Latest Posts

First look: Troop Leader Guidebooks, set to replace Scoutmaster Handbook

scoutmaster-handbookUpdate, July 23, 2015: Volume 1 is available now at and your local Scout Shop. Read about Vol. 1 here.

If you judge the Scoutmaster Handbook by its cover, you might assume it’s solely meant for, well, Scoutmasters.

Assistant Scoutmasters, it seemed, were to look elsewhere for Scouting wisdom.

That’s about to change. Later this year, the two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook will debut, replacing the Scoutmaster Handbook and offering helpful checklists, quick tips and fresh ideas for both new troop leaders and veteran Scouters.

Scouting magazine contributor Mark Ray wrote Volume 1, while Bob Birkby, author of the latest Boy Scout Handbook, penned Volume 2.

You can see the covers of the new Troop Leader Guidebooks after the jump. I’ve also got a sneak peek at what’s inside the books and what makes them better tools for Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters. 

Vol. 1: For new troop leaders

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Mark Ray’s Vol. 1 focuses primarily on the needs of the new or relatively inexperienced Boy Scout leader.

These Scouters will have been volunteers for up to three years, are likely assistant Scoutmasters and probably recently crossed over from serving as a Webelos leader or parent.

As such, Volume 1 assumes little or no prior knowledge of the Boy Scout program on the part of the reader. It presents a somewhat simplified picture of Boy Scouting that focuses on the short term — getting through this week’s troop meeting, this month’s outing and this year’s planning conference — rather than the long term, such as planning for growth, establishing a troop vision, and measuring personal and troop success.

In other words, it leaves advanced topics to Volume 2.

Given that its readers are mostly newcomers, this volume’s tone is similar to that used in a book for new parents. It reassures readers that everything is really going to be okay. Really.

Vol. 2: Advanced guidance for veteran Scouters

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Bob Birkby’s Volume 2 assumes its readers are ready for the next level.

Here you’ll find info like high-adventure planning, working with Scouts with disabilities, conflict resolution, visioning and more.

This volume is for more-seasoned leaders who need fresh ideas. It’s an advanced guidebook that will help leaders take their troop’s program and operations to a higher level. It will also help leaders keep an established program fresh and exciting so that troops don’t fall into the trap of doing the same things year after year.

Look at it this way: Volume 1 replaces the current Scoutmaster Handbook, while Volume 2 offers advanced guidance that’s been missing from several editions of the Scoutmaster Handbook.

Behind the scenes

“By the way,” Mark tells me, “we changed the name because surveys indicated that many assistant Scoutmasters thought the Scoutmaster Handbook wasn’t for them!”

But more than just a new name, the Troop Leader Guidebook represents a new approach to serving all troop leaders. And it happened, as it should, with the input of Scouters like you.

“We held focus groups in the spring of 2012 in the D.C. area (Northeast and Southern Regions), the St. Louis area (Central Region), and the Bay Area (Western Region) to get input on the current handbook and what Scouters wanted to see in the new handbooks,” Mark says.

139 Comments on First look: Troop Leader Guidebooks, set to replace Scoutmaster Handbook

  1. Do you know yet whether it will be available online in PDF form?

    • Sam Melville // August 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm // Reply

      Please, for those of us who live from our phones, let it be on PDF!

      • Please remember (or remind the appropriate folks) that not everyone has an iPhone or iPad, but every platform can read PDF files.

    • It’s too hard for National to make money if they are available online

      • These publications cost money to produce whether they’re eventually published digitally or on paper. Even if they’re handed out online like some other guides, the money comes from somewhere.

    • Well we needed a new updated SM manual but lets hope the cost is not real high. Many of my scouters are out of work and we have to share it. The cover look great.

  2. Oh man, I always loved the “Scoutmaster Handbook”. 🙁

    I never felt it wasn’t for me even though I was only an ASM.

    • From what I see, this will be everything you love about the Scoutmaster Handbook, only more of it and better organized by audience (new leaders and experienced ones).

    • Sam Melville // August 15, 2013 at 11:46 am // Reply

      Never “ONLY” ASM! The Troop can’t make it without trained and active Scouters in the ASM role-or no Troop I’ve seen can.

  3. OK, we’ll see…..

  4. We’re running out of “later this year.” There’s no pub date yet?

    • Not just yet. Stay tuned as I’ll update this post once I know.

