the different species of trees by merely examining their leaves, or, late in the season, by their bark, buds and habit of growth.

"But no book gives the other information that I have referred to; so I shall offer, in the present chapter, a little rudimentary instruction in this important branch of woodcraft.

"It is convenient for our purpose to divide the trees into two great groups, hard woods and soft woods, using these terms not so loosely as lumbermen do, but drawing the line between sycamore, yellow birch, yellow pine, and slippery elm, on the one side, and red cedar, sassafras, pitch pine and white birch, on the other.

"As a general rule, hard woods make good, slow-burning fuel that yields lasting coals, and soft woods make a quick, hot fire that is soon spent. But each species has peculiarities that deserve close attention.

"Best Fuel—Best of all northern fire woods is hickory, green or dry. It makes a hot fire, but lasts a long time, burning down to a bed of hard coals that keep up an even, generous heat for hours. Hickory, by the way, is distinctly an American tree; no other region on earth produces it. The live oak of the south is most excellent fuel; so is holly. Following the hickory, in fuel value, are chestnut, oak, overcup, white, blackjack, post and basket oaks, pecan, the hornbeams (ironwoods), and dogwood. The latter burns finely to a beautiful white ash that is characteristic; apple wood does the same. Black birch also ranks here; it has the advantage of 'doing its own blowing,' as a Carolina mountaineer said to me, meaning that the oil in the birch assists its combustion so that the wood needs no coaxing. All of the birches are good fuel, ranking in about this order: Black, yellow, red, paper, and white. Sugar maple was the favorite fuel of our old-time hunters and surveyors because it ignites easily, burns with a clear, steady flame, and leaves good coals.

"Locust is a good, lasting fuel; it is easy to cut, and, when green, splits fairly well; the thick bark takes fire readily and the wood then burns slowly, with little flame, leaving pretty good coals; hence it is good for night wood. Mulberry has similar qualities. The scarlet and willow oaks are among the poorest of the hard woods for fuel. Cherry makes only fair fuel. White elm is poor stuff, but slippery elm is better. Yellow pine burns well, as its sap is resinous instead of watery like that of the soft pines.

"In some respects white ash is the best of green woods for campers fuel. It is easily cut and split, is lighter to tote than most other woods, and is of so dry a nature that even the green wood catches fire readily. It burns with clear flame, and lasts longer than any other free-burning wood of its weight. On a wager, I have built a bully fire from a green tree of white ash, one match, and no dry kindling. I split some of the wood very fine and 'frilled' a few of the little sticks with my knife.

"Soft Woods—Most of the soft woods are good only for kindling, or for quick cooking fires, and then only when seasoned. For these purposes, however, some of them are superior, as they split and shave readily and catch fire easily.

"Liquidambar, magnolia, tulip, catalpa, and willow are poor fuel. Seasoned chestnut and yellow poplar make a hot fire, but crackle and leave no coals. Balsam fir, basswood, and the white and loblolly pines make quick fires, but are soon spent. The grey (Labrador) or jack pine is considered good fuel in the far north, where hard woods are scarce. Seasoned tamarack is good. Spruce is poor fuel, although, being resinous, it kindles easily and makes a good blaze for 'branding up' a fire. Pitch pine, which is the most inflammable of all woods when dry and 'fat,' will scarcely burn at all in a green state. Sycamore and buckeye, when thoroughly seasoned, are good fuel, but will not split. Alder burns readily and gives out considerable heat, but is not lasting.

"The dry wood of the northern poplar (large-toothed aspen) is a favorite for cooking fires, because it gives an intense heat, with little or no smoke, lasts well, and does not blacken the utensils. Red cedar has similar qualities, but is rather hard to ignite and must be fed fine at the start.

"The best green soft woods for fuel are white birch, paper birch, soft maple, cottonwood, and quaking aspen.

"As a rule, the timber growing along the margins of large streams is softwood. Hence, driftwood is generally a poor mainstay unless there is plenty of it on the spot; but driftwood on the sea coast is good fuel.

