To some boys it is repair day, rips are sewed up, buttons sewed on clothing, and for the initiated, the darning of socks. In camps with permanent buildings a big log fire roars in the fireplace, the boys sprawl on the floor with their faces toward the fire, and while the rain plays a tattoo upon the roof some one reads aloud an interesting story, such as “Treasure Island,” “The Shadowless Man,” “The Bishop’s Shadow,” or the chapters on “The Beneficent Rain” and “When the Dew Falls,” from Jean M. Thompson’s book, “Water Wonders.” It all depends upon one’s viewpoint whether rainy days are delightful or disagreeable.
[Transcriber’s Footnote 1: Signal on a drum or bugle to summon soldiers to their quarters at night. Continuous, even drumming or rapping.]
Boys are barometers. Restlessness is usually a sign of an approaching storm. The wise leader senses the situation and begins preparing his plans. If the rain is from the east and comes drizzling down, better plan a several day program, for after the excitement of the first few hours’ rain, the boys begin to loll around, lie on the cots, or hang around the kitchen and develop a disease known as “Grouchitis.” During the first stages of the disease the boys are inactive and accumulate an over-supply of energy, which must find an outlet. Here is where the leader plays an important part in handling the case; he provides an outlet for the expenditure of this surplus energy by planning games demanding use of muscle and the expenditure of energy and noise. The big mess tent, or dining hall, is cleared and romping games are organized.
The games suggested are adapted for rainy days and selected from a catalogue of several hundred games.
Few sports are better calculated than a potato joust to amuse boys on rainy days. It has all the joys of a combat, and yet, try as he will, there is no possibility for any boy to become rough.
In the potato joust each warrior is armed with a fork, on the end of which is a potato. The combatants take their position in the center of the playroom, facing each other. They should be separated by not less than three feet. Each must lift a leg from the floor (see illustration, next page). The fighters may use their own discretion as to which leg shall be lifted from the floor and may hold it up with either hand they prefer. A small cushion placed under the knee will add materially to the comfort of the contestants.
The battle is decided by one of the warriors knocking the potato from his opponent’s fork. Toppling over three times is also counted as defeat. If one of the knights is obliged to let go of his foot in order to keep his balance it is counted as a fall. Every time the battle is interrupted in this way, either of the contestants is at liberty to change the foot he is resting upon. If one of the warriors falls against the other and upsets him, it is counted against the one who is responsible for the tumble.