Looking for something to help you keep those hands busy this winter? The original Boy Scouts Handbook published in 1911 by the Boy Scouts of America is full of great ideas for those encouraging an interest. This free eBook not only offers a rubric of sorts, but also many, many practical helps in accomplishing the goals.
This “Official Handbook for Boys” states its purpose as:
to furnish to the patrols of the boy scouts advice in practical methods, as well as inspiring information.
You don’t need to be a part of the modern scouts to enjoy the many and varied ideas for boys and girls alike!
One of the notable contributors was Daniel Carter Beard, author of American Boy’s Handy Book and The Outdoor Handy Book. Along with Honorary President William Taft, and Honorary Vice President Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, the other interesting notable pioneer of the book is “Chief Scout” Ernest Thompson Seton, which some may recognize as being the author of Wild Animals I Have Known and Biography of a Grizzly, among many others.
The book begins, interestingly enough, with an advertisement for Shredded Wheat!
But with those preliminaries over, we jump to the basics of the Boy Scout movement: what scouting means, the oath, Scout law, and badge requirements, etc.
If you have a child interested in pursuing a particular area of study — say art — and are looking for a way to set up a course, or measure success, these merit badge requirements are a great place to start:
To obtain a merit badge for Art a scout must
1. Draw in outline two simple objects, one composed of straight lines, and one of curved lines, the two subjects to be grouped together a little below the eye.
2. Draw in outline two books a little below the eye, one book to be open; also a table or chair.
3. Make in outline an Egyptian ornament.
4. Make in outline a Greek or Renaissance ornament from a cast or copy.
5. Make an original arrangement or design using some detail of ornament.
6. Make a drawing from a group of two objects placed a little below the eye and show light and shade.
7. Draw a cylindrical object and a rectangular object, grouped together a little below the eye, and show light and shade.
8. Present a camp scene in color.
Not too easy, eh?
Areas covered include:
And those are just the A’s! Other areas of interest include bee farming, business, chemistry, civics, cooking, first aid, gardening, invention, music, and ornithology, to name but a few.
Also included in this section are knots every scout should know. Everyone should probably know a few of these!
The remainder of the nearly-400-page book is the “how to” — how to build a log cabin, how to measure distances, what to do when lost in the woods, how to treat sun stroke, and other helps for achieving the merit badge goals.
The appendix includes helpful equipment for scouts (some pertinent to scouting only — bugle? — but others of general use) and a great book list of mostly recognizable titles that cover the merit badge areas mentioned.
An index helps you find your way around.
We spent an evening reading and discussing the requirements listed in the handbook. Ah, if we were only skilled in a small portion of the areas mentioned!
Please note, as this handbook was published in 1911, there are simply things we wouldn’t think of doing anymore — waterproofing our tent with lead, for example. But there is plenty of material, and that which is questionable can be adjusted for modern times!