Where can a boy read, and get inspired, about getting fit, cooking a meal, riding a horse, exploring a cave, identifying trees, leading an expedition, gazing at the stars, catching a fish, and saving a life? If you’ve guessed the BSA Fieldbook, you either spend a lot of time at the Scout Shop or you already own a copy.
Its thirty-four chapters, spanning 614 pages, cover four broad areas: outdoor leadership and trek preparation, Leave No Trace, the how-to of trek adventures, and appreciating our environment. Taken together, the material in the Fieldbook is essential reading and invaluable preparation for any kind of Scouting adventure. I won’t go into detail on the contents; you can read it for yourself, or check out the Fieldbook website for more details. (The website also contains expanded references, maps, and information that supplements the colorful book.)
If your troop program is stuck in a rut, or if you tend to do the same adventures year after year, a copy of the Fieldbook in the hands of an enthusiastic patrol leader or SPL can reinvigorate your troop.
The Fieldbook goes way beyond the “how-to” of outdoor skills, and every chapter holds inspiration and ideas on adventures from a local orienteering outing to a hike on a trail spanning thousands of miles or a float trip on some of America’s most scenic waters. There’s not a boy alive who wouldn’t find something interesting to do in the Fieldbook.
The current Fieldbook is the 4th edition, in print for about eight years now. It builds on a strong tradition of Fieldbooks which date back to 1944 (Colorado’s Troop 97 has an extensive history of the Fieldbook on its website). Each edition has remained in print for an average of twenty years or so, meaning that the current edition will most likely be with us for a while. Most of the information never goes out of date, though, and that which does change can be updated in the various printings that occur every couple years or so. Possibly best of all, BSA Supply Division and Scout shops have recently reduced the price from the original $20 to just $9.99, making it more affordable. And at that price, no serious Scout or Scouter should be without a copy.