Thursday, February 08, 2007

Boys Just Want to Have Fun

I came across this book, The Dangerous Book for Boys, and was intrigued by the title. I googled the book and found that it was already a best seller in the UK and is now coming out in the US:

A book of old-fashioned, adventurous pastimes for lads and dads has become a surprise bestseller. Christopher Middleton watched his 11-year-old son transformed into a Middle Earth warrior.

It's amazing that The Dangerous Book For Boys ever got published, really, given the deeply unfashionable connotations surrounding two out of the five words in the title (the ones that aren't "The", "Book" and "For").....

The authors make no secret of their belief in the magically beneficial effects of children making their own fun.

"In this age of video games and mobile phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree-houses and stories of incredible courage," they declare, and as well as serving as a practical manual of Just William-type tasks (training dogs to do tricks, making waterbombs out of paper), their book bristles with stirring tales of Douglas Bader and Horatio Nelson-type heroism - plus an unshakeable faith in the virtues of being active rather than passive.

The authors give a list of what every boy should have on hand:

Swiss Army knife - removes splinters
Compass - your trusty guide
Handkerchief - doubles as a sling
Magnifying glass - look at small things, start a campfire
A marble - big one, for luck
Needle and thread - to sew up wounds, mend torn shirt
Pencil and paper - note down criminals' car numbers
Torch - read secret plans by night
Fish-hook and thread - add stick and worm and you won't starve
Box of matches - dip the tips in wax (it waterproofs them)

I like the emphasis on being active rather than passive and it seems like this book might be good for boys (or girls who might be interested) who spend too much time at the computer and not enough time outdoors. Today's kids are not exposed enough to the nuts and bolts of how the world works--perhaps this book can help.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author forgot the primary use of the magnifying glass, which is to fry small insects.

8:45 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds cool. My 4 year olds will love it. Thanks for the tip!


9:34 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He also forgot the importance of a medium sized pile of carpentry scraps... various lengths of 2x4s, some pieces of plywood and pegboard, maybe a few landscaping timbers.

From broadswords to catapults, a young boy (or girl) with half an imagination can have days of instructive fun with access to what we call "The Home Depot Graveyard".

9:47 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the scrap heap at any construction site used to be heaven on earth; as can was any wooded area, especially when explored with a bb-gun.

10:35 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book for our grandkids (if my spouse agrees)!

10:35 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger mean aunt said...

We have this book and we love it. Had to order it from amazon Canada. Written by "boys" for boys. Especially since I have no idea about half of the stuff in there (being a girlly-girl who never saw the thrill of catapulting. . .)

10:39 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Shadow's World said...

Oh, the memories -- of myself in the early 50's, of my son and daughter (don't forget daughters) in the 70's and 80's, and of my granddaughter today. Thanks.

10:50 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Jeff with one 'f' said...

...or you could just buy the Boy Scout Manual. In the Red States, boy fun never went out of style!

11:03 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip! I tried and failed to get this book a year ago through Amazon. May I also suggest The American Boy's Handybook? It's old fashioned (1905) and some of its racial terminology unfortunately reflects its age, but I can't wait until my son is a few years older to make war kites.

11:04 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's another book like this that came out a few years ago, called "The Big Book of Boy Stuff". I'll have to check out "The Dangerous Book For Boys" now, too. Thanks for the recommendation!

11:07 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Willys said...

By virtue of his job, my dad was able to appropriate an inner tube from an air force jet, which he strapped with a parachute.

My rolling trampoline was the draw of the neighborhood boys, sometimes up to 5 my age.

11:08 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already have something like this. It's called "The Boy Scouts." Even better is the "Traditional Scouts" movement.

Joe-B-Wan Kanobie

11:10 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds great--just the kind of thing I would have liked to read in my GIRLhood. So why is it aimed at boys instead of just KIDS? Aren't we past this kind of simplistic sexism?

11:12 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of those @*#&$# people (according to Chris Matthews of NBC Fame) that live on a ranch.

