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LeCastor

Boy Scout Handbook--Still Necessary?

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I came across this New York Times op/ed piece about Scouting and the old Handbook for Boys.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/books/review/a-manual-for-life.html?_r=0

 

In another thread on the Patrol Leader's Handbook, several posters indicated that Scouts aren't going to read it anyway. So if that's true, do we even need a Boy Scout Handbook if the Scouts aren't going to read it anyway? What's the point? :rolleyes:

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The handbook is not for "Boy Scouts" it's for boys. (And, the occasional sister who picks it up.)

A neighbor boy, who won't join our troop or crew but whom I often find hiking independently with his buddies, asked me if I had the 1941 edition that he could borrow. (I didn't.)

 

Somehow this boy had the sense that that early edition HB had something in it he needed (and I don't think it was a cold bath)!

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The book referenced in the article is not the current standard BSA handbook. Yes, the current handbook is still necessary. The standard response in our troop is ask your PL or look in the handbook. If you smartphone dies during the weekend, how are you going to figure out how to tie the knot, sharpen the knife, pitch the tent, bandage the wound. Read the handbook.

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A few times a year, I take my early '70s BSA Handbook and Fieldbook off the shelf and flip thru the pages. I also have my Rifle and Shotgun Shooting MB pamphlet, same era, that I look thru occasionally. It still has that stain of strawberry jam across the front, when I brought it to lunch with me one day at summer camp, '76.

 

Part nostalgia, part skills refreshment.

 

Can many of us still access the data on the 15-year old floppy disks that we just had to keep? I can't. Seems that old data are hard to re-access once the software moves forward or is discontinued.

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A minor point, but computers that use floppies are pretty cheap on ePrey. I bought a rebuilt for $89 delivered. A solution to my laziness in failing to copy the floppies to digital disks.

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It is the reference that scouts should be taught to use as a feild guide. I require one copy per patrol on outings

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Can many of us still access the data on the 15-year old floppy disks that we just had to keep? I can't. Seems that old data are hard to re-access once the software moves forward or is discontinued.

 

Not to take too much of a tangent but this is a data management problem, not a media problem. You mentioned you keep your books on a shelf. If you left them outside in the rain the paper medium would be as unusable as those floppy disks.

 

I don't think physical books will ever go away, but they are being minimized, particularly reference books. When is the last time you purchased a dictionary or encyclopedia? When is the last time you used an online dictionary or encyclopedia? Why should the BSA handbook and fieldbook be any different?

 

The medium the handbook and fieldbook are delivered on is immaterial in my opinion. Instead of arguing that your batteries might die, therefore you should carry a physical book, we should ask the scout how they plan to be prepared to carry an electronic reference. What are the trade offs? A heavy book that contains 12 of 14 chapters you absolutely won't need that weekend vs. your phone which you were going to carry anyway plus a charger brick or solar panel? Which weighs more? Which is easier to take care of in the conditions we expect to encounter? Which do you find easier to use and why? How long does your battery last on airplane mode? Do you plan to leave it on all weekend or just turn it on if you need it? Many learning opportunities for scout and scouter.

 

To the original question and my attempt to tie it together, yes, there is a need for a handbook and a fieldbook, but only because it's nice to provide a single source for the scouts to have available. The medium it is delivered on and how the scouts consume it, or not, is up to them.

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Resqman, I am fully aware that the article is about an older edition of the handbook. ;)

 

When I was 11 my grandfather gave me an old dog-eared copy of the 4th edition of the Handbook for Boys (as in the article). He also gave me his tattered 1st edition with the maroon cover (now in a zip-loc baggie to preserve it). That summer was special for me because I had crossed-over from Webelos and had already gone to one summer camp in GA (Woodruff) and I was in TN visiting Grandma and Grandpa before going to a second summer camp not far from their house (Skymont). Anyway, I read the 4th edition cover to cover--twice. Grandpa took me to the local Scout Shop in town where he bought me Green Bar Bill's 9th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, which I also read cover to cover. I lived and breathed Scouting and those books--along with my grandpa and his cabin--helped form my love of the outdoors.

 

So my question was rather joking in nature. Of course the Handbook is still important and relevant. Whether the Scouts read it, or the Fieldbook, is debatable. I see many tattered copies floating around our meeting space but I don't really think that is from over-reading or over-use. :p Now, I will say that I like GBB's books a lot better than the 11th and 12th editions of the Handbook. The 10th was not bad and it's the one I used for the majority of my youth Scouting.

 

As for the medium, I am flexible with that. I'm a paper guy to a certain extent and will always prefer a hard copy of any reference book. Mine are all marked up with ink or highlighting. But a lot of the Scouts today are confused when you ask them to write something down on paper or read from a paper book. Most colleges are now moving away from the traditional textbook, opting for digital books on iPads or whatever tablet you prefer.