"Precautions—I have already mentioned the necessity of clearing the camp ground of inflammable stuff before starting a fire on it, raking it toward a common center and burning all the dead leaves, pine needles and trash; otherwise it may catch and spread beyond your control as soon as your back is turned. Don't build your fire against a big old punky log; it may smoulder a day or two after you have left and then burst out into flame when the breeze fans it.

"Never leave a spark of fire when breaking camp, or when leaving it for the day. Make absolutely sure of this by drenching the campfire thoroughly, or by smothering it completely with earth or sand. Never drop a lighted match on the ground without stamping it out. Have you ever seen a forest fire? It is terrible. Thousands of acres are destroyed and many a time men and women and children have been cut off by a tornado of flame and burned alive. The person whose carelessness starts such a holocaust is worse than a fool—he is a criminal, and a disgrace to the good earth he treads."

Cooking Devices

When it is convenient carry a hatchet. Scouts should carry a small folding grate. The best form of grate is one with folding legs.

After laying the fire the legs of the grate are driven into the ground. As the fire burns down, the grate may be lowered by driving the legs in deeper. This is a very useful utensil for supporting hot water pails or frying pan.

When no forks can be found use the "Pine Tree Horse," as shown in cut.

In order to boil water hard it will only be necessary to slip the kettle down the pole, holding it in place by graduated notches.

Equipment and supplies for one meal may be carried in one or two haversacks like the one shown. Indeed, a meal may be cooked without any equipment whatever other than a knife which every Scout should be provided with.

Improvised Grate—A few sticks 1/2 inch in diameter laid about 2 inches apart and about 2 inches above the coals form a good enough broiler. Steak and chops cook perfectly well if laid right on the coals.

Cooking kits allow for more variety, as they provide a frying pan, in which bacon and potatoes can be cooked, and a small pail for boiling water. It is convenient for each Scout to carry her own cup, knife, fork and spoon. The cooking kit and supplies can then be divided among the party.

At a permanent camp a frying board is a great convenience. It is simply a flat, smooth board with a pointed end which can be driven into the ground. Fish, meat, game and "Injun" bread can be cooked on this board better than in any other way, as the food receives the heat without becoming charred, and is much more wholesome than when fried in a pan. As long as the board is to windward of the flame, a constant heat is maintained without smoke. A small fire will cook a very large fish in a short time. An old canoe paddle may be used for this purpose. The food is hung on nails driven in the board, a strip of bacon, hung above the fish and dripping on it would improve the flavor.

It is a good plan to use a separate frying board when cooking fish, as the juice from the fish seeps into the board and it is practically impossible to remove it by cleaning. The flavor of fish is not pleasant on other food. If it is not practicable to carry two frying boards one can be careful to reserve the same side of one board for cooking fish.

A long cooking spoon for dishing vegetables out of the pots is very useful. A roll of paper towels for drying dishes and for use as napkins, or cloth dish towels and paper napkins are also useful. Other useful articles are a dish mop with a wooden handle, and a pancake turner.

The Folding Baker—The baker may be placed before the blazing fire. It is a perfect arrangement for baking biscuits and roasting meats.

Friction Top Cans—It is well to have these varying in capacity from one to three quarts. Use one quart size for washing soda, powdered soap, and sugar. The larger sizes should carry flour, cornmeal, etc. Eggs may be placed in the one used for the cornmeal.

Where convenient to provide a large equipment the following utensils are suggested:

Camp grate, 3 wire toasters (one for meat, one for fish, one for bread), 2 frying boards (one for meat, one for fish), 6-quart pail for reserve water, 9-quart pail for boiling vegetables, agate or paper plates, agate or paper cups, knives, forks, spoons, kit knife, paper towels, dish mops, powdered soap, cotton gloves for handling hot or smoky pots, candles, matches (in waterproof packages), non-rusting wire 1/8 inch thick for hanging pots, etc.

A large permanent camp may add greatly to the pleasure of its members, and make a delightful break in the day, by sending off troops of, say, eight girls to cook a camp lunch at a place about a mile distant. For this purpose, when a group plans to do a great deal of camping the above equipment is suggested. It could all be packed in the pack basket, and the girls could take turns carrying it.

