I was just filing away some of last year’s Cub Scout information, and I couldn’t help but look through two of the books. The first is the book we went through last year with the Wolf den (printed in 2004 – hasn’t changed since then). The other was the book they used back in 1962 – so before even I was born.
Two interesting things struck me in skimming through the book: (1) how little has changed in the books in close to 50 years, and (2) what actually did change.
The cover (clearly) is more “fun” now with a cartoon wolf (with pants) and a diverse group of scouts around him (and add an American flag). Both pictures take place with the sun low in the sky – probably up early to greet the day.
Again, it is amazing how probably 80%+ of the content could be taken from one book and into the other book with just a little “translation”.
An example of this is the subtle change in the Cub Scout Promise over 50 years. In 1962 the scouts promised “to be square” and now they promise “to help other people”. “To be square” (as explained in the book) “to be fair to everybody”. A little different than “help other people” – I think I like the new language better as it focuses more on serving other people.
Other subtle changes are removing instructions on how to climb a tree (safety reasons) a section on building a kite (does anyone do this from scratch any more) and other obvious things.
Removing the section on whittling is an obvious one because it was an “achievement” (something every scout was expected to do to achieve rank). Scouts do use a “jackknife” later in the program now, just at an older age. Again, I think this is safety related – even more so because many dads (including myself) never learned much about safe use of a pocketknife when we were younger (and they aren’t allowed in school anymore – most packs meet in schools).
Sad to see this one go though – the classic crystal radio. I guess since “Radio” Shack doesn’t even carry the requisite electronic components any more (nor Ham radios – why not change the name to “Sprint Phone Shack”) – and since “kids nowadays” listen to their fancy iPods, maybe this is something that can go away. I was glad to see Make: magazine pick it up though in a recent Weekend Project Podcast though.
But these last few are worth the price of admission altogether – the electronics electives.
Nice, have them build a Leyden jar – love that picture of Ben Franklin flying the proverbial kite (I guess they don’t actually show the kite (for safety) but the implication is there). A nice doorbell hookup, but wait ….
There’s nothing like a young boy, some batteries, a buzzer, and an ice pick to build a nice safe party game!
“Level 2” gets us a metal flyswatter, a plane, and another buzzer. Very nice.
Somehow these got left out of the new handbook – for better or worse. In their place is a “computer” achievement which is really basic (the Computer Belt Loop and Pin are stronger).
There are other important changes like an emphasis on child safety, the outdoors and environment, and health and nutrition. Overall I think they have kept the feel and purpose of the program but updated it to fit the times. I am going to have to go back and “pick up” the crystal radio though.