The bugler blows “tattoo" which means “all in tents.” After the boys have undressed and are ready for bed, the leader reads a chapter from the Bible, and in many camps the boys lead in volunteer prayer, remembering especially the folks at home.
[Transcriber’s Footnote 1: Signal on a drum or bugle to summon soldiers to their quarters at night. Continuous, even drumming or rapping.]
From a hill near camp, or from a boat on the lake come the notes of a familiar hymn such as “Abide With Me,” “Lead, Kindly Light,” “The Day is Past and Over,” “Sun of My Soul,” or “Nearer, My God to Thee,” played by the bugler. Every boy listens and the ear records a suggestion which helps to make the night’s sleep pure and restful. Try it. Taps played slowly, follows the hymn. As the last notes are being echoed upon the still night air the lights are being extinguished in the tents, so that when the final prolonged note ends the camp is in darkness and quiet, and all have entered into a nine-hour period of restoration of body and mind. Who knows, but God himself, how many of the boys, and even leaders, while wrapped warmly in their blankets have silently breathed out that old, old prayer so full of faith, which has been handed down from generation to generation:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray Thee Lord my soul to keep.
A prayer echoed by the camp director, for now is the only time of the day’s program when he begins to breathe freely, and is partially able to lay aside his mantle of responsibility. A cough, a sigh, and even the moaning of the wind disturbs this ever vigilant leader and he thinks of his charges, until finally, weariness conquers and sleep comes.
How shall the day be ordered? To the sage
The young man spoke. And this was his reply:
A morning prayer.
A moment with thy God who sends thee dawn
Up from the east; to thank heaven for the care
That kept thee through the night; to give thy soul,
With faith serene, to his complete control;
To ask his guidance still along the way.
So starts the day.
A busy day.
Do with a will the task that lies before.
So much there is for every man to do,
And soon the night when man can work no more.
And none but he to life’s behest is true
Who works with zeal and pauses only when
He stretches forth his hand to help the men
Who fail or fall beside him on the way.
So runs the day.
A merry evening.
When toil is done, then banished be the care
That frets the soul. With loved ones by the hearth
The evening hour belongs to joy and mirth;
To lighter things that make life fresh and fair.
For honest work has earned its hour of play.
So ends the day.
—John Clair Minot in the “Independent”