1965 Boy Scout Handbook


I find this old 1965 Boy Scout Handbook so fascinating that it’s hard to choose which pages to scan for you, but here’s a selection from cover to cover.

Click and zoom for a closer look.

More ephemera

~ by lolarusa on February 5, 2009.

40 Responses to “1965 Boy Scout Handbook”

  1. Yep. That;s the book I used in 1968 when I became a scout. Brings back memories . . . Thanks. :)

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m going to link you in my blogroll.

    BTW, Dan from United Architects referred me here.

  3. Howard Bloom, author of The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain, wrote the chapter on masturbation.

  4. Very interesting Fun Fact, John. I thought you were pulling my leg, but then I looked in the index and lo and behold: Masturbation, page 425. How do you know that Harold Bloom wrote it?

  5. I had heard about it years ago, but I can’t remember where. Maybe one of his interviews on Coast to Coast?

    However, when I saw your post, I looked it up and I found this:


    “Bloom edited grant proposals and conference proceedings for Sol Gordon, head of the Middlesex County Mental Health Clinic and author of books like How Can You Tell If You’re Really in Love? and All Families Are Different (1963). A year later, he edited and wrote for the Boy Scouts of America during a summer vacation. He updated the Boy Scout Handbook chapter on masturbation and field manuals on stalking, tracking, and camouflage. In 1966 he wrote Ten Steps to Organize a Boy Scout Troop, the manual on how to build new Boy Scout troops. Since he had previously been kicked out of the Boy Scouts for incompetence at Morse Code, the experience convinced him that if you do enough research and you care enough about your reader, you can write on any subject.

  6. “if you do enough research and you care enough about your reader”, amusing that this was the guy who did a chapter on masturbation.

  7. Research is so important.

  8. Especially “hands-on” research…

  9. We had this edition around the house when I was a quite young although I’m not sure why. Neither my brother or I made it past Cub Scouts, and even if we had there would have been a newer edition by then.

    I thought I’d read it cover to cover multiple times, but I don’t remember anything in it about masturbation. Might have gone over my head at that age, I suppose. Too bad, because if the Boy Scouts had developed any special skills in it, they might have come in useful later.

  10. The passage is somewhat vague:

    At times the glands discharge part of their secretions through the sex organ during sleep. This process is called a nocturnal emission or a “wet dream”. It is perfectly natural and healthy and a sign that nature has taken care of the situation in its own manner.

    There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves. This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry.

    Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome. If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual – just about all boys have the same problem. Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man. But be sure to get your information from reliable sources – your parents, your physician, your spiritual adviser.

  11. “consult your conscience” was what I was told many times about many things as a child. “Your conscience will tell you what is right and what is wrong.” Unfortunately, many times my “conscience” came to me in the form of what others had told me and I respected their opinions because I did not have the age, wisdom, or adequate base of experience/comparison to judge correctly. As for masturbation, I knew it was not something acceptable for general conversation. Then, as now, my sex life is my own business. but there was nothing wrong with it.

    As Woody Allen has said, “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”

  12. I remember the masturbation passage very well. What always cracked me up was that it implies that you’re cheating nature by causing your own emissions.

  13. Personally, I like the advice to boys to “let nature have its way with them”. Bestill my heart.

  14. That’s fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Thanks for posting this…it’s great!

  16. I was boy scout,i am boy scout in my hart scout ¡siempre alerta!paz y bien ,un saludo,picardio.

  17. as a former eagle scout circa 1963 i remember this book and still own it. i still refer to it in times of trouble…timeless

  18. thats pretty cool. I wonder how much the handouts have changed since?

  19. Good Posting. I will download it for my reference. I’m from Indonesia. Nice to read your blog.

  20. I still have my copy of this handbook. What a blast from the past.

  21. That was my handbook as well and the first thing I thought about was the short passage on masturbation. Seems like a few others had the same thought. I was so naive and impressionable that it almost made me stop wacking off. However nature still prevailed. Say what you want but that book was and is the next best thing to live by.

