Daniel C. Beard
This is the fourth “handy book” by Dan Beard, the founder of the American Scouting movement, who believed that having boys build things with their hands was not only a detriment to making mischief, but also the basis for building great lives. Today, I would hasten to add that it’s not such a bad idea for girls, either. In this belief, Beard was indefatigable, and every Scout worth his merit badge was expected to read his classic tract on camp-lore and woodcraft.
This is my favorite among the handy books, though the Field and Forest Handy Book comes in a close second. In Camp-Lore, he takes boys on a camping trip and instructs them in the art of building a fireplace and lighting a fire, designing a campsite, cooking flapjacks (not to mention muskrats and porcupines), packing a trail horse, pitching a tent and handling an axe. His texts were successful, and continue to be successful, because they threw boys back to their own devices, encouraged initiatives, and gave a convincing argument that the outdoors provided excitement and could be enjoyed by anyone who took the time to prepare.
We need more of this in our world and our children need more of this in their lives. I hope there are many children who are given the gift of being able to put to hand many of the things in this and Beard’s other books. It’s “just the ticket” to the healing of so much that ails us.