Boy Scouts Handbook by Boy Scouts of America - HTML preview

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The Boy Scout Movement has become almost universal, and wherever organized its leaders are glad, as we are, to acknowledge the debt we all owe to Lieut.-Gen. Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, who has done so much to make the movement of interest to boys of all nations.

The BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA is a corporation formed by a group of men who are anxious that the boys of America should come under the influence of this movement and be built up in all that goes to make character and good citizenship. The affairs of the organization are managed by a National Council, composed of some of the most prominent men of our country, who gladly and freely give their time and money that this purpose may be accomplished.

In the various cities, towns, and villages, the welfare of the boy scouts is cared for by local councils, and these councils, like the National Council are composed of men who are seeking for the boys of the community the very best things.

In order that the work of the boy scouts throughout America may be uniform and intelligent, the National Council has prepared its "Official Handbook," the purpose of which is to furnish to the patrols of the boy scouts advice in practical methods, as well as inspiring information.

The work of preparing this handbook has enlisted the services of men eminently fitted for such work, for each is an expert in his own department, and the Editorial Board feels that the organization is to be congratulated in that such men have been found willing to give their time and ripe experience to this movement. It would be impossible adequately to thank all who by advice and friendly criticism have helped in the preparation of the book, or even to mention their names, but to the authors whose names are attached to the various chapters, we acknowledge an especial obligation. Without their friendly help this book could not be. We wish especially to express our appreciation of the helpful suggestions made by Daniel Carter Beard.

We have carefully examined and approved all the material which goes to make up {vi} the manual, and have tried to make it as complete as possible; nevertheless, no one can be more conscious than we are of the difficulty of providing a book which will meet all the demands of such widely scattered patrols with such varied interests.

We have constantly kept in mind the evils that confront the boys of our country and have struck at them by fostering better things. Our hope is that the information needed for successful work with boy scouts will be found within the pages of this book.

In these pages and throughout our organization we have made it obligatory upon our scouts that they cultivate courage, loyalty, patriotism, brotherliness, self-control, courtesy, kindness to animals, usefulness, cheerfulness, cleanliness, thrift, purity and honor. No one can doubt that with such training added to his native gifts, the American boy will in the near future, as a man, be an efficient leader in the paths of civilization and peace.

It has been deemed wise to publish all material especially for the aid of scout masters in a separate volume to be known as "The Scout Masters' Manual."

We send out our "Official Handbook," therefore, with the earnest wish that many boys may find in it new methods for the proper use of their leisure time and fresh inspiration in their efforts to make their hours of recreation contribute to strong, noble manhood in the days to come.


Editorial Board.








Honorary President


Honorary Vice-President




Washington, D. C.


1st Vice-President

Bristol, Tenn.


2d Vice-President

Detroit, Mich.


3d Vice-President

Stanford, Ca.


Chief Scout

Cos Cob, Conn.


National Scout Commissioner

Flushing, L. I., N.Y.


National Scout Commissioner

Albany, N.Y.


National Scout Commissioner

New York City



Brooklyn, N. Y.



Daniel Carter Beard

Milton A. McRae

Mortimer L. Schiff

Col. Peter S. Bomus

William D. Murray

Ernest Thompson Seton

B. L. Dulaney

George D. Pratt

Seth Sprague Terry

Lee F. Hanmer

Frank Presbrey

Adj.-Gen. William Verbeck

George W. Hinckley

Edgar M. Robinson

JAMES E. WEST, Executive Secretary

 Charles Conrad Abbott Arthur Adams 
 Dr. Felix Adler 
 Harry A. Allison 
 Henry Morrell Atkinson 
 B. N. Baker 
 Ray Stannard Baker 
 Evelyn Briggs Baldwin 
 Clifford W. Barnes 
 Daniel Carter Beard 
 Henry M.

 Martin Behrman 
 August Belmont 
 Ernest P. Bicknell

 Edward Bok 
 Colonel Peter S. Bomus 
 Hon. Charles J.

