Archive for the ‘Film & Books’ Category


Near the end of this month’s Scenic District roundtable meeting I asked the Scouters if many of them had any of the digital copies of the old Boy Scout themed novels written in the early 1900′s. I had noticed that many of the Scouters owned smart phones and tablets and that they used these during meetings, so I thought it was a valid question. I do not think a hand went up in reply. That surprised me a little.

I have collected over 50 of these old books in the open source epub digital book format. They are novels featuring the adventures of Tom Slade, Roy Blakeley, and Pee Wee Harris. You may recognize those names from the Boy’s Life magazine cartoon pages. There are stories of the Banner Boy Scouts and the members of the Eagle Patrol. All of these old novels have fallen into the public domain. I think I have more eBooks than I do actual hardbound books in my collection.

I understand the epub eBook file works well with many current tablets, including the iPad, but does not work with the Amazon Kindle tablets. I guess Amazon would rather sell you a copy in their own format. However, I hear that there are free programs available to reformat epub files to something the Kindle can use. It is just an extra step needed to work on the Kindle.

I asked the Scouters if they would like a digital copy of these books. Most of them said yes. This morning I got busy and started burning cd’s of the 50 Scouting novels for the next roundtable. I will bring 12 cd’s to the meeting. It will be a nice bonus for some of the Scouters who take the time to come to the roundtable. If more than one Scouter from a troop attends I am sure they would be willing to share the cd of books.

How many of these digital novels do you own?

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    ThinkStock/AMCIt is Friday night. More than likely, somewhere in this country there is a group of Boy Scout teens watching a horror movie of some sort. While in decades past these movies may have included Frankenstein, the werewolf, Dracula, or the mummy, today’s youth seem to love teen wolves, sparkling vampires, serial killers, or the worse of all – zombies! Between World War Z and the television series The Walking Dead, zombies are the rage today.

    I like a good horror movie, but I am not big on the gore. I prefer suspense instead of seeing blood gushing 50 feet into the air. I prefer movies like Spielberg’s original Poltergeist. I have yet to see a Saw movie, and I really have no desire to see one. I laughed through the original Halloween movie when I saw it in the theater, except for that one part when the dead guy swung out of the kitchen closet.

    Back to zombies. I hate zombies. Several months after seeing the original black and white Night Of The Living Dead on late night PBS twenty-some years ago I had one of the worse nightmares of my life. And that movie is basically PG-13 by today’s standards. I watched the first season of The Walking Dead when I received the dvd’s from Netflix. I have not watched any other seasons. I did like Shawn Of The Dead however. I thought it was hilarious.

    So when I read an article online today about a new movie about to be made it sent mixed feelings through my system. Paramount Pictures hopes to start production on a new movie in the spring of next year. It is currently called Boy Scouts vs Zombies, which I read about on the Screen Crush website. According to the article “…this new film is exactly what it sounds like. ‘Boy Scouts vs. Zombies’ is based on a Black List script from Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki, and centers on a boy scout troop that must save girl scouts from the walking dead.”

    Will this movie be strictly a horror film? Will it be a comedy? Something in between? Will it be a strong R, or receive a PG-13 rating? Will this be a movie I will want to add to my Scouting themed film collection? I just don’t know. What do you think? Does it sound like something you will want to watch?

    http://screencrush.com/boy-scouts-vs-zombies-paranormal-activity-christopher-landon/

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      lasteaglescoutOne of Boy Scout Troop 68′s Eagle Scouts stopped by Sunday afternoon to watch a new movie I had recently received in the mail. Both of us had been waiting for “The Last Eagle Scout” to be released since we had read about it on Facebook a couple years ago. Here is the synopsis from the movie’s website:

      In the not-so-distant future, society has allowed political correctness to go beyond the point of the absurd. For years the Boy Scouts have been under the government microscope and finally have been mandated to close their doors for good. Boy Scout, Cliff Elliot, stirs the pot as he tries to cling to the last shreds of patriotism and earn his Eagle Scout Award. In this ‘dramedy’, watch as Cliff jumps through ridiculous hoops, avoids the bumbling antics of government cronies, and tries to escape murderous plots against him, as he sets out to accomplish what he sees as the ultimate honor—becoming the Last Eagle Scout.

      As we sat down with our pizza, popcorn, and soda Dakota and I understood that this was an independent made film, not a major studio financed super blockbuster. We had both seen the trailer which looked interesting and promising. We hoped that it would be a decent and fun film.

