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LeCastor

Boy Scout Handbook--Still Necessary?

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LeCastor, Well, if the boys don't have BSA pants, what makes one think they have BSA shorts? Kinda like, well, with no shorts and no shirt, what then identifies the boy as a scout? Oh, he wears his $5 camp t-shirt. Nice uniform, how many camps does BSA have?

 

As far as watering things down, we see it happening in most of what BSA does.

 

What was once a bastion of boyhood activity dedicated to the outdoors, we now have a PC version marketed towards the modern boy. Well the outdoor activities don't interest the electronic couch gamer one bit and the watered down version of what was once camping and outdoors doesn't really fit with the boys into the outdoors stuff. So in fact by making a ton of compromises, no one ends up with what they want and if one is selling a product no one wants, it's kind of a waste of time.

 

Boys want to play sports at the highest level of competition. They want to achieve beyond what others merely dabble in. The join gangs for the camaraderie. And what does BSA offer? a milk toast version of camping. No wonder everyone under 18 thinks it's dorky. 50 years ago you were a dork if you were NOT in scouts, now it's done a 180. So what's going on?

 

If you remember the days you wore your scout uniform to school because you had a den meeting after school, then you know what I'm talking about. Today we can't get boys to even wear their uniforms to a meeting.

 

So, LeCastor, you walking about watering down from the previous edition of the handbook or one from the 1950's?

 

Stosh

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Stosh-

 

I don't disagree with you about the uniform. I ALWAYS wore my uniform to school in Cubs and Scouts if I had an activity after school. I was merely outlining the official policy. If the uniform was properly priced, and not used as a profit center, I think I would have no qualms about pushing harder, where needed, to make sure that every Troop was properly uniformed. The simple matter is that a lot of kids- often in communities where Scouting can make a HUGE difference in the lives of young men, simply can't afford a full uniform (I need a new shirt, but it isn't even in my budget right now). So, allowances have to be made. I would rather see a troop in uniform shirts and neckers with jeans than to see them not uniformed at all, and for Cubs, I think jeans are a better option than the official blue pants from a practical and budgetary point of view.

 

Getting back to the OP- the Handbook, if it is written to have all the really useful information of our youth, instead of the watered down safety nanny pablum of the current version, would be read by kids even if they aren't Scouts (yet). Yes, it has the information needed to get through the lower Ranks, but it is a shadow of the handbooks of yesterday. That goes for the Fieldbook as well.

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If you remember the days you wore your scout uniform to school because you had a den meeting after school, then you know what I'm talking about. Today we can't get boys to even wear their uniforms to a meeting.

 

So, LeCastor, you walking about watering down from the previous edition of the handbook or one from the 1950's?

 

Stosh

 

I certainly remember wearing my uniform to school before a den meeting and all of my friends did. That was in the late 1980s. :D

 

My collection of Scouting handbooks spans the entire catalog. But you can really tell a decline, or watering-down, of the Boy Scout Handbook after Bill's 9th edition. I'll argue, though, that there was still some very valuable information in the 10th edition; however, in this book there was plenty of photos of Scouts in red polo shirts and khaki shorts. This seems to be the first time the BSA was veering away from the field uniform for camping/hiking/outing.

 

I absolutely can't stand the 11th edition of the Handbook and I find the 12th edition--the current one--to be a little too "flashy" and without enough meat in it. It's like magazines today that are more "blingy thingy" than substance. But I think I read somewhere that a new version is not far off...Hope springs eternal.

 

Let's not even get started on the 8th edition...;) "Improved Scouting"...yeah, about that...

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Getting back to the OP- the Handbook, if it is written to have all the really useful information of our youth, instead of the watered down safety nanny pablum of the current version, would be read by kids even if they aren't Scouts (yet). Yes, it has the information needed to get through the lower Ranks, but it is a shadow of the handbooks of yesterday. That goes for the Fieldbook as well.

 

Yes, Torchwood, you nailed it!

