Too many toys?
Masahiro Sayano (sayano@MICRO.CALTECH.EDU)
Mon, 15 Jun 1992 13:30:46 PDT
Greetings, Fellow Scouters!
The "new" BSA Scout Handbook seems too full of information to me. Let me
explain, as this was a beef that many Scouters (not just from my unit)
had when the 10th edition first came out.
The 10th edition has a lot of information, both basic and advanced
materials. It covers quite a bit of ground, and it is also substantially
longer (I think it was about 100 pages more for some editions) than
previous ones. The problem with this is that the basic information
important to beginning scouts gets lost in the fine print and the jazzy
Some younger boys are hit with information glut. They soon adapt. Until
then, it is difficult. You see, they don't have the ability to filter
out the basic material from the advanced stuff, so they try to learn it
all and get overwhelmed or confused. Luckily for us, our older boys serve
as a good filter for them.
My uncle's handbook, written in the 50's (I don't remember the edition)
is far superior. It has no photos, only line drawings, and limited color.
It is paperback but bound well on high quality paper; it has kept its shape
for a lot longer than recent handbooks. It is more concise and presents
information far more clearly than the present handbook. My boys are
always asking to see it to clear up a point or two on woodcraft skills,
Scouting ideals, and the like.
My suggestion to improve this situation is simply this: Make a basic
Handbook, with the information needed only for scouts below First Class,
with the basic woodcraft and Scouting ideals information and with no
high adventure or other related information. Most young boys don't go
on high adventure anyway. Make it a source of information for boys who
just started as scouts and who may not have even been out in the wilderness
before. Expand on nature topics such as plants and animals.
Put all high adventure materials in an advanced Handbook or include it
in the Fieldbook. There's some overlap between the Handbook and Fieldbook,
so combining the two wouldn't result in a massive tome. Put the high
adventure and stuff like cycling, rock climbing, etc., here.
And if the Fieldbook turns out to be too full of information, break it
into two books as well, or just remove some of the information that most
scouts will never see. Put that information in a Venture Scouting book.
So, there will be many smaller handbooks instead of one big one. If cost
is a problem, then limit the color photographs and opt for good line
drawings with limited amounts of color. They are usually enough to get
the point across, and have worked for years in previous editions.
Besides, a handbook is supposed to be a "hand" book, not a "hands-and-arms"
book, isn't it? What do you think?
Yours in Scouting,
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 738
Los Angeles Area Council
Boy Scouts of America
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City