 

To be perfectly honest with ya'll, I tend to read a little from at least one edition of the Handbook every night before bed. That's how serious I am about its importance and the need for reading to help in training our youth. GBB's text is easy to read and is loaded with valuable information.

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Like most manuals, we only read them when we need to, not when we want to. Do your scouts need to read their handbook to know how and when to wear the uniform in your troop? Barry

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Like most manuals' date=' we only read them when we need to, not when we want to. Do your scouts need to read their handbook to know how and when to wear the uniform in your troop? Barry[/quote']

 

 

Unless you are total and utter nerd like me and then you read it all the dang time! :D

 

As for the 2nd part, I'm not sure I understand if you are asking me about the Scouts in my Troop or if that's a rhetorical question...

 

Either way, no I don't think that's absolutely necessary...unless the requirement for Tenderfoot asks you to dress properly for an overnight campout. In which case, I would argue that you should wear your uniform. Others may suggest puttees and tunics. ;) Used to be you had to explain when it was appropriate and NOT appropriate to wear the uniform. Camping and hiking used to be places where you wore the uniform.

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Not to take too much of a tangent but this is a data management problem, not a media problem. You mentioned you keep your books on a shelf. If you left them outside in the rain the paper medium would be as unusable as those floppy disks.

 

I don't think physical books will ever go away, but they are being minimized, particularly reference books. When is the last time you purchased a dictionary or encyclopedia? When is the last time you used an online dictionary or encyclopedia? Why should the BSA handbook and fieldbook be any different?

 

The medium the handbook and fieldbook are delivered on is immaterial in my opinion. Instead of arguing that your batteries might die, therefore you should carry a physical book, we should ask the scout how they plan to be prepared to carry an electronic reference. What are the trade offs? A heavy book that contains 12 of 14 chapters you absolutely won't need that weekend vs. your phone which you were going to carry anyway plus a charger brick or solar panel? Which weighs more? Which is easier to take care of in the conditions we expect to encounter? Which do you find easier to use and why? How long does your battery last on airplane mode? Do you plan to leave it on all weekend or just turn it on if you need it? Many learning opportunities for scout and scouter.

 

To the original question and my attempt to tie it together, yes, there is a need for a handbook and a fieldbook, but only because it's nice to provide a single source for the scouts to have available. The medium it is delivered on and how the scouts consume it, or not, is up to them.

 

 

I see your points, well said. As mentioned, I take a more nostalgic view of the old scout books. One of the reasons why the books from my scouting days are so valuable to me is their physical characteristics. Well worn, notes in the margins, etc. Today's e-book won't "age" the same, I believe.

 

However, I'm no Luddite. There is a place for electronic media. But the "smart" phone and GPS are still no substitute for an actual book and compass in the boonies. Folks can pack an e-device and the various recharging systems, but all they are doing is replacing a book that weighs a couple ounces. As powerful as an e-device can be, I still give the edge to printed media. The book a) is ready to be used "on demand," b) can be read energy-free during daylight hours and at night with a couple dollar flashlight c) weighs about the same as the e-device and charging system, d) is far tougher and "scout proof" than any electronic device. Bonus: those un-used chapters can be used to start a fire :)

 

So it shouldn't be either/or. Both old and new have their place. The only toe I'll dip into the Luddite pond is this: I think our society has become too dependent on the web and fancy electronics to perform basic life functions that humans used to do with their brains and pen and pencil (or a book). I saw this during my military career. The lights go out, the batteries die, the generators stop and....? "Now what do we do?"

 

"Well, turn on your flashlight, open that box over there, and pull out the binder, legal pad and pencil...we can still get the job done...."

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I didn't mean to come across terse in my previous post. My apologies if it sounded that way.

 

 

I see your points, well said. As mentioned, I take a more nostalgic view of the old scout books. One of the reasons why the books from my scouting days are so valuable to me is their physical characteristics. Well worn, notes in the margins, etc. Today's e-book won't "age" the same, I believe.

 

I agree. I much prefer a physical book to an e-book for anything I'm reading that I might want to remember past tomorrow. I'm not clever enough to mark multiple pages on my e-reader and flip between them like I can with my fingers between pages. I just don't see that with the small sample of youth I deal with regularly.

 

 

So it shouldn't be either/or. Both old and new have their place.

 

No doubt about it. I had map/compass and GPSr with me on our BWCAW trip a couple years ago. I was glad to have both.

 

 

The only toe I'll dip into the Luddite pond is this: I think our society has become too dependent on the web and fancy electronics to perform basic life functions that humans used to do with their brains and pen and pencil (or a book)."

 

Like make change? That's probably a different thread.

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With STEM taking over the traditional scouting program the boys won't need a scout handbook anymore, instead they will be using Popular Science magazine online.

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