It's summertime here on the west coast of Canada, which means we're in a small window of glorious weather. Many folks are heading outdoors and I'm one of them. When you're out in the bush (or the provincial camp grounds) it's important to carry a good book.
The Lost Lore of a Man's Life: lots of cool stuff guys used to know but forgot about the great outdoors isn't essential reading. But it's short and sweet, especially good for reading inbetween bites on a fishing line. It's a compilation of choice cuts from old outdoors books written in the early 1900's.
The book covers such important topics as how to build a flyfishing rod, track a bobcat, send smoke signals, and select a good rifle. You know, manly stuff. At least by the standards of 1912.
Here's what it has to say about camping...
"Camp Life. What compels a man to leave hearth and home and ventue into the embrace of Nature where danger and discomfort are the commonmost forms of wildlife? It is nothing but a love for Creation and for all the creatures in it.
Camping is simple life reduced to actual practice, as well as the culmination of the Outdoor life. Camping has no great popularity today becasue men have the idea that it it possible only after an expensive journey to the wilderness; and women that it is inconvenient, dirty, and dangerous.
These are errors. They have arisen because camping as an art is not understood.
When intelligently followed, camp life must take its place as a cheap and delightful way of living, as well as a mental and physical savior of those strained or broken by the grind of the overbusy world.
The wilderness affords the ideal camping, but many of the benefits can be got by living in a tent on a town lot, a piazza, or even a housetop.
The Magic of the campfire. What is a camp without a campfire? No camp at all, but a chilly place in a landscape, where some people happen to have some things.
When first the brutal anthropoid stood up and walked erect - this was man - the great event was symbolized and marked by the lighting of the first campfire.
For millions of years our race has seen in the blessed fire the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendly gathering, council. All the hallow of ancient thoughts, hearth, fireside, home is centred in its glow, and the home itself is weakened with the waning of the home fire.
Not in the steam radiator can we find the spell; not in the water coil, not even in the gas log; they do not reach the heart. Only the ancient sacred fire of wood has power to touch and thrill the chords of primitive remembrance.
When men sit together at the campfire they seem to shed all modern form and poise, and hark back to the primite - to meet as man and man - to show the naked soul.
Your campfire partner wins your inner love; and having camped in peace together, is a lasting bond of union - however wide you worlds may be apart.
The campfire, then, is the focal centre of all primitive brotherhood. We shall not fail to use its magic powers.
Woodcraft pursuits. Realizing that manhood, not scholarship, is the first aim of education, we have sought out those pursuits that develop the finest character, the finest physique, and that may be followed out of doors, which, in a word, make for manhood and may be begun at any time, regardless teh age of the man - or boy.
By nearly every process of logic we are led primarily to Woodcraft - that is, Woodcraft in a large sense - meaning every accomplishment of an all-around woodsman: riding, hunting, camp-craft, scouting, mountaineering, Indian-craft, first aid, star craft, signaling, and boating.
To this we add all good outdoor athletics and sports, including: sailing, motoring, and nature study, of which wild animal photography is an important branch. But above all, Heroism.
A Heroic ideal. The boy from ten to fifteen, like the savage, is purely physical in his ideals. I do not know that I ever met a boy that would not rather be John L. Sullivan than Darwin or Tolstoi. Therefore, I accept the fact, and seek to keep in view an ideal that is physcal, but also clean, manly, heroic, already familiar, and leading with certainty to higher things."
- Ernest Seton Thompson. The Book of Woodcraft, 1912.