Archive for the ‘Film & Books’ Category


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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      On this Memorabilia Monday I would like to present four books of my collection that share a theme of Scouting History.

      The first book is The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure, written by Robert W. Peterson, and published in 1984. It was a book printed for the 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. The book is broken down into four parts: 1900-1915, 1915-1935, 1935-1970, and 1970-present (1984). The book is full of black and white and color pictures covering the decades of Scouting. One of my favorite parts of the book shows how to build a tree house designed by Dan Beard.

      Scouting With Baden-Powell, written by Russell Freedman in 1967, is a biography of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. The book does a good job of covering his life. You need to get through two thirds of the book before it starts talking about Scouting. I received this book for free. The librarian of the junior high school library gave it to me when they were discarding old books they did not feel they needed any longer.

      The Boy’s Life Treasury, printed in 1958 by the Boy Scouts of America, is a great book to have in any collection. This 480 page book features  a selection of the best stories and articles from Boy’s Life magazine.My copy of this book is in excellent condition, even if the book jacket is beat up a bit. Amazingly, this book retailed for only $4.95 when it was released. I also own The Best Of Boy’s Life which was published in 2010 for the B.S.A.’s 100th anniversary.

      The pride of my Scout history collection is The History of the Boy Scouts of America. It was written by William D. Murray in 1937. This 574 page volume is rich in Scouting history to that point in time, and contains a lot of photographs and sketches. The first photo in the book features William Murray presenting the 5,000,000th handbook to President F.D. Roosevelt. Four Eagle Scouts stand behind the President. I was lucky enough to find a copy of this book that is in excellent condition. If you really want to know the details about the first thirty years of the Boy Scouts of America, this is the book for you.

      Do you have any books about Scouting history? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

      100 Days of Scouting: Day 14.

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        I usually try to keep this blog in an upbeat mood, but I received a letter today from Justin Szalsa, the director of 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem, with some unhappy news this morning. One of the stars of the film, Colin “KC” Byers, has passed away. Here is Justin’s letter, reprinted with his permission:

        Dear friends of 759,

        I am writing you to report some very sad news. As some of you already know, our friend Colin “KC” Byers, an Eagle Scout and a star of “759,” died suddenly on February 1st . He would have celebrated his 18th birthday on February 9th.

        Colin was struck down within a matter of hours by a massive brain trauma related to a blood disorder called ITP that developed very rapidly. Some of you may know that Colin organized a blood drive for his Eagle service project and made it a point to regularly donate blood.

        For the Byers family this is a second tragedy in too short a time–Colin’s father, the composer Patrick Byers, died just a few months earlier after a battle with cancer. Colin leaves behind his mother, Jennifer, two younger brothers and a younger sister—along with a very large family and huge group of friends. The Scouts of New York City, The Village of Harlem, Troop 759, Miss Ann, Mr. Sowah, Jake and I are devastated by the loss of our friend. Please remember Colin and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

        For those of you in New York City, there will be a memorial service in Colin’s honor at LaGuardia High School at 100 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street on Saturday, February 12th from 10AM-noon.

        Also, many of you have asked how you can materially support the Byers family. The Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils have offered to assist anyone who’d like to make a donation to support the family. The gift will not be tax deductable but your support will go directly to the family. Simply indicate on your check “Byers Family”and mail it to

        Byers Family
        c/o Greater New York Councils
        Boy Scouts of America
        350 Fifth Ave, #430
        New York, NY 10118

        Finally, Albert Maysels, one of the greatest American documentary filmmakers who I admire very much said to make a good documentary you have to love your subjects. Jake and I love KC, Patrick and the rest of the Byers family. We will miss them.

        -Justin Szlasa

        Update: A video has been posted to YouTube in memory of Colin –
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbLWnAtFTMM

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          Once in a while you just gotta sit back and enjoy a good cartoon. Here is one from 1938 called Good Scouts, from Walt Disney. It features Donald Duck as the scoutmaster of his nephews’ troop. They go for a hike but things do not go as planned for Donald. Of course. The film is almost seven and one half minutes long. You better turn down the volume if you are watching this at work.