  5. The display at Jambo said “Coming this Fall.”

  6. I hope that the subliminal message of the Volume 1 cover photo is “Take the plunge – you won’t drown” rather than “Abandon ship!” Good choice in putting the figure in the Volume 2 cover photo in silhouette — it could be a man or a woman, young or old, any race or ethnicity.

    • Haha, funny!

    • Seriously, I look forward to seeing these. I always thought the Scoutmaster Handbook was way too textbook-like, to the point of being intimidating to a new leader, and not nearly concrete enough. What I always wished for as a troop leader was a set of checklists and timelines covering every common aspect of troop operations. I think one of Boy Scouting’s biggest challenges is the vast range of skill, ability, and time in our volunteer leaders, which creates wide differences in program quality among different troops, and within the same troop over time as leaders change. Anything we can do to to make it easier for troop leaders to ‘learn to drive’ the Boy Scouting program is a step toward raising program quality.

      • rickchappell // August 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm // Reply

        The idea of Leader Specific Training is to introduce new leaders to the handbook so they could then use it as a reference.

  7. I would also love to see this available as a PDF

  8. // August 15, 2013 at 11:54 am // Reply

    I have Scoutmaster Handbooks from the WW II era and before that were two volume. And they had a lot more text than these did.

    • I would love to have a look a some of those.

    • And they were probably totally inclusive

  9. All of the adults who manage Scouting groups are in the same “boat” – including the parents. Any platform that gets useful management information to leaders is a good one. I hope that the new “Troop Leader Guidebooks” will be successful. We’ll always have our old “Scoutmaster Handbooks” for solid historical reference!

  10. In a boy-led troop the “Troop Leader” is the Senior Patrol Leader. I would call the book “Scouters Handbook”.

    • Nice catch — I wonder if that thought hit anyone at National before they went to print?

      • Jason (@hay_seed) // August 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm // Reply

        Probably not. If you ask me most of the people working in national don’t have a clue about how a troop runs anymore. They are more looking for a way to increase cash flow. Jose hit the nail on the head, I follow him on twitter he seems to know his stuff very well!

        • Thank you for following via Twitter Jason.

        • Yip. somehow found you on the twitter after jambo. iI like your updates. good stuff. my troop might be doing the tent blind folded exercise. it’s a good idea.

      • Sam Melville // August 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm // Reply

        A Scouter is considered to be any adult who is still involved with Scouting, but a “Unit Leader” is one who has undertaken the Scoutermaster role-see how the terms are used in the 2011 Guide to Advancement. Therefore, while all Unit Leaders are Scouters, not all Scouters are Unit Leaders. Some Scouters are Committee Members, or Merit Badge Counsellors, etc, etc.

        • Thank you for clarification. Please see my comment below.

    • Jason (@hay_seed) // August 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm // Reply

      Dead on Jose! I was thinking the same thing. But now they have 2 new books to sell rather than 1. again, National is merely thinking about revenue if you ask me.

      • RIGHT ON JASON!!!!

      • Ok, then the name should be more specific. We have a similar case in NYLT courses where the Adult leader is called “Course Director” and the youth leader is called “Course Leader”. Then “Troop Adult Leader Handbook is more reasonable. The SPL is still the “Troop Youth Leader. BTW, it is not the first time we have discussions about proper names. Join our NYLT LinkedIn group. 🙂

    • I was going to say the same thing. In our troop we always make it a big deal that all the “leader” titles belong to the boys.

  11. Are there plans to split Boy Scout Leader Specifics into a I and II level course as well?

    • Adult leader training in Boy Scouts should be a multi-level progression with recognition at each step, much like advancement in the youth program.

  12. To be more specific to troops I would suggest “Troop Scouter Handbook”.

    • Based on above definition of Scouter, then the suggestion should be “Troop Adult Leader Handbook”. BTW, the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook is also used by ASPLs. At the end, all SMs and ASMs are also Scoutmasters. I think the book will always the “Scoutmasters Handbook”. The name is not important, the content and our use are the important things. Bring the books. 🙂

  13. OK, why am I the only one going “yes it needed an update, but c’mon, there’s really one ASM someplace who thought they couldn’t use this?” for that matter, is there ANY manual for adults omeone else can’t use?

    • Tom,

      I was one of those ASMs, thinking they had been specific and accurate in their title. Clearly I was wrong.

