These books would make excellent gifts for Scouts or Scouters. As a Scouter and outdoorsman they have been a source of inspiration, practical skills, Scouting history, outdoor lore, and for many years.
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A Sand County Almanac
I cannot gather wood and light a fire without recalling Leopold’s essay “Good Oak”:
We mourned the loss of the old tree, but knew that a dozen of its progeny standing straight and stalwart on the sands had already taken over its job of wood-making. We let the dead veteran season for a year in the sun it could no longer use, and then on a crisp winter’s day we laid a newly filed saw to its bastioned base. Fragrant little chips of history spewed from the saw cut, and accumulated on the snow before each kneeling sawyer. We sensed that these two piles of sawdust were something more than wood: that they were the integrated transect of a century; that our saw was biting its way, stroke by stroke, decade by decade, into the chronology of a lifetime, written in concentric annual rings of good oak. – A Sand County Almanac
A Sand County Almanac on Amazon
The AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership
There are significant differences between how groups function in an indoor and outdoor setting. Group concepts that work in a corporate training center fall apart in the campsite.
Most of our Scout training is based in the world of business, so it falls flat when you try to take it camping.
There’s a great deal of information about working with teens, risk management, and building risk management plans Scouters will find particularly valuable.
I attribute the success of our annual extended canoe trips with studying the first edition of the guide but the skills are equally valuable on our weekend camp outs.
AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership on Amazon
Listen to my interview with Alex Kosseff on Scoutmaster Podcast 68
Will To Live
As a Scout leader and outdoor program teacher I’ve been involved in a few (comparatively) minor wilderness emergencies. Anyone who has been in true danger in the wilderness does not want to repeat the experience. Reading Will to Live is an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen skills and learn an attitude of preparedness that will enable you to bring yourself and the people you lead safely home.
Interview with Les Stroud on Scoutmaster Podcast 58
Will to Live by Les Stroud on Amazon
Medicine for the Outdoors
Our first duty as Scout leaders is the safety and well being of our Scouts. We need to know how to keep them safe and how to respond if they are injured or ill. There is nothing in this book that you don’t need to know. I don’t think you have to memorize this book but I would encourage you to know what’s in it and how to find it quickly. Make notes and practice the skills before you need them. I have a Kindle copy that I can carry on a smartphone, iPod or similar device.
Medicine for the Outdoors on Amazon
Hear an interview with Dr. Auerbach on Scoutmaster Podcast 57
Working The Patrol Method
Working the Patrol Method a Scout leader’s guide to youth leadership training is the best work on the patrol method since ‘Green Bar’ Bill Hillcourt’s Handbook for Patrol Leaders last published in 1965 or Baden Powell’s Aids to Scoutmastership originally published in 1920.
Authors Rob Faris,Ted Knight and Harry Wimbrough have written an indispensable book for understanding, implementing and maintaining Scouting’s centrally important concept, the patrol, in the 21st century.
Listen to an interview with the authors in Scoutmaster Podcast 40
Working the Patrol Method on Amazon
The Scouting Party
A thoroughly researched, unflinching account of the founding and first decade of the BSA focused on the lives of Earnest Thompson Seton, Robert Baden-Powell and Daniel Carter Beard. No one has so thoroughly analyzed the events and personalities that, despite their differences and rivalries, brought Scouting to the United States.
Listen to my interview with the author in Scoutmaster Podcast 20
The Scouting Party on Amazon
Camping’s Top Secrets
My first reaction to this title was “yeah, right”. I’ve been a camper all my life spending a thousand or more nights under canvas or on the trail. My camping education started forty years ago with Colin Fletcher’s book ‘The Complete Walker’ and expanded to the classics written by Horace Kephart, Nessmuk and Bradford Angier. I thought I knew all the tricks until I read ‘Camping’s Top Secrets’
Camping’s Top Secrets on Amazon
Interview with Cliff Jacobson on Scoutmaster Podcast 54
Freezer Bag Cooking
The ingenious technique ‘boils down’ to this; measure ingredients into a 1 quart freezer bag and add hot water, wait a few minutes and viola! – a great-tasting meal. Most of the recipes consist of ingredients you can find on the grocery store shelf Add a home food dehydrator and the possibilities really expand. Blogger and author Sarah Svien offers home made cozies (an insulating fabric envelope for freezer bags) and other supplies at the Trail Cooking Website that features a blog and quite a few recipes.
