If you’re a new parent or leader in the Boy Scout program and want a thorough overview of Boy Scouts, this book has it all.
Obligatory disclaimer: author Jeremy Reed (who wrote Beginning Boy Scouts along with wife Heather Reed) sent me a copy of the book to review, however I’ve received no compensation and the following opinion is my own. (I don’t understand why no one includes chocolate when they send me books. It’s very strange.)
Anyway, Beginning Boy Scouts covers just about everything you’d want to know about the Boy Scout program, and is geared specifically for new parents and new leaders. If you find the program confusing at times, this book can help set you straight.
One of the best chapters (which makes the entire book a worthwhile investment for parents) is chapter 10, “Setting Goals and Keeping Track.” Reed and Reed give great advice for getting boys started in the program, motivating older boys who’ve lost interest, and keeping track of boys’ achievements. In a very America-Jane-like way, the authors have a handy list of requirements leading to Eagle which take awhile to complete (i.e. the 30-day fitness tests for the Tenderfoot rank, the 90-day log of chores done at home for the Family Life merit badge, and so on). It got my little list-making self a tingling.
Want more lists? The camping essentials checklists in chapter 11 ought to do you good.
For non-LDS parents (or LDS parents considering placing their son in a troop outside their ward), there’s a helpful checklist of things to look for in a successful troop. While there isn’t necessarily a lot of explanation about why these things are important, I’ll add my voice of experience to theirs and encourage novice parents to use the list to their advantage. I’ve always been of the mind that a program run well is an incredible asset for young men, while a poorly-run program is too often a waste of everyone’s time, if not downright detrimental.
For new scout leaders, there is a wealth of information in this book that will make your transition into the leadership role much more comfortable. For LDS leaders who may feel overwhelmed, un-informed, and under-supported in their new calling, this book is a quick, excellent overview of those things you need to know (which someone may or may not have thought to tell you). I especially appreciated the chapter about the Patrol Method, which is BSA-speak for “the youth are in charge.”
It wouldn’t hurt parents to read that chapter either. Scout troops function so much better when parents understand the program.
I don’t know if the authors are LDS, but there are several interjections about the distinctiveness of the LDS Scouting program which Mormon parents and leaders will find helpful. However, this book is by no means limited to an LDS audience, as the authors cover the full breadth of the program (including elements that don’t apply to LDS readers) and inclusively mention other organizations that sponsor high numbers of scout troops (the LDS Church, United Methodist Church, and Catholic Church are the top three supporters).
The last chapter walks parents and leaders through the steps to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. It’s a worthwhile read, just be aware that BSA recently modified some of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.
My only issue with this book is I think it would’ve benefited from professional editorial guidance. Even so, it’s a good resource for new parents or new leaders in the Boy Scout program.
In fact, it really seems a pity not to pass this book along to someone who could use it. Since no one in my immediate circle is an obvious recipient (whereas I eagerly shared We the People with my homeschooling friend) I decided this is the perfect opportunity for… (drum roll please)
… America Jane’s First Giveaway!
UPDATE: See details about my first Giveaway HERE!