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            How did you do with the trivia quiz, part one? Are you ready for my Follow Me Boys trivia quiz, part 2? You must be, or why are you here? Get your pencil and paper ready. (I recommend a pencil in case you need to erase an answer. Let’s get started.

            1) How much did Ralph Hastings say the lake property was worth if properly developed?

            2) Who did Whitey marry when he grew up?

            3) What year did the formal Scout camp start being built on the donated lake property?

            4) Who made the decision that Lem needed to retire as scoutmaster when his health started failing?

            5) What title did the troop committee give to Lem when he retired as scoutmaster?

            6) What was the house number of Lem and Vida’s house?

            7) Which one of Lem Siddons’ Boy Scouts became the governor?

            8 ) What was the name given to the Scout camp built on the donated Siebert property?

            9) What actor played the young Whitey?

            10) What year was Follow Me Boys first released in the United Sates?

            Remember to double check your answers before scrolling down.

            Exchange your quiz paper with the person to your right.

            No cheating is allowed.

            You are trustworthy, aren’t you?

            A Scout is all 12 points of the Scout law.

            Do you think you did better this time?

            Okay, enough of this.

            Here are the answers.

            That is, if you are ready for them.

            If not, go back to the top of the page.

            1) Half a million dollars.
            2) Nora Thompson
            3) 1950
            4) The troop committee.
            5) scoutmaster emiritus
            6) 244
            7) HooDoo
            8 ) Camp Siddons
            9) Kurt Russell
            10) 1966

            How did you do this time?

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              I bet you have seen the movie. Many Scouts and Scouting volunteers have. But were you paying close attention? I recently watched the movie again (it is one of my favorites) and I took a few notes while it played. Let’s see how well you can answer the following trivia questions about Disney’s Follow Me Boys. (By the way, this is the first of two parts.)

              1) What was the troop number of Lem Siddon’s troop?

              2) What was the name of the boy Whitey rescued from the cliffside?

              3) What name was on the patch located above the troop number on the troop’s uniform?

              4) What rank patch did Vida sew onto Whitey’s uniform just before Lem got home?

              5) Two boys were in Whitey’s bedroom when he decided to run away from home. What were their names?

              6) What were the names of the three patrols in Lem’s first troop?

              7) What was the nickname of the boy who slept with the canon in the 1944 troop?

              8 ) What knot did the Lieutenant want Lem to tie when he was in the POW camp?

              9) What was the name of the Boy Scout Patrol that captured the tank?

              10) (Extra bonus) What was the “working title” of the movie while it was being filmed?

              Now, before you scroll down for the answers, double check your answers.

              You are going to be graded you know.

              No cheating is allowed.

              You are a Boy Scout, Cub Scout, or Scout leader, aren’t you?

              A Scout is trustworthy.

              Do you think you did well?

              Okay, enough of this.

              Here are the answers.

              If you are ready for them, that is.

              1) One
              2) Ronny
              3) Hickory
              4) First Class
              5) Leo and Hoodoo
              6) Hawks, Beavers, Panthers
              7) Tiger
              8 ) Sheep shank
              9) The Hawk Patrol
              10) On My Honor

              How did you do?

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                Every so often I get a note from someone asking me about the Peanuts comic strip in which Snoopy appears as a Beagle Scout or as the scoutmaster of a troop of Woodstock’s friends. I never had a collection of all the comic strips, but today I found a couple of sources that will help you to find them all.

                The first is http://peanuts.wikia.com, a site that answers all your questions about Charlie Brown and his gang. It is where I started looking for the comics featuring Snoopy, the Beagle Scout. (Who, by the way, started his Scouting as a Tenderpaw.)

                The second site you will need is comics.com. I will save you the trouble of looking for the first strip and give you the address. http://comics.com/peanuts/1974-05-13/

                Between these two sites I was able to find over 35 strips dealing with the Beagle Scout and his troop. In one of the last strips he attends a wedding of a couple of the troop members and becomes the groom’s First Beagle. Have fun reading through them all.

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