Create a wishlist of books you can send to yourself and others at the bottom of this page!
Here’s a big selection of Scouting and outdoors books have helped me as a Scouter and outdoorsman, they have been a source of inspiration and learning practical skills, Scouting history, outdoor lore, and the Scouting program for many years.
Create a wishlist of books you can send to yourself and others at the bottom of this page!
The AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership
A guide to how groups function in the outdoors, how to develop good expedition behavior and how to guide group development towards a shared goal. There’s a great deal of information about working with teens that Scout leaders will find particularly valuable. Kosseff also includes an excellent section on risk management and building risk management plans.
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.
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.
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.
So Far, So Good – A new Scoutmaster’s Story
Most of you will have read the series “A New Scoutmaster” I started publishing this fall (here’s the first chapter).
Because of the overwhelmingly positive response I expanded the story past the original twelve chapters, edited, expanded what I had already written and I am happy to offer the result in my new book So Far, So Good! A new Scoutmaster’s Story.
The story reflects some of my own experiences, stories shared by readers and listeners, questions they have asked, and the advice I commonly share in reply.
So Far, So Good – A new Scoutmaster’s Story at Amazon
The Scouting Journey
The Scouting Journey is a sincere attempt to faithfully update Baden-Powell’s vision for the present generation of Scouters. Like Aids to Scoutmastership, the result is not a systematic how-to guide; but a statement of the broad underlying concepts, the basic framework, of Scouting.
I have shared a thousand campfires, camped many nights, hiked, and canoed many miles with my Scouts. As we covered literal trails through the wilderness, my Scouts were travelling the figurative trail toward adulthood. I have seen Scouting’s tremendous transformative potential at work. I know the trail, here’s your map – lets’s get going!
The Scouting Journey at Amazon
Thoughts On Scouting
I have a fondness for sayings, maxims, adages, mottoes, epigrams, proverbs, and aphorisms. There’s poetry and beauty in expressing a complex thought with a few well-chosen words.
All of the thoughts in this book were first published as 140 character long ‘tweets’, it’s been great fun to watch them take on a life of their own.
They are offered to get you thinking about your work in Scouting, and as a source of inspiration. I’ve based some of my Scoutmaster minutes on these thoughts and have used them to liven up training sessions.
Thoughts on Scouting at Amazon
The Commissioner’s Corner
Author F. Darnall Daley, Jr. has a long record of service to Scouting at the District, Council, and Regional levels. He has plenty of Unit-level experience too – notably as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Cubmaster for two different grandsons. “The Commissioner’s Corner”, a collection of essays, thoughts, and poems, reflect his love for, and appreciation of Scouting.
Daley’s writing is aimed at inspiring Scouters in the spirit of a big brother or best friend. Your best friend knows when you need a warm pat on the back or a swift kick in the pants and delivers either in the best spirit of inspiration and encouragement. Here’s one writing from the book that communicates, in a few words, the spirit of a Scouter’s work better than all of the PowerPoint presentations ever created to train Scouters put together.
The Commissioner’s Corner: A Collection of Inspirational Essays at Amazon.
For the Love of Cub Scouts
Where do you go find answers to Cub Leader questions? During the years I spent as a Cubmaster and Webelos Den Leader formal training sessions helped , but the most valuable advice I received at the time came from those long talks in the parking lot with folks who had been there and done that. Wm. David Levesque’s new book, “For the Love of Cub Scouts”, contains the hard-won ‘between the lines’ sort of information and advice that can only come from an experienced Cub Scout Leader.
For the Love of Cub Scouts at Amazon
The Edge of the Firelight
Wisconsin Scoutmaster Gordon Bain authored this collection of eleven campfire stories for his Scouts. Imagine hunkering around the fire and hearing a very credible account of someone you know, or a place you have been. Just enough factual information to draw you in, but with an eerie twist that raises the hair on the back of your neck.
The Edge of the Firelight at 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.
An excellent, authoritative Eagle Scout history.
You don’t so much earn the Eagle rank as you become an Eagle—a fact only the Eagles in the audience, and the Scout’s parents, fully appreciate. And in becoming an Eagle, you are changed forever.
