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Wow! What a great commentary. I yearn for a very different Boy Scout Handbook. I'd love to see pages on great american heros who have helped build and shape our country. I'd love to see more on patriotism and virtues. And more in-your-face challenges to the scout. More how-to. I'd love to see the book become dog-eared from reading by the scouts. Instead, it's more just a file cabinet for advancement these days.
I strongly recommend reading the referenced article!
I also like what it says about writing styles. The current one is pretty dry. I'd love to see it be a more exciting read.
I'm a sucker for a tear jerking Reader's Digest article. I'm a sucker for old-time story telling. It may be arcane, but I think eleven year old scouts are too. It could be a combination of those 1950's american history educational comicbooks, Boy's Life magazine and Readers Digest articles.
"He should be as manly as the knights or pioneers of old. He should be unselfish. He should show courage. He must do his duty. He should show benevolence and thrift. He should be loyal to his country. He should be obedient to his parents, and show respect to those who are his superiors. He should be very courteous to women. One of his obligations is to do a good turn every day to some one."
Or Great moments in US history. Writing of the national anthem. Sewing of the flag.
Or for character development ... "For example, under Courage: "It is horrible to be a coward. It is weak to yield to fear and heroic to face danger without flinching." There are examples, like the dying Indian who "faced death with a grim smile upon his lips and sang his own death song" and the cowardly knight who fled the battle of Agincourt, much to the disappointment of his lady at home. The original handbook teaches through heroes, providing Scouts with a host of manly examples to emulate. Above all, it cultivates spiritedness, teaching Scouts to defend their honor, their friends, and their country like the great men of the past who "were accustomed to take chances with death" for the sake of the things they loved."
Outstanding article. I just forwarded it to the other leaders in my troop. I have always loved the old handbooks and have shared them with adults and boys many times. My contention is that boys today crave adventure and will respond to a challenge just as boys did 100 years ago. But Scouting today never really challenges them. The Eagle Award has become more important as another notch on a college application. Most boys could not care less about many of the "schoolwork" merit badges. But turn a gang of boys loose in the woods and it won't take five minutes for them to be off on their own adventure. And just as BP knew, that will head them toward leadership. It is really much simpler than EDGE.