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Hut Building

To live comfortably in camp a Scout must know how to make a bivouac shelter for the night, or a hut if he is going to be in camp for a long time.

What sort of shelter you put up depends on the country and weather.

Notice the direction from which the wind generally blows, and put the back of your shelter that way, with your fire in front of it. If you are going into camp where there are plenty of trees, and you have got the right to use them, then there are several types of shelters you may make.

A bivouac shelter is the simplest form of hut. Two upright stakes are driven firmly into the ground, with a ridge-pole placed in position along the tops. Against this a number of poles are made to lean from the windward side, with crossbars to support the branches, reeds, sods or twigs, or whatever is to form your roofing material.

For a single man this shelter can be made quite small, about 3 ft. high in front, 3 ft. wide and 6 ft. long. You build your fire about 4 ft. in front of the shelter, and lie in it alongside your fire.

If the "shack" is for more than one man, you build it 5 ft. or 6 ft. high in front, and 6 to 7 ft. deep, so that several fellows can lie alongside each other, feet to the fire.

Thatching Your Hut

When you start to thatch your framework, begin at the bottom and lay your roofing material in layers, one above the other in the way that slates are put on a roof. In this way you make it watertight.

For thatching you can use thick evergreen branches, or grass, reeds, sods, bark or slabs of wood (called "shingles"), or small twigs of heather clasely woven in.

It is generally advisable to lay a few branches and stout poles over the thatch when finished in order to keep it on if a gale springs up.

Other Huts

If you want to build a complete hut, you can make a lean-to from each side on the same ridge-pole. But the single lean-to, with its fire in front of it, is quite good enough for most people.

Another way to build a shelter hut is to lean a ridge-pole or backbone from the ground into the fork of a small tree about 5 ft. above the ground, the butt of the pole being about 7 ft. to windward of the tree. Then put up a side pole leaning against this, and roof over in the same way as for a lean-to.

Where you have no poles available you can do as the South African natives do-pile up a lot of brushwood, heather, etc., into a small wall made in a semicircle to keep out the cold wind-and make your fire in the open part.

Zulus make their huts by planting a circle of long sticks upright in the ground. They then bend the tops towards the centre and tie them together. Next they weave whippy sticks horizontally in and out among the uprights until they have made a kind of circular birdcage. This they cover with a straw mat, or thatch it, or weave straw in among the sticks. Sometimes a small hole is left at the top, to act as a chimney.

The Red Indians make their "teepee" by tying several long poles together in the form of a pyramid, and covering them with canvas or skins sewn together.

If your tent or hut is too hot in the sun, put blankets or more straw over the top. The thicker the roof, the cooler the tent is in summer. If the hut is too cold, make the bottom of the walls thicker, or build a small wall of sods about a foot high round the base of the wall outside.

Never forget to dig a drain all round your hut, so that if heavy rain comes in the night your floor will not get flooded from outside.


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

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