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fgoodwin

The Hearts of Men (and other Scouting fiction)

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Buzzfeed has a great review of "The Hearts of Men" about "three generations of men as they return to a Boy Scout camp in northern Wisconsin over the course of 60 years":

 


 

The cover art got my attention and obviously points to a story about Scouting in some form.  This begs the question: what other Scouting fiction or Scouting novels have I missed?  Any personal favorites you'd recommend?

 

Fred Goodwin

Cub Scout parent

San Antonio, TX

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Posted (edited)

Percy Keese Fitzhugh wrote a ton of commissioned Boy Scout novels based on the characters of Pee Wee Harris, Roy Blakeley (Pee Wee and Roy from Boy's Life cartoon), Tom Slade, Westy Martin, Mark Gilmore, et al.  Fitzhugh caught the attention of the BSA with his novel Along the Mohawk Trail and wrote novels for over 20 years for BSA.  There are a number of other classics that were identified by BSA as good literature and they put out 73 novels under the BSA logo known as Every Boy's Library.  Some of these were outdoors, some sports, nautical themes, and some were definitely along the lines of Boy Scouts.  A lot of moral and ethical themes and some were just for fun.  All easy reads and once hooked, you'll want to collect the full compliment of books.... unfortunately, I did.  Cost me a small fortune but the books are great.  A word of caution if one is easily offended, these books are written reflective of the era and are not always politically correct which makes them fun to read about what life was like in the early years of Scouting.

 

By the way, if one wishes to know what "real" boy led, patrol method is all about, one may find that BSA would nix a lot of what these boys were doing during those early years.  Adults were pretty much non-existent in most of them.  Tom Slade, however, came from the "wrong side of town" and went on to be a WW I hero and a SM in his own right.  They did make a movie about Tom Slade back in the 20's or 30's.

Edited by Stosh

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The Wolf Patrol by John Finnemore was a good one. A digital version is available. Years ago in a used book store I picked up a copy of "The Black Wolf Pack" by Daniel Beard. Also a copy of Beard's "Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties".

 

I concur with Stosh's commentary.

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As Stosh says, the 73 titles of EBL are interesting.  Some of them are actual classics on their own like Ben Hur, Call of the Wild, Treasure Island, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  Others are just good stories for youth from the time, or things of interest such as the BSA Handbook, or Seton and Beard titles.  One that I have that is not actually in the official list, but has a forward by Franklin Mathews, the Chief Librarian of BSA at the time, is a collection of verse.  

 

Then there are the numerous books of actual adventures of Scouts, the best known being 3 Boy Scouts in Africa which was published in a number of languages and whose main author recently passed away in N.C. about a year after finally being awarded the DEA.  He also did a book on Grizzlies in Alaska while there in a Scouting connection.  Lots of other interesting items in my collection, some with only peripheral Scouting connections, others pretty much all Scouting.  A more recent book is about the Hmong scouts in the Bay area.  Also are a few titles from other Scouting groups, such as My Hike about 3 Brazillian senior scouts that tried to hike from Rio to N.Y..  Only one completed the hike, while another went off the trail ill, and one actually died.  Another one is A Fliver to Cambodia written by 3 senior scouts from France who start from Paris in a Model T and take it to Cambodia by land and sea, dismantling it and putting it back together more than once in order to transport it over steep mountains in the high country of Asia.  They complete the trip and are greeted by Cambodian scouts and are French celebrities for a time.  One other that I found fascinating is Hobnails to Heather about a group of Eagles from the U.S. that go to Scotland and hike the highlands, visiting with local scout groups and absorbing the culture.  All of my copies of the latter items are firsts, but I may have to make due with a reprint of the Lost on A Mountain In Maine about a scout who was just that and attributed his survival to his Scouting skills.  Had a chance years back to get a first at a respectable price, and for some reason passed.  Now, they show up on occasion, but are sort of pricey.

 

I am curious if some of the recent Eagles that have gone on scientific expeditions may write something, like Siple and Chapelle.  National has instituted a program that is actively recruiting older scouts for such expeditions and involvement in research projects.

 

Of course, talking about Scouting stories, we should not forget Onward for God and My Country; retitled Follow Me Boys after the movie, Be Prepared, Mr Scoutmaster, Scouts to the Rescue with Jackie Cooper, as well as lesser know oddball movie titles that capitalized on the popularity of the program in the thirties.

 

Lots more books that discuss issues, or aspects of the program, most recently a number of Eagle Scout related books being written.  Searches will find much more out there, some which is just bad, and some that is valid research or study of Scouting as a cultural phenomena.

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The protagonist of the movie "Moonrise Kingdom" is a "scout". Not a BSA scout, but clearly a take offf on the BSA. I understand it was based on a novel, and so that novel might be something like what you are looking for. Some of the subject matter in the movie was not appropriate for young teenagers, however, so if the goal is to turn it over to your children or the troop or somebody you ought to vet it first.

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