New Handbook


More Than an Outdoor Guide, New Boy Scout Handbook is a Guide for Life

The Boy Scout Handbook - Eleventh Edition

(Irving, Texas) (November 16, 1998) - More than ever, the new edition of The Boy Scout Handbook is not just a guide to the outdoors - but a guide for life. The Boy Scout Handbook, now in its 11th edition, addresses issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, respecting others, and using the Internet appropriately.

A new section, "Preparing for Life," brings together advice to boys that covers a spectrum of social issues. Boys are encouraged to read books, to help around the home, to listen with respect to others, to prepare for responsible parenthood and to be sexually abstinent until marriage.

"Scouting has always been about preparing boys for life," says Chief Scout Executive Jere B. Ratcliffe. "Through the Scout Oath and Law, almost 99 million youngsters have learned to help and respect other people, exercise their minds and bodies and know right from wrong. The new handbook connects those basic tenets of our beliefs and practices more directly to the situations boys face today."

The handbook's 11th edition was originally planned for a February release, but is being shipped early because demand has stripped shelves of the current edition. Some 36 million copies of the familiar handbook are already in print.

Demand for The Boy Scout Handbook demonstrates the relevance of Scouting in today's society. A recent study by Louis Harris & Associates found that three-fourths or more of Boy Scouts believe the program teaches them right from wrong, helps them feel more self-confident and provides them with new skills.

The new handbook, the first revision made since 1990, resulted from talks with hundreds of Boy Scouts and Scout leaders across the country. Features include:

  • A new emphasis on low-impact and no-trace camping, which means that Scouts leave camping areas in better shape than when they arrived. Included is a code of outdoor ethics for Scouts to follow when camping called, the "Principles of Leave No Trace."
  • A more logical sequence of the book based on the familiar Boy Scout ranks of Tenderfoot to Eagle, containing the same information on first aid, camping, knot-tying and flag-raising that has helped millions advance through Scouting and learn skills for life. The book now has a color-coded page index to help a boy find and work on the requirements more easily.
  • Fewer pages, with material dealing with mammals, insects, plants and pioneering removed from the handbook but expected to be placed in the next edition of the Fieldbook.
  • More information on programs for older boys including camping opportunities and other high-adventure opportunities at BSA high-adventure bases. Information on programs such as the Order of the Arrow - Scouting's national honor society - also has been included.
The slimmed-down, easier-to-use handbook is made from recycled biodegradable paper and is available at local Scout shops for only $7.95. The Boy Scout program includes an active, year-round set of activities for boys from age 11 through 18, available through 327 local councils of the Boy Scouts of America.

Other BSA programs range from Tiger Cubs, for first-grade boys; to Cub Scouts, for boys in the second through fifth grades; to Venturing, a new program for 14- to 20-year-old boys and girls.

Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs include more than 3.1 million boys and are supported by more than 1.2 million registered adult volunteer leaders. Scouting was incorporated in the United States in 1910 and chartered by Congress in 1916.

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For information about the history of The Boy Scout Handbook, see our page about Handbooks Through History.