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Much of the following knowledge is taken from an old book "Camping for boys" by H. W. Gibson from 1913. Many advices in this book are still valid today. The whole book can be uploaded free from


Out in the wilderness or high up in the mountains, and especially in northern areas, the weather can shift very abruptly. In some parts of the year and high up the weather can actually shift from full, warm summer to winerly weather in a few hours. A shift from hot and dry condition to rainy and chillyconditios is even more probable, actually so probable that you are likely to experience it in a long hiking or camping. If you are not prepard with the right kind of equipment, you are in a downright dangerous situation.

If you are camping or hiking some distance away from people, you should allways have with you extra clothes to keep youself warm and to shield you from rain. You should keep with you extra clothes for all parts of your body.

In northern terrains and high up, you must actually be prepared for a winter, even in the middle of the summer.

You should also allways have with you something you can use to make a campfire to get warm from.

Furthermore, you should allways take with you something extra to eat in case you have to stay stuck at a place because of the weather conditions.


When you are hiking or camping, you will sometimes experience that you get more exhausted than planned or that the equipment you have with you is not fit for the conditions you meet. Such things can happen even if you are well trained and well equipped.

In that case you should turn back again or change plan for a shorter and more easy hike. If you continue as you were set, and reach the point when your equipment or food run out or your are simply not able to walk any more because of exhaustion, you are stuck in a very dangerous situation. Therefore, change your plan and turn back when you still have resources to go back and are still physically fit to do so.


If you are hiking in an area without easily accessable water, like in a desert or a cold icy area, you must bring with you a good portion of water, and more than you most likely will use, because you can be unexpectedly stuck in the area for some time. If you get dehydrated in a warm dry area, you are in a very dangerous situation. You will likely not be able to walk back and die from thirst. You should also allways have with you food so you have energy to get back.

Know about resources of water and food in the area you hike and have tools to use them

Even though you bring with you water and food, the amount you take with you will naturally be limited, and you can be stuck at some place with your supply exhausted. You should therefore know about natural resorces of ater and energy you can utilize. In dry area there will often grow cactae or other succulent plants that both can give you enough hydration and energy or your body. there will also likely be plants with berries you can eat. In a difficult situation you can also eat insects, caterpillars and the like. You must however have tools to cut the plants and take out the useful content. You must of course also know which plants and creatures are edible and which can be poisonous.


On trips into the wilderness you must allways bring with you extra clothes, including some rainwear, you can use if it the weather worsen. Even if it is warm and dry when you go out, the weather can sudfenly worsen and get wet. Of cource you must bring with you more clothes in a cold northern aera or high up in the mountains than in a low southern place, but some extra should allways be in your pack.


Sometimes one can get lost in the wilderness and cannot find the right way ahead or back, but there are strategies you can use to save yoruself. If it is getting dark, it can be useful to rest until next morning. In the daylight everything can look much easier. If you cannot find the way ahead, but know the way back, you should return and not go further ahead. Some way back where you are at a place you know well, you can do an alternative safer hike instead of the planned one. Some way back you are also likely to see at what point you went in wrong direction, and continue the planned trip from there if it is safe.

When you are absolutely lost in all ways, it be wise to keep walking down along water streams and rivers. Then you are likely to hit a road, a farm or a village at some point. You can also consult the compass to find the directions and walk in a direction where you know people live. People that have got lost, are often likely to go in a ring, especially when the sight is bad. By steadily consulting the compass, you can avoid that mistake. Also the trick of following water streams will make you avoid such a mistake. If you hear other people, you can try to follow their noise and shout to make them aware of you. However, trying to catch up with moving people you hear at a long distance and that do not hear you, can make you exhausted, so at some point this tactic should be given up if it does not bring result. Listen to hear noise from cars, and go in that direction. You are then likely to find a road and possibly people.


When going to a camping trip, you should allways have with you a compass, but ocationally you may forget it, or something is disturbing the compass. Here is a method you can use in those cases.

Face the sun in the morning, spread out your arms straight from body. Before you is the east; behind you is the west; to your right hand is the south; to the left hand is the north.

Have six sticks in your hand. Plant the first stick in the ground before you. Then plant the other four sticks around the first sticks in the compass directions found. Then plant the sixth stick just before the north stick to mark that this is north. Then you have constructed a compass you can refer to the rest of your camping.



Every cloud is a weather sign.
Low clouds swiftly moving indicate coolness and rain.
Soft clouds, moderate winds, fine weather.
Hard-edged clouds, wind.
Rolled or ragged clouds, strong wind.
"Mackerel" sky, twelve hours dry.


Look out for rain when: The tree frog cries.
Fish swim near the surface.
Walls are unusually damp.
Flies are troublesome and sting sharply.
A slack rope tightens.
Smoke beats downward.
Sun is red in the morning.
There is a pale yellow sunset.

