Young Knights of the Empire

by Sir Robert Baden-Powell


Having made your tent or hut, you will find it a good comfort in a standing camp to have a table.

This you can well make in winter evenings before the camping season, and while you are at it making one for yourself; you may just as well make two or three more to sell to other people, and so add money to your camping fund.

The table should be separate from its legs, so that it can be packed easily in the cart.

If stakes can be got at camp, you would drive four of these into the ground with a "maul" (big mallet), making them exactly the same height, and lay your table top on these.

To make your table top, bits of board or old packing cases can be planed smooth, and trimmed, and screwed together by cross-battens underneath to form a tabletop of the size required; 34 in. by 40 in. is a useful and portable size.

[Illustration: TABLE WHEN FINISHED.]

A pair of folding trestle legs can then be made for the table. These are two frames, one just narrow enough to go inside the other, but both of the same length.

A CAMP STOOL can be made in much the same way, with a strip of canvas or carpet or several strings of webbing nailed across, from the top of one trestle to the other, the trestles, of course, being quite small.

[Illustration: UNDER SIDE OF TABLE TOP.]

CANDLESTICKS, Forks, Tongs, and other small articles of camp furniture are shown in _Scouting for Boys_, and can easily be made in the winter evenings. If neatly done they also command a good sale at bazaars.

CAMP BEDS are also described in _Scouting for Boys_, and straw mats for making these may very well be woven in winter evenings, and, with plenty of time for making them, can be really well made. When finished, they can be rolled up and packed away until required for camp.

The fellow who owns one of these in camp can enjoy life under canvas about four times as much as the fellow who tries to make himself comfortable on a hard, stony bit of ground. I think you never find out how full of corners you are till you try sleeping on a hard bit of ground.

Of course? every Scout knows that the worst corner in him is his hip-bone, and if you have got to sleep on hard ground the secret of comfort is to scoop out a little hole, about the size of a tea-cup, where your hip-bone will rest. It makes all the difference to your comfort at night.

Your night's rest is an important thing a fellow who does not get a good sleep at night soon knocks up, and cannot get through a day's work like the one who sleeps in comfort.

[Illustration: TRESTLE LEGS.]

So my advice is, make a good thick straw-mattress for yourself during the winter ready for camp.

Another good way of giving yourself a comfortable bed is to make a big bag of canvas or stout linen; 6 ft. long and 3 ft. wide.

This will do to roll up your kit in for travelling; and when you are in camp you can stuff it with straw, or leaves, or bracken, etc., and use it as a nice soft mattress.

A PILLOW is also a useful thing for giving you comfort in camp. For this you only want a strong pillow-case (which also you can make for yourself in the winter). This will serve as your clothes-bag by day and your pillow by night, your clothes, if neatly rolled and packed in it, serving as the stuffing.

I have often used my boots as a pillow, rolled up in a coat so that they don't slip apart, and for a long time I used a Zulu pillow, which is a little wooden stand on which you rest your neck; it sounds uncomfortable, but it is not so--when you're used to it!

A Scout has to Be Prepared to turn out at any moment in the night. He ought, therefore, to have his important clothes laid handy, so that he can get into them at once in the dark.

[Illustration: A ZULU PILLOW.]

On service, of course, a Scout sleeps with shoes on, so that he can turn out at any moment.

I remember on one occasion some of my men gave up obeying this rule, and thought it more comfortable to take their boots off.

So one night I had the alarm given that the enemy were near, and ordered the men to double out at once to a spot a short distance outside the camp.

The ground was covered with prickly grass and camel-thorn. How those fellows hopped and skipped to get to the place. But they took care not to go to bed barefooted again.

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In places where you can get the use of a wood for your camp, it saves the cost of a tent if you can make yourself a hut.

The important point in making a hut is to thatch it so closely and well with heather, straw, or twigs of fir, etc., that it is watertight.

The double lean-to, already described, makes the simplest form of hut--and if you like to make it more roomy, you can dig out the floor a couple of feet. But this is always a messy proceeding, and unhealthy, as upturned earth is very liable to give fever.

