GIRLS AND A CAMP





(_New York Evening Post_)



NOW IT IS THAT MANY COVEYS OF STUDENTS ARE HEADED TOWARD LAKE AND

MOUNTAIN--JUST HOW IT PAYS



With the sudden plunge into a muggy heat, more suggestive of July than

of the rare June weather of poets, there has begun the exodus of summer

camp folk, those men and women who add to the slender salary of the

teaching profession the additional income made by running camps for boys

and girls during the long vacation. They stretch, these camps, in

rapidly extending area from Canada through Maine and northern New

England, into the Adirondacks and the Alleghenies, and then across

toward the Northwest and the Rockies. It is quite safe to assert that

there is not a private school of importance that does not take under its

protection and support at least one such institution, while large

numbers of teachers either own camps or assist in their management as

instructors.



One group, unmistakably the advance guard of a girls' camp, assembled at

the Grand Central Station on Wednesday. There were two alert, dignified

women, evidently the co-principals; a younger woman, who, at least so

the tired suburban shopper decided, was probably the athletic

instructor; two neat colored women, and a small girl of twelve, on

tiptoe with excitement, talking volubly about the fun she would have

when they got to the lake and when all the other girls arrived. Her

excited chatter also revealed the fact that father and mother had just

sailed for Europe, and, while she thought of them with regret, there was

only pleasure in prospect as she started northward. There was much

baggage to be attended to, and consultation over express and freight

bills, with interesting references to tents, canoes, and tennis nets.



Success is an excellent testimonial, and there is no longer any need to

point out the advantages of such camps for boys and girls. They fill a

real place for the delicate, the lazy, or the backward, who must needs

do extra work to keep up with their school grade, for those who

otherwise would be condemned to hotel life, or for the children whose

parents, because of circumstances, are compelled to spend the summer in

cities. Even the most jealously anxious of mothers are among the

converts to the movement. As one said the other day of her only son,

"Yes, David will go to Mr. D.'s camp again this summer. It will be his

third year. I thought the first time that I simply could not part with

him. I pictured him drowned or ill from poor food or severe colds.

Indeed, there wasn't a single terror I didn't imagine. But he enjoyed it

so, and came home so well and happy, that I've never worried since."



From the child's point of view, summer camps are a blessing, and, as

such, they have come to stay. But there are those who doubt their

benefits, even the financial ones, for the teachers, who mortgage their

vacations to conduct them. Unfortunately, as every one knows, almost

every teacher has to mortgage her spare time in one way or another in

order to make a more than bare living. Call the roll of those whom you

may know, and you will be surprised--no, scarcely surprised; merely

interested--to find that nine-tenths of them do some additional work. It

may be extra tutoring, hack writing, translating, the editing of school

texts or the writing of text-books, taking agencies for this, that, or

the other commodity, conducting travel parties, lecturing at educational

institutes, running women's clubs, or organizing nature classes. Some

outside vocation is necessary if the teacher is to enjoy the advantages

her training makes almost imperative, or the comforts her tired, nervous

organism demands. So, as one philosopher was heard to remark, it is

perhaps best to run a summer camp, since in the doing of it there is at

least the advantage of being in the open and of leading a wholesomely

sane existence.



Two good friends and fellow-teachers who have conducted a camp in

northern Maine for the last five years have been extremely frank in

setting forth their experiences for the benefit of those who are

standing on the brink of a similar venture. And their story is worth

while, because from every point of view they have been successful. Any

pessimistic touches in their narrative cannot be laid at the door of

failure. Indeed, in their first year they cleared expenses, and that is

rare; and their clientèle has steadily increased until now they have a

camp of forty or more girls, at the very topmost of camp prices. Again,

as there were two of them and they are both versatile, they have needed

little assistance; the mother of one has been house mother and general

camp counsellor. With all this as optimistic preamble, let us hear their

story.



Perhaps their first doubt arises with regard to the wear and tear of

camp life upon those most directly responsible for its conduct. "For

years we even refused to consider it," said the senior partner,

"although urged by friends and would-be patrons, because we realized the

unwisdom of working the year around and living continuously with school

girls--but the inevitable happened. Our income did not keep pace with

our expenses, and it was start a camp or do something less agreeable.

Just at the psychological moment one of our insistent friends found the

right spot, we concluded negotiations, and, behold, we are camp

proprietors, not altogether sure, in our most uncompromisingly frank

moments, that we have done the best thing."



That a girls' camp is a far more difficult proposition than one for boys

is evident on the face of it. Mother may shed tears over parting with

Johnny, but, after all, he's a boy, and sooner or later must depend

upon himself. But Sister Sue is another matter. Can she trust any one

else to watch over her in the matter of flannels and dry stockings? Do

these well-meaning but spinster teachers know the symptoms of

tonsilitis, the first signs of a bilious attack, or the peculiarities of

a spoiled girl's diet? And will not Sue lose, possibly, some of the

gentle manners and dainty ways inculcated at home, by close contact with

divers other ways and manners? She is inclined to be skeptical, is

mother. "And so," acknowledged the senior partner, "the first summer we

were deluged by visits long and short from anxious ladies who could not

believe on hearsay evidence that we knew how to care for their delicate

daughters. They not only came, but they stayed, and as the nearest hotel

was distant many devious miles of mountain road, we were forced to put

them up; finally the maids had to sleep in the old barn, and we were

camping on cots in the hall of the farmhouse which is our headquarters.

