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Updated: 2 weeks 5 days ago

Inside the November 2020 Issue

Tue, 11/03/2020 - 1:12pm

Here’s what you’ll find inside the November 2020 issue of Boys’ Life magazine. Remember, many articles are only available to subscribers and are not available online.

Please visit boyslife.org/subscribe to subscribe to the print or digital editions of Boys’ Life magazine.

NOVEMBER 2020 FEATURES

EXCITEMENT ON PEACE RIVER

Don’t let the river’s name fool you. Scouts saw alligators, shark teeth and more on this canoe trek.

Scouts Find Adventure on the Peace River (Hint: It Wasn’t Totally Peaceful)

TOYING AROUND

Making a list? Check out some of the latest and greatest from the toy world.

28 Fun Toys for the 2020 Holiday Season

FICTION: THE STAR DUNES

Read this excerpt from Chapter 1 of “The Star Dunes,” Book Four of the Explorer Academy series from National Geographic. .

Read Boys’ Life fiction stories

GEAR GUY UPDATE: FUN STUFF

After you’ve packed the essentials, grab the cool camping stuff.

Extra-Cool Camping Gear to Make Your Outing More Fun

THE FUEL OF A FIRE

Heat + Oxygen + Fuel = Fire.

Do These Five Campsite Items and Snacks Work as Fire Starters?

BL HOW TO BUILD IT: HOOP GREENHOUSE

It’s getting cold, so hoop it up! With a hoop greenhouse, you can grow food all winter and get a jump on spring planting.

How to Make a Hoop Greenhouse

ONLY IN OUR BOY SCOUT EDITION

SCOUTING AROUND: SPICE UP YOUR CAMP MEALS

Spices add flavor to your food, transforming bland dishes into delicious meals. Just be careful not to overdo it.

Visit the Scouting Around blog

COOL JOBS: STUNT PERFORMER

Stunt performers put action and excitement in the movies.

IT’S ONLY NATURAL

Some designers copy or use nature to solve environmental challenges.

ONLY IN OUR CUB SCOUT EDITION

LET’S LOOK AT DINOSAURS

Read it! Color it! Get it all in this special Cub Scout section.

AND MORE!


Look for the regular score of comics, jokes, games, Scouts in Action, Tradin’ Post and more! Only in the November 2020 issue of Boys’ Life!

The Wacky Adventures of Pedro
Pee Wee Harris
Scouts in Action
More S.I.A.

45 Funny Thanksgiving Day Jokes and Comics

Sun, 11/01/2020 - 1:01am

Happy Thanksgiving Day! Here’s a plateful of Thanksgiving jokes by Boys’ Life readers that will make you thankful you have a funny bone instead of a wishbone on Turkey Day. Do you know a funny Thanksgiving joke? Click here to send your joke to us.

Laugh at 4,000+ more funny jokes at jokes.boyslife.org!

Comic by Daryll Collins

Josh: Why did the farmer run a steamroller over his potato field on Thanksgiving Day?
Phil: Why?
Josh: He wanted to raise mashed potatoes.

Joke submitted by John W., Hoschton, Ga.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Pearl: What do you call a running turkey?
Ally: I haven’t the foggiest.
Pearl: Fast food!

Joke submitted by Pearl C., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Biff: Why did the turkey cross the road?
Bob: I don’t know.
Biff: It was Thanksgiving Day, and he wanted people to think he was a chicken!

Joke submitted by Rachy Y., Waianae, Hawaii

Comic by Scott Nickel

Ayn: What animal has the worst eating habits?
Karla: The pig?
Ayn: Nope. The turkey, because it gobbles everything up!

Joke submitted by Ayn A., Pittsburgh, Penn.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Charles: What is a turkey’s favorite dessert?
Mary: I haven’t a clue.
Charles: Peach gobbler!

Joke submitted by Charles S., Gilbert, Ariz.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Cresencio: Why do turkeys eat so little?
Max: I don’t know.
Cresencio: Because they are always stuffed.

Joke submitted by Cresencio A., Norwalk, Calif.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Tom Swiftie: “May I say the prayer before Thanksgiving dinner?” Tom asked gracefully.

Joke submitted by Eric Z., Spokane,Wash.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Kyle: What part of the turkey does a drummer love the most?
Brett: I’m puzzled!
Kyle: The drumsticks.

Joke submitted by Brett B., Manhattan, Kan.

Comic by Scott Nickel

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store for Thanksgiving Day, but couldn’t find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?”

“No, ma’am. They’re dead.”

Joke submitted by Grant W., San Diego, Calif.

Jeremy: What key has legs and can’t open doors?
Sammy: I don’t know.
Jeremy: A turkey.

Joke submitted by Jeremy B., Lynchburg, Ohio

Comic by Scott Nickel

Danny: Why did the cranberries turn red?
Jake: Beats me.
Danny: Because they saw the turkey dressing!

