A good many years ago I wrote a short paper, meant to capture popular attention, under the title of "Camp Cure." I have reason to think that it was of use, but I have been led to regret that I did not see when it was written that what I therein urged as desirable for men was not also in a measure attainable by many women. I wish now to correct my error of omission, and to show not only that in our climate camp-life in some shape can be readily had, but also what are its joys and what its peculiar advantages. My inclination to write anew on this subject is made stronger by two illustrations which recur to my mind, and which show how valuable may be an entire out-door life, and how free from risks even for the invalid. The lessons of the great war were not lost upon some of us, who remember the ease with which recoveries were made in tents, but single cases convince more than any statement of these large and generalized remembrances.
[Footnote 12: "Nurse and Patient," and "Camp Cure," by S. Weir Mitchell. J.B. Lippincott Company Philadelphia.]
I knew a sick and very nervous woman who had failed in many hands to regain health of mind. I had been able to restore to her all she needed in the way of blood and tissue, but she remained, as before, almost helplessly nervous. Wealth made all resources easy, and yet I had been unable to help her. At last I said to her, "If you were a man I think I could cure you." I then told her how in that case I would ask a man to live. "I will do anything you desire," she said, and this was what she did. With an intelligent companion, she secured two well-known, trusty guides, and pitched her camp by the lonely waters of a Western lake in May, as soon as the weather allowed of the venture. With two good wall-tents for sleeping-and sitting-rooms, with a log hut for her men a hundred yards away and connected by a wire telephone, she began to make her experiment.
A little stove warmed her sitting-room at need, and once a fortnight a man went to the nearest town and brought her books. Letters she avoided, and her family agreed to notify her at once of any real occasion for her presence. Even newspapers were shut out, and thus she began her new life. Her men shot birds and deer, and the lake gave her black bass, and with these and well-chosen canned vegetables and other stores she did well enough as to food. The changing seasons brought her strange varieties of flowers, and she and her friend took industriously to botany, and puzzled out their problems unaided save by books. Very soon rowing, fishing, and, at last, shooting were added to her resources. Before August came she could walk for miles with a light gun, and could stand for hours in wait for a deer. Then she learned to swim, and found also refined pleasure in what I call word-sketching, as to which I shall by and by speak. Photography was a further gain, taken up at my suggestion. In a word, she led a man's life until the snow fell in the fall and she came back to report, a thoroughly well woman.
A more notable case was that of a New England lady, who was sentenced to die of consumption by at least two competent physicians. Her husband, himself a doctor, made for her exactly the same effort at relief which was made in the case I have detailed, except that when snow fell he had built a warm log cabin, and actually spent the winter in the woods, teaching her to live out in the air and to walk on snow-shoes. She has survived at least one of her doctors, and is, I believe, to this day a wholesome and vigorous wife and mother.