  14. Don Stockley // August 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm // Reply

    It is important to be engaged in this digital revolution we are in the midst of. Programs like Cubtracker and Scoutmode are embracing this and will be successful in the end because they are looking at how leaders want to use the tools today. While nothing will ever replace the feel of reading a book, reference material such as this will be important to have at a moments notice. Ideally we see this as an app or at the very least in PDF format. Please embrace the revolution and help the tech savvy to better serve our Troop.

    • You can flip to the index and then to a page in a binder as fast as you can look anything up on your phone. Motion and progress are not the same. A PDF is convenient, but that’s it: it’s just a convenience.

      • ASM Brent Dickson - T192, Central FL Council // August 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm // Reply

        Books are a whole lot bulkier and heavier than apps or PDF’s, and our smart phone or tablet is right there in our pocket or backpack.

        • ASM Brent Dickson - T192, Central FL Council // August 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm //

          Also – I don’t mind paying for the material. It is worth it!

        • Jason (@hay_seed) // August 16, 2013 at 6:40 am //

          Apps are not fail safe. Your book is only as good as your batteries. All of my leaders will take the tangible material over electronic any day.

        • Tom Darnell // August 19, 2014 at 11:15 am //

          Beat me to it. Apps are great as long as you have your phone or tablet with you and your battery is charged. And one’s eyes can tire much faster reading a screen than a book. Especially those little phone screens. It’s also much easier to break a phone or tablet than it is a book and while water is a friend to neither, it is a much greater demon to an electronic device. As in most cases where durability is concerned, low-tech, as much as one may hate to admit it, is often the overall superior option.

          Best publishing option, offer both bound and electronic options in a way that you pay once for both so I can have the best of both worlds.

  15. I’m really sorry that I didn’t hear about the focus groups, because I had lots of ideas about problems with the Scoutmaster Handbook and ways it could be better.

    National really needs to get the word out earlier.

  16. I have read both Mark’s and Bob’s books and think highly of their work. I look forward to using these manuals.

  17. LENNY JENNINGS // August 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm // Reply

    I have most of the Scout Handbooks going back to the thirties. I love the art work in
    the old ones. I look forward to checking out the new TLG so I can add it to my collection. Bring it on!

  18. Rick Chappell // August 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm // Reply

    I think it’s time to drop the physical books and have a wiki that is dynamic and updateable. It wouldn’t be difficult for those without internet/skills to get printed copies made available – and I’d be pretty surprised to find an entire unit with no one with access.

    For those asking about LST Level I and II – it exists already. Level I is the LST course, and Level II is Roundtable (Woodbadge, other supplemental trainings)

    • The purpose of a book is to bring it to the field. The woods is no place for a Kindle or iPod, iPad , iPed , iPid or iPud.

      • My phone goes backpacking with me (usually on airplane mode since I don’t need signal and want to preserve battery) because it is my alarm clock, camera, etc. I also have an app which lists all rank and merit badge requirements so I can look up exact requirements that we may be working on without the bulk of handbooks or merit badge pamphlets.

        I would much sooner pack my kindle with something like this loaded on it than I would the actual paper manual!

  19. Why two volumes? Just make one large book that covers everything. Why make Scouters buy two books? A majority of us will buy both, so why not just make them into a single book so it’s cheaper?

    I have never understood why the program features book is in three volumes. Does anyone out there only have one or two volumes? I bet a vast majority of everyone has all three. Just make one book so it’s cheaper.

    • I don’t know for sure, but from the descriptions above, I would imagine that having 2 volumes makes it easier for a more experienced leader to pass on the first one to a new leader (or even several new leaders) while he is still using the second volume for reference.

      • Perhaps in theory, but I think the reality of the situation is that a vast majority of Scouters will purchase, keep, and use both books.

    • Double the profit!

    • Nahila Nakne // March 24, 2015 at 2:48 pm // Reply

      Very late in the game. Reason why the Troop Program Features is divided into 3 books is because folks wanted it that way. Originally it was a book called WOODS WISDOM and was approx. $50-$60 and was in a 5 inch binder. People complained, so they split WOODS WISDOM into 4 books: Troop Program Features Vols. 1,2,3 and the Troop Resources Book.

