My 15 Favorite Scouting Movies And Books To Inspire BSA Leaders


We all need a bit of inspiration from time to time, and what better way to get it than from an incredible movie or book about Scouting! Maybe you’ve been in the same troop leadership role for a while and are looking to freshen things up. Or, you’re just starting as a volunteer and want to dive in with passion and energy. Or, maybe you’re even a new Scout’s parent. Whatever the case, you’re in the right place! 😉

PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Cub Scouting volunteer Jaci H and Cole 🙂

In this article, we’ll be sharing my favorite sources of Scouting inspiration from films and books. These resources should practically be required viewing/reading for Scout parents and leaders because of how spot-on with the Scouting ethos they are! If you’re a youth though, be sure to check out Cole’s separate article on Scout movie Recommendations to earn the Citizenship badge.

Below, get ready to discover seven movies and eight books to fire up your love for Scouting! The films are divided into the following categories: documentaries, fiction, and comedy. The books are organized by historical reads, skill development, and Scout guides. Enough said, let’s get started!

My 7 Favorite Scouting Movies

Scouting Documentaries

I’ll be honest, I have a special fondness for documentaries! I love seeing the stories in real-time as they happen. Being that these all cover some element of camping, there is some repetition. At the same time, the stories also involve different groups of Scouts, which makes each of the films unique to those Scouts and their adventures!

My husband, currently an Assistant Scoutmaster, enjoyed many years as a leader alongside our son, who just earned his Eagle Scout rank a couple of months ago! My husband started as a Cubmaster and then moved into the role of Scoutmaster. Many of those memories came back to us at our son’s last Court of Honor slideshow.

Philmont (2021)

This almost three-hour documentary covers a group of Scouts from Virginia who hiked more than 85 miles over 12 days at Philmont Scout Ranch, the world’s largest youth camp. I came across this quote while searching for the stories about Philmont: “If you don’t explore the things that make you uncomfortable, you will never grow.”

One More Mile (2021)

If you don’t have three hours to check out the awesome Philmont documentary, try this condensed one that runs just under 17 minutes: One More Mile! Another group of Scouts — from California — makes the 12-day backpacking trek as part of their experience at Philmont Scout Ranch. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and candid comments from the Scouts. 🙂

These movies are bound to inspire a camping trip! My son’s Scouts BSA troop almost canceled summer camp one year as there were no adults who could go. Although outside our comfort zones, another mom and I stepped up to take the Scouts to camp! It was an incredible experience — the scenery, the program, and the challenges. I will always remember it fondly!

759: Boy Scouts of Harlem (2009)

This film runs 72 minutes and follows a new 11-year-old Scout from the “streets of Harlem to the woods of Camp Keowa.” The scenery alone is an adjustment for the inner-city youth! You can enjoy it through the embedded YouTube link below:

If you have a Scout around the same age who is preparing to go to camp for the first time, this might be the perfect movie to watch together. They’ll definitely be able to relate to the main character and the growth they experience. If you have a nervous child, it might put them at ease and get them inspired!

Fictional Scouting Movies

Now, we’ll share a couple of old flicks with a strong Scout theme, as well as a modern-day one with a Scouting background. Also, get ready to smile because these are all feel-good movies! I especially like them because it’s fun to watch the old style of movie making and compare it to nowadays. 😀

Room for One More (1952)

In this 98-minute, black-and-white flick, an American couple fosters several children, including a disabled boy whose life is brightened through Scouting. There’s even an Eagle ceremony! The movie provides humor, alongside many good values including patience, compassion, and love. Here’s the trailer (2:34):

Where to watch: Amazon or Prime Video

Follow Me, Boys! (1966)

This Walt Disney Production runs 131 minutes and is revered in the Scouting community. The story follows a man without children who decides to get involved in Scouting and has a powerful effect on the small town’s youth. Get ready for entertainment, Scout traditions, and strong family values! Here’s the trailer (0:55):

Where to watch: Amazon or Prime Video

The Fabelmans (2022)

Now, jump to 2022 for The Fabelmans! This 151-minute flick was inspired by the life of director and Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg. The film weaves elements of Spielberg’s childhood into the story of a teenage Scout who creates two films while working on a merit badge. Check out the trailer (2:25):

Where to watch: Paramount or Prime Video

A Scouting Movie to Make You Laugh

Down and Derby (2005)

A group of dads take over the creation of their boys’ Pinewood Derby cars. Of course, they go completely overboard and work in secret before several team up to try to beat the one winner from their youth. It’s a hoot! Watch the trailer (2:26) here:

Where to watch: Amazon, Freevee, Peacock, Pluto, Prime Video, or Tubi

Also, if you’d like to discover other movies and books referencing Scouting, look no further than this long list on Wikipedia!