Rain with East wind is lengthy.
A sudden shower is soon over.
A slow rain lasts long.
Rain before seven, clear before eleven.
Sun drawing water, sure sign of rain.
A circle round the moon means "storm."

"When the grass is dry at night Look for rain before the light; When the grass is dry at morning light Look for rain before the night."

"When the dew is on the grass Rain will never come to pass."

Fog in the morning, then bright sunny day.
Swallow flying high means clearing weather.
If the sun goes down cloudy Friday, sure of a clear Sunday.
Busy spiders mean fine weather.

The winds

East wind brings rain.
West wind brings clear, bright, cool weather.
North wind brings cold.
South wind brings heat.
Birds fly high when the barometer is high, and low when the barometer is low.

How to find the direction of Wind

The way to find which way the wind is blowing, if there is only very light breeze, is to throw up little bits of dry grass; or to hold up a handful of light dust and let it fall, or to suck your thumb and wet it all round and let the wind blow over it, and the cold side of it will then tell you which way the wind is blowing.


To Build a Fire

There are ways and ways of building camp fires. An old Indian saying runs, "White man heap fool, make um big fire--can't git near! Injun make um little fire--git close! Uh! good!" Make it a service privilege for a tent of boys to gather wood and build the fire. This should be done during the afternoon. Two things are essential in the building of a fire--kindling and air. A fire must be built systematically. First, get dry, small dead branches, twigs, fir branches and other inflammable material. Place these upon the ground. Be sure that air can draw under the pile and up through it. Next place some heavier branches in tripod form over the kindling, then good-sized sticks, and so on until you have built the camp fire the required size. In many camps it is considered an honor to light the fire. Kerosene oil may be poured upon the kindling, or old newspapers used in lighting the fire.

Building the fire for cooking - to cook on hikes

Take two or three stones to build a fireplace; a stick first shaved and then whittled into shavings; a lighted match, a little blaze, some bark, dry twigs and a few small sticks added; then with the griddle placed over the fire, you are ready to cook the most appetizing griddle cakes. After the cakes are cooked, fry strips of bacon upon the griddle; in the surplus fat fry slices of bread, then some thinly sliced raw potatoes done to a delicious brown and you have a breakfast capable of making the mouth of a camper water.

Another way of building a fire: Place two green logs side by side, closer together at one end than the other. Build fire between. On the logs over the fire you can rest frying pan, kettle, etc. To start fire have some light, dry wood split up fine. When sticks begin to blaze add a few more of larger size and continue until you have a good fire.

Sun Glass

When the sun shines a fire may be started by means of a small pocket sun or magnifying glass. Fine scrapings from dry wood or "punk tinder" will easily ignite by the focusing of the sun dial upon it, and by fanning the fire and by adding additional fuel, the fire-builder will soon have a great blaze.


An interesting account of "How to Build a Fire by Rubbing Sticks," by Ernest Thompson-Seton, will be found in "Boy Scouts of America," page 84. Be sure to use every precaution to prevent the spreading of fire. This may be done by building a circle of stone around the fire, or by digging up the earth, or by wetting a space around the fire. Always have buckets of water near at hand.

Things to remember

First, It is criminal to leave a burning fire; Second, Always put out the fire with water or earth.

Be sure to get a copy of the law of your State regarding Forest Fires, and if a permit is necessary, secure it before building a fire.

To Light a Match

Kephart, in his book on "Camping and Woodcraft" (page 88), says, "When there is nothing dry to strike it on, jerk the head of the match forward through the teeth. Face the wind. Cup your hands, backs toward wind. Remove right hand just long enough to strike match on something very close by, then instantly resume former position. Flame of match will run up the stick instead of blowing away from it."


The camp fire is a golden opportunity for the telling of stories--good stories told well. Indian legends, war stories, ghost stories, detective stories, stories of heroism, the history of fire, a talk about the stars. Don't drag out the telling of a story. Talk it in boy language. Avoid technical terms. Make the story live. College songs always appeal to boys. Let some leader start up a song in a natural way, and soon you will have a chorus of unexpected melody and harmony. As the fire dies down, let the songs be of a more quiet type, like "My Old Kentucky Home," and ballads of similar nature.

Roast Delight

When the embers are glowing is the time for toasting marshmallows. Get a long stick sharpened to a point, fasten a marshmallow on the end, hold it over the embers, not in the blaze, until the marshmallow expands. Oh, the deliciousness of it! Ever tasted one? Before roasting corn on the cob, tie the end of each husk firmly with string. Soak in water for about an hour. Then put into the hot embers. The water prevents the corn from burning and the firmly tied husks enable the corn to be steamed and the real corn flavor is retained. In about twenty minutes the corn may be taken from the fire and eaten. Have a bowl of melted butter and salt on hand. Also a pastry brush to spread the melted butter upon the corn. Try it.