  20. Scoutmaster Retired // August 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm // Reply
    what was old is now new again (1945-ish SM Handbook came in 2 Volumes)
    Imitation —Flattery…….
    Scouting has way to much literature and too few Scoutmaster (of the right sort)
    Modern Scouting (BP scouting at al) has currently been highjacked by the wekll meaning but misguided.
    Scoutmasters and Commissioners take back your turf

    • Jason (@hay_seed) // August 16, 2013 at 10:52 am // Reply

      Your right. I have that set. I have a collection of old scout books and Guide books. I really love the old field book from 1967, I have purchased several copies of it off ebay to give others so they can have something that puts OUTING in Scouting.

      • I like the old Fieldbook, too, but it should NOT be used now. It has suggestions that are dangerous, like the snakebite first aid and the advice to only drink a little water while hiking.

        On the other hand, a page-by-page update of that book would probably be better than the current Fieldbook.

        • Jason (@hay_seed) // August 16, 2013 at 11:10 am //

          True, sorta, it does also say to shower once a week.. haha. But still, there are a lot of good ideas in there, like making tent stakes out of sticks, setting up a tent with a broken pole. If they did a page by page update it would be terrible. the would go in and add a mess of diversity, make everything “sensitive” and just ruin it. They’d probably throw in a few rainbows while they were at it. Look at the new guide, the first 10 pages are advertisements to the high adventure bases. there is very few recipies, very few outdoor tricks, or whatevers.. I love the old book. the cooking in orange peels and eggs with a stick is a HIT with my boys.

  21. Andy Kowalczyk // August 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm // Reply

    Does this mean that Mark Ray has to rename his current book “The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook” to become: “Even Another Troop Leader Guidebook” 🙂

  22. Bryan, thanks for the heads up about this. Is it anticipated that there will matching changes in the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training course?

  23. Any Troop Committee that allowed the scoutmaster to be a dictator is not much of a committee or a scoutmaster. NO scoutmaster alone can properly assist the BOY RUN troop. There are too many duties and responsibilities at the troop level. I hope this new handbook, regardless of how many volumes, does not specify duties to assistants that cause them to be out of the direct line of authority to the scoutmaster. I fear, however, even without having the book, that national is causing a rift in the troop. January 1 is a few months away.

  24. I’ve seen plenty of long-time Scouters who don’t know anything about “getting through this week’s troop meeting, this month’s outing and this year’s planning conference” so I’m glad that the covers of these books don’t say “beginners” or “advanced” on them; I would hope the insides don’t say so, either. Longevity is longevity, nothing more.

  25. That’s terrific news. Like many, I assumed the SM Handbook was soley for SMs, so never looked inside. As an ASM the past 5 years (OMG has it been that long already?), I could really use a reference book or two.
    These will compliment my first Wood Badge training that I start in 10 days!
    Thanks for the news.

    • For those ASMs (and SMs) who never read the soon-to-be-obsolete Scoutmaster’s Handbook, I recommend reading the SPL handbook instead. It is one of the best written and most useful publications from the BSA and covers a number of things that the Scoutmaster’s Handbook misses.

      And of course, you’ve already given your SPL an SPL Handbook, right?

  26. I just hope they make these in a smaller size, unlike the last edition.. PDF would be perfect.. and i hope they put back in the outing in scouting part..

    • Cargo pocket size would be appropriate and bound not 3-hole punched.

  27. Could we get a look at either the Table of Contents or the Index as a better tease of what to expect?

    Will the new book come in line with the updated Troop Planning Resources (Program Planning)?

    What “major” changes can we expect?

  28. Bryan, any word on when training materials will be updated? I train SM Specific and have been supplementing with my own materials. I would love to have an updated training manual from National.

  29. Matt Price, Scoutmaster, Troop 444/Advisor, Crew 75 // August 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm // Reply

    A long time ago, before everyone was uber sensitive – the Scoutmaster handbook gave you suggestions to help boys with things that were happening to their body and to their mind in the period of puberty. It had very helpful information in it as to explaining to boys that no matter what they were feeling, it was perfectly normal.

    Today, the PC want to make it so no one tells a boy that the thoughts he has is normal and that the Troop is a family that they can use to help them get through the process.

    Our boys are failing school and committing suicide. We need to change so that we can foster change in society.