Such a basket without a canvas cover costs about $8 and is extremely useful in permanent camp equipment.

Utensils Required for a Party of Eight and their Uses

If the group of girls plans for a camping trip of several days and transport is available, all the following utensils will be found useful. These may be purchased in any sporting goods store.

Three Wire Toasters—One for meat, one for fish, one for toast.

In cooking meat or fish, and in making toast before a blazing fire, stand the wire toaster upright before the fire and prop it up with a stick.

A board may be used in the same manner. It is often desirable to do this in order to avoid the delay of waiting for the fire to burn down.

Cooking Pots—Size 5 quarts, for boiling vegetables; size 6-1/2 quarts, for boiling vegetables; size 9 quarts, for hot water; size 15 quarts, for reserve cold water.

Each of these pots nests in the next larger size, making one package. A cocoa pot of this type nests into the 5-quart pail.

Two Frying Pans—The handles fold in and the pans pack in a case with the nest of cooking pots. In addition to their usual uses, the frying pans are also used as dish-washing pans, one for the washing and one for the rinsing.

A heaped teaspoon of washing soda dissolved in hot water will so perfectly clean the frying pans as to permit their use as dish-pans.

Eight agate plates, or aluminum if possible; eight agate cups, or aluminum if possible; eight knives, forks and spoons; one large, long-handled cooking spoon.

The complete cooking outfit may be nested together and packed in a canvas bag and takes up about as much space as a water pail.


"When a party camps where fresh meat and farm products can be procured as they are wanted, its provisioning is chiefly a matter of taste, and calls for no special comment here. But to have good meals in the wilderness is a different matter. A man will eat five or six pounds a day of fresh food. That is a heavy load on the trail. And fresh meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables are generally too bulky, too perishable. So it is up to the woodsman to learn how to get the most nourishment out of the least weight and bulk in materials that 'keep' well.

"Light outfitting, as regards food, is mainly a question of how much water we are willing to carry in our rations. For instance, canned peaches are 88 per cent. water. Can one afford to carry so much water from home when there is plenty of it at camp?

"The following table is suggestive:

More than 3/4 water

Fresh milk, fruit, vegetables (except potatoes). Canned soups, tomatoes, peaches, pears, etc.

More than 1/2 water

Fresh beef, veal, mutton, poultry, eggs, potatoes. Canned corn, baked beans, pineapple. Evaporated milk (unsweetened).

More than 1/3 water

Fresh bread, rolls, pork chops. Potted chicken, etc. Cheese. Canned blackberries.

Less than 1/3 water

Dried apples, apricots, peaches, prunes. Fruit jelly.

Less than 1/5 water

Salt pork, bacon, dried fish, butter. Dessicated eggs, concentrated soups. Powdered milk. Wheat flour, cornmeal, etc., macaroni. Rice, oatmeal, hominy, etc. Dried beans, split peas. Dehydrated vegetables. Dried dates, figs, raisins. Orange marmalade, sugar, chocolate. Nuts, nut butter.

"Although this table is good in its way, it is not a fair measure of the relative value of foods. Even the solid part of some foodstuffs contains a good deal of refuse (potatoes 20 per cent), while others have none.

"Nutritive Values—The nutritive elements of foodstuffs are protein, a little mineral matter, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein is the basis of muscles, bone, tendon, cartilage, skin and corpuscles of the blood. Fats and carbohydrates supply heat and muscular energy. In other words, the human body is an engine; protein keeps it in repair; fats and carbohydrates are the fuel to run it.

"Familiar examples of proteids are lean meat and white of egg. The chief food fats are fat meat, butter, lard, oil and cream. Carbohydrates are starchy foods (flour, cereals, etc.) and sugar (sweets of almost any kind).

