Re: Boy's Life and other magazines
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Tue, 10 May 1994 00:42:31 EDT
John Pannell <PANNELLJ@DELPHI.COM> writes:
(in replying to Gino's question about _Boys'_Life_.....)
>>It is my understanding,from the recent thread, that Boy's Life is the
>>magazine BSA offers to both Cubs and Scouts. Is it the only one?
>Boy's Life is for the youth members of the BSA, at all levels. IMO, this is
>unfortunate. There might be a separate publication for Explorers that I do
>not know of.
Exploring Journal is an insert for Exploring leaders in _Scouting_ and
is sent separately to all Explorers as part of their membership fees.
At this point, let me explain why professionals WANT you to have Boys'
Life and why the BSA places so much of an emphasis in this magazine.
(paraprofessional hat on)
When the BSA bought the magazine "Boy's Life" in the 20s (I think it
was the 20s, 1926 to be exact, I feel), it was to be used as the
official public organ of the BSA. Over the years, the paltry pennies
and dimes which were used as subscriptions paid for the entire cost of
the magazine. Today, BL is one of this nation's premier magazines,
not for the content or the photos, but because it is PRODUCED USING
NOT ONE DIME OF THE BSA'S MONIES! Therefore, your subscriptions to
Boys' Life is NOT going to support the further production of the
publication (okay, a little is going to support the small staff
responsible for producing BL each month...but they are all BSA
employees or staff members...and the BSA handles the subscriptions);
it is going STRAIGHT to the BSA's coffers to offer more and varied
programs for ALL of us (and yes, to pay for the professional staffs
at the national office and at the four Regional offices)!
In 1948, the BSA decided to recognize units that have ALL of their
members to subscribe to BL, and therefore supporting the national
organization. "Pedro's Pals" (Pedro is a long-eared burro whom is the
magazine's mascot, and through which the Boy Scout Program Director
speak through to each and every Boy Scout and Cub Scout (and friends
and girls) whom read the monthly magazine) was what it was originally
called. Those units that had 100 percent of their youth members
subscribe would get a percentage off the subscriptions and also a
Over time, the percentage got smaller and smaller and the streamers
got larger and longer and in 1973, for the first time, the BSA
incorporated the 100% BL unit subscriptions into the overall program.
For the first time, professionals were EVALUATED on their percentage
of Boys' Life to youth registered in traditional Districts. We are
still evaluated on that, as one of the many "critical acheivements"
that we are asked to evaluate our performance against. Therefore, it
only stands to reason that we would want you as volunteers to do the
same. In 1974-75, 100 percent Boys' Life was incorporated into the
Honor Unit goals for units. It has stayed there as a option since
then. It is also incorporated into goals for various volunteer
training awards as well.
"So", you are perhaps asking, "what about those units whose members
cannot afford the extra money for BL? What happens to them?"
Well....the answer is simple. The DE or other professional "tries to
put the squeeze" on the chartered partner to "underwrite" the cost of
BL for each boy in the unit. Many chartered partners balk at this,
and so we as pros don't go out there and do this unless we're SURE
that they can spare the extra $100 to 250 a year for this great value
and extra programming for the boys in the unit.
"So, the BSA is getting 100 percent, give or take, of the
subscriptions to BL. I don't have a problem with that. But how come
the thing's not as good as I remember it?" Two answers. First, since
the BSA has shifted emphasis twice, the folks at Boys' Life are kinda
lost. See, in the 50s and 60s, the emphasis was to "show Scouts doing
Scouting...the outdoors, the rugged things, the fantasy of being a
Scout". In the 70s, we moved to a more urbanized version of Scouting
and the magazine reflected it with movie and record reviews,
interviews with pop and rock stars, and ball players. Those were the
people that Scouts were looking up to, not those that traveled to
Philmont and climbed Baldy. In the 80s, the folks went back to the
tried and true and found that kids weren't interested in the camping
and outdoors aspect...they were sold on the "how did they leave their
communities and make big bucks?" angle. So, BL told them (of course,
leaving out or in smaller paragraphs emphazising their Scouting
roles). Boys' Life considered interviewing Axel Rose of the metal
band Gunz-n-Roses (whom made it to Life before rock-and-roll stole his
heart, but whom never forgot about what it was like to be a "scout")
after he gave his home Council enough money to build several
long-needed facelifts at their Council camp. But when Axel went on
stage somewhere and started urinating off the stage into the audience,
the BSA folks said "whoa!! Next slide!" and there was no mention.
So, BL was intent on showing the "finer things in life" but not on
promoting what it was bought to promote: the programs of the Boy
Scouts of America.
Second, kids have changes somewhat. The same ones that two decades
ago would sit down and read a book end to end or take a magazine and
go page by page, doing the magic stunts and creating new neckerchief
slides to wear, are today running the streets, grabbing a videotape,
popping it into the VCR, hitting the remote control to start it from
the kitchen, where they are fixing a quick snack in the microwave
for himself and his "posse" to eat while talking "trash" about their
friends. Different kids need a different magazine and I think that
the BL folks are *trying* to keep up, but face it: we're talking 40
and 50 year olds trying to relate to 13 and 15 year olds. "Create a
Slide" won't make it in today's K-mart, Walmart, convienence store
generation. Nor will many of the articles which showed Scouts doing
great (and by today's silly standards, *dangerous things that we don't
want to be sued about*) things.
Remember the stink about Crossman arms and the kid that got hurt with
a Daisy air rifle which was illustrated and advertised through Boy's
Life? That's one example.
You'll see some articles on Scouting each month. You'll also see the
familiar "Hobby Hows", "Stamps and Coins", "Scoutin' Around" and of
course, Pedro's "Hitchin' Rack". You will also see the Tracy Twins
cartoon but the Bible cartoon which used to be a fixture each month is
not there....(at least I've haven't seen it); the "Scouts in Action"
feature are more recent than the historic ones that used to appear
(sometimes over and over) in past BLs; the monthly theme areas are
softer and less bolder than in the past whereby Scouts were shown IN
UNIFORM doing Scouting things; and the overall tone is "here's a place
where you can sit and read about things that you perhaps already have
heard about on MTV or read about in Sports Illustrated. Oh, by the
way, here's something about Boy Scouting that we think you might be
interested in...we won't bore you.....we'll only make it a page or
That's the story about Boys' Life. No matter what, it is STILL a
great bargain if you get it at the reduced price (hey! Just because I
don't like the present format don't mean that I won't take advantage
of a good bargain when I see one!) of (I believe) $6.80 for a year's
And some of the jokes in "Grin and Bear it" ARE pretty good, even if
they were written by third graders! (former paraprofessional hat off)
>_Scouting_ magazine is published for the leaders in the BSA and is included
>as part of our registration fees. I have a few boys in my troop who find it
>more interesting than Boy's Life.
Because, as we Scouters know (and I think Boys' Life don't quite "get
it"), Scouting and the stories of what Scouts just like us are doing
and struggling with and excited about...that SELLS. Another Michael
Jordan article, even for a megastar like him, well...it's another
Michael Jordan article.
Kinda like this list, when you think about it, don't 'cha think?
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
(h) 502-782-7992 (f) 502-781-7279 (w) 502-782-7467 |-=-|]
3201-D Cave Springs Avenue -- Greenwood, KY 42104-4439 -=====-
Internet: WALTOML@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU/America OnLine: KYBLKEAGLE@AOL.COM
"Not speaking for WKU......................but I do speak well!!"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City