My 13 year old son has swiss army knives, bb guns, shotguns, climbs trees, climbs the haystack,drives tractors, rides quads, team ropes, rodeo, hunts, has a bow and arrow that he shoots at the hay stack, knows how to skin a bird or animal and eat it, fishes, hikes, throws rocks into ponds, has remote control toys that fly, flies kites, takes care of sick animals, raises hogs for 4-H, collects lizards, frogs, snakes. He has raised rabbits and pulled calves from dairy cows. On top of all that he is homeschooled so he is very intelligent, knows World Histroy better than any adult I know, can diagram a sentence, solve an algebric equations, did his 7th grade science project on whether or not the different brand of paintballs have an affect on the accuracy of a paintball gun. He knows that eggs and milk come from chicken and cows and not from the grocery store. Says Yes Mam and No Sir and thank you mam and thank you sir. He is a boy - a true blue American boy. A rara find in this day and age.

11:16 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger David Walser said...

For all these reasons, I insisted my son be active in scouts. First as a Cub Scout and then as a Boy Scout, he had lots of opportunities to work with knots, knives, matches, and other cool stuff. All the while, he was learning to be: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrift, Brave, Clean, and Reverent (taken from the Scout Law).

11:28 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger SwampWoman said...

Yep, Tomcal, frying insects was definitely the primary use of a magnifying class.

If the higher power turns out to be a giant ant, we are in big trouble.

11:52 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Apollo said...

A wise authority on boys would have also included a dead cat on a string and a doorknob in the list of required boyhood items.

11:55 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Duane said...

The book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv is another great book that takes a look at the lack of "nature play" on our kids.

And this book has been on my coffee table for years! Every guy who thumbs through it finds something in there that he did as a boy - and every wife who reads it admits her husband has confessed (or bragged) about similar exploits.

11:55 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way back in the Pleistocene in our little corner of California, the nearest town was 20 miles away. Most of the girls in our one-room elementary school (it was long before feminism was invented, or PC in general) were adepts and owners of The Pocketknife, The BB Gun and The Fishhook, and could easily build and ignite The Campfire when necessary or fun. I blame feminism and PC for the distressing decline in those skills among the ladies.

12:09 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Derek said...

It's surprising to me how much the list of "what every boy should have on hand" reads like a shopping list from the Boy Scout Handbook. And I mean that it in a positive way.

With one preschool boy and another on the way, I echo Vicki. This sounds like a great book... if my wife will let me buy it.

12:17 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I LOVE this book, and also a predecessor which I've had for aye, "The American Boys' Handybook." It's much more outdated than the Dangerous Book, being a reprint of something done a century ago, but it includes (ironically) much more dangerous pastimes.

12:31 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while equally unfashionable in some circles, the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts provide organized & safe opportunities for "Fun with a Purpose"

12:32 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Helen, what are you thinking?

A knife could be used to maim, harm or kill. A compass would encourage young boys to seek out new vistas, where they could get lost or kidnapped by a pedophile. A handkerchief could be used as an asphyxiation device. A magnifying glass could be used to start a forest fire. A marble could be swallowed. A pencil could cause lead poisoning, the batteries from a flashlight could cause an electric shock. Don't even talk to me about a fish-hook and matches.

Goodness! Leave the little tykes alone with their videogames and Paxil please. ;)

12:46 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to mention to your readers that 'torch' is English english for 'flashlight'.

Just in case...


1:14 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

It's a brilliant book, and will be roundly condemned by the Nanny State and all its acolytes, may their feet rot.

1:25 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot a little you can use the magnifying glass to watch slugs turn inside out.

1:27 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torch - read secret plans by night

FYI: A torch in British is a flashlight in American.

1:29 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many days were spent in my youth building forts and tree houses in the backyard of my home. With my brothers we would have wonderful adventures digging holes and tunnels, making secret hideouts and finding interesting rocks and fossils. This book would be great for my grandson once he gets old enough to read.

1:39 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I picked up a copy in Heathrow last year. It's a great book. The best part is that it is unashamedly proud of being British. Poems by Kipling, famous RAF pilots, a great history of the British Empire all help counteract years of denigration of the West's (and Britain's) accomplishments.

This is what makes it a Dangerous Book

My 15 year old daughter loves it.

