As a boy, the author dreamed of wonderful municipal playgrounds, of organizations giving the boys opportunity to camp in the open, of zoological and botanical gardens planned and adapted to the understanding of youth. His busy life as a civil engineer, surveyor, and work in the open gave him no opportunity to develop his dreams, but at the end of a five year tour of the United States and Canada, made over fifty years ago, he drifted into New York City and was shocked beyond expression by the almost total lack of breathing spaces for our boys, in the greatest of American cities. True, it then had Central Park; but fifty years ago Central Park was out among the goats, only to be reached by a long and tiresome horse car journey.
This lamentable state of affairs caused the writer so much real pain and concern that he then and there inaugurated a personal crusade for the benefit of the boys, a crusade with the avowed object of winning for them the peoples' interest in the big outdoors.
The most difficult part of his task was to convince the men of the swivel chairs that boys' leisure should be spent in the open; that the blue sky is the only proper roof for a normal boy's playground; also that the open spaces are the places where God intended young people to live, work and play.
No great crusade, no great movement of any kind is one man's work, nevertheless, every successful movement must have one enthusiast in the front rank, one who knows the trail and comprehensively envisions the objective—objectum quod complexum. Others may and will join him, and occasionally spurt ahead of the leader, like the hare in the fable, but the enthusiast keeps right on just the same.
Pray do not understand by this that the writer claims that he alone is responsible for this bloodless revolution. No, no, his propaganda work did however win for him the moral support of the editorial staff of St. Nicholas, Youth's Companion and Harpers. Later he was openly backed and encouraged by such distinguished sportsmen as President Roosevelt, his chief forester Governor Pinchot, and his Chief of Staff Major General Bell. While the stalwart men of the Camp Fire Club of America worked hand and glove with him, all similar organizations failed not in voicing their approval. Furthermore he was always helped by his loyal friends of the daily press. Many famous writers lent their influence, all working consciously or unconsciously to help the great cause of boyhood.