Archive for the ‘Film & Books’ Category


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?

Thanks for Sharing!

    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.

    Thanks for Sharing!

      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.

      Thanks for Sharing!

        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.

        Thanks for Sharing!

          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.

          Thanks for Sharing!

            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.

            Thanks for Sharing!

              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

              Thanks for Sharing!

                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.

                Thanks for Sharing!