In addition to the articles of camp equipment which are mentioned in _Scouting for Boys_ as being easily made by the Scout himself, there are several others which can be made during the long winter evenings, and these will be of great use to you when you go into camp in the summer, or they can be sold to other fellows wanting such things,

The following is taken, from Mr. H. Kephart's _Book of Camping:_

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"Get a cow's horn from a friendly butcher, a little over a foot long. Measure with a stick how far up it is hollow. Then, saw off the tip just below where it becomes solid, except a strip of the solid part, which should be left attached to the hollow part, about an inch wide and five inches long, quarter of an inch thick; this strip will form the handle of the cup."

[Illustration: A HORN DRINKING CUP]

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Of course a backwoodsman has to be pretty useful with his axe; and to become a good axeman a fellow must know, firstly, how the thing ought to be done, and, secondly, he must then have lots of practice in doing it before he can be considered any good.

Bad workmen complain of their tools, but before starting to work be sure that your tool is a good one.

Your axe should be a "felling" axe, of which the head will weigh nearly three pounds. See that the handle or "helve" is perfectly straight and true in line with the head and the edge. To do this look along the helve with the edge of the head turned upwards. If the edge is not true to the bevel, your cuts will go all astray.

Then see that your axe is sharp--really sharp, not merely with a good edge on it. A slightly blunt axe is no more good for cutting down a tree than a very blunt knife is for cutting a pencil. You should know how to sharpen it on a grindstone, learn this now, while you are in civilisation, where grindstones can be found and there are men to show you.

When out in camp in India, for "pig sticking" (that is hunting wild boar with spears) we found how very necessary it was to keep our spears as sharp as a razor, and every time we killed a boar we would sharpen up our spear-heads again ready for the next fight.

We could not carry grindstones about with us, but we carried a small fine file, with which we were able to touch up the edge; and that is what many an old backwoodsman does for his axe, he carries a small file with him.

There is a saying with these men that "you may lend your last dollar to a friend, but never lend him your axe--unless you know that he is a good axeman and will not blunt it."

The tenderfoot will go banging about with an axe, chopping at roots and branches on the ground, and blunting the axe at every stroke on earth and stones; and when his arms tire, if he has not meanwhile chopped his own foot, he will throw the axe down, leaving it lying all anyhow on the ground, probably where it will catch and cut the toe of someone moving about after dark.

When you want to leave your axe, strike straight down with it into a tree stump, and leave it sticking there till required again,

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In using an axe, the tenderfoot generally tries to cover his bad aim by the extra strength of his blows. If an old hand is looking on he is smiling to himself and thinking how blown and what a backache he got himself the first time that he did it.

Don't try to put force into the blow; merely be careful about aiming it so that it falls exactly where you want it, the swing and weight of the axe itself do the rest.

A good axeman uses his axe equally well left-handed or right. It is all a matter of practice, and most valuable.

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The way to cut down a tree is to cut first a big chunk out of the side to which you want the tree to fall, and then to cut into the opposite side to fell it.

Begin your Notch 1, or the "kerf," as it is called, by chopping two marks, the upper one, A, at a distance above the other, B, equal to half the thickness of the tree.

[Illustration: THE KERF.]

Then cut alternately, first a horizontal cut at B, then a sideways, downward cut at A, and jerk out the chunk between the two; go on doing this till you get to the centre of the tree. The reason for making A and B so far apart is that if you begin with too narrow a kerf your axe gets wedged in the cut more easily.

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When you have cut your kerf half through the tree, you then fell the tree by cutting in on the opposite side, only about three inches above the level of B,

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Before starting to fell your tree, first clear away all small branches and bushes which might interfere with the swing of your axe, and therefore spoil your aim.

Also clear away any brambles or undergrowth that might trip you at the critical moment.

Cut out chunks when you are at it, not a lot of little chips, which are signs to anyone coming there later that a tenderfoot has been at work. It is all a matter of aiming your stroke well.

Aim your kerf so that the tree will fall clear of other trees, and not get hung up in their branches.

[Illustration: THE TREE READY TO FALL]

Then, when your tree falls, look out for the butt. This often jumps back from the stump; never stand directly behind it; many a tenderfoot has been killed that way. When the stem cracks and the tree begins to topple over, move forward in the direction of the fall, and, at the same time outwards, away from the butt.

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As a backwoodsman you must, of course, be able to cook your own food--you can't lug your mother about with you to do it!

But you cannot cook food straight off without ever having learnt how; and so I advise every Scout to set to work and learn this during the winter months, before the camping season comes on.

You can do a good deal by helping in the kitchen, and seeing how the food is got ready. Also get a baker to show you how to mix dough and to bake bread.