    • Yes. It even touched on the personal things in the boys book as well until the late 70’s. Its sad to see them take so much out of the book. They used to have a lot more about flag etiquette as well. It had side stories about being proud to be a scout. Now it’s all nonsense. It even used to youth on personal hygiene. Such as showering and trimming your toenails. Now that’s taboo because talking about showering is just soooooooow sexual right?

  30. Two Volumes… that’s going to be interesting. What will it cover? I mean will show more of the up to date Youth Protection, plans in it or could have some Travel Plans, or even more ideas on for recipie planning for units with e.g. alergies to nuts, gluten, or even diabetic, and seizure disorders.

    The scouts, and leaders are out there with these plus hundreds of other ailments, and disabilities, we just need a refresher to remind us of what is going on around us.

    I also hope that you get more into more links so we can find councils and summer camps, and High Adventure Camps.

  31. Dave Fornadel // September 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm // Reply

    Do any of these 2 volumes tell scout leaders about establishing a relationship with and utilizing one of the greatest resources they have? Namely their unit commissioner!

  32. Robert Yslas Jr // September 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm // Reply

    The other important question is: is this going to be available in Spanish?

  33. My question is why did they get input from only three cities? Two of these are the most politically correct of the entire country. What the heck happened to the rest of us. It seems like Scouts is going to be just another politically Correct group that will slowly die out., just like Girl Scouts is slowly dying out. Too bad it was such a good organization. My time in the organization is now going to be phased out as the once stalwart organization it once was is just another youth program with no difference between them and any other camping club.

    • I also question why the need for 2 books, unless it is a marketing gimmick to raise money, for the complete info you need to buy both. I hope for the sake of the program there are no PC changes coming.

      The existing book could have stayed the same, with the same title but underneath the title It could have said “For Scoutmasters, Asst. Scoutmasters and other Troop Leaders” then just add a couple of chapters for the additional information.

      I hope we aren’t reinventing the wheel, and revisiting 1972….we don’t have a Bill HIllcourt these days.

  34. Why is he wearing RED shoulder loops?.

    • Brent Dickson // September 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm // Reply

      That is the current edition cover shown above (with red loops).
      The 2 other pictures are the two new volume covers.

  35. Sancho Manzano // October 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm // Reply

    Hmmm… Maybe keep the Scoutmasters Handbook and another for Troop Leaders instead of 2 volumes… The Scoutmasters Handbook is a time honored resource that served Scoutmasters well.

  36. Wait, did I read this right ““By the way,” Mark tells me, “we changed the name because surveys indicated that many assistant Scoutmasters thought the Scoutmaster Handbook wasn’t for them!”

    When i was a patrol leader I would read the Scout Masters handbook for ideas and to gain knowledge. Am I to seriously believe that Assistant Scoutmasters thought they couldn’t read the book or that it wasn’t for them? I wonder if the same people never picked up the Scouts Handbook to read it? I am so grateful for my scouting past and how it has helped shaped me as a man, but i am concerned with the direction and pressure that Scouting is getting to be more and more mainstream and less adherence to the basic principals of scouting.

  37. What’s the status on these new book? 2013 is coming to a close soon.

  38. This blog post was the most recent news I’ve seen on these books. They would make excellent Christmas gifts. Any chance we’ll see them soon?

  39. Bryan … only 18 more days left in this year. Seems they’re cutting this publishing “later this year” kind of close. They still going to get it out? Would have made a great x-mas present.

  40. BSA originally said this would be available some months ago, then ‘later this year’ (2013). Now they’re totally mum. It would be nice to know both the reason for the substantial delay and an estimate of the first new leader guidebook in 15 years.

  41. The fact that national supply has an overabundance of the old SM hand books has anything to do with the fact that they didn’t release it as promised as they have had the old print “on sale” for 6 months? Everyone knows the new is coming, the old is good for making camp fires by now and delaying the new ones is not serving the scouts.

    • majburnham // May 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm // Reply

      Shrek, I hope you will be correct in anticipating that it’s the old SM handbook, and not the new ones, that will be suitable for campfires. I share your cynicism: It is not rational to keep the soon-to-be-obsolete SM handbooks on the Scout Shops’ shelves, unless they are heavily discounted.

  42. Bryan – seems like we’re due for an update. Please check with Mark and Robert, and see if the new handbooks will be published soon.


    • Bryan, This blog is now really dated. I’d like to know why BSA has quietly delayed this new handbook, and is silent on when it will be released. Makes me think they’ve decided to wait until 2015 when the next program/advancement updates are due.