To merely list the extraordinary achievements of a century of Eagle Scouts is to at least partially confuse cause and effect. It only proves the obvious fact that young people of achievement gravitate toward the opportunity for achievement.
What hasn’t yet been explained is why this particular award has come to assume a place so honored in American life that it alone, of all childhood achievements, follows its recipients throughout their lives; why it remains important as a résumé highlight decades after the honoree has aged out of the program; why newspapers still devote precious editorial space to coverage of Eagle service projects and Courts of Honor; and why at a man’s funeral, three score or more years after he earned the award, his eulogy will likely include the fact that he was an Eagle Scout.
My Fellow Americans
Historian David Scott chronicles something we all know something of, but do not know enough about; the special relationship between Scouting and the presidency.
My Fellow Americans at Amazon
Men of Schiff
In The Men of Schiff Win Davis shares the stories and lives of a number of Scouters he was fortunate enough to have known, and weaves together a history of the Boy Scouts of America from the unique perspective of the men and women who “built a movement out of nothing but a book written by an English general, the interest of boys and the willingness of men… to take on the job of teaching boys to love the outdoors and live comfortably there.”
Men of Schiff at Amazon
My Side of the Mountain Trilogy
Jean Craighead George authored the story of Sam Gribley and his falcon Frightful just over fifty years ago. 8 million copies and 12 translations later My Side of the Mountain has established itself as a classic of children’s literature.
The story of Sam Gribley’s adventures in the woods became a trilogy of books (My Side of the Mountain / On the Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful’s Mountain). Sam’s learns how to survive and makes an existence for himself using woodcraft skills. Some of the skills are represented accurately, some are a bit fictionalized, some are outdated. But My side of the Mountain is not a an instructional manual. The story has sparked the imagination of a generation and kindled the aspiration to learn about and experience the natural world.
My Side of the Mountain Trilogy 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
The Dangerous Book for Boys
The Dangerous Book for Boys puts me in mind of following creeks through the woods, baseball cards held to the forks of my bike with clothespins, climbing trees, chemistry sets, purloined firecrackers, strike anywhere matches, building forts and a thousand other common joys of boyhood. Not virtual but visceral, hands-on and sometimes faintly dangerous.
Risk and challenge remain vital to boys. We cannot legislate or litigate this vitality out of their lives. The authors of the Dangerous Book for boys have assembled a vast catalog of information, activities, skills and crafts that may be nostalgic to men of a certain age but are new and fascinating to each successive generation of boys.
The Dangerous Book for Boys at Amazon
Diary of an Early American Boy
Eric Sloane wrote and elegantly illustrated several pithy books on early American living and artifacts. As a teen I was, and as an adult I remain, fascinated with the Diary of an Early American Boy.
Sloane bases this book on the actual 19th century diary of a fifteen year old farm boy named Noah. The book illuminates the spare original entries in Noah’s diary with Sloane’s illustrations and writing. The obscurities of early American life are explained in a compelling story that is at once plausible and inspiring.
Diary of an Early American Boy at Amazon
Patrol Log Book
I set up this logbook for my Scouts to keep records of meetings, camping trips plans, adventures and memorable moments. They use the information to help their patrol understand what they should start doing, keep on doing or, perhaps, stop doing. By reflecting on things that worked well and things that don’t go as planned they can avoid past mistakes and make better plans in the future. By recording their thoughts they also create a memorable record of their Scouting adventures.
Patrol Log Book at Amazon
The Outdoor Adventure Manual
Published by Scouts UK with a forward by Bear Grylls The Outdoor Adventure Manual is packed with practical Scout skill tutorials ; tents and camping, fire, food and cooking, tools and gadgets, knots and lashings, navigation, first aid and survival, and more.
Skills are explained step-by-step with photos and illustrations that really bring them to life. I’ve read a number of ‘how-to’ books that I suspected were written by people who had not actually tried out what they were describing. The Outdoor Adventure Manual leverages the know-how of many experienced authors to provide practical instruction that is inspiring and easy to follow.
