By Community Submission
May 23, 2018

Fieldbook: The Forgotten Tome of BSA Outdoor Knowledge

fieldbookThe word “tome” often refers to ancient, scholarly books, filled with knowledge. Considering the important, historical texts of Scouting, some could call the BSA Fieldbook a famous tome of the movement. However, as fewer and fewer Scouters reference this learned document, it has become a forgotten tome of the BSA. By forgetting this important text, we risk losing the valuable knowledge it holds. Mike Hall, for the Orem District Newsletter, has explained the merits of the Fieldbook in this article below. 

We have been taught to “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118). Then President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency Saturday, 3 October 2009 Priesthood Session, General Conference in his address “Two Principles for Any Economy”, stated that “For members of the church, education is not merely a good idea – it’s a commandment. … If formal education is not available, do not allow that to prevent you from acquiring all the knowledge you can. Under such circumstances, the best books, in a sense, can become your ‘university’ – a classroom that is always open and admits all who apply.” The Fieldbook is one of these books. 

So, what is the Fieldbook? It is a work of knowledge that takes the Scouts beyond the basics of The Boy Scout Handbook. It opens a door to all Scouters and Scouts to the advance opportunities of outdoor adventure. “Fieldbook represents the collective knowledge and experience of countless outdoor experts, mountaineers, explorers, researchers, and Scouters.” “Fieldbook, foreword, page iii”. Contained within the vaults of its cover are sections and several chapters within each section on

1. Organizing for Adventure

  • Planning
  • Gearing Up
  • Menus and Meals
  • Leadership

2. Backcountry Basics 

  • Camping
  • Stoves and Campfires
  • Backcountry Hygiene
  • Navigation

3. Environmental Protection

  • Leave No Trace
  • Stewardship

4. Safety and Survival

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Hazards
  • First Aid
  • Survival

5. Outdoor Adventuring

  • Backpacking
  • Mountain Travel
  • Hot-Weather Adventuring
  • Cold-Weather Adventuring
  • Ski Touring and Snowshoeing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking and Rafting
  • Caving

6. Our Natural World

  • Observing Nature
  • Examining the Earth
  • Weather
  • The Night Sky
  • Plants
  • Wildlife

7. Scouting and the Outdoors

We need to respect the earth and care for all of God’s creations.

The Lord has given us dominion over the whole earth “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26, see also Moses 2:26, and Abraham 4:26). What does it mean to have dominion? President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “We are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties … A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy.” In other words, we need to respect the earth and care for all of God’s creations! It is a charge that many of us have forgotten. This principle of the gospel applies to all of us today! One way we can do that is by learning about our dominion, and every creation within it. Look upon the

The Lord has given us dominion over the whole earth “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26, see also Moses 2:26, and Abraham 4:26). What does it mean to have dominion? President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “We are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties … A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy.” In other words, we need to respect the earth and care for all of God’s creations! It is a charge that many of us have forgotten. This principle of the gospel applies to all of us today! One way we can do that is by learning about our dominion, and every creation within it. Look upon the Fieldbook: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure as a beginning course book on how to have righteous dominion over what our Heavenly Father has charged us with!

fieldbook“And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth, things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms – That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 77-80).

Great effort has been made by BSA to seek out “world-class mountaineers, naturalists, adventurers, and wilderness educators” (Fieldbook, page viii) so that we do not have to make unnecessary mistakes often taught at the school of “Hard Knocks.” It is hoped that as Scouters glean the “Pearls of Great Price” from its’ pages, that they would plan more meaningful outdoor activities to enjoy what the Lord has given to each one of his children. This tome will unlock the outdoors for you and your Scouts in unimaginable ways. Let’s not make the Fieldbook the sealed book of Scouting! I challenge you to join me on this exploration of this “hidden treasure.” And hopefully you will find, as I have, the value of the Fieldbook: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure.

Are you ready to unlock this tome of outdoor knowledge, and to learn together?

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