"The problem of a well-balanced ration consists in supplying daily the right proportion of nutritive elements in agreeable and digestible form. The problem of a campaign ration is the same, but cutting out most of the water and waste in which fresh foods abound. However, in getting rid of the water in fresh meats, fruits and vegetables we lose, unfortunately, much of the volatile essences that give these foods their good flavor. This loss—and it is a serious one—must be made up by the camp cook, changing the menu as often as he can by varying the ingredients and the processes of cooking.

"Variety is quite as welcome at the camp board as anywhere else, in fact, more so; for it is harder to get. Variety need not mean adding to the load. It means substituting, say, three 5-pound parcels for one 15-pound parcel, so as to have something 'different' from day to day.

"Digestibility—We must bear in mind the adage that 'we live not upon what we eat but upon what we digest.' Some foods rich in protein, especially beans, peas, and oatmeal, are not easily assimilated, unless cooked for a longer time than campers generally can spare. A considerable part of their protein is liable to putrefy in the alimentary canal, and so be worse than wasted. An excess of meat or fish will do the same thing. Other foods of very high theoretical value are constipating if used in large amounts, as cheese, nuts, chocolate.

"Food Components—Let us now consider the material of field rations, item by item.

"Bacon—Good old breakfast bacon worthily heads the list, for it is the campaigner's standby. It keeps well in any climate, and demands no special care in packing. It is easy to cook, combines well with almost anything, is handier than lard to fry things with, does just as well to shorten bread or biscuits, is very nutritious, and nearly everybody likes it. Take it with you from home, for you can seldom buy it away from railroad towns. Get the boneless, in 5 to 8 pound flitches. Let canned bacon alone; it lacks flavor and costs more than it is worth. A little mould on the outside of a flitch does no harm, but reject bacon that is soft and watery, or with yellow fat, or with brownish or black spots in the lean.

"Smoked Ham—Small ones generally are tough and too salty. Hard to keep in warm or damp weather; moulds easily. Is attractive to blow-flies, which quickly fill it with 'skippers' if they can get at it. If kept in a cheesecloth bag and hung in a cool, airy place a ham will last until eaten up and will be relished. Ham will keep, even in warm weather, if packed in a stout paper bag so as to exclude flies. It will keep indefinitely if sliced, boiled or fried and put up in tins with melted lard poured over it to keep out air. * * *

"Canned Soups—These are wholesome enough, but their fluid kinds are very bulky for their meager nutritive value. However, a few cans of consomme are fine for 'stock' in camp soups or stews, and invaluable in case of sickness. Here, as in canned meat, avoid the country grocery kind.

"Condensed Soups—Soup powders are a great help in time of trouble—but don't rely on them for a full meal. There are some that are complete in themselves and require nothing but 15 to 20 minutes' cooking; others take longer, and demand (in small type on the label) the addition of ingredients that generally you haven't got. Try various brands at home till you find what you like.

"Cured Fish—Shredded codfish and smoked halibut, sprats, boneless herring are portable and keep well. They will be relished for variety's sake.

"Eggs—To vary the camp bill of fare, eggs are simply invaluable, not only by themselves, but as ingredients in cooking. * * *

"When means of transportation permit, fresh eggs may be carried to advantage. A hand crate holding 12 dozen weighs about 24 pounds, filled.

"Eggs can be packed along in winter without danger of breakage by carrying them frozen. Do not try to boil a frozen egg; peel it as you would a hard-boiled one and then fry or poach.

"To test an egg for freshness, drop it into cold water; if it sinks quickly it is fresh; if it stands on end it is doubtful; if it floats it is surely bad.

"To preserve eggs, rub them all over with vaseline, being careful that no particle of shell is uncoated. They will keep good much longer than if treated with lime water, salt, paraffine, water-glass or any of the other common expedients.

"On hard trips it is impracticable to carry eggs in the shell. Some campers break fresh eggs and pack them in friction-top cans. The yolks soon break and they keep but a short time. A good brand of desiccated eggs is the solution of this problem. It does away with all risk of breaking and spoiling and reduces bulk very much. Desiccated eggs vary a great deal in quality, according to material and process employed. Desiccated eggs made of the yolks are merely useful as ingredients in cooking.

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