Re: Too many toys?
or blackeagle ("Settummanque)
Mon, 15 Jun 1992 21:04:00 EDT
As one of many volunteers sought for input into the "Official Boy Scout
Handbook" (the version before the present one), please allow me to explain
(not to justify, just to explain!) why and how the new Boy Scout Handbook
was put together.
First, a group of professionals and some key national volunteers met to
examine the previous edition. They not just looked at the content; they also
looked at the way it was presented. The "Official Scout Handbook" was the
BSA's attempt to get "back to basics" as we strayed from the true intent of
the Boy Scouting program and tried to make it everything to each and every
boy (I think that I covered that on a previous posting....).
To many, the Official Handbook was good, but my thinking was that they felt
the material needed graphical explainations moreso than the present (9th)
Next, came the input from the field. I spoke several times about those
"test councils" ( and LAAC is one of those councils, along with Old Baldy and
Western Empire) and input from professionals and key Scouting volunteers.
Lots of that work is done during the Philmont volunteer training courses, and
still more is done by the Regional staffs.
Next (for this edition) educators were asked for their input as to what a
fifth grader would love to read about. As a educator, I can tell you that
kids love exciting pictures and verbage that will
"place them right in the middle of things". Go to any several pages in the
new book, read them aloud, and you will see yourself imaging those events
come alive. One of the critizisms of this book is that it allows Scouts to
read and imagine those things, yet in reality very little of it actually
happens (the year before last, Scout executives were told to tone down their
"promotion of Scouting" because they (national) were getting many angry letters
from parents who took their children out of Troops because they did not live
up to the expectations of what a Executive told them (or what was printed in
the Book). The laylout was alos designed so that Scouts can easily read and
understand complex discussions (as a example, turn to page 361, where the
discussion centers on conservation of the land and the waters....and then
the next page, where the Book talks about being a "land steward"). (sorry..
Finally, a team of council and regional volunteers look at the book and add
their small two point five to the overall content.
the book is then published, sent out and everyone looks at with awe.
Okay...now that I've bored you and everyone to tears, I will tell you WHY this
book was written this way...different from the past versions....
1) Pictures are cheaper to use than hiring a group of artists to do line
2) Color pictures add to the imagination of each Scout that reads the book.
3) The Handbook is not just the Handbook for Scouts to First Class; it is a
complete book, designed so that a Scout can purchase one as a Scout; earn
First Class, go to a Varsity Team or a Venture Crew, earn Eagle; continue on
and participate in a Jamboree and then refer to the book later on.
4) The cover looks more like a yearbook than a manual. This is reflective of
today's Scout, that wants to be a Scout yet don't want to look or act the part
(note that NOWHERE on the front cover is a Scout shown in the official uniform.
On the back cover, there is a merit badge sash and the First Class Badge....
but also a baseball and bat and a d-ring...)
5) Scouting's research says that Scouts are most interested in the following
things....therefore the chapters of this handbook is arranged in this order:
outdoor activities (14 chapters), community and personal development (7
chapters), Scouting activities (4 chapters), advancement (2 chapters) and
doing special activities (2 chapters). Also note that as the Scout gets older,
the outdoor chapters will (hopefully) be second nature as he seeks out the
other opportunities (oh my gosh, I can actually earn a badge for this!) and
options (like being with girls, part of both Varsity and Venture programs)!
6) Creating yet a different book was disasterous for the BSA....the old
Leadership Corps Handbook (which there was a new edition made, but it was
quietly allowed to die....) proved to be a massive waste. Teens are "not
interested in leadership...they are interested in girls..." and would rather
do than to read about it. (yeah, yeah....in order to do, one must know about
it and that involves reading...)
So a "Trail to First Class: the early years" book will strike out with many
because the skills of leadership and teaching younger Scouts come from the
knowledge in that book...and forces many to purchase the "Trail to Eagle:
priniciples and practices" in addition to the early book as their trail goes
Finally, while believe me, I wholeheartly agree with you, your fellow Scouters
in LAAC, and in other places in the country that have reacted to this book with
a large "retch!!!!" ("All I need to see is Donny and Marie on the cover and
Scouts doing the hokey-pokey") to this book, it took a lot of work (okay a
little work on the part of a lot of people that would rather be doing several
other things!) on the part of a trained staff that *knows Scouting* and
volunteers that *knows what looks good to a kid* (and remember: the Scout
Handbook was written at the fifth grade, first semester reading level....the
1950s and 60s books were written at the ninth grade reading level!) and gave
us something that at least for me, if others are not borrowing it, a place on
my shelf beside the book that *really* gets a workout, the Official Boy Scout
[and for the record, I am wearing a pair of the "action shorts" right now.
I find them very confortable and suitable for everyday wear. But I am a member
of the Boy Scouts of America, and as such, I am supposed to set an example for
others by wearing the "official field uniform", complete. Not to wear a
pseudo-costume to Scouting events because "I am afraid of what my peers will
say or do to me". If that was the case, we would NOT have Scouting in many of
our innercities or in our rural areas because we would not be able to "disguise
ourselves" in order to have fun doing the things we dreamed about reading that
[the reference was to the action gear illustrated on the cover that Scouts
can wear as a alternative uniform to the field uniform. No insignia (other
than the Woodbadge Training Award, which keeps going back and forth was to
(as to...sorry) its wear!]
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City