  22. Interesting that the book counsels against masturbation but doesn’t mention homosexuality. Wouldn’t the BSA rather have Scouts jerking off in their sleeping bag than playing leap frog in the showers? I was a Scout, and Eagle Scout in fact, and I have often thought it funny that an organization that wears such gay outfits as short shorts with slits in the side, long socks with fuzzy balls on them, scarves, and berets would be so anti-gay. It’s not like the Scouts is about getting girls anyway, so why would they care about sexual orientation? I guess as a para-military organization, you want to prepare the men to die in trenches some day defending the flag? I think unless they include some merit badges about boobs and getting nookie, they should just not worry about it. Sorry to get off on a tangent rant, but I love to stir up controversy when and where I can…

  23. Just seeing that cover brings back a lot of memories, it s a great thing for you to take the time to share this. My 1 week boy scout camp in Texas was one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. would love to stumble upon a copy of this book version at a garage sale ,that would be awesome.

  24. its a good reference for shirt designs, thanks ima a lone designer of bsp philippine scout shirt, can you possibly refer me to more scout ideas or magazines to broaden my designs and give me more ideas on concepting scout designs.. thanks a lot and God Bless

  25. Any chance you could shoot me a picture of page 140 from that handbook? It is said to have a picture of a Walking “H” Trestle and we need to know what it looks like for a Camporee competition this coming weekend. (sorry for the short notice – I just found you tonight) Thanks

  26. Hello Cheryl,

    There doesn’t seem to be anything about trestles in this guide. Perhaps it’s a different edition of the Boy Scout Handbook that you need. Page 140 of this edition is an introduction to the chapter on animal tracking.

  27. Just wanted to say that I read your blog quite frequently and I’m always amazed at some of the stuff people post here. But keep up the good work, it’s always interesting.
    See ya

  28. Where can I get a 65 boy scout manual, I’ve lost mine

  29. hey i own one of those i got one from a book store that sells used books im currently a tenderfoot and i saw one in the scout museum

  30. Still have my copy and Scouting quit me in 1967 over my wanting long hair, Order of the Arrow and three merit badges short of Eagle! Almost as complete as the Junior Woodchucks’s Guide.

  31. I am listening to the Howard Stern Show on satellite radio, and Baba Booey just mentioned that he learned about what was happening to him from his Boy Scout manual. I thought this had to be B.S., but a search of “nocturnal emission in boy scout manual” brought this page up as the first result. Thanks.

  32. very please to meet

  33. thanks

  34. Does anyone remember the Evinrude full-page advertisement in this version of the manual. Incredibly, due to a form-fitting water soaked bathing suit a girl appeared almost completely nude. This took place in, of all places the Boy Scout Manual! Of course this certainly was a simple mistake…..

  35. It was my first Scout book also.

    gerard pawling said “as a former eagle scout circa 1963 i remember this book and still own it. i still refer to it in times of trouble…timeless”

    I know I am saying this years after your post but Gerard you are not a former Eagle Scout. You earned it and you get to keep it for life. No one can take it away from you. Not even you.

    BTW as on who finished as a life scout : ( if anybody comes up with a time machine please have them kick me in the butt around 1970-1975 so I finish. LOL

  36. The same handbook I had as a kid. Thanks for the memories!

  37. Does that have a chart in the cooking section that shows how to estimate the temperature of wood coals by holding your hand over them and counting? I >really< need a scan of that chart!

    Cadillac, MI
    33rd active year in Scouting

  38. There doesn’t seem to be any chart like the one you mention, regklubeck.

  39. Yep. That’s the one I remember. Most of the illustrations were printed in black and green. Lotta practical stuff in that manual, some of which I still use.

    I also had a copy of my dad’s BSA handbook from about 1940. It was even better illustration-wise, with all the basic skills needed for living outdoors.

    The most important thing I learned in the Boy Scouts: NEVER volunteer to be troop bugler. You’re the first one up in the morning and everyone hates you for an hour or so.

  40. Good

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