My Favorite Scouting Books

If you’re looking for Scouting inspiration at your own pace, look no further than these books! You’ll be able to read when you have some downtime or when traveling. You could even take one of these books on a Scout camping trip to enjoy a chapter before heading to bed for the evening! You’d most likely learn some things to share with the Scouts the next day – whether it be a fun fact or a Scouting tip.

Historical Books

To learn more about the man who founded the Scouting movement, there’s Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero. Nearly 500 pages, the biography delves into Robert Baden-Powell’s background in the military and his life as an adventurer, artist, and writer. The book has 4.5/5 stars with 45 ratings on Amazon.

As we just touched upon a movie with the Pinewood Derby, how about The Story of the Pinewood Derby by Don Murphy, the man who came up with the idea in 1953? The book includes “drawings of the track design, original rules, original car kit… and many more rare pictures.” Just remember, you are not like the fathers in Down and Derby! 😝

The final historical book we’ll recommend is Boy Scouts of America: A Centennial History. The author packs the history of Scouting with photos from BSA archives into this 304-page book celebrating 100 years of Scouting. Amazon reviewers gave it 4.8/5 stars.

Books for Leader Skill Development

Just over 100 pages, The Little Book of Whittling provides tips, instructions, and project ideas whether you’re at home or on an adventure. Nearly 1,000 Amazon reviewers gave the pocket guide 4.6/5 stars.

One reviewer from Scouting said, “I have been searching for a resource to help the [Scouts] focus their newfound skill on things that might be more creative. The book provides that resource! This is a great idea book filled with basic and intermediate whittling projects that transform twigs and branches into wooden knives, spoons, stick figures, animal shapes, miniature canoes, and more.”

Books to Guide You Through The Scouting Trail

The Scouting Guide to Survival is an official BSA guide with 168 pages of valuable information for survival, described as a necessary skill for anyone, not just a Scout. Amazon reviewers gave the book 4.6/5 stars. It looks like a great read for anyone!😀

In the intro, the author states, “A vast majority of people in our technological society think they will never find themselves suddenly cut off from the rest of the world…The truth is, a survival crisis can confront anyone suddenly, without warning.”

The Unofficial Parent Handbook by David L. Howell, a former Scout and Scouting volunteer for 10 years, is a book geared toward helping the parents of new Scouts in Scouts BSA troops get acclimated. The 264-page book includes terminology, rank advancement, and volunteering. It has 4.8/5 stars on Amazon. 

One reviewer, the mom of an Eagle Scout, described the book as a must-have for parents. She said, “This volume is a serious timesaver for busy Scout parents because the answers to a huge array of questions are all in one place.”

Parenting Through the Ranks: How to Raise Successful Scouts, written by David Harakal, is the ultimate guide for helping parents to become better supporters and cheerleaders for their Scout! With this book, parents will have the tools to maximize the benefits of Scouting for their family and develop a richer, long-lasting relationship with their children.

Last but not least, Cole’s 55-page eBook, The 7 Secrets For Scouting Success, is a fantastic resource for new Scouts and families. In it, he shares his experience joining Scouting through a few personal stories and tips he learned which helped him to reach Eagle and make the most of his Scouting journey. You can even check out a free sample through the link!

Conclusion

We hope you’ll find some laughs and Scouting inspiration through the humor, extra knowledge, or history — whether it’s a film or book we’ve recommended. Films provide us with some fun and excitement, as do books. However, books are easy to take with us anywhere we go — even into the woods!

Thanks so much for dropping by, and for being an awesome part of Scouting! If you enjoyed learning about these awesome films and books for Scouts leaders, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:

That’s all for this article! I hope you have as amazing a time as I did checking out the awesome Scouting resources. Until next time, I’m wishing some incredible times for you and your Scout ahead! 😀

Jaci H

Jaci H is the proud mom of an Eagle Scout. She enjoyed volunteering with her son's Cub Scout pack and troop, most recently as the fundraising chair. She works as a freelance writer in Southern California.

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