But it is no use merely to be _shown_ how it should be done; the thing is to do it yourself. You will make a few mistakes at first. Your dough will come out like custard, and your porridge will be burnt, and milk smoked, but after one or two trials you will soon find yourself able to cook quite well.

The first thing that is necessary for cooking, even if it is only to boil a billy of tea, is to have a fire, and tenderfoot makes a pretty hash of lighting a fire until he knows how.


Begin in _a_ small way by putting first some dry "kindling" or small splinters and shavings, dry grass, or a _little_ paper, anything that will easily take fire, and over that stack a lot of small dry sticks, standing on end and leaning together, or leaning against a log on the _windward_ side of it.

Remember, dry _sticks_ are very different from _sticks_ when it comes to lighting a fire.

Dry sticks are seldom found on the ground, they are generally best got from a tree. Find a tree with a dead branch or two, break these off, and you will have dry sticks. For "kindling," a number of sticks partly split or splintered with your knife are useful.

Do you know what "punk" is?

Well, "punk," or "tinder," is what _a_ good many backwoodsmen carry about with them for lighting their fires.

It can be a small bit of cotton waste soaked in petrol or spirits, or very dry, baked fungus, or bark fibre, or anything that will catch fire from the slightest spark.

Then, if you have no matches, you can strike a spark with a flint and steel (the back of your knife on a stone will do it), and so set light to your punk.

Or you can do it with a magnifying glass if there is a good sun shining, by making the sunlight pass through the glass on to a small amount of punk, and in a few seconds it will set it smouldering; and you must then gently blow it up into a glow, and finally into a flame, with which you can light the "kindling."

Indians and savages, who have neither matches nor burning-glasses, get fire by rubbing wood together.

The easiest way is by putting a slat of dry wood on the ground and boring a hole through it with a stick of dry wood, twirling the stick by means of a bow string.

The friction of the two woods causes the kind of sawdust which comes from the hole to get red-hot, and if a little punk is then placed on it and blown into, it brings a flame.

So soon as you have got your small kindling fire alight, add bigger dry sticks, upright and leaning together, until you can get a really strong fire going, when logs can be added.

But for a cooking fire, use plenty of sticks at first, as they make the hot ashes and embers which are most necessary for cooking.

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If you make your own sleeping bag out of canvas or sacking, remember two points: first, to have its flaps about a yard longer than yourself, so that you can get well into it in case of rain, and secondly: that to keep warm and dry you want more thickness underneath than above you.


The best way is to have a double sheet under you, or, in other words, make your sleeping bag a double one; you can then fill the lower part with straw, and sleep yourself in the upper compartment.

The object of having long flaps is seen in the illustration. The lower one can be rolled with your spare clothes inside it to form your pillow, while the upper one can be supported by a crossbar to form a little roof over your head. In a sleeping bag of this kind, if waterproof, you can sleep out without a tent at all.

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A very simple and comfortable form of camp bed-and one which you can easily rig up and use in your home, or at an inn, if a bedstead is not available-is this: Make a "hasty stretcher" with two staves and a sack, and lay the ends of the staves on a couple of logs, stones, or boxes.

[Illustration: READY FOR USE.]

Keep the staves apart by crossbars, and you have a most comfortable bed. But don't forget to put plenty of blankets, and some thick paper, if you are short of blankets underneath you.

This bed is the best possible one to use when you have to camp on damp ground.

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In camp you can generally tell a tenderfoot from an old scout from the way in which he sits down.

[Illustration: THE WRONG WAY.]

A tenderfoot sits right down on the ground, but the old hand, knowing that this is very likely to give you chill and bring on fever, rheumatism, or other ailments, either squats on his heel, or on both heels--which comes all the more easy if you put a stone under each heel as a support, or if you have your back against a tree.

[Illustration: THE RIGHT WAY.]

When an old scout sits on the ground, he always takes care either to sit on his hat, or on a bundle of dry heather, or something that will keep him off the actual ground.

[Illustration: HOW AN OLD HAND SITS DOWN.]

Two ex-Boy Scouts, now officers in the Army, sent me a contribution to our funds lately, as a thanks offering for all the campaigning dodges which they had learnt as Scouts and which had been most helpful to them on active service.

So practise all you can of these tips which I have given: you never know when they may not come in useful to you.

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