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2014 Fieldbook: Your must-have user’s guide to the outdoors

Here’s one owner’s manual that’s actually worth reading.

It isn’t for your car, smartphone or new camp stove. The 2014 Fieldbook is a user’s guide for the entire outdoors, and it’s a must-own for everyone who spends time outside.

The fifth-edition Fieldbook: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure is published by the Boy Scouts of America. It covers hiking, camping, canoeing, mountain travel, ultralight backpacking, wilderness navigation, whitewater kayaking and much more.

While Scouts and Scouters will find it indispensable before and during every outing, it’s a great tool for non-Scouts, as well.

“For more than a century, our organization has focused on teaching outdoor skills and leadership and providing opportunities for adventure and life-changing experiences,” said Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive of the BSA. “The Fieldbook isn’t just for our Scouts — we want to share these important lessons with anyone who seeks to explore, experience adventure and appreciate nature.”

Are you new to the outdoors? The Fieldbook has step-by-step guides to get you started. Or maybe you’re more of a seasoned outdoor adventurer? The Fieldbook will enhance your skill-set by helping you get farther, higher and deeper into the backcountry.

You can buy the 2014 Fieldbook today in your local Scout Shop or at ScoutStuff.org for $20 for the perfect-bound version or $27 for one that’s coil-bound.

Or, for the first time ever, you can buy it digitally. It’s available via Amazon for $20, and you can download it to read on a Kindle or any device that uses the Kindle app, including Androids, iPads and iPhones.

Find much more Fieldbook coverage, including a look at the contents pages, a bio of the Eagle Scout author and details about the history of the publication, all after the jump.  Continue reading

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Camp Scout! app puts Scouting destinations at your fingertips

The annual practice of troops picking the perfect summer camp just got upgraded to the smartphone age.

Clear a spot on your home screen for Camp Scout!, a free iPhone app brought to you by Boys’ Life magazine and the BSA’s Outdoor Adventures team.

Let the iPhone detect your current location — or enter an address, place name or ZIP code — and Camp Scout! will show you the nearest BSA-owned properties.

Too many results? The “Things to Do” filter lets you see only camps with your unit’s favorite activities. Do your Scouts or Venturers fancy a place that offers boating, fishing and horseback riding? Tap all three activities, select “Find Camps” and voila!

Each camp’s page uses information supplied by the council. You’ll see a description, an activities list, driving directions, contact information and a link to learn more.

Roughly 500 camps are already in the app, and more are being added all the time.

In talking with Brian Gray, outdoor program coordinator for the BSA, I learned Continue reading

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Tuesday Talkback: In search of a better patrol box

Tuesday-TalkbackIt sounds like an infomercial you’d see on QVC: “It’s a pantry, a spice rack, a utensils drawer and a portable kitchen. Yes, the Boy Scout patrol box does it all, and it can be yours for three easy payments … “

But patrol boxes aren’t a gimmick. Patrol-based cooking is an important part of troop campouts, and many troops use patrol boxes to help keep cooking supplies and ingredients organized.

You don’t want Dragon patrol supplies fraternizing with items belonging to the Alligator or Rattlesnake patrols, do you?

Patrol boxes serve two purposes, as far as I see:

  • They teach responsibility. By assigning each patrol its own set of cooking supplies, you’re essentially giving them ownership and (hopefully) teaching them to take good care of what’s theirs. That’s better than everyone using (and abusing) community supplies where there’s no accountability.
  • They promote healthy competition. Many troops allow and encourage their patrols to paint and decorate their patrol boxes. Which patrol box looks the best? Which is the best organized? Bragging rights are on the line.

So we’re agreed that patrol boxes are a great idea. But what makes a great patrol box? That’s what Scoutmaster Bob M. asked last week, explaining that Troop 255′s patrol boxes are getting worn out.

“Our troop built the basic patrol boxes a number of years ago” he writes, “and they are showing their age. I was curious to find out if you’ve done an article or had any information on any lightweight options to the basic box design.”

I’ll share one resource, and then I’d love to hear from readers.

Continue reading

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Minnesota Boy Scout halfway to goal of sleeping outside for an entire year

Update (Jan. 8): Read Rudy’s blog to learn more about the conditions he faces on a nightly basis during his quest to spend an entire year sleeping outside his Minnesota home.


His sister and his friends call him crazy, but you and I call Rudy Hummel a typical Boy Scout.

Rudy, a 17-year-old Life Scout from the northern Minnesota city of Hermantown, is nearly 200 nights in to his quest to sleep outside for 365 nights in a row.

Any Boy Scout living in Miami or Maui could pull off that feat, but Rudy lives in Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth, where tomorrow’s high temperature is 5 degrees. By the weekend, it could get down to minus-18. Consider that as you sip your hot cocoa by the fire this week.

