This is our fourth “handy book” by Dan Beard, the founder of the American Scouting movement, who believed that having boys build things with their hands was not only a determent to making mischief, but also the basis for building great lives. In this belief, Beard was indefatigable, and every Scout worth his merit badge was expected to read his classic tract on camp-lore and woodcraft.
In this classic, probably Dan Beard’s favorite among his many books, he takes boys on a camping trip and instructs them in the art of building a fireplace and lighting a fire, designing a campsite, cooking flapjacks (not to mention muskrats and porcupines), packing a trail horse, pitching a tent and handling an axe. His texts were successful, and continue to be successful, because they threw boys back to their own devices, encouraged initiatives, and gave a convincing argument that the outdoors provided excitement and could be enjoyed by anyone who took the time to prepare.
When we published the first book in this series (The American Boy’s Handy Book), we thought it might appeal to a few hundred aging Scouts who fondly remembered “the old days.” How wrong we were! With over 600,000 copies in print, the book is still selling strong. As Beard directed in 1930, “So, Boys of the Open, throw aside your new rackets, your croquet mallets, and your boiled shirts. Pull on your buckskin leggings, give a war whoop and be what God intended you should be; healthy wholesome boys. This great Republic belongs to you and so does this book.” To which we can only say, “Amen!”
This title is now available as an eBook through Google Play.