2:18 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, an anon is aggravated because we are talking about boys not girls.

I have 4 year old triplets, two boys and a girl. They play differently. Their brains are different. Sometimes Lauren wants to join in with the superhero wrestling matches, but she does not last long. The boys are too rough for her.

Sometimes the boys want to play with her baby dolls and have a tea party. That does not last long either. They get bored because there is not enough action.

Please bear in mind that my wife and I do not care what they play with, we are tired and just happy that nobody has a broken bone or some ailment. They have to play with each other more because two adults cannot supervise and interact with triplets the same way that they could with one child.

And we do not have stringent gender requirements for our children. That would be silly. But the genders are different. News flash!

It is not a better difference, they are complimentary differences. Would this book be perfect for some girls? Absolutely. Would it be perfect for most girls? Nope, not by a long shot.

Recognizing and even celebrating gender differences is not equivalent to discrimination. Discrimination is about forbidding, it is about restricting, it is about hurting. And it is wrong.

But nobody said a word about anything like that. So why did you think it Anon?


2:47 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few days before my eighth birthday in January in the early sixties, my parents moved our family of five into the new house that they had just built. Our house was one of the first in the subdivision. Several months later when school was out, I spent nearly every summer vacation day at the home construction sites. I befriended the construction workers and asked them to teach me how to use their tools. I learned how to use an electric drill, electric saw, blow torch, and more. Then they let me do construction work using these tools! I assembed heating ducts and secured them with screws using the electric drill. I cut, assembled, and soldiered copper pipes. I drilled holes in joists. I ran electrical wiring and connected it to outlets and switches.

The construction sites contained a lot scrap building materials. I asked the workers if I could use the scrap materials if I left them on the property when I was done. The agreed. Several times a week I would build a small house out of brick (6' x 6' or 8' x 8'), then place a piece of plywood on top (with a large hole cut in it) and then build a second story. At the end of the day, I would push it over, then come back the next day and build another house.

One day, my new friend (who had moved into the neighborhood around the time that school got out) asked me where I was so often. I told him. After that, he joined me at the construction site. We built small houses and we helped the construction workers. I had the time of my life that summer. My friend became an extremely successful home builder in Florida. Today he's quite wealthy.

There was hundreds of acres of farmland and forest across the street from our new house. The following summer, all of the subdivision lots had houses on them, so my friends and I learned every square inch of those hundreds of acres. I think that we climbed every tree in the forest.

It's easy to say, "I'm glad that we didn't have video games and computers back then." However, even if we had them, my parents would have thrown us out of the house everyday. My wife and I raised our son and daughter in a house that did have computers. We wouldn't allow video games on them. We made the children play outside everyday. My younger sister and brother and I were skinny kids. We never had a weight problem. We wore our bicycles out. My children and my nieces and nephews were the same.

Video games and other distractions are not the problem. Parents who don't assume full and unconditional responsibility for their children's rearing and well-being are the problem. Children are not self-rearing beings. Responsible parents rear their chidren. Irresponsible parents let society and other external influences rear their children. Then they suffer the results and they complain about the results.

3:01 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those were the days! We'd head out in the morning not to be seen by adults again until dinner.

TomCal, we used to put ants in the little plastic containers from gum machines and spin them around to dizziness before chasing them with the magnifying glass.

I can't remember the construction details now, but we used to make "guns" out of spare lumber and branches in a pivot point to shoot rubber bands -- rubber bands made out of loops we'd cut from old car tire inner tubes the gas station would give us. Fun, fun, fun.

3:15 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember making those rubber band guns from inner tubes. Two sections from a truck inner tube would be knotted together and fired off a length of 2x4. The knot would leave a welt.

I am a child of the '50s. All our toys were steel, except where we made our own wood toys of 2x4 and the like. "Tonka" was the sound one of those steel toys made when bounced off another kid's head.

Steel cased chemistry sets from Chemcraft had real chemicals. Steel Radio Flyer wagons were basic transport. Steel sleds were taken to places with names like Hospital Hill. My post war generation grew up as good Klingon children of steel.