  43. Bryan, is something going on with the folks that design or write the literature for Scouting? First the new program features never materialized, and then this new handbook quietly drops off the radar. I hope they aren’t delayed because of the 2016 changes to Boy Scouting, since those changes don’t seem to affect the material aspects of the program.

  44. Any news on the Troop Leader Guidebook. I’m always looking for new leader material.

  45. MAJ Burnham // March 7, 2014 at 7:38 am // Reply

    I am concerned about the separation of scoutmaster knowledge into material for novices and for veterans. Of course, I haven’t read the new volumes yet (and these horses have already bolted from the barn), but in my current Scouting roles of parent, leader, and trainer, I have all too often seen veterans dismiss Scouting’s aims and methods (and even Scouting’s rules), for all the reasons you can imagine. I have also been fortunate enough to see a few veterans who will say, I should go back to the basic materials, because I may learn something that will benefit the youth whom I lead. All veterans need to refresh themselves on the basics–we owe that to our youth and to the Scouting Movement–and it is not helpful to have separated the basics from the whole body of knowledge that servant-leaders need for successful Scoutmastering.

  46. Any clue as to when these are actually going to be available? Been waiting impatiently for the release so I can update my training library.

  47. Any updates on this? I’ve been looking forward to it for quite some time now.

  48. From a comment above….

    “I also question why the need for 2 books, unless it is a marketing gimmick to raise money, for the complete info you need to buy both….

    I hope we aren’t reinventing the wheel, and revisiting 1972….we don’t have a Bill HIllcourt these days.”

    Note that a Green Bar Bill-authored (late 1930s – early 1940s) version of the SM handbook was a two volume publication. There is much to know…it’s good to see that a rich resource is being developed. As a published author, I can empathize with Mr. Ray and Mr. Birkby; delays are inevitable, and no one enjoys experiencing them.

    • majburnham // May 13, 2014 at 9:38 am // Reply

      Is there a link to a public PDF of Hillcourt’s two-volume SM handbook? Do you know whether Green Bar Bill divided that handbook because of the volume of information or because he separated SM knowledge into what he considered to be basic and advanced topics? My concern is that there are adult leaders who cast aside the foundation of Scouting–our mission, vision, aims, methods, and values–as “fluff,” as I once heard an SMLST course director call it. We aren’t doing ourselves any favors by stranding the basics (which should be woven into everything we do) in a separate volume that could well be ignored by leaders who want to focus on “how Scouting really works” (which typically means bending the program to focus on activities and push boys, deserving or not, through advancement).

      • Couldn’t find a pdf of the SM handbook, but one troop has accumulated a wealth of information on each edition of each handbook published by the BSA here:

        • don’t you just love that website? it’s a treasure trove of historical info.

  49. Is there ANY way to beg the folks to reconsider their decision to delay publishing Vol. I for another six months? If it’s ready, please, let us use it!

  50. Michael Balot // July 17, 2014 at 9:20 am // Reply

    If it is for troop leaders, why couldn’t a youth use the book? Some of our SPL’s are quite capable, although a lot of them would want it in an alternate media than a book. Wouldn’t it be cool, if we were all working off the same page?

  51. Our SPL read the Scoutmaster’s handbook, and he then asked the entire PLC to read it. It is fun when the Scouts have all read the book, and only a small percentage of Leaders have. 🙂

  52. First, ‘Troop Leader Guidebook’ instanly made me think of a (youth) Patrol leader. Secondly, why are we assuming that ‘new’ leaders don’t have to deal with special needs scouts until they are more ‘advanced’and the information to help them with that is in the 2nd volume with the ‘advanced’ information? I am our council’s advancement chairman and get calls all the time from ‘new’ leaders on how to handle advancement, inclusion, etc for their special needs scouts.

  53. Thanks for the update!

  54. So when will these publications be available?

  55. David T. McGregor // December 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm // Reply

    Like every book written on Scouting these new SM/ASM books will still have the same major problem. You have to read them and do your best to implement the contents. Otherwise all you have is another book on the shelf. I say this as a Scout Leader trainer for forty years.

  56. Hello Dec. 15th! Still don’t see the TLG available on ScoutStuff. The SM Handbook has been out of stock at our local Shop for a while. The new SM Position Specific training material has been posted at, referencing the TLG. Wonder if the TLG will be released in time for our district’s January training?