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... Getting back to the OP- the Handbook' date=' if it is written to have all the really useful information of our youth, instead of the watered down safety nanny pablum of the current version, would be read by kids even if they aren't Scouts (yet). Yes, it has the information needed to get through the lower Ranks, but it is a shadow of the handbooks of yesterday. That goes for the Fieldbook as well. ... [/quote']

 

Mostly agree. The current version seems overly watered down. I like the additional quick reference lists. Plus scouts these days do expect more images / graphics. But it feels like it is written at a 3rd or 4th grade writing level. It also feels extremely introductory. It leaves me with the feeling that I need to go somewhere else for more information.

 

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It leaves me with the feeling that I need to go somewhere else for more information.

 

:D Yeah, like one written by Green Bar Bill.

 

I guess I'm not totally against the images and graphics so much as I am against the introductory feel you mentioned. We need a handbook for outdoorsmen that ends up dog-eared and held together with duct-tape from so much use. (I have a lost 12th edition in my truck that's falling apart but I'm sure it's not from use as much as it is from throwing it around like a frisbee.)

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.... We need a handbook for outdoorsmen that ends up dog-eared and held together with duct-tape from so much use. ...

 

Yeah, it's sad. The current handbook is FLASH OVER SUBSTANCE. More I think about this, the more I realize it's a long standing frustration.

 

Also, perhaps it's how the book is formatted and organized. The current formatting discourages reading the chapter beginning to end. "Bounce around" / "Toss It In" format causes scouts to skip around. Lots of bubbles / inserts. Lots of formatting differently. The format is more like a decorative coffee table folio than a get-the-job-done handbook.

 

Examples from the "Cooking" chapter.

 

- Pages 321-322 would be good reference materials, but the pages are tipped / angled and formatted different than everything else. They are made to feel like a cartoon instead of a good definitive reference element. How about making the pages face each other so that when you open the book you see the whole chart instead of having to flip pages. POSITIVE - I like a different color or something to call our authoritative reference charts. BAD - It's an accident and not consistently done that way.

 

- Page 322 - Key information about water is tossed in as a unindexed blurb that is easily missed.

 

- Page 339 - Peach cobbler is the only complete recipe. Ingredient list and quantities. Instructions. Well structured. But it's promoted to a full page as if it's some brilliant discovery unique to scouting. Where's the other complete recipes? Format it better and you could have 40 more recipes in 10 pages. Then the scouts would use it for meal planning. Again though, the formatting on page 339 makes it look less than authoritative.

 

- Page 342 - Philmont grace. How about some other graces? Formatting makes it get lost.

 

- Food safety ... some on page 326 ... some on other pages.

 

I was going to suggest it's us leaders and that we don't promote using the handbook. But ya know ... I think it's just really hard to use it. It's flashy like "look at all the things scouts do" ... but it lacks usability and it lacks substance and it lacks authority.

 

I emphasize that scouts need to bring their scout books to EVERY meeting and EVERY camp out. But really there is little reason except to record advancement. After the first little bit, the rest of the book does not get used. Heck, even the advancement components are harder to use in this version.

 

If it was better written and organized, I'd be telling them to open their scout books all the time. The knot section is better, but still needs clean up and improvement.

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It's the Sesame Street version of learning. Bits and pieces tossed at you in someone random way that allows the person not be bored. The reason boys can't pay attention for very long is because unless the world keeps changing in an exciting way, they zone out. A book laid out in a continuum would be plain and boring and the boys wouldn't read it. Of course even with the way they present it they don't read it anyway. Maybe the BSA can produce an electronic video produced by the people at Sesame Street so that our boys can watch it on their iPhones.

 

Stosh

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Well, Stosh and Desert, it doesn't HAVE to be "blingy thingy". ;) Don't put all that junk on your outing uniform...

 

I think there is a contradiction there in the 12th edition between "[d]ressed as a Scout ,you will want to act as a Scout" and "[w]hen you head outdoors you can pull on an t-shirt with the Scout shorts..."

 

So here's another spin my original question: if we're watering down the uniform are we also watering down the Handbook?