4:16 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Sounds great--just the kind of thing I would have liked to read in my GIRLhood. So why is it aimed at boys instead of just KIDS? Aren't we past this kind of simplistic sexism?

To which THIS East TN anonymous sez:

How tiresome to turn every aspect of life into a battle. Have you raised any boys or are you just parroting the current pc line? Having "yanked up" (southern colloquial term meaning 'to raise' and implying some degree of awkwardness in doing so) two sons and a daughter, I can testify to the differences. They have this other really neat group called the Girl Scouts...also the Campfire Girls and they do a lot of neat things for girls, you really should try them! And if they don't have activities that are boyish enough for you, just go clib a tree or fly a kite...yeah, that's it, go fly a kite!

5:24 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

East TN Anonymous, I spend a great deal of time in the woods and there are many boyscout troops out there enjoying themselves but I have yet to see a girl scout troop out on a day hike or on a backpack, ever.

5:49 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I grew up in East Tennessee and I spent numerous days out in the woods with my Girl Scout Troop for years. One of our trips was an overnight hike at night in the Smokies with our college leader, an amazing woman who taught us to hike, build a campfire and pitch a tent. It seems like it is only in recent years that the Girl Scouts don't do this type of hiking etc. and have turned to more indoor activities. It's a shame because I learned some very valuable skills, especially earning badges for building fires, tying knots etc. Now the badges seem to be more for "character" or other personality type things. Too bad.

6:04 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a similarly awesome book, I highly recommend the American Boy's Handibook. It was written by the guy who later started the boyscouts, and it's filled with all sorts of interesting activities, for all kinds of weather.

6:12 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

The Girl Scouts started backing off the camping aspect years ago. I asked somebody else's parent why and she said they wouldn't let her take the girls camping unless she took courses from them, courses that took time and money.

I don't know if that's a local thing or what, but it annoyed the heck out of me. When I get to be a Girl Scout leader (if I have girls), I will almost certainly know more about camping than the instructor. I learned from my dad.

8:09 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Old Wacky Hermit said...

When I was in Girl Scouts a subset of our troop joined the Boy Scouts (Explorer Scouts) as well. The Girl Scouts had very restrictive rules for camping-- there had to be a certain number of leaders, the leaders had to be certified in this and that and take camping training and there had to be bathroom facilities of a certain type, etc. The Boy Scouts' rules were more like "take a tent and a leader and go out in the woods." So when they wanted to go camping, they did it under the aegis of the Boy Scouts.

10:26 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Country Squire said...

This book sounds like something I would have purchased for my son a few years ago. He loved Cub Scouts and wanted to continue as a Boy Scout but, unfortunately, the local Scout troop was not as well run as the Cub pack and he quickly lost interest. So, I figured, if he wanted to go backpacking, we’d backpack. If he wanted to go fishing, we’d fish. And if he wanted to shoot, we’d go hunting. He will turn 21 at the end of this month and I can truthfully say that I watched him become a man while we did these activities together.

And for what it’s worth – his mother and older sister hunt, fish and backpack with us!

10:38 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

We were also big on (somewhat) padded swords at our house when the boys were young. 1/2 -3/4 inch PVC pipe, foam pipe insulation, duct tape. Just enough whack to sting without wounding. Well not right away, anyway. Half an hour straight of whacking does leave bruises. Easy to repair, last for years, teach medieval history on the sly.

10:45 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For whatever reason, my 3-yr-old daughter is MUCH more into boy stuff than my 6-yr-old son. But she is very proud of being a girl! I predict that she'll be much more of a camper, hiker, etc., than my son, but they both get opportunities.

10:54 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger mrsizer said...

I was a very "indoorsy" young boy - long before video games. I liked to stay inside and read while everyone else (5 siblings, many neighborhood kids) was outside playing. My mother tolerated this to a degree. I could read for a couple of hours then I had to go play outside. At the time, I hated it. Looking back, I owe her big-time. My dad expected us to help on stuff. I hated that, too. I owe him big-time, as well.

I cannot imagine growing up without climbing trees, building forts, paddling, rowing, fishing, learning to hammer, saw, split wood, drill holes, etc... Even looking back, though, I could have done without raking leaves - how pointless is that?