      By the time the end credits rolled across the scene Dakota and I both agreed that we enjoyed the movie. The plot may have been simple but the film moved along at a nice pace and kept our interest. A few of the special effects may not have had the polish of a high budget Hollywood film but the acting was good and the action sequences were fun.

      The movie is described as a dramedy in the description above, but I felt it played a bit more toward the drama side. There were a couple scenes that gave me a good chuckle though. Cliff, the hopeful Eagle Scout, decides to go against a government ban of flying the US flag on public property and in teenage fashion may not have though about the repercussions before doing the deed. The slow moving chase scene was another part I found humorous. I also enjoyed the homemade “iWatch” used by the Scouts in the movie.

      One thing Dakota did not like was that for a lot of the movie Cliff was not wearing his uniform properly. It did not bother me because Cliff was on the run for nearly half the film. Keeping your shirt tucked in would be a low priority when you are running from government stooges.

      Dakota and I both felt the “political correctness run amok” theme was a bit frightening. To tell the truth, we felt the tone set at the beginning of the film may not be that far in our future if this country continues on its current course. Can you imagine a United States of America government that decides to shut down the Boy Scouts of America?

      Like I stated earlier, Dakota and I both enjoyed The Last Eagle Scout and give it a thumbs up. I consider it a solid addition to my Scouting-themed movie collection. Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it?

      The trailer for the movie can be scene at:
      http://lasteaglescout.com/ .

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        scout dvd movie collectionLike many Scout leaders and families I have collected a few Scouting-themed movies over the years. I know my collection is far from complete but it does contain some of what we could call “classics”.

        Scouts To The Rescue, starring a young Jackie Cooper, is the only VHS tape I own for this collection. It is a twelve part series from many decades ago, 1938. Cooper plays an Eagle Scout of a troop which finds a buried treasure which turns out to be a stash of counterfeit money. Unfortunately, It is the only movie of my collection I have not watched yet since I bought it after I got rid of my VHS player for my television. Some day I will have to transfer it to dvd.

        Mr. Scoutmaster is a 1953 comedy featuring Clifton Webb as a television personality who becomes a scoutmaster to learn more about teenage boys when his tv show begins to lose ratings. I saw this on tv a couple decades ago and found someone on eBay who was selling DVD copies. Today there are several online stores which sell this movie.

        Follow Me Boys is probably the most well known movie about Scouting. It was released by Disney in 1966 and features Fred MacMurray as he serves as a scoutmaster for twenty years with the same troop. A young Kurt Russell is a member of that Boy Scout Troop. I first saw this movie in 1984 when I attended scoutmaster training at Philmont Scout Ranch. I quickly picked up a copy when it came out on DVD. This movie belongs in everyone’s Scouting collection.

        The Wrong Guys is a 1988 movie which features popular comedians of the time, including Louie Anderson, Richard Lewis, and Richard Belzer. The plot follows a group of men who where members of a Cub Scout den in their youth as they gather for a camping reunion. Of course, none of them know much about camping. And to top it off, a couple of escaped convicts get mixed up in the story. Not a strong plot but still fun to watch.

        Down And Derby is a comedy with a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby at the core of its story. Or I should say how some fathers take a Pinewood Derby too far and try to win no matter what the cost. This 2005 movie features Greg German and Pat Morita. This family film is a great one for this time of year as packs across the country prepare for their own Pinewood Derby. One of my favorite lines from the movie is when one of the Cub Scouts says that he cannot wait to grow up so he can race his own car.

        Pixar’s Up really is not a movie about Scouting but has a main charater that is 100 percent Boy Scout, or should I say Wilderness Scout? Some of Russell’s (the Scout) Scouting knowledge comes in handy as he and the old man Carl have an adventure that takes them to South America. The movie pokes fun of Scouting but does it gently and with respect. This movie is a must for a Scout collection.

        Scout Camp, The Movie came out in 2009. It follows the adventures of one Boy Scout troop during their week at summer camp. While some people did not feel that this was a very good movie about Scouting, after all, the Scouts do not always follow the Scout Oath and Law (sound familiar?), I enjoyed it as a fun story. I was surprised to see a wide number of Scouts-types in the film who I could identify as members of my own troop over the years. There was also one or two scenes that struck home a little too closely.

        759: Boy Scouts Of Harlem is a 2009 documentary filmed by Justin Szlasa and Jake Boritt as they follow four Boy Scouts from Harlem troop when they attended summer camp. The newest Scout, eleven-year-old Keith, spends his first week at camp and faces the challenges of the woods: the dock test in the deep lake, creatures of the night, and the climbing tower. The film is well done and you really get to know the boys and their leaders during the film.

