As parents of boys, we’ve come to understand “boy behavior” pretty well – except for when those sweet boys come home with worms in their pockets. Although we may struggle to understand, D.C. Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, understood “boy behavior” quite well. That innate understanding has led to generations of adventurous boys becoming upstanding men.
D.C. Beard was an American author, illustrator, and founder of the Boy Scouts of America and its sister foundation, the Camp Fire Girls. He knew that happy, healthy boys must explore, create, and build their way to being happy, healthy, productive men. His ideas to foster that adventurous spirit laid the foundation for the Boy Scout’s philosophy, and those concepts are still in use today!
Daniel Carter Beard, commonly known as “Uncle Dan”, was born in 1850. He spent most of his childhood in the hills of Kentucky where he was immersed in the Kentucky pioneer’s way of life. He spent countless hours and days exploring the area around his home. Because he spent so much time in the woods, he became an expert at building shelters, starting fires, gathering food, identifying edible plants, and tracking wild game. The skills he learned as an adventurous boy he later taught to other adventure-seeking youth through the Boys Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls programs.
Uncle Dan became the first leader of Boy Scout Troop No. 1, and under his leadership, those first lucky Boy Scouts flourished. Unfortunately, Uncle Dan passed away in 1941, but his lessons and quest for adventure carry on in the books he authored and illustrated. His most famous trio of books, the The American Boy’s Handy Book Series, is still used by Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and adventurous souls everywhere.
The first book, The American Boy’s Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It, is full of fun games and fascinating projects. It is broken down into four sections based on the seasons, and each section is full of answers to the question, “What is there for me to do today?” This book gives detailed instructions on how to make kites, fishing tackle, telescopes, boats, tents, traps, snow forts and more! It is the ideal counter balance to today’s couch-potato lifestyle.
The second book in the series, The Book of Camp-Lore and Wood Craft will keep any kid occupied, regardless of the weather. This book is full of ideas for both indoor and outdoor activities. It contains complete instructions for building a backyard clubhouse, setting up a workshop, creating backyard games, and many other diversions. Uncle Dan knew that if boys stayed busy, they’d also stay out of trouble!
The third book in this series is The Field and Forest Handy Book: New Ideas for Out of Doors, and it is all about living and surviving in the wild. There is practical instruction on how to build shelters, pack a horse, make clothes, build boats, construct a sled, and cook over a campfire. To this day, survivalists rely on the timeless advice offered in this book.
In our never-ending quest to understand and encourage boys of all ages, we rate the American Boy’s Handy Book Series at the top of our “Good Books for Boys” list, and we think you will too!