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Handbook for Boys

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The recent Scouter magazine has a nice history of Scouting. I enjoyed it.


That prompted me to look for an on-line copy of the first handbook - "Handbook for Boys".


If you go to http://books.google.com and search using "Handbook for Boys" you'll find a scanned copy. A very interesting read.


The suggested gear - beyond clothing - included a hand axe, drinking cup (collapsing brass cup), folding knife (amazingly similar to the Camillus knife I had in the 1970s), mess kit (looked like Spam cans), poncho, telegraph instrument, and whistle.


For cooking they only describe a griddle and a frying pan. That led me to wonder if these would have been cast iron or steel. I suspect cast iron is most likely. What do you think?


It describes dish washing as follows:

"First fill the frying-pan with water, place over the fire, and let it boil. Pour out the water and you will find the pan has practically cleaned itself. Clean the griddle with sand and water. Greasy knifes and forks may be cleaned by jabbing them into the ground. After all grease is gotten ride of, wash in hot water and dry with cloh. Don't use the cloth first and get it greasy."


Boy are instructed to sleep under a lean-to covered in conifer branches (not so much leave no trace back then) or use a duck tarp set-up in one of several slick configurations. Bedding is made of conifer branches covered by the poncho, then the sleeping bag put on top of that.



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I never knew about google books. Looked up some of the other handbooks and found one that gives instructions on what to do about a mad dog.


It says that you have to kill the dog. In the book to wrap your arm and have the dog move in. It also says that you need to have some kind of club available. Lure in the dog and when he comes in close either kick him under the jaw or hit him with the club.


imagine what would happen if we published something like that today. Oh the lawsuits that could insue.

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Don't forget that a scout needed to know how to stop a run-away team of horses and how to rescue people from a house full of gas or a burning building. Things were a lot different before phones were common place.


Also, skip to the merit badge requirements and check the requirements for Inventor MB. It was discontinued by 1916 because only an handful of scouts had completed the two simple requirements to earn the badge. Requirement one was to invent something and secure a patent for the invention.




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  • 2 weeks later...

I received the centennial BS History book for Christmas and was surprised to learn that two Canadian Scouts came to the 1936 National Jamboree in Washington, DC. No big surprise? Well, they bike to it from British Columbia. Try getting a National Tour Permit under those circumstances today! :)


Scouting war stories back when are always interesting, but I do remember getting wall tents that actually had another piece of canvas one used as a floor. Floor in a tent? Luxury! It wasn't until years later that we had bug screens on the tents.


I'm not thinking there are many scouts today that are capable to camping as we did 50 years ago. The #10 can was one of the most important pieces of BSA equipment back then and today at camp one can't even get a pair of them for fire safety anymore.


Bug lights? Anyone know what they are? or how to make them?


Try to find a flashlight today that is capable of Morse Code (2nd Class Requirement).


Fuzz Stick anyone?


Anyone still use the mess kit as a personal dutch oven? Makes great blueberry muffins.


I went to Florida over the Christmas holidays and held two week worth of gear in 2 Yucca Packs....


With a waxing moon over vacation, didn't need a flashlight.


Still own and use WWII pup tent.


Hit the Lodge outlet store in So. Pittsburgh, TN and bought $400 worth of iron. The new BSA centennial dutch oven and fry pan was too much of a temptation. :) The 14" dutch holds the muffin tin really nicely.


Don't touch the canvas in a rainstorm.... :)


Yes, I own a brass collapsible cup and a brass match safe. I take medications daily. Cup and match safe are part of my first aid kit. My aluminum match safe holds my matches.


6 large safety pins are still needed for a double wool blanket sleeping "bag"/bedroll. That's what the 12 extra rings on the Yucca pack are for.


Reflector oven? Sure, it's called a roll of aluminum foil.


Backpack stove? Sure, large juice can with vents. Mess kit balances nicely on top of it. When done, fill #10 can with water and drop it in. Nests inside #10 boiler on the march. Need to find a nice source of wire coat hangers to complete your kitchen setup.


Nice canvas tarp makes great tent/fly.


Too much weight to carry? Buddy up with someone and lash a travois of walking sticks and that problem is solved. Tie it down with a diamond hitch and off you go.... Use your tumpline if it's a bit heavy or your arms get tired. You know, the tumpline, the thingy you use to help keep the weight of the canoe off your neck when you portage and to carry twice the weight of your backpack...






(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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Before Mr. Kelty bent his aluminum tubing, the senior scouts came back from Philmont touting the virtues of the war surplus M4 plywood pack board, and then everybody in the Troop had to have one. Sunny's Surplus couldn't find enough.

Eastern seaboard Troops went up into the Appalachians, firm in the knowledge there would be enough downed, dead American Chestnut to cook over blue hot coals. No more.

I had a 2 quart aluminum Scout canteen. It fell over a cliff (another time) and when I recovered it, it was badly dented. Back home, I filled it about 2/3 full, put it in the freezer, and a couple of hours later heard a loud "TUNK", went and fetched it out. All the dents were gone! It served me and my camping sons until one let it roll off a table into the road where it was run over by a car. No more canteen.

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Those 2-quart canteens can be gotten on E-bay and are great. Little heavy when full, but the extra water and over-the-shoulder strap make it easy to handle.


The wooden pack boards were great in that they could hold a double Yucca or military duffel if necessary and with tumpline would ease the lack of waist belt. The only problem was with the ride against the back. Padding the wood or rope webbing often times made them more tolerable. One of the really nice thing about them is the load switch out on portages. Put a duffel on and portage a load. Drop the load off the board and go back for another load. The problem with today's framed packs is that one needs a frame for every pack. With pack boards, you need only one board for every boy regardless of how many packs are needed.


Two or three packboards lash nicely on a travois as well.


Two packboard also work nicely as tent poles on a makeshift tent, just put a metal pin in the top of one of the uprights and slip it over the tarp grommet and you're all set to go.


I have found out over the years that mahogany is the best wood. Very light and very strong.


Oops, forgot to add. If you get a "new" 2-qt canteen off of E-bay and it leaks, just put some parafin in, warm up the canteen gently (i.e. don't torch it) and let the parafin seal the leak from the inside.


Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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>I received the centennial BS History book for Christmas and was surprised to learn that two Canadian Scouts came to the 1936 National Jamboree in Washington, DC. No big surprise? Well, they bike to it from British Columbia. Try getting a National Tour Permit under those circumstances today!


That would have been the 1937 National Scout Jamboree. They missed the two Scouts from Venezuela who walked to D.C.




Ed Palmer

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I got some leftover xmas trees from the YMCA lot up the street and plan to have my scouts practice building the lean to with conifer branches in the church parking lot next meeting. Oh and burn the trunk in the rocket stove we made with a five gallon can to melt snow. The reprinted Handbook I have refers to Scouts being able to slaughter their own cattle, still negotiating with the committee on that one.

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