        The last film of my collection is the Philmont Documentary Collection. If you have been to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico you need to have this DVD in your collection. I feel it really captures the sense of what it is like being at the ranch. It not only gives the viewer an in-depth history of Philmont but also follows a Venture co-ed crew and they partake in a twelve day trek. I call this dvd the best thing next to being there. Be sure to purchase the blu-ray version of the film for your HiDef television.

        Which of these movies do you have in your collection? Which ones am I missing?

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          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “New Feature Film Aims to Pay Tribute to Scout Leaders” 

          Utah based filmmaker Garrett Batty has announced development of SCOUT CAMP: THE KLONDIKE, a feature film tribute to Scout Leaders.  Principal photography is set to begin in October 2012.

          When Batty wrote and directed SCOUT CAMP: THE MOVIE, he had no idea the reception the film would receive.  3 years later, the ultra-independent movie has become a must-see among scouting families, screening at the National Jamboree, and at scouting events all over the country.  ”The reception has been wonderful, and the people I have met through the process are remarkable,” Batty says, as he considers those whom he has met over the past 3 years touring with the film.

          Scout Camp: The Klondike Screenwriter Jake Van Wagoner with Director Garrett Batty film a fundraising campaign for their next film.

          It’s that spark that has ignited a fundraising campaign for a brand new scouting movie, this time with a focus on Scout Masters. “Scout leaders deserve their story to be told,” Batty explains. “The time, energy and sacrifices that they make for scouts, and the little recognition that they get– There are some wonderfully relatable stories that would show a positive side of scouting that is not often shared the media.” Working with screenwriting partner and fellow eagle scout Jake Van Wagoner, they’ve come up with SCOUT CAMP: THE KLONDIKE, a full length feature about winter camping, that will finally give hardworking scout masters their time in the sun– or snow. A funding campaign for the independent film has recently been launched on Kickstarter.com, a site that promotes crowdsourcing to launch creative projects.

          “We chose to go to kickstarter as a way to get scouts involved with the film,” explains screenwriter Jake Van Wagoner. Batty joins in, “We’re letting the audience get behind this film BEFORE it is made. As a thanks, we’ll put their name in the credits, or send them a limited edition patch, or even come be an extra in the film. The rewards are pretty amazing…” The kickstarter campaign allows anyone to pledge money to the project, from $10 or more, with different incentives given based on the amount you pledge. However, the film will only be made if the kickstarter campaign gets completely funded before it expires– in this case, May 24th. It’s an incredibly short amout of time to raise enough money to get the film started. “It’s really an urgent campaign, so we hope the audience will make a pledge, then spread the word.”

          With a complete script, a ready crew, and 3 years of gathering scout stories from all over the country, they now look to take the film into production. More information on SCOUT CAMP: THE KLONDIKE can be found at www.scoutcampthemovie.com or find Scout Camp on Facebook.

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            It looks like there is going to be a sequel to the film Scout Camp: The Movie. It will be called The Klondike. A website has been posted for people who would like to be a part of this new film by donating money (as little as $10) to the financing of the project. I am thinking about it since I enjoyed the first movie. The website can be found at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/threecoinproductions/scout-camp-the-klondike-a-comedy-with-merit . Check it out. Here is a video from screenwriter Jake Van Wagoner and writer/director Garrett Batty introducing the project. They hope to premiere the movie at the 2013 National Jamboree!

            By the way, if you did not get a chance to hear our interview with Garrett Batty when Scout Camp: The Movie was released you should check out episode #67 of The Leaders Campfire podcast.

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              Last month I finally broke down and bought an iPad (the newest version). I have been having fun with it. It looks great and works well. I have to admit, playing Angry Birds on an iPad is a lot more fun then playing on an iPod Touch. I have downloaded dozens of books that are in the public domain, especially all the fictional novels I can find written about Boy Scouting during the early years of the movement. Most of the stories about Pee Wee Harris, Roy Blakely, and Tom Slade are waiting on my iPad’s hard drive waiting to be read.

              I have also downloaded a couple of Scouting related apps.The first one was MyBadges, written by Kevin Butler. It is an app which quickly puts the requirements for Boy Scout ranks, merit badges, and other awards on the screen. I have used this app while sitting on a board of review and found it to be quite handy, although one Boy Scout may not agree with me since I found a current requirement that was not listed in his handbook which was about 5 years old. Kevin has been doing a pretty good job of keeping his app current with the latest BSA handbook.

