The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys

It’s long been thought that vigorous outdoor activity is healthy for growing boys. This is one of the principles behind the Boy Scouts, and it’s a key idea behind “The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys: Essential Skills and Activities for Boys of All Ages.”

This book, written by Adrian Besley and available for about $17, proposes that boys spend entirely too much time plugged in, so immersed in electronics that they have become disconnected from the world around them. The book has a slightly tongue-in-cheek quality about it, with old-fashioned drawings that seem to poke a bit of fun at itself. However, “The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys” is largely a handy guide that contains a number of interesting activities that may just motivate boys and men alike to get off the couch and do something outdoorsy.

The book might serve as a handy guide for scoutmasters, especially if they require the boys in their troop to buy the book as well. That way, they could all study the book together, and the boys could read it in their free time as well. But it may be most ideal for those who aren’t a part of any kind of organized scouting group. Reading this book could get them interested in joining such a group or engaging in similar activities with a parent or friend.

Some of the basics covered in this book involve first aid, the expert use of rope and the all-important ability to start a fire without the aid of matches. Dwight Schrute, the eccentric salesman on the office who so frequently worries about bear attacks, would be pleased to note that this book offers advice on what to do in case such an unfortunate event ever arises. The whole book has a retro feel to it because these are ideas that pre-date the electronic age. This book encourages boys to have the same sorts of adventures their fathers and grandfathers may have had as youths long ago.

One criticism that could be lodged against the book is that it is specifically geared toward boys as though boys are the only ones who might have these kinds of outdoor adventures. Girls who are inclined toward rough and tumble living can derive just as much benefit from this book, and it seems rather dated to suggest otherwise. Then again, that may just be part of the inside joke of writing “The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys” as though it were being published in the 1950s.

Quite a few of the tips and crafts found throughout the book will be nothing new for those with a little background in scouting. Still, this is a worthwhile read, and every child who picks it up is likely to find some fascinating tidbits as well as a fun new task to try out. I’d rate it a four out of five stars. It’s a shame that the title could dissuade girls from reading it or others from giving the book to girls as a gift because “The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys” contains 224 pages of great ideas and could be a valuable resource to many.