    • Karl – I called Nation Supply and was told the Vol 1 was delayed until February, and the Vol 2 until April or May. I do not understand teh holdup. Hope this doesn’t happen with the Cub materials. 🙁

  57. Please not more delays … I get that some of these people are volunteers, but the whole game of over-promising and under-delivering seems counterintuitive to how scouting should work. I’m a scout leader in an international location. I get one trip home a year and was hoping to pick up everything … the New leader guides, the program features, etc. Instead of getting a few things, I get nothing. Frustrated.

  58. Are we just waiting for all the copies of the Scoutmaster Handbook to sell out, before we get the new material? The handbook is still available at

    BSA, give us your new guide with the latest info now, please.

  59. Steven Brindle // December 22, 2014 at 10:57 am // Reply

    New Troop Leader Specific Training Syllabus was posted at in December and references the new Troop Leader Guidebook. How do we present the new training without the new material?

  60. BSA is losing face with the constant delays. We have been waiting a year for the materials, come on guys, publish it already. Program features are trickling out … Let’s get the program updated, relevant and going again!

  61. Larry Pinkney // December 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm // Reply

    Here we go again. It must be something in the water, because for 100 years everyone who has served as a Troop leader has been able to understand that the SM handbook was for the SA’s also. Not only that but we have the internet to obtain additional info. to help do our jobs. Come on, are we really that st__dumb? I know, BSA needs the $$$.
    An Old Scouter

  62. Dante Juliano // February 3, 2015 at 7:24 pm // Reply

    As of Feb 2 >> NO BOOKS AVAILABLE !!
    As a member of the Volunteer Training Staff for Our Council, this is so upsetting that we make these professions of ‘Teach the New Program’ but have no plan to truly execute these ideals.
    Stop making unrealistic expectations!!

  63. Hi Bryan, Is there a new date for the release of the Troop Leader Guidebook yet?

  64. Also wondering if there are any dates for this release. I was teaching the Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training and all throughout the training material it references the Troop Leader Guidebook, that nobody has. Thank you.

  65. It is not on Scout Stuff or at the National Scout Shop as I am teaching the class tomorrow and have the same issue. Difficult to teach a course that references using those two volumes when they aren’t published yet. However, we will make do and do our best. Please get this out soon – thanks!

  66. I too was wondering about the release date. I just stopped by the Scout Shop and they said they haven’t seen them yet.

  67. Ralph McCullen - Scoutmaster // March 14, 2015 at 12:06 am // Reply

    I have training at the end of the month and it would be nice to “BE PREPARED”…

  68. Did Bryan really post this article more than a year and half ago and we still don’t even have volume one in hand?

    • Dustin- Scoutmaster // March 16, 2015 at 1:53 am // Reply

      What’s awesome about it, is that even the new scoutmaster leader specific training references this new guidebook that no one had ever seen. So i guess the cart really did come before the horse.

  69. Gene ORourke // March 26, 2015 at 10:29 am // Reply

    Just nudging this thread. Maybe a new post with the latest status is in order. I know a lot of folks are anxiously waiting for these…..

  70. Yeah, way to kill your sales of the current Scoutmaster Handbook! Why would I buy that when you keep promising to make it out-of-date?

  71. Lee in Florida // April 4, 2015 at 10:54 am // Reply

    I have been following this blog for almost 2 years……and I feel everyone’s pain. As a trainer of CS leader specifics, BS leader specifics and OLS……..the early notifications of revisions do cause me to ask….”what do you want me to do?” until this is available. I love the new hands-on method of BS specific training, but find it frustrating that I don’t have all of the parts. As we know from WB training…..change is a two sided coin…..most don’t like it and it is better implemented when properly communicated (led through). I simply ask…..”what does National want us to do until we have all of the parts?”. I understand that implementing these new changes has more complexities than we all might realize, but in the meantime…….we need some guidance. Do we continue using the “old” method until you are ready to roll this out? For example, I was asked yesterday if they should hold off on CS specific training until we get the new materials? I said absolutely not! These new leaders need training today. The new CS program is not materially changing the “leader’s job”……the changes are more focused on the scouts and the advancement side of things. It is much better to get them started, then loop back and update them on the changes. Our job as trainers (and Scouters) is to teach them to bring the Scouting program to their scouts. Scouting is going through some really exciting changes right now……….we just need a little more top down guidance as we move through those changes, so we can be positive leaders of those changes. Communication and feedback are gifts we need today.
    Lastly, my personal focus right now is on the 25% or more (depending on your Council dashboard) that have not read or been trained on “any” version of the SM Handbook…..that is a bigger concern to me…….