Freezer Bag Cooking on Amazon
Woodcraft and Camping
‘We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it we go to smooth it. We have it rough enough at home…’‘ The temptation is to buy this or that bit of indispensable camp kit has been too strong and we have gone to the blessed woods handicapped with a load fit for a pack mule. That is not how to do it. Go light, and the lighter the better so that you have the simplest material for health comfort and enjoyment. ‘ – Nessmuk
Nessmuk is the pen name of George Washington Sears. In 1884 he wrote the book Woodcraft and Camping and it has been in print ever since. His approach to camping is satisfyingly philosophical and completely practical. Worthy reading for anyone who wants to take to the woods.
Woodcraft and Camping at Amazon.
To Build a Fire and Other Stories
‘He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the twigs with which he fed it. He squatted in the snow, pulling the twigs out from their entanglement in the brush and feeding directly to the flame. He knew there must be no failure. When it is seventy-five below zero, a man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire…’
Jack London’s storytelling is as crisp and clear as a cold winter’s day. He wastes no words in drawing us into a the stark and challenging realities of the north woods. With each reading of ‘To Build a Fire’ I can feel the frost creeping into my fingers.
To Build a Fire and Other Stories at Amazon
Eric Sloane’s Weather Book
Eric Sloane explains the way weather works illustrated with his own drawings.A couple of hours spent with The Weather Book and you are thoroughly versed in the workings of the atmosphere and well on your way to becoming a reliable forecaster. Knowing the weather is an important skill for Scoutmasters and outdoorsmen in general and The Weather Book is a fine resource for developing your expertise.
Eric Sloane’s Weather Book on Amazon
The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook
In this unique and highly personal book, Ray offers hundreds of proven ideas for building strong, successful, sustainable troops that truly achieve the promise of Scouting. Beginning with Scouting’s aims and methods, the book moves quickly through every aspect of the program, from troop meetings and outings to fundraising and administration.
The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook on Amazon
Listen to my interview with Mark on Scoutmaster Podcast 72
Golden Guide to Trees
I have a couple of other guides but reach for my well-worn Golden Guide to Trees first because I find it easier to identify trees from illustrations rather than photographs. The guide features over 730 species of trees grouped in 76 families. Each species description includes characteristics-tree shape, bark, leaf, flower, fruit and twig-for quick identification. As with any guide one must learn how to use it properly. Become familiar with the family descriptions and nomenclature featured in the front of the book and you will be a tree expert in no time.
The Golden Guides have been around for decades and remain popular for their clarity, simplicity and utility.
Golden Guide to Trees on Amazon
National Outdoor Leadership School Cookery
Each year 3000 students spend two weeks to three months in the back country on National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) courses. Thats a lot of back country cooking! The folks at NOLS have developed a simple, varied and inexpensive diet that is based on staple foods that can be found at any grocery store. There’s also a wealth of information on planning, packing and preparing meals for extended trips or just a weekend.My particular favorite receipt is Thai Gado-gado Spaghetti featuring a peanut sweet and sour sauce. Mixing peanut butter in spaghetti raises some eyebrows but I have never had any leftovers.
National Outdoor Leadership School Cookery at Amazon
How to Sh** in the Woods
Author Kathleen Meyer has written pithy, humorous, informative, completely frank manual about how and (perhaps more importantly) how not to sh** in the woods. Does such a evidently simple aspect of outdoor life deserve it’s own book? Anyone who has found themselves in the middle of the wilderness lacking key information about the subject would say yes!
How to Sh** in the Woods at Amazon
Canoeing Wild Rivers
Anyone planning a canoe trip of a few days or a few weeks will benefit from studying the advice given in this book. Author Cliff Jacobson offers solid, tested techniques and then points out the many ways things could go wrong. He uses stories form his considerable experience to illustrate how important it is to plan carefully, not to compound mistakes and thereby opens up the possibilities of canoeing in some incredibly wonderful places.There is a section devoted to accounts of expeditions by different authors that serve to inspire and inform planning. A very engaging and thorough book, the premier one on the subject.
Expedition Canoeing at Amazon
Interview with Cliff Jacobson on Scoutmaster Podcast 54
Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own
I actually made a canoe paddle, and plan on making some more. My new paddle served me admirably on a decade of extended trips. This is as complete a treatment of the subject as one could hope to find. Making a paddle is a reasonably complex process but the authors explain every step with well-illustrated clarity.
Canoe Paddles at Amazon