Joke submitted by Danny Z., Sandwich, Mass.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Billy: Why do pilgrims’ pants always fall down?
Joe: Beats me.
Billy: Because they wear their belt buckles on their hats!

Joke submitted by Billy S., Dover, Mass.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Luke: What did the turkey say to the computer?
Will: What?
Luke: “Google, google, google.”

Joke submitted by Luke C., College Station, Tex.

Josh: What do you get when you cross a turkey with a centipede?
David: Tell me.
Josh: Drumsticks for everyone on Thanksgiving Day!

Joke submitted by David B., Quaker Hill, Conn.
Comic by Daryll Collins

Comic by Scott Nickel

A man buys a parrot, only to have it constantly insult him. He tries everything to make the parrot stop, but nothing works. Frustrated, the man puts the parrot in the freezer. After a few minutes the insults stop. The man thinks he might have killed the parrot, so he opens the freezer and takes the parrot out. The parrot is shivering. It stammers, “S-s-sorry for being r-r-rude. Please f-f-forgive me.” Then, after a moment, the parrot softly asks, “W-w-what exactly d-d-did the turkey do?”

Joke submitted by Ted M., Sayreville, N.J.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Pedro: What did the turkey say to the turkey hunter on Thanksgiving Day?
Ordep: What?
Pedro: “Quack! Quack!”

Joke submitted by Svenju B., Shawnee, Okla.

Caleb: What key has legs and can’t open doors?
Caitlyn: What?
Caleb: A turkey.

Joke submitted by Caleb M.

Comic by Bill Thomas

Alex: Why did the farmer have to separate the chicken and the turkey?
Adam: Why?
Alex: He sensed fowl play.

Joke submitted by Alex W., Sterling Heights, Mich.

Robert: Which bird is best at bowling?
Chrystal: I don’t know.
Robert: A turkey.

Joke submitted by Nathaniel C., Manhattan, Kan.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Leighton: What sound does a limping turkey make?
Zach: I give up!
Leighton: “Wobble, wobble!”

Joke submitted by Zach C., Roanoke, Tex.

Chas: What kind of music did the Pilgrims listen to at the first Thanksgiving feast?
Tom: What kind?
Chas: Plymouth Rock!

Joke submitted by Chas K., Appleton, Wis.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Sister: Mom wants your to help us fix Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Brother: Why? Is it broken?

Joke submitted by Stephanie R., Chittenango, N.Y.

Pat: What’s the difference between a pirate and a cranberry farmer?
Jerry: I don’t know. What?
Pat: A pirate buries his treasure, but a cranberry farmer treasures his berries.

Joke submitted by Patricia J., Warrens, Wis.

Comic by Jon Carter

Pedro: I was going to serve sweet potatoes with Thanksgiving dinner, but I sat on them.
Westy: What are you serving now?
Pedro: Squash.

Joke submitted by Pedro the Mailburro

Justin: Which November holiday is Dracula’s favorite?
Jay: Which one?
Justin: Fangs-giving!

Joke submitted by Justin T., Los Angeles, Calif.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Pedro: If pilgrims were alive today, what would they be known for?
Pee Wee: I have no idea.
Pedro: Their age!

Joke submitted by Pedro the Mailburro

Kevin: What do you call a turkey on the day after Thanksgiving?
Jake: I don’t know. What?
Kevin: Lucky.

Joke submitted by Austin H., Schnecksville, Penn.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Pee Wee: Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Pedro: Yes, of course! A building can’t jump at all.

Joke submitted by Pedro the Mailburro

Comic by Daryll Collins

Do you know a funny Thanksgiving joke? Click here to send us your jokes.

Laugh at 4,000+ more funny jokes at jokes.boyslife.org!

How Much Do You Know About Presidential Pets?

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 5:57pm

When the president’s family moves into the White House, they often bring a pet — or 10. Take this trivia quiz to see how much you know about presidential pets.

How to Make a Hoop Greenhouse

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 4:16pm

It’s getting cold, so hoop it up! With a hoop greenhouse, you can grow food all winter and get a jump on spring planting.

What You Need:
  •  Shovel
  • Rake
  • Garden pruners
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Wood saw
  • Electric drill
  • Outdoor twine
  • Three 8-foot two-by-fours
  •  Four 1-by-2-by-12-inch landscape stakes
  • 10 1 1⁄2″ galvanized tube straps
  •  Eight 3″ exterior wood screws
  •  Eight 4″ exterior wood screws
  • 20 1″ wood screws
  • 10-by-25-foot piece of 3-6 mil plastic sheeting (Plastic sheeting comes in thicknesses rated by mil — that’s one-thousandth of an inch, or the width of a human hair.)
  • 14 plastic clamps opening at least 1″ (Or make homemade garden hose clamps. Instructions on following page.)
  • 8 feet of 1-by-2-inch furring strip or lath. (Other straight and thin outdoor materials can work, too.)
  • 50′ roll of black 3⁄4″ poly pipe (1⁄2” PVC pipe also works.)

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven’t used before.