Rudy’s original plan was to camp outside all summer, he told the Duluth News Tribune. “I thought it would be cool to spend the whole summer sleeping outside.” Continue reading

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Philmont’s 2015 registration period opens Oct. 29; watch this new promo video while you wait

It seems like just about everyone wants to go (or go back) to Philmont.

And so when it comes to the hiking mecca’s 12-day and seven-day summer expeditions, demand far exceeds supply.

That’s why Philmont Scout Ranch has in place a lottery system, giving interested Scout troops and Venturing crews a fair shot at scoring a spot at the New Mexico high-adventure base.

Mark your calendar now for when the 2015 lottery opens on Oct. 29, 2013. Entries will be taken online into November, and a random draw takes place in early December. You’ll find a registration packet online at Philmont’s official website by mid-October.

In the meantime, check out this terrific new promotional video, which features testimonials from Scouts, Scouters and Venturers fresh off a Philmont trek. The common theme in their comments: “This was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Take a look: Continue reading

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Is DEET safe? New insect repellent study offers surprising insight

Who would’ve thought bug spray could repel people, too?

That’s what’s happening with DEET, that much-maligned ingredient found in insect repellents with tough-sounding names like “Deep Woods” and “Sportsmen.” While some Scouts and Scouters swear by the stuff, others have sworn it off completely.

Who’s right? A recent study from the Environmental Working Group aims to answer that question once and for all. Continue reading

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From Jamboree Troop D424, a lesson in efficient campsite setup

“OK, Spartan patrol and Unicorn patrol: You guys start setting up tents,” says Chris Schwartz, senior patrol leader of jamboree Troop D424 out of the West Tennessee Area Council.

“Phoenix patrol and Cougars: cots and kitchen stuff,” he continues. “And leadership corps, you fill in where needed.”

Just like that, three dozen Scouts spring into action. Over here, Scouts unfold and assemble cots with robot-like precision. Over there, tents take shape in no time. Nobody cares which tent or cot will be theirs, only that every tent, cot and dining area gets assembled before anyone unpacks their personal gear.

Troop D424 represents another impressive example of a boy-led troop getting things done without intervention from adults. But there’s more that caught my eye: Troop D424 is comprised of 12 different troops back home, meaning most of these Scouts met for the first time at pre-jamboree meetings. Continue reading

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Five big takeaways from today’s release of the 2013 Guide to Advancement

2013-Guide-to-AdvancementHere’s one for your browser’s bookmarks bar: The newest edition of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancement released today.

The PDF version contains answers to pretty much any advancement question that might come up, and it’s essential reading for your unit’s advancement chair and others who like to be kept in the loop on all things advancement.

You’ll want to spend some time with this user-friendly guide. Consider downloading the PDF to your tablet for portable reading. Or print off a copy on recycled paper and keep it handy.

There’s so much inside the guide that it’s pointless for me to go into too much detail here. But I did want to draw your attention to five takeaways I gathered from a first look at the guide: Continue reading

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Where are Scouts going this summer?

Update June 7, 11:12 a.m.: We stand at an impressive 683 pins! Keep commenting with the location you’re visiting (be as specific as possible) and your unit number. I’ll update the map regularly.


Perhaps the better question would’ve been where are Scouts not going this summer?

Earlier today on our Facebook page, I asked where packs, troops, teams, and crews are headed for their summer adventures. More than 175 responses later, the answer is “far and wide.”

There’s Venturing Crew 505′s trip to Alaska’s Denali National Park, several units visiting the Florida Sea Base, a Transatlantic Council visit to the U.K., and pretty much everywhere in between.

I’ve compiled it all in an interactive, searchable Google map. You can click each marker to see which Scout unit is visiting that location. You can zoom in close. And you can uncheck Boy Scouts and Venturers if, for example, you’re only interested in seeing Cub Scout packs. Speaking of, the blue markers indicate Cub Scout packs, green markers represent Venturing crews, and red markers are for Boy Scout troops.

Several units are headed to Philmont, Northern Tier, Sea Base, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve, so I spread those markers out a little to make every submission visible.

Want to put your unit’s summer adventure on the map? It’s not too late.  Continue reading

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

More museums should be like this Scout-friendly one in Oregon

There’s tons to see inside the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum near Portland, Ore.

But it’s what’s outside that caught my eye.

The museum, located in McMinnville, just opened a new designated Scout camping area. That means Scouts can set up their tents among oak trees right off the museum’s parking lot and then walk over to the museum during the day.

Once there, they can check out displays like the original Spruce Goose, movies in the museum theater, merit badge classes, or the “educational waterpark” with its 10 waterslides that teach visitors about the power of water.  Continue reading