Get your kids outside, even if they don't want to go! Feel free to blame it on me if they object :-)

A gay man living happily in a big city who would not give up a outdoorsy country childhood for anything,
- Mark

10:58 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a new twin study you might be interested in, Dr. Helen

11:46 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Bob's Blog said...

Wow Helen, you have some great commentors! I particularly liked what Trey, always cowgirl, and Kurt Todoroff had to say. Inspiring!

12:08 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all fellow ant fryers:

I am sure that our enjoyment of this childhood passtime is now categorized as a disorder. Im glad we grew up when we did.

Swampwoman does have me worrying about the possibility of the Almighty being a giant ant though.

12:09 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mrsizer said: "Even looking back, though, I could have done without raking leaves - how pointless is that?"

Point taken, raking leaves for parents is truly pointless. We, on the other hand, did it for fun and profit on the lawns of the childless neighbors.

We hit paydirt when it turned out one of our "clients" was a jukebox guy, he not only paid better than anyone else, he gave us boxes full of 45s that he'd switched out of the machines as a bonus.

The most memorable 45 that comes to mind at the moment was "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterions.

1:36 AM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Foxfier said...

Anon the Insulted- Oh, grow up. *Most* boys like this stuff. *Most* girls don't. I'm a tomboy and a ranch kid; this is normal stuff-- redundant, even-- but do you have to go and be angry for no good reason?

I really hope my kids like their childhood as much as I did mine. I had a two hour a day computer habit, but I also had time for horse tag (that was FUN! Dangerous, I suppose....) learning to hunt quail, reading a lot and all kinds of stuff. I guess the fact that I hate most organized sports (touch football? Oh, please) and my only school "sport" was knowledge bowl (Think team Jepordy-- and we were required to have a physical for this!) and I'm a geeky tomboy, but I can still skin a deer better than most men.

2:05 AM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

about the boy scouts, here in the UK i dont know if its in america yet. but girls can join the boy scouts, but boys cannot join the guides.

boys play differently, i know i was one, i used to play a game called british bulldog, a very violent game, but fun, but the scouts in the UK have.. modified it and made it less entertaining due to health and safety.

cant have these poor children hurting themselves..

the rules of british bulldog, you have a group of kids, upto 20 any more gets too tough, and one person is in the middle of a half size football pitch, and then the other 19 run past the one in the middle who has to catch anyone he can, then there will be 2 of them the next time to catch others.. and you run back and forth till theres only 1 left, then in the next game he is in the middle and it begins..

you can stiff arm them, grab them by their coats, but NO tripping. it was fun, the girls school over the road had nothing like that.

boys are not girls, and girls are not boys. why cant boys have their own book on how to be a boy.

6:08 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have any problem with the idea that girls and boys are on two different bell curves behaviorally. I think it's pretty much undeniable, especially given the documented effects of sex hormones on brain development. However, I start getting a little cranky when people start acting like the tails of those bell curves don't exist.

Like many of the other posters here, I was a tomboy as a kid, and have managed to turn that trait into a profession. (Hell, one of the women I met in Antarctica a few months ago is a driller who splits her time between Alaska and the Ice--nobody's delicate flower.) I spent most of my time as a child doing Dangerous Book-type stuff: dragging snakes into the house, exploring swamps and abandoned houses, building tree forts, etc.

Since I grew up in the "Free to Be You and Me" era, I've never felt awkward about the fact that I preferred tools and football to dolls. And I'm not at all pleased by how kids, of both genders, are discouraged from the kind of active fun I used to have. But a lot of "boys are different from girls" posters seem to imply that this sort of thing requires a Y chromosome. It doesn't.

6:57 AM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Pete the Streak said...