 William D. Boyce 
 H. S. Braucher 
 Roeliff Brinkerhoff Dr. Elmer E. Brown 
 Luther Burbank 
 Dr. Richard C. Cabot 

S. Parkes Cadman 
 Arthur A. Carey 
 E. C. Carter 
 Richard B.

 W. D. Champlin 
 Thomas Chew 
 Winston Churchill 
 G. A.

 P. P. Claxton 
 Randall J. Condon 
 C. M. Connolly 
 Ernest K. Coulter 
 Dr. C. Ward Crampton 
 George H. Dalrymple 

George S. Davis 
 E. B. DeGroot 
 Judge William H. De Lacy William C. Demorest 
 Dr. Edward T. Devine 
 Admiral George Dewey 
 Gov. John A. Diz 
 Myron E. Douglas 
 Benjamin L. Dulaney Hon. T. C. Du Pont 
 Dr. George W. Ehler 
 Griffith Ogden Ellis Robert Erskine Ely 
 Henry P. Emerson 
 Hon. John J. Esch 
 J. W.

 Eberhard Faber 
 Dr. George J. Fisher 
 Horace Fletcher Homer Folks 
 Dr. William Byron Forbush 
 Dr. Lee K. Frankel Robert Ives Gammell 
 Hon. James R. Garfield 
 Hamlin Garland Robert Garrett 
 William H. Gay 
 Bishop David H. Greer 
 Jesse A.

 George B. Grinnell 
 S. R. Guggenheim 
 Luther Halsey Gulick, M. D. 
 Dr. G. Stanley Hall 
 Dr. Winfield Scott Hall 
 Lee F.

 Dr. Hastings H. Hart 
 Hon. W. M. Hays 
 Prof. C. R.

 Clark W. Hetherington 
 George W. Hinckley 
 Allen Hoben 
 Hon. R. P. Hobson 
 Rev. R. W. Hogue 
 John Sherman Hoyt 
 C. R. H. Jackson 
 Prof. Jeremiah W. Jenks 
 G. E. Johnson Dr. David Starr Jordan 
 Mayor William S. Jordan 
 Otto Herman Kahn 
 Dr. William J. Kerby 
 Charles H. Kip 
 Dr. J. H. Kirkland Judge Henry E. Klamroth 
 Rev. Walter Laidlow 
 Charles R. Lamb Joseph Lee 
 Samuel McC. Lindsay 
 Judge Ben B. Lindsey 
 Colin H. Livingstone 
 Col. Frank L. Locke 
 Hon. Nicholas Longworth Hon. Frank O. Lowden 
 Hon. Lee McClung 
 William McCormick


Hon. Henry B. F. Macfarland 
 J. Horace McFarland 
 C. W. McKee Hon. William B. McKinley 
 J. S. McLain 
 Francis H. McLean Milton A. McRae 
 Charles G. Maphis 
 George W. Manton 
 Edgar S. Martin 
 Frank S. Mason 
 Frank Lincoln Masseck 
 Dr. William H.

 Lieut.-Gen. Nelson A. Miles 
 John F. Moore 
 Arthur C.

 William D. Murray 
 Dr. Cyrus Northrop 
 Frank W. Ober Hon. C. S. Page 
 Dr. C. H. Parkhurst 
 Hon. Herbert Parsons Hon. Gifford Pinchot 
 David R. Porter 
 George D. Porter 
 Perry Edwards Powell 
 Frederic B. Pratt 
 George D. Pratt 
 Frank Presbrey 
 G. Barrett Rich, Jr. 
 Jacob A. Riis 
 Clarence C.

 Edgar M. Robinson 
 Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Lincoln E. Rowley 
 Oliver J. Sands 
 Dr. D. A. Sargent 
 Henry B.

 Mortimer L. Schiff 
 Charles Scribner 
 George L. Sehon Rear Admiral Thomas Oliver Selfridge 
 Jefferson Seligman 
 Jesse Seligman 
 Ernest Thompson Seton 
 Samuel Shuman 
 Rear Admiral Charles Dwight Sigsbee 
 William F. Slocum 
 Fred. B. Smith Hon. George Otis Smith 
 Lorillard Spencer 
 Lorillard Spencer, Jr.

 Judge William H. Staake 
 Hon. Adlai Stevenson 
 Andrew Stevenson 
 A. E. Stilwell 
 C. H. Stoddard 
 Rev. John Timothy Stone, D.D. 
 Isidor Straus 
 Hon. Oscar S. Straus 
 Josiah Strong Hon. William H. Taft 
 Edward K. Taylor 
 Graham Romeyn Taylor Judge Harry L. Taylor 
 William L. Terhune 
 Seth Sprague Terry John E. Thayer 
 Rev. James I. Vance 
 Dr. Henry Van Dyke 