Naturally we had to be polite, for we were under the necessity of making

a good impression that first year, but it was most distracting, for

while they stayed they were unconsciously but selfishly demanding a

little more than a fair share of time and attention for their

daughters."



And, indeed, all this maternal anxiety is not entirely misplaced. Sue is

a good deal harder to take care of than Johnny. She needs a few more

comforts, although camp life aims at eliminating all but the essentials

of simple living. Her clothes, even at a minimum, are more elaborate,

which increases the difficulty of laundering, always a problem in

camping. She is infinitely more dependent upon her elders for direction

in the veriest A B C's of daily existence. "Even the matter of tying a

hair-ribbon or cleaning a pair of white canvas shoes is a mountain to a

good many of my girls," said the successful camp counsellor.



Homesickness is "a malady most incident to maids." Boys may suffer from

it, but they suffer alone. If tears are shed they are shed in secret,

lest the other fellows find it out. Except in the case of the very

little chaps, the masters are not disturbed. But girls have no such

reserves; and the teachers in charge of twenty-five strange girls, many

in the throes of this really distressing ailment, are not to be envied.

"Frankly speaking," went on the confession, "there isn't a moment of the

day when we can dismiss them from our thoughts. Are they swimming in

charge of the director of athletics, a most capable girl, one of us must

be there, too, because, should anything happen, we, and not she, are

directly responsible. When the lesson hour is on, we not only teach,

but must see that each girl's work is adapted to her needs, as they come

from a dozen different schools. There are disputes to settle, plans for

outings and entertainments to be made, games to direct, letters to the

home folks to be superintended, or half the girls would never write at

all, to say nothing of the marketing and housekeeping, and our own

business correspondence, that has to be tucked into the siesta hour

after luncheon. Indeed, in the nine weeks of camp last summer I never

once had an hour that I could call my very own."



"And that is only the day's anxiety," sighed her colleague reflectively.

"My specialty is prowling about at night to see that everybody is

properly covered. Not a girl among them would have sense enough to get

up and close windows in case of rain, so I sleep with one ear pricked

for the first patter on the roof. Occasionally there are two or three

who walk in their sleep, and I'm on pins and needles lest harm come to

them, so I make my rounds to see that they're safe. Oh, it is a

peacefully placid existence, I assure you, having charge of forty

darling daughters. Some of them have done nothing for themselves in

their entire lives, and what a splendid place camp is for such girls.

But while they're learning we must be looking out for their sins of

omission, such, for instance, as throwing a soaking wet bathing suit

upon a bed instead of hanging it upon the line."



These are some of the few worries that attach to the care of sensitive

and delicately brought up girls that the boys' camp never knows. But if

the financial return is adequate there will naturally be some

compensation for all these pinpricks. Here again the Senior Partner is

inclined to hem and haw. "Given a popular head of camp," says she, "who

has been fortunate enough to secure a desirable site and a paying

clientèle, and she will certainly not lose money. Her summer will be

paid for. However, that is not enough to reward her for the additional

work and worry. Camp work does not confine itself to the nine weeks of

residence. There are the hours and days spent in planning and purchasing

equipment, the getting out of circulars, the correspondence entailed and

the subsequent keeping in touch with patrons."



Her own venture has so far paid its own way, and after the first year

has left a neat margin of profit. But this profit, because of expansion,

has immediately been invested in new equipment. This year, for example,

there has been erected a bungalow for general living purposes. A dozen

new tents and four canoes were bought, and two dirt tennis courts made.

Then each year there must be a general replenishing of dishes, table and

bed linen, athletic goods, and furniture. The garden has been so

enlarged that the semi-occasional man-of-all-work has been replaced by a

permanent gardener.



Naturally, such extension does mean ultimate profit, and, given a few

more years of continued prosperity, the summer will yield a goodly

additional income. But the teacher who undertakes a camp with the idea

that such money is easily made, is mistaken. One successful woman has

cleared large sums, so large, indeed, that she has about decided to

sever her direct connection with the private school where she has taught

for years, and trust to her camp for a living. She has been so

fortunate, it is but fair to explain, because her camp is upon a

government reserve tract in Canada, and she has had to make no large

investment in land; nor does she pay taxes. Desirable locations are

harder to find nowadays and much more expensive to purchase. A fortunate

pioneer in the movement bought seven acres, with five hundred feet of

lake frontage, for three hundred dollars six years ago. That same land

is worth ten times as much to-day.



And the kind of woman who should attempt the summer camp for girls as a

means of additional income? First of all, the one who really loves

outdoor life, who can find in woods and water compensation for the wear

and tear of summering with schoolgirls. Again, she who can minimize the

petty worries of existence to the vanishing point. And, last of all, she

who has business acumen. For what does it profit a tired teacher if she

fill her camp list and have no margin of profit for her weeks of hard

labor?



* * * * *



_(Saturday Evening Post)_



Two half-tone reproductions of wash-drawings by a staff artist.





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