There are several ways of building a temporary camp from material that is always to be found in the woods, and whether these improvised shelters are intended to last until a permanent camp is built, or only as a camp on a short excursion, a great deal of fun can be had in their construction. The Indian camp is the easiest to make. An evergreen tree with branches growing well down toward the ground furnishes all the material. By chopping the trunk almost through, so that when the tree falls the upper part will still remain attached to the stump, a serviceable shelter can be quickly provided. The cut should be about 5 ft. from the ground. Then the boughs and branches on the under side of the fallen top are chopped away and piled on top. There is room for several persons under this sort of shelter, which offers fairly good protection against any but the most drenching rains.
The Indian wigwam sheds rain better, and where there are no suitable trees that can be cut, it is the easiest camp to make. Three long poles with the tops tied together and the lower ends spaced 8 or 10 ft. apart, make the frame of the wigwam. Branches and brush can easily be piled up, and woven in and out on these poles so as to shed a very heavy rain.
The brush camp is shaped like an ordinary "A" tent. The ridge pole should be about 8 ft. long and supported by crotched uprights about 6 ft. from the ground. Often the ridge pole can be laid from one small tree to another. Avoid tall trees on account of lightning. Eight or ten long poles are then laid slanting against the ridge pole on each side. Cedar or hemlock boughs make the best thatch for the brush camp. They should be piled up to a thickness of a foot or more over the slanting poles and woven in and out to keep from slipping. Then a number of poles should be laid over them to prevent them from blowing away. In woods where there is plenty of bark available in large slabs, the bark lean-to is a quickly constructed and serviceable camp. The ridge pole is set up like that of the brush camp. Three or four other poles are laid slanting to the ground on one side only. The ends of these poles should be pushed into the earth and fastened with crotched sticks. Long poles are then laid crossways of these slanting poles, and the whole can be covered with brush as in the case of the brush camp or with strips of bark laid overlapping each other like shingles. Where bark is used, nails are necessary to hold it in place. Bark may also be used for a wigwam and it can be held in place by a cord wrapped tightly around the whole structure, running spiral-wise from the ground to the peak. In the early summer, the bark can easily be removed from most trees by making two circular cuts around the trunk and joining them with another vertical cut. The bark is easily pried off with an ax, and if laid on the ground under heavy stones, will dry flat. Sheets of bark, 6 ft. long and 2 or 3 ft. wide, are a convenient size for camp construction.
The small boughs and twigs of hemlock, spruce, and cedar, piled 2 or 3 ft. deep and covered with blankets, make the best kind of a camp bed. For a permanent camp, a bunk can be made by laying small poles close together across two larger poles on a rude framework easily constructed. Evergreen twigs or dried leaves are piled on this, and a blanket or a piece of canvas stretched across and fastened down to the poles at the sides. A bed like this is soft and springy and will last through an ordinary camping season without renewal. A portable cot that does not take up much room in the camp outfit is made of a piece of heavy canvas 40 in. wide and 6 ft. long. Four-inch hems are sewed in each side of the canvas, and when the camp is pitched, a 2-in. pole is run through each hem and the ends of the pole supported on crotched sticks.
Fresh water close at hand and for the middle of the day are two points that should always be looked for in. selecting a site for a camp. If the camp is to be occupied for any length of time, useful implements for many purposes can be made out of such material as the woods afford. The simplest way to build a crane for hanging kettles over the campfire is to drive two posts into the ground, each of a foot or more from one end of the fire space, and split the tops with an ax, so that a pole laid from one to the other across the fire will be securely held in the split. Tongs are very useful in camp. A piece of elm or hickory, 3 ft. long and 1-1/2 in. thick, makes a good pair of tongs. For a foot in the middle of the stick, cut half of the thickness away and hold this part over the fire until it can be bent easily to bring the two ends together, then fasten a crosspiece to hold the ends close together, shape the ends so that anything that drops into the fire can be seized by them, and a serviceable pair of tongs is the result. Any sort of a stick that is easily handled will serve as a poker. Hemlock twigs tied around one end of a stick make an excellent broom. Movable seats for a permanent camp are easily made by splitting a log, boring holes in the rounded side of the slab and driving pegs into them to serve as legs. A short slab or plank can easily be made into a three-legged stool in the same way.
Campers usually have boxes in which their provisions have been carried. Such a packing box is easily made into a cupboard, and it is not difficult to improvise shelves, hinges, or even a rough lock for the camp larder.
A good way to make a camp table is to set four posts into the ground and nail crosspieces to support slabs cut from chopped wood logs to form a top. Pieces can be nailed onto the legs of the table to hold other slabs to serve as seats, and affording accommodation for several persons.