How to Build It:

1. Pick a flat and sunny location for your hoop greenhouse. Measure a 4-by-8-foot rectangular area. Prepare the ground for planting by digging up the soil and raking it.

2. Place a two-by-four vertically on each of the two long sides of the garden bed. Saw the remaining two-by-four in half, and lay down those two pieces on the short sides of the bed. Overlap the corners connecting the rectangle. Make corners square and sides parallel.

Next, attach each corner using two 4″ screws.

3. Drive stakes inside each corner and saw tops off flush. Then screw two 3″ screws through the box into each stake.

4. Add hoops: Measure and mark where the tube straps will go. Start in a corner marking about 2′ apart. Marks on the two sides have to be directly opposite one another.

5. Using 1″ screws, attach the tube straps on the inside of the wood 1″ down from the top.

6. Cut poly pipe into five 8′ sections using garden loppers. Push poly pipe through tube straps into the soil, making hoops. Even up their heights.

7. Lash furring strip or lath onto the bottom of the hoops with twine.

8. Attach the cover: Lay out the plastic, and then pull it evenly up over the hoops. Pull snug while clamping onto board or hoops using commercial clamps. You can also use homemade garden hose clamps on the hoops. To make them, cut a piece of old garden hose into 20 2″ pieces, split them lengthwise and slip the pieces onto the plastic and hoops.

9. Cut off excess plastic and fold the ends. Clamp the ends closed or secure the plastic on the ground with rocks.

Tips:

• Avoid pressure-treated lumber, which is toxic.

• Face long sides southward for more sun.

• Attach the cover when there’s no wind.

• Pull the cover back on hot days so your plants won’t fry!

• Choose cold-hardy crops to winter-over. When it freezes, cover them with an inside blanket or frost cloth.

Keep in mind:

• Regular 3-4 mil plastic sheeting lasts 1-2 years. Greenhouse 6 mil UV-safe sheeting lasts 4-6 years but costs more.

• Lower-grade lumber works fine, but check each two-by-four for straightness. Fir lasts 5-7 years outdoors and is cheapest. Cedar lasts 10-15 years but costs more.

Find more fun projects at go.boyslife.org/howto

Scouts Find Adventure on the Peace River (Hint: It Wasn’t Totally Peaceful)

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 12:36pm

Jacob Shanahan tumbled into the chilly river. The 12-year-old Second Class Scout had been digging through his dry bag for a tasty granola bar when the current suddenly picked up, pulling his canoe straight into a large log and overturning it. Jacob screamed — with good reason.

“Right before we flipped, we saw some gators about 100 yards away,” he says.

The alligators stayed on the shore, sunning themselves. After Jacob and his canoe mate corrected their vessel, he took inventory of his gear. Clothes: soaked. Shoe: lost. Granola bar: missing.

Still, this wasn’t going to dampen his spirits. He and the rest of Troop 2001 of Naples, Florida, were not even halfway through their 19-mile paddling trek along Peace River last December. There was plenty of adventure ahead.

Paddling the Peace River

The 106-mile Peace River flows from east of Tampa, Fla., to the Gulf of Mexico. Its dark-colored water, caused by tannic acid released by decomposing plants, often discourages tourists, making it a haven for wildlife, including alligators, snakes, egrets, sandhill cranes, turtles and fish.

The waterway is also an ideal place for a weekend campout. Only a few miles downriver from the boat launch, homes no longer line the shore, replaced by towering trees draped in Spanish moss. Many trees have fallen into the river and are half-submerged, creating obstacles for Scouts steering their canoes.

“At first it was fun, but after getting stuck on seven trees, it became a challenge,” 13-year-old Star Scout Rylan Zurbrigg says. “It seemed like we got stuck around every turn. There was no way to dodge them.”

Some guys used techniques they learned at summer camp when earning the Canoeing merit badge. Teamwork and communication with your fellow paddlers help tremendously when you want to pivot, spin and move around the water.

“A lot of us have had experience,” says Daniel Medeiros, a 14-year-old Star Scout. “It requires practice and planning.”

Fossils Galore

When the troop members stopped for lunch, they scarfed down their food and then grabbed sand sifters. You’re almost guaranteed to find fossilized shark teeth buried in the banks of Peace River.

Scientists say Florida was underwater millions of years ago. People have unearthed megalodon teeth — giant shark teeth measuring as long as 3 inches — as well as bones from Ice Age-era animals like mastodons and giant armadillos.

The guys scoured the shoreline along the water’s edge. It felt like panning for gold, except instead of shiny nuggets, they were searching for animal artifacts. During their brief hunt, they discovered seashells and more than two dozen shark teeth. Most were about an inch long.

“They were small and black,” 10-year-old Scout Nathaniel Bickford says. “We used these little sifters; we put sand in them, then put them in the water, and when you pulled them up, there might be shark teeth. We found a lot. It was pretty cool.”

A Bonding Experience

Back on the river, the guys socialized and enjoyed the scenery. They snapped photos, sang