 

LeCastor, at the risk of me missing the point of an otherwise humorous comment you made (too late!), it just isn't the bling. Even if the current or ODLR uniform was free of every badge, bangle, gee gaw or gimcrack, I still don't consider it "outdoor clothing." Some here feel otherwise, and that's fine. My viewpoint is the scout uniform, for many years, was designed primarily for in-town, sedentary activity--passive listening at conferences and training, standing in line at buffets, sitting on picnic benches, observing powerpoint presentations in camp mess halls, etc. It's over priced, unappealing to many people (BSA and non-BSA alike) and not any where near the the category of outdoor clothing.

 

As for the handbook, I think Stosh has articulated the matter quite well.

 

The only thing I'll add: whether it is the handbook, or the uniform, or WB or anything else, the non-outdoors people in the BSA have been slowly trying to edge aside the outdoor emphasis of the BSA. It started in the '70s, halted briefly when GB Bill re-wrote the Scout Hand book, but picked up again a few years later. Only recently have I detected a movement back toward the adventure part of the BSA at the national/council level. I hope it sticks. Real scouting and real leadership training takes place in the outdoors.

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Let's not even get started on the 8th edition...;) "Improved Scouting"...yeah, about that...

 

Ah, the 8th edition, my first handbook! We made the best of it. But very anemic, that handbook. Wasn't sure what I was missing as a scout until I read a copy of a '60s era handbook. Holy cow, what a contrast!

 

So GB Bill came off the bench and rewrote the handbook, in its entirety. That 9th edition is still one of my favorites. It was welcomed like rain on a parched land. He aced it.

 

Scouting survived the "Improved Scouting Program" through the dedication of old school scouters who carried on the REAL traditions and spirit of scouting, and outdoors emphasis. It didn't matter how silly the ISP was in reality--we scouts were benefiting from real scouting, pre-ISP scouting, regardless.

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Great story, Desertrat! Thank God for those Scouters who carried the torch through the tough times, and thank God for the 9th edition, too!

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LeCastor, I'm thankful for them too. I think of them often. As the years go by, I appreciate them more and more. Would love to be able to sit down with them, and have a good long talk (me listening and them talking!). All the better if there was a campfire and big coffee pot involved.

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I think we all agree that scouting has been watered down over the years and the handbooks reflect that fact. So it is truly up to all the scouting leaders in all the programs to instill the real essence of what scouting truly is to all the boys/Venturing girls too using Green Bar Bill's model in the handbooks prior to the 1970's and other appropriate sources.

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I think we all agree that scouting has been watered down over the years and the handbooks reflect that fact. So it is truly up to all the scouting leaders in all the programs to instill the real essence of what scouting truly is to all the boys/Venturing girls too using Green Bar Bill's model in the handbooks prior to the 1970's and other appropriate sources.
To a certain extent, I think we have a responsibility to keep Scouting on track. By that I mean keeping the outing in Scouting. We must keep the Patrol Method/system alive and well, too. However, we must follow the guidelines of safety as handed down from BSA. That doesn't mean we can't go camping and let the patrols camp apart from each other--and from adults. Common sense applies, of course. I personally use GBB's approach to Scouting whenever I can. STEM can be good for Scouting, as St0ut has suggested. But I know that you don't necessarily agree, BadenP. I'm all for STEM if we can keep it in the outdoors.

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I agree with our responsibility to keep scouting alive and well. It is too bad the handbook has gone downhill over the years. One could argue that this is the cause of the lack of skills etc... If it isn;'t in the book, then how will a scout know about it especially if the adults don't know either. If the BSA wants to keep a flashy handbook, then at least have the real substance in the fieldbook. The FB can be brought on outings and the boys can use it as a resource to things. I really like how my 1952 fieldbook is layed out. Each "Chapter" is a pow-wow and the adventure grows from one to the next. A patrol could do great things just by doing the pow-wows in order. Some would be patrol meetings, some day hikes, other campouts. How each one leads the boys to the next level of adventure and instills the patrol method is so elegant.

 

 

edit: the 1952 fieldbook was written by James West and GBB

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