My family received an amazing gift from an old and dear friend the other day.
An elderly gentleman from my local congregation was a stalwart Scouter in his day. He earned his Eagle in 1942, and was a noble and decorated Scouter in the community for decades and decades. I have had occasion to admire his merit badge sash, complete with ALL the merit badges that it was possible to earn when he got his Eagle - a real treasure - along with his many medals and awards from the early days of Scouting.
Well, he recently decided to move up to Oregon to be nearer his family and retire to an assisted living facility, and so he has been going through his things before making the move. And knowing that mine is an involved and faithful Scouting family, he presented us with a gift the other day - his collection of every edition of the Boy Scout Handbook that has been published since the Second Edition in 1914 (he could never find an affordable first edition)! Reading them has been absolutely delightful - I have learned so much more about the program by noticing tidbits on uniforms or history that later editions have missed, or by seeing the evolution of environmental understanding over the years. Not to mention having a shelf complete with the entire history of Scouting all together, including a few Scoutmaster handbooks and Patrol Leader guides! Most of all, it has been thrilling to read the strong and zealous language used to motivate boys of the past to be good men, great citizens, and powerful forces for good. In fact, they are downright inspiring at times.
It is easily one of the greatest Scouting gifts we have ever been given. My unending thanks to our veteran Scouting friend who was kind enough to pass along these treasures to future generations of boys for them to read, and from which they can draw continual inspiration and motivation.