Are Boy Scouts Anti-Makers?


A side-burner stove built from a single
can as part of a Scouting project.

I was recently reading an article about soda-can stoves and was dismayed to discover that the Boy Scouts are more concerned about safety at all costs instead of providing a means for boys to be ready for any contingency. Despite the project depicted in the picture, the article states:

The Boy Scouts of America now prohibits “equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning ‘can’ stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.”

While I am not opposed to safe practices, our society has become such a worshiper of safety and security that we have become slaves of our current corporatocracy. The Boy Scouts prohibition of handcrafting such simple alcohol stoves in just another example of this lunacy. This type of thinking is exactly the kind that ProvideYourOwn opposes.

We want people, especially boys, to make their own stuff. While we don’t quite go as far as the tongue in cheek quip over at Make magazine – “poke your eye out”, we come pretty close. We don’t advocate avoiding risk, only unnecessary and foolish risks. We want people to become as self-sufficient as they choose to be. While we are not opposed to corporations in general, we do not want to be their slaves either, but rather their masters. They only way we see to do that is to become independent of them. Making our own camping stoves from a free soda can is by far preferred to being forced to buy some safe, government-certified, expensive stove made by a corporation.

While I am sure the Boy Scouts organization is simply trying to protect itself from litigation by those who will not accept the fact that life has risks and that if we want to truly live we must take them, it is tragic that they have departed from teaching boys to become men who are also providers in any circumstance they may find themselves in. We encourage parents to not follow this same path. Take risks. Let boys do the kinds of things they need to do to become real men. As Arthur Ransome so eloquently stated in his excellent children’s book Swallows and Amazons when the children wrote their father for permission to go camping and sailing by themselves on an overnight trip. His reply by telegram was:


Think about it.


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