On My Honor: Boy Scouts and the Making of American Youth

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University of Chicago Press, May 1, 2004 - Social Science - 360 pages
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In a timely contribution to current debates over the psychology of boys and the construction of their social lives, On My Honor explores the folk customs of adolescent males in the Boy Scouts of America during a summer encampment in California's Sierra Nevada. Drawing on more than twenty years of research and extensive visits and interviews with members of the troop, Mechling uncovers the key rituals and play events through which the Boy Scouts shapes boys into men. He describes the campfire songs, initiation rites, games, and activities that are used to mold the Scouts into responsible adults.

The themes of honor and character alternate in this new study as we witness troop leaders offering examples in structure, discipline, and guidance, and teaching scouts the difficult balance between freedom and self-control. What results is a probing look into the inner lives of boys in our culture and their rocky transition into manhood. On My Honor provides a provocative, sometimes shocking glimpse into the sexual awakening and moral development of young men coming to grips with their nascent desires, their innate aggressions, their inclination toward peer pressure and violence, and their social acculturation.

On My Honor ultimately shows how the Boy Scouts of America continues to edify and mentor young men against the backdrop of controversies over freedom of religious expression, homosexuality, and the proposed inclusion of female members. While the organization's bureaucracy has taken an unyielding stance against gay men and atheists, real live Scouts are often more open to plurality than we might assume. In their embrace of tolerance, acceptance, and understanding, troop leaders at the local level have the power to shape boys into emotionally mature men.
  

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On my honor: Boy Scouts and the making of American youth

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Mechling (American studies, Univ. of California, Davis) condenses 20 years of research on Boy Scout Troop 49 into an account of one two-week encampment in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. He ... Read full review

Contents

Sunday
1
The Problem of God in the Boy Scouts
35
Monday
49
Tuesday
67
Wednesday
89
Thursday
105
Friday
117
Saturday Sunday
135
The Two Bodies at a Boy Scout Camp
187
The Problem of Gays and Girls in the Boy Scouts
207
Wednesday
237
Thursday
253
Friday Saturday Sunday
265
Epilogue
277
Methodology Appendix
285
Notes
289

Monday
149
Tuesday
169

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About the author (2004)

Jay Mechling is professor of American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

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