Okay, I admit I’m a Boy Scout Handbook junkie. I don’t collect patches, mugs or a lot of other memorabilia, but I do love old Scouting books, especially old editions of the handbook. Perhaps it is because the handbook is such an iconic classic, or maybe because each edition evokes the smell of wood smoke, pines and the outdoors. For whatever reason, I know I’m not alone. Every edition is celebrated by each generation, and is often the exciting entry point for the next generation of young people.
Yesterday, one of our staff came to my office and told me that her son had been bugging her to bring home the handbook to help him prepare for a camping trip with another organization. As he walked through the pages, he became more and more excited about all the fun adventures that Scouting presents. I know that soon, we’ll get him as a new Scout.
In the meantime, that experience got me thinking about some of my early camping memories, all of which I remember so fondly: my first time sleeping under the stars, cooking meals over a fire and breathing amazingly fresh air. In addition to offering these memorable experiences, though, camping also teaches responsibility and teamwork. It gives our Scouts a sense of confidence and accomplishment they may not have experienced before. Camping is one of the more exhilarating ways Scouting imparts character and leadership skills and teaches our Scouts the true importance of being prepared.
We always want our Scouts to have fun, but we also want our camping programs to provide the life-changing experiences our Scouts can’t find anywhere else, and that takes planning. Already this year, units have been working hard to organize training, clean up campsites and raise funds to get their spring and summer camping programs ready to go. Clearly, learning and development opportunities abound with camping, and not all of these educational opportunities occur at the campsite. In the true spirit of our Scout Motto — Be Prepared — we strive to equip our Scouts with the knowledge and skills they need before they venture into the wilderness.
Our new edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook has plenty of resources to help round out a great camping experience for our Scouts — both before and during the campout.
- Chapter 9 covers selecting campsites, packing the right gear, pitching a tent and safe camping practices, among other topics.
- Chapter 10 is about planning great meals (and in case you missed it, check out our Handbook Hack on foil cooking).
- Chapter 11 focuses on navigation and methods to avoid getting lost.
- Chapter 12 contains important information on tools, particularly knots.
- And Chapter 13 is all about first aid (stay tuned for an upcoming Handbook Hack on this topic).
And while we’re on the topic of first aid, Chapter 13 of the handbook also contains some useful information on protecting against and treating insect bites — an important, relevant topic given the news the Zika virus is making lately. This CDC resource is another good destination for avoiding mosquito bites that can result in Zika or other illnesses.
So whether it’s a council camp weekend or a week-long journey to one of Scouting’s four High-Adventure bases, let’s all be mindful of what it takes to provide a quality, safe and fun camping experience. Simply look no further than the Boy Scout Handbook for the information you need to make it so. And please share the handbook with others. Now is the time to fire up the next generation of future leaders with the excitement and learning to be found in a place the kids today really need to be: outdoors.
In the end, we will provide our Scouts with the type of long-lasting memories that, when shared with their friends, have the power to attract more members to our movement and help us build more young men of strong character.