Boy Scout Books

1965 Boy Scount Handbook - Boy Scout publicationsI don’t know what caused me to look up when I was carrying the newspapers out to the recycle bin, but my eyes locked on some of my old Boy Scout books that were on the top shelf of the living room bookshelf. My 1965 Boy Scout Handbook was up there, but I was disappointed that my favorite 1959 Fifth Edition wasn’t sitting next to it.

The 1959 Handbook was a smaller-sized book with a two Scouts and an Explorer sitting around a campfire whose smoke is forming an Indian behind them. The back cover had an ad for U.S. Royal bike tires that showed a uniformed Boy Scout pedaling his bike up a hill. You can see it on Troop 97’s website.

1976 Handbook is politically correct

1976 Scout Handbook -  Boy Scout publicationsBy the time my boys entered Scouting, the 1976 Scout Handbook’s cover had embraced cultural diversity.

First Edition 1948 Scout Field Book

1948 Field Book - Boy Scout publicationsI think I liked my 1948 Scout Field Book even more than my Scout Handbook. It was a much-thumbed how-to book. The introduction to the next edition said that more than a million copies of the 1948 Scout Field Book (two words in my era) were “bought, used and treasured by Scouts and Scouters.”

Dad’s 1967 Fieldbook

1967 Fieldbook - Boy Scout publicationsThis is Dad’s 1967 Fieldbook for Boys and Men that he used when he got active in Scouting with Brothers Mark and David.

The introduction to the Fieldbook (one word in 1967), says it “is a book of action. You won’t sit very long in an easy chair reading it – you’ll want to go outside to try the nature projects, to give the exciting menus a whirl over an open fire, to pitch your tent; yes, even to build an igloo.”

Merit badge books

Citizenship Merit Badge Book -  Boy Scout publicationsThe merit badge books all had a distinctive red bottom and a photo at the top. I had a whole shelf full of them covering topics I knew I’d never use to earn a merit badge. They were just too good to use as reference books to pass up for the price. This is the 1959 printing of the 1953 Citizenship book.

I only made it to Life Scout rank. It took 21 merit badges to qualify for Eagle, but they had to include specific ones. I had more than enough badges, but picked topics I was interested in rather than what was required.

The final step was when you had to make an appointment with a merit badge counselor to demonstrate your proficiency in the topic. That meant that you had to reach out to an adult expert who would review your qualifications and determine if you passed or if you needed more work.

Some troops that I dismissed as “Eagle Scout Factories” would bring in counselors who would pass a group of boys at a time. Even as a Scout, I thought that was shortchanging the experience. Screwing up your nerve to call the counselor, usually a stranger who could be a bit intimidating, was an important learning experience.

Dad served as a counselor for a number of merit badges. If he signed off on your merit badge, you knew that material. He wasn’t afraid to tell a boy that he needed more work and to come back when he was ready to try again.

Other references

When I think of the Scoutmaster’s Handbook, I think of Scout Executive Paul Berkbigler who was the epitome of a Scouter.

Colorado Troop 97 has some excellent information about the BSA handbooks.

You can see a Centennial Timeline of Scouting and the Boy Scout Handbook on the BSA website..


1963 Boy Scout Pre-Camporee

It’s Scout Week, so it’s an appropriate time to dredge these up. Some of these photos are of are men and boys I recognize being in Trinity Lutheran School’s Boy Scout Troop 8. The negative sleeve said they were taken at the 1963 Pre-Camporee. I can’t quite place where the event was held. Maybe someone else can clue me in.

I recognize a few of the boys. Two who were my age were Joe Snell and Ronald Dost.

Stan Snell, Harry Ruesler , Ralph Haman

Three of the adult leaders were Stan Snell, Harry Ruesler and Ralph Haman.

Loading them up

Dad (L.V. Steinhoff),  left, loads up a batch of boys into his pickup. Clarence Schade is on the right.

A double exposure

Something was wrong with this photo. A closer look disclosed that it was a double exposure: two photos taken on the same frame of film. That’s pretty tough to do with most cameras because you cock the shutter for the next photo when you advance the film. About the only only way you can do it by accident is to load the film in the camera twice. (There’s another way, but you REALLY have to want to do it.)

It dawned on me, then, that in 1963 I was still using a Kodak Pony 135 camera. I had to go searching for a manual on line to refresh my memory. As soon as I saw it, it all came flooding back.

It was designed for folks who didn’t know much about photography, but it still required you to set your shutter speed, aperture and distance. On top of that, you had to remember to cock the shutter by pushing down on a lever on the front of the lens. After you had taken the photo, you had to turn a knob on the top of the camera to advance the film. If you forgot to do that and just cocked the shutter, you could take a double exposure like this one.

Scout Executive Paul Berkbigler

I wrote about Mr. Berkbigler earlier.

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