Outdoor Adventure Manual at Amazon
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills
Most of the book is dedicated to climbing skills, but there’s a wealth of general information that Scouters will find useful. To my mind the most important knowledge is not in the specific skills (as valuable as they are) so much as the overall tone and approach to wilderness travel and mountaineering.
There are very valuable chapters explaining the geology and climate of the mountain environment, outdoor fundamentals, and emergency prevention and response.
Not all of us will have the opportunity to apply the technical skills required for climbing explained in the book, but it’s worthwhile knowing something about them, if only to understand why your Scouts shouldn’t be climbing without the proper knowledge and gear required.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills at Amazon
Ultralight Backpacking Tips
If I had to identify with a camping philosophy I’d say that my Scouts are hybrid campers, we backpack, car camp, canoe camp and cabin camp; it’s all good. Before things go off the rails, though, let’s accept that Scouts go camping in lots of different ways, none of which is, in and of itself, a bad way to go camping. Arguing over which methods and gear are right or wrong or which philosophy of camping is more virtuous is not a very useful debate – let’s agree that camping is good, and there are simply different ways to do it.
Ultralight Backpacking Tips at Amazon
Dazed But Not Confused
Kevin Callan is a well-known Canadian camping and canoeing expert. Maybe expert isn’t really the word I am looking for; it seems limiting – Kevin is more than an expert. Kevin is an enthusiast.
When I think of an expert I think of someone who shares knowledge and expertise. An enthusiast, however, shares enthusiasm. An enthusiast may be an expert but few experts have the energy of an enthusiast.
Like most of us Kevin doesn’t have it all figured out yet, and he pretty much knows he never will. But his enthusiasm to know more, to experience more is infectious, it get’s people out of their chairs and trying things out.
Dazed but not Confused at Amazon
Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair
Backpacker Magazine’s Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair is your ticket to becoming a camping gear repair guru. Author Kirstin Hostetter’s well illustrated, carefully explained directions return your investment with the first piece of damaged gear you save.
Maintaining and repairing modern clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, stoves and tents is not a simple as slapping on a bit of duct-tape. You are much more likely to find siliconized nylon, GoreTex titanium and Fastex buckles rather than canvas, brass or leather in a Scout campsite these days. Duct-tape repairs are, at best, a temporary solution and they may cause even more damage in some instances. Tossing your GoreTex jacket or down sleeping bag in the washer is tantamount to tossing it into the trash (don’t ask me how I know).
Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair at Amazon
Cook wild is not a new concept; cooking over anything other than a wood fire is a relatively new development for the human race. Gas or electric stoves are great but we are in danger of losing the knowledge and skill required to cook over a fire.
Author Susanne Fischer-Rizzi has preserved some of this knowledge in her new book Cook Wild. I have read a number of outdoor cookbooks and most of them share a number of identical recipes and techniques but Cook Wild is different. It’s not just another take on foil dinners – there’s some interesting techniques and really great recipes.
Cook Wild at Amazon
Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide
Andrew Skurka’s new book The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide will change the way how we sling a pack on our backs and hoof it into the wild just as Fletcher’s Complete Walker once did. Fletcher’s first books recorded his monumental treks (The Thousand Mile Summer and The Man Who Walked Through Time) and these expeditions resulted in The Complete Walker. Skurka’s stunning 30,000 miles of trekking over the past decade have resulted in The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide.His writing is as focused, practical and essential as his twenty pound pack – there’s nothing in it you don’t need.
The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide at Amazon
Ellsworth Jaeger was an educator, author and curator of the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, New York. Born in 1897` Jaeger’s early inspiration was author and Scouting founder Ernest Thompson Seton. Jaeger later became one of Seton’s associates and business partners. He was an early television commentator and published seven books about nature and the outdoors, two of which are still in print.
My favorite Jaeger book is Wildwoods Wisdom. In it Jaeger records the ‘rich American folklore ‘ of living in the woods. Clear explanations accompany wonderful illustrations intended to help us learn to be less dependent on ‘ the myriad of jingle jangle gadgets of some of our modern outdoorsmen ‘. Although his treatment of the subject may be a bit coarse by our standards Jaeger clearly revered Native Americans their knowledge and their traditions.