    • Tom McCarty // April 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm // Reply

      Lee Nicely said.

  72. Byron Welch // April 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm // Reply

    So, is there any date in sight for the new … whatever they are calling the Scoutmaster Handbook? I have the same issue with training in my council and we do SM/ASM training at our summer camp. I have the new training materials and homemade PowerPoint, but need the books. I’m in West Texas and the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch. We have 500-600 kids a week from all over Texas and the SW USA. I guess if all else fails, I have the covers I can show. This makes the program look bad.

    • I feel your pain. I taught the new SM/ASM program in February and had the participants use the old SM book. We got through it but they got a few answers wrong. Example would list the types of patrols? The answer one would get from the old SM book that would be Regular, New-Scout and Venture. However, the new Troop Leader Guide book would produce the desired answer of four patrols which are New-Scout, Traditional, Older-Scout and National Honor. My point being as long as the individual that leads the class is up front about the challenge then the training can be done. It actually likes for a more lively discussion. Please don’t get me wrong as I too am patiently awaiting the new books.

  73. In our council, we’re teaching Scoutmaster Specific as a blend of the old and new until we get the new guidebooks. The fundamentals of the training are the same. At summer camp, we teach the course over two mornings.

    Now that the Cub Scout materials are out, is there an updated publishing plan for the Troop Leader Guidebooks?

  74. Bob Ellsworth // May 14, 2015 at 10:11 am // Reply

    I heard there were some tentative dates for both. Is that true and what are they?

    • Tom McCarty // May 14, 2015 at 10:48 am // Reply


      As of April 23, this is what National Supply told me. Please do not shoot the messanger… 🙂

      Volume 1 (616729) 6/22/2015
      Volume 2 (616835) 12/1/2015

      I just call the 800#

  75. Scoutmaster Dave // May 19, 2015 at 5:16 pm // Reply

    Glad to see they are out on time !

    • Byron Welch // May 19, 2015 at 11:19 pm // Reply

      I’ve been told by a national shop that Vol 1 will be out August 2015 and Vol 2 in December 2015. I know the SM training materials that came out in Dec 2014 sore need the support materials. We are teaching it each week at our summer camp. Come on guys, this makes us look bad.

  76. It’s at Back-ordered until 7/8/2015.

  77. They are in an mine is ordered!

  78. Scott Anderson // July 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm // Reply

    As of today, not available at scout shop and they have no idea when one might be available. Typical BSA SOP. its here – but not really.

    • I bought it in my scout shop yesterday. My shop isn’t a national shop. Ask your shop to order it.

      • Tom McCarty // July 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm // Reply

        It is so frustrating. There are thousands of copies in teh warehpouse, but it seems that National Shops are having a problem ordering that the local council shops do not. Not fair!

  79. Douglas Hurt // October 23, 2015 at 4:58 pm // Reply

    The Cub Scout Leader Handbook was for all leader, and also Cubmasters, Committee members etc. I have never understood how a volunteer serving as an Assistant Scoutmaster would think he/she had no use for the Scoutmaster Handbook. Wouldn’t every Scoutmaster be considered a Scoutmaster, Assistant or not? All Committee members are simply Committee members. No special training that makes the Outdoor Chair certified as “trained” for Outdoor Chairing. All Scoutmasters take Scoutmaster Specific….. no “Assistant Scoutmaster” stand-alone training is offered. The difference? What makes the Scoutmaster THE Scoutmaster is simply the willingness to work at the top of Youth Leadership, represent Youth PLC decisions at Committee Meetings, and be the “go to” for Health & Safety concerns. Of course, lets not forget that THE Scoutmaster gets to speak with angry or upset parents, resolve conflict between both adults and youth members.

  80. Mark Nebeker // January 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm // Reply

    It’s January 2016 and I can not find any information about how to obtain the Troop Leader Guidebook Volume II. Am I just not looking hard enough?

  81. Volume 2 is now available on

Join the conversation