Unfortunately, most boys today seem to grow up in developements, where 'open space' consists of a large and treeless drainage basin. Sigh.
I was blessed with a childhood in the country. My neighborhood consisted of 6 houses, spread over about 4 square miles, of which 4 were inhabited by cousins. By age 10, we were spending all day, every day in the woods, armed with .22 rifles, fishing poles and hatchets. No one thought it was dangerous.
If we added a blanket, a cast iron frying pan and a dozen 16 penny nails, we were set for an overnight adventure. Find a spot by the creek, build a quick lean-to, catch a few rock bass to fry, and spend the days hunting squirrels, or shooting homemade 'boat' targets floating downstream. Our Moms' only admonition? "Be home for supper tomorrow".
I have 2 daughters, now 21 and 19 and away at school, whose very best childhood times involved packing up our tents and supplies (a bit more inclusive, of course), and hitting the creek for a 3 day trip. I can't wait for grandchildren (when the time is right, of course...).
I truly feel bad for kids who never get this sort of opportunity.

7:39 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason that I champion letting boys act like boys is because there are messages in our culture that being male means being a suspect. So when something that celebrates nascent masculinity and provides ways to appreciate and nurture it, it feels like chicken soup on a miserable day when you have a cold.

Nobody in this discussion has been marginalizing the tomboys or quieter boys. It is interesting to me that we as a culture are so obsessed with the possibility of bigotry that many people see it where it isn't. It is a ghost of the possible, and it haunts our culture. We are the worse for it.


9:23 AM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Rob Steele said...

A needle and thread are very well but what you want for closing small wounds is Super Glue. Creative minds will discover all sorts of additional applications.

10:37 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mercurior: I also played British Bulldog when I was in Boy Scouts. In our version, however, the goal of the "tagger" was to pick one of the other guys up off of the ground long enough to yell "1-2-3 British Bulldog!", after which he was on your team. Of course, the boy being lifted rarely cooperated, and this is what really made it physically challenging. Once you got one or more of the "little" guys on your team, it started getting eaiser.

Happily, my boys and I still play this game (under a new title: American Eagle) in our Battalion, which is part of Christian Service Brigade. A short list of the activities that we enjoy: horse packing, all-night laser tag, rock climbing, 4x4 trips, backpacking, survival weekends, fire building, mountain biking, sailing, white water canoeing. There is always something new to do. Later this month we will be spending the night on a WWII submarine.

There is another great book out called Backyard Ballistics in which you can learn how to make potato cannons, paper match rockets, tennis ball mortars, and more. It is a LOT of fun!

11:04 AM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and I'm a geeky tomboy, but I can still skin a deer better than most men."

There you go, Foxfier. I envy you that skill; it's on par with spinning or felling trees as absic survial skill. But it's ironic; it shows how prissified society has gotten - there was atime and it was not so long ago that skinning the kill was women's work, no man would dare do it. The women would have shooed him away.

12:16 PM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

British Bulldog sounds sort of like Red Rover, except with Red Rover, you send the people over one at a time and try to catch them any way you can.

I feel sorry for the kids who didn't ever get to experience farm life. My grandparents had a farm and that's where we spent our summer vacations. Where else do you learn how to wean a calf or get to sit on the hay wagon while your grandfather and uncles bale hay or play in the haymow or rescue kittens whose mother has been killed by a tractor or ride horses? City kids miss a lot of fun.

12:25 PM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I feel sorry for the kids who didn't ever get to experience farm life. My grandparents had a farm and that's where we spent our summer vacations."

Ditto here. In fact, we bought my grandparent's farm and are raising our daughter here. It is certainly a trade off for one accustomed to city life (my poor wife was city-born and city-bred, and it has taken her about 2 years to adjust)... no movie theatre, only four places to dine out, truckstop coffee instead of Starbucks (and no wireless hotspots). But in return we have a great small school system here, an actual real live honest-to-goodness local community, and a 30 acre playground just outside the back door.

1:27 PM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Duane said...
The book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv is another great book that takes a look at the lack of "nature play" on our kids."


That book has been on my wish list for a long time, I just ordered it along with Louv's "Web Of Life". I've heard good things about both, thanks for the reminder!

1:33 PM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

a lot of the tom boys, etc are exceptions, but predominantly boys need more energetic things to do.