No one can read this book without itching to try some of the ideas and techniques Jaeger illustrates.
Wildwoods Wisdom at Amazon
A Sand County Almanac
Leopold’s Sand County Almanac is a collection of essays that capture the ‘fierce green fire’ in a philosophy that has gone on to influence a generation of environmental awareness.
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
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
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
Ropes Works Plus
The clearly illustrated directions in author Gerald Finley ‘s book ‘Rope Works Plus’ explains tying and using knots, splices and lashings, making rope (with plans for a geared rope making machine).
Rope Works Plus on Amazon
The Ashley Book Of Knots
Ashley’s is the standard work on knots, bar none. Any serious knot tyer will have a well worn copy in their library. Clifford W. Ashley describes the history, uses and construction of more than 3,900 different knots–presented through 7,000 carefully hand-drawn illustrations.This invaluable volume is big hardcover book with a quality binding and is well worth the price.
Ashley’s Book of Knots at Amazon
The Marlinspike Sailor
Hervey Garrett Smith’s The Marlinespike Sailor explains key nautical knots both practical and decorative. Readers will learn how to sew their own ditty bag and canvas bucket, how to splice, make mats, and much more. Smith’s drawings are unsurpassed in clarity and will guide readers through even the most difficult knotwork with ease.
The Marlinspike Sailor at Amazon
Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work
The Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work is more semi-official and not as folksy as Ashley’s. Illustrated with photographs it is sometimes easier to follow. Real knot junkies will argue the merits of Ashley over the encyclopedia’s author Raoul Graumont but they will probably have a copy of both. I find that these two books compliment each other; one may clarify what the other obscures.
The Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work at Amazon
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
A detailed look into the ‘how to’ for dozens of objects and tools. With these instructions you can fabricate the articles once used for daily life from materials found in nature. The book describes ambitious projects like wigwams and dugout canoes and easier (yet still challenging) items like atlatls and drinking cups.
Indian Handcrafts at Amazon
The Little Book of Whittling
Chris Lubkemann’s book is the clearest, simplest beginners book and has the best treatment of choosing, modifying and sharpening a pocketknife suitable for whittling. Lubkemann concentrates on easy projects made with sticks – perfect for a leisurely afternoon in camp. Start with Lubkemann if you are a true beginner but more advanced whittlers will find good ideas and techniques too. Making a rooster from a forked stick is a great way for Scouts to practice knife skills for tote-n-chip.
The Little Book of Whittling at Amazon
Whittling and Woodcarving
Written in the thirties this is the whittler’s magnum opus. Classic whittling tricks and projects, soap carving, etc. Get this book, a pocket knife and a chunk of white pine. Find a shady tree or a park bench and whittle away. Want to make a pair of working box jointed wooden pliers?, a ball in a cage?, a wooden chain? Tangerman will walk you through the process step by step.I have a wooden chain with a ball in a cage hanging in the shop for people to casually discover. When they do my stock goes up three or four points right away.
Whittling and Woodcarving at Amazon
Free Range Kids
In Free Range Kids , How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) Lenore Skenazy applies her keen journalistic skills to researching and explaining the influences that conspire to frighten parents, debunking common fears, and offers 14 commandments to help parents adopt a rational approach to responsibly raising independent, capable children.
The Parents We Mean to Be
Father of three child and family psychologist Richard Weissbourd teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Education. His new book ‘The Parents We Mean To Be’ argues that parents have a much greater influence on their children’s moral lives than peers or popular culture.
The Parents We Mean to Be at Amazon
We know that Scouting is aimed at building character. How do we define character? I think the character we are aimed at and the qualities of resilience are one and the same. Ginsburg expands on this short-hand term by defining the “Seven Crucial Cs of Resilience”. If you strive to be a better Scouter and/or better parent I recommend studying Building Resilience in Children and Teens.
Building Resilience in Children and Teens at Amazon
Scouting and Outdoors Books Wishlist
Check the items you’d like to include on your wishlist and send it to yourself and someone who can take a hint!