              Which brings me to a problem I found. I was going to download the Boy Scouts of America app of The Boy Scout Handbook. After all, I am still involved with Scouting and thought it should be on my new gizmo. I went to the App Store to download it and stopped dead in my tracks. I have not purchased it, and will not purchase it. Here are the reasons why…

              First of all, The B.S.A. has not updated the Handbook App since November 7, 2009. Yes, you read that correctly. 2009! For an organization that wants its members and volunteers to stay up to date they have really dropped the ball here. Heck, they come out with a new printed handbook every year. Why should I pay $9.99 to download a handbook that does not even contain the latest requirements for ranks and training?

              And the price of $9.99, which just happens to be the same price as a physical handbook, but yet does not let me (or a Boy Scout) write in it and keep track of things like we can in a real physical copy? I think the price should be a couple bucks cheaper but I think I understand the reasoning behind it. After all, I was going to buy it until I started looking closer at it.

              Third, the app is only available as an iPhone App. Really? Come on B.S.A., get with the program. Over 50 million of these devices have been sold. I am sure I am not the only Boy Scout volunteer that owns an iPad. I had thought the B.SA. was trying to be more modern and catch up to current technology. It seems to me they have been dropping the ball in a major way with this app.

              Fourth. And speaking of dropping the ball, have you read the reviews about the latest version of the e-hanbook? (Which, keep in mind, came out in 2009.) They are not glowing, I can tell you that. The main gripe seems to be that it is not much more then a pdf version of the handbook. Excuse me national office, but if I am going to pay for an ebook, I would like it to be an ebook with at least a fair amount of accessible features. The book should be interactive, like the B.SA. says a Scouting program should be for its boy members.

              So, I will not be purchasing the B.SA.’s Boy Scout Handbook app. At least not yet. I would like to, but the national office needs to work on this program and at least update it, if nothing else. Or could it be that this app is not a big enough seller for the B.SA. to care about? That would be a shame.

              I would be interested on hearing from you if you use the Boy Scout Handbook app. Do you think it is useful? What is your general impression of it. Write a comment and share your user experience with us.

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                I know there have been quite a few books written about that magical place we Scouters know as Philmont Scout Ranch. I own a few of them. Four to be precise. Here is a quick description of each of them.

                Return To The Summit Of Scouting is “A Scouter’s midlife journey back to Philmont” written by William F Cass. It follows Mr. Cass’ return to Philmont as an advisor and father after having left the ranch as a summer staffer over two decades earlier. Not only does the book follow the expedition of him and his son, but it also gives great nice in-depth outlook from the staff and rangers point of view. This book was first printed in April, 1993.

                Head For The High Country was written by David L. Caffey and published in 1973. Mr. Caffey was a member of the Philmont Scout Ranch staff for several seasons. He is also an Eagle Scout and has received the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow. The book covers the five years he spent working on the staff in various camps around the ranch.

                The oldest Philmont-themed book in the collection is The Tooth Of Time, A Philmont Adventure, written by the radio scoutmaster the 1940′s, Gray Sterling. This book was published in 1955. I picked up my copy at a used book store which must have received it from a library because it still has the sign out card on the back cover. I have not read it yet but when I skimmed it for this article I noticed it may be a fictional account of a Scout crew’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. I also noticed one more thing today. The book appears to have the author’s signature on the first page of the book, under his picture. Cool.

                Beyond The Hills, The Journey of Waite Phillips, written by Michael Wallis, is really not about Philmont Scout Ranch. It is about the life of Waite Phillips, the man who donated to land to the Boy Scouts of America. It is a fascinating book that belongs in any collection of Philmont-themed books. This book does contain a lot of photos.

                The final two books, The Scoutmaster and The Scoutmaster II, are not actually books about Philmont. They are written by scoutmaster Jim Boeger who was one of two excellent instructors for Scoutmaster’s Fundamentals, a course I took at the Philmont Training Center in 1984. The books are about Mr. Boeger’s experiences as a scoutmaster. (By the way, he is 6′-9″ tall, which brings some unique experiences to the Scouting table.) The first chapter about his first experience going on a camping trip with a troop of Boy Scouts had me laughing out loud. Mr. Boeger did sign my copy of The Scoutmaster before I left Philmont.

                What Philmont-themed books do have own? Do you have any suggestions for us. or a special book perhaps? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

                100 Days of Scouting: Day 84.

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