Gen. William Verbeck 
 John Wanamaker 
 Henry L. Ward 
 Lucien T. Warner 
 Richard Benedict Watrous 
 Rear Admiral J. C. Watson W. D. Weatherford 
 Dr. Benjamin Ide Wheeler 
 Eli Whitney Mornay Williams 
 Gen. George W. Wingate 
 A. E. Winship Henry Rogers Winthrop 
 Major-Gen. Leonard Wood 
 Surgeon-Gen. Walter Wyman 
 Major Andrew C. Zabriskie 



There was once a boy who lived in a region of rough farms. He was wild with the love of the green outdoors--the trees, the tree-top singers, the wood-herbs and the live things that left their nightly tracks in the mud by his spring well. He wished so much to know them and learn about them, he would have given almost any price in his gift to know the name of this or that wonderful bird, or brilliant flower; he used to tremble with excitement and intensity of interest when some new bird was seen, or when some strange song came from the trees to thrill him with its power or vex him with its mystery, and he had a sad sense of lost opportunity when it flew away leaving him dark as ever. But he was alone and helpless, he had neither book nor friend to guide him, and he grew up with a kind of knowledge hunger in his heart that gnawed without ceasing. But this also it did: It inspired him with the hope that some day he might be the means of saving others from this sort of torment--he would aim to furnish to them what had been denied to himself.

There were other things in the green and living world that had a binding charm for him. He wanted to learn to camp out, to live again the life of his hunter grandfather who knew all the tricks of winning comfort from the relentless wilderness the foster-mother so rude to those who fear her, so kind to the stout of heart.

And he had yet another hankering--he loved the touch of romance.

When he first found Fenimore Cooper's books, he drank them in as one parched might drink at a spring. He reveled in the tales of courage and heroic deeds, he gloated over records of their trailing and scouting by red man and white; he gloried in their woodcraft, and lived it all in imagination, secretly blaming the writer, a little, for praising without describing it so it could be followed. "Some day," he said, "I shall put it all down for other boys to learn."

As years went by he found that there were books about most of the things he wished to know, the stars, the birds, the {xi} quadrupeds, the fish, the insects, the plants, telling their names; their hidden power or curious ways, about the camper's life the language of signs and even some of the secrets of the trail. But they were very expensive and a whole library would be needed to cover the ground.

What he wanted--what every boy wants--is a handbook giving the broad facts as one sees them in the week-end hike, the open-air life.

He did not want to know the trees as a botanist, but as a forester; nor the stars as an astronomer, but as a traveler. His interest in the animals was less that of anatomist than of a hunter and camper, and his craving for light on the insects was one to be met by a popular book on bugs, rather than by a learned treatise on entomology.

So knowing the want he made many attempts to gather the simple facts together exactly to meet the need of other boys of like ideas, and finding it a mighty task he gladly enlisted the help of men who had lived and felt as he did.

Young Scouts of America that boy is writing to you now. He thought himself peculiar in those days. He knows now he was simply a normal boy with the interests and desires of all normal boys, some of them a little deeper rooted and more lasting perhaps--and all the things that he loved and wished to learn have now part in the big broad work we call Scouting.

"Scout" used to mean the one on watch for the rest. We have widened the word a little. We have made it fit the town as well as the wilderness and suited it to peace time instead of war. We have made the scout an expert in Life-craft as well as Wood-craft, for he is trained in the things of the heart as well as head and hand. Scouting we have made to cover riding, swimming, tramping, trailing, photography, first aid, camping, handicraft, loyalty, obedience, courtesy, thrift, courage, and kindness.

Do these things appeal to you? Do you love the woods?

Do you wish to learn the trees as the forester knows them? And the stars not as an astronomer, but as a traveler?

Do you wish to have all-round, well-developed muscles, not those of a great athlete, but those of a sound body that will not fail you? Would you like to be an expert camper who can always make himself comfortable out of doors, and a swimmer that fears no waters? Do you desire the knowledge to help the wounded quickly, and to make yourself cool and self-reliant in an emergency?

Do you believe in loyalty, courage, and kindness? Would {xii} you like to form habits that will surely make your success in life?

Then, whether you be farm boy or shoe clerk, newsboy or millionaire's son, your place is in our ranks, for these are the thoughts in scouting; it will help you to do better work with your pigs, your shoes, your papers, or your dollars; it will give you new pleasures in life; it will teach you so much of the outdoor world that you wish to know; and this Handbook, the work of many men, each a leader in his field, is their best effort to show you the way. This is, indeed, the book that I so longed for, in those far-off days when I wandered, heart hungry in the woods.


Chief Scout.

Headquarters Boy Scouts of America,

200 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

June 1, 1911.




Boy Scout Certificate