(it reduces the need for some medical treatments).

girls do have other needs, if some girls want to play british bulldog, they can do.. but as i said they are the exception, and we arent having a go at them.

it is sort of like red rover, but you have gangs running past you, you would have to pick on the right person to join ur team..

and guess what.. there was no obesity when we did things like that. (buzz i am glad they still do it or did we did ours on concrete play ground.. so..)

3:22 PM, February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to get this book! It hasn't been released in the US yet but I plan to buy it when it becomes available. I have three sons two of which are 11 year old twins. My wife and I have to struggle to pry them away from away from their computers to cast them out of the house. Our neighbors think we are irresponsible. Recently we forced them out of the house. They rode their bikes to a nearby residential development for "rich people". They played ball on the courts and even went in to their fancy clubhouse pretending to be residents. They were served free sodas and snacks. What chutzpah these boys have. They discovered that the lakes in this neighborhood were bigger and were stocked with better fish. Now they go fishing there and my wife and I enjoy a quieter house. Parents need to let their boys be boys, the old fashioned way.

What about girls? I remember my older sister forcing me to learn to play hopskotch, jump rope and do those silly little hand slapping games that little girls used to play. I was afraid to tell my friends what my sister forced me to do because she needed a playmate when girls her age weren't nearby. I don't see little girls playing all those little girl games any more. One never seems to see boys and girls doing these types of activities anymore.

10:59 PM, February 09, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

and then you get stories like this

Parents' anger after pupils sent home for breaking snowball ban

Health and safety killjoys ban playgroup mums from tea making

Mums from the Pat-a-Cake Playgroup are furious after being banned from serving tea and toast on health and safety grounds.

The group, which caters for up to ten children, have been barred by their local council from having snacks during their weekly sessions.

6:54 AM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

then theres this

Children banned from playing tag in school playground

But headmistress Susan Tuck doesn't think so. She has banned it – along with all other games which involve physical contact – as "inappropriate behaviour"

7:00 AM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Who needs physical activity when you can concentrate on "character building", whatever that is. I'll ponder this as I take a walk outside.

8:23 AM, February 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we took our kids camping and backpacking frequently, when they were younger. Now that they are teens they don't want to get dirty or mess up their hair, or to be away from the computer and TV.

I suspect that when they are older, they will rediscover a love for the outdoors. I remember when I was a teen and a young mother, like them, I had no desire to get outside - it just seemed like too much work and inconvenience. When my boys were out of diapers, however, I did take them camping a lot and it was always an indescribably rewarding experience. I have never been more spiritually aware, than when I was looking up at the starry sky while sitting next to a campfire with my sons.

The older I get the more I enjoy fishing. My father originally taught me how to fish, but after several decades of not fishing, I am relearning how to catch a big bass or catfish, and to clean and cook it myself. There is a special feeling of accomplishment when you get to eat something delicious that you caught yourself!

Backpack camping, especially, teaches you how few material things you need to have a more-than-satisfactory existence. Carrying everything you need on your back gives you a confidence that few other activities can.

9:54 AM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

If a kid today did the things I did, they'd be in shackles and drugged.

3:00 PM, February 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boys DO just want to have fun.....

9:18 PM, February 10, 2007  
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Blogger Serket said...

I am a guy under 25 and this stuff never really interested me.
Although my younger brother is really into it and has excellent
aim. My dad and his two brothers were like my brother when they
were young. I did the Boy Scouts until I was 11. Afterwards we
moved to a different city and I just stopped going. I never
really enjoyed it, it was just something you did.

The Boy Scouts are still big in Utah thanks to their partnership with the Mormon church. I do realize the importance of this stuff. Both for the fun, health reasons and for the rare chance you will need survival skills. If I ever have sons, perhaps I'll try to push them in this direction.

3:42 PM, March 28, 2007  
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3:57 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Dangerous Book for Boys, written by Conn and Hal Iggulden, is a guidebook published by Harper Collins, aimed at boys "from eight to eighty." It covers around eighty topics, including how to build a treehouse, sportsbook, grow a crystal, or tell direction with a watch. Also included are famous quotes, stories, battles, and phrases that "every boy should know." It was published in the UK on 5 June 2006, and reached number one in the UK non-fiction charts several times, selling over half a million copies.

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