Arouse interest by encouraging the boys to make collections of leaves, flowers, etc., found in the vicinity of the camp. Leaves and flowers may be pressed in a home-made press and mounted upon heavy paper or cardboard. The following suggestions are given by Dan Beard and quoted by permission of Charles Scribner’s Sons from his Book, “The Field and Forest Handy Book.”
[Illustration: The Vreeland Press]
“The illustration shows how the press is made. In using the press, first place the plants or leaves, enclosed in their wrappers and dryers of newspapers, on the bottom board, put the top board over them, bring the hinged lever down and bind the whole together with a stout strap put around the end of the lever and the handle of the bottom board. As this strap is drawn tight the lever bends, and so keeps a constant pressure on the plants and leaves even when they shrink in drying. Dryers should be changed at least every day. Mount specimens on separate herbarium sheets of standard size (1-1/2 X 16-1/2). Each specimen should be mounted with name (common and botanical), where found, date and any other facts of interest. This label is usually pasted in the lower right hand corner of the herbarium sheet.”
If the camp has a permanent building, these specimens make a most attractive decoration as well as help to recall the happy days of “the hunt.” The material equipment for nature study should consist of a good loose leaf note-book, something that will stand the out-door wear. Get quadrille ruled sheets. They will simplify sketching in the matter of proportion and scale. A pocket magnifying glass will serve for identification of the specimens. An inexpensive combination tweezer and magnifying glass is made by Asher Kleinman, 250 Eighth Avenue, New York (50 cents). Best of all is a high-power microscope, especially where the camp has a permanent building with suitable room, having a good light and table facilities. A camera will help in securing permanent records of trees, ferns, flowers, birds, freaks of nature and scenes other than the usual camp groups. A few reliable books on nature study are needed to complete the outfit.
A “bird hunt” was a popular sport in one of my camps. We started off early one morning, a group of boys, each “loaded” with a big lunchbox crammed with good things, a note-book, a book on bird-life, and a “gun.” The “gun” we used was a powerful pair of field glasses. On the way we counted the number of bird-homes we saw. Just as we were thinking about stopping and having breakfast we heard a most ecstatic song. Creeping close to the place where the sound came from, we discovered the songster to be a song-sparrow. Focussing our “gun” upon the bird we made note of its coloring and marking, making sure that if we heard or saw another we would recognize it at once. While we were eating our breakfast, there was a dash of white, yellow, and grayish-brown, a whirring sound and, as the bird lighted upon the low bushes nearby, a clear, piercing whistle came from its throat. Our “gun” revealed to us a meadow lark. By this time the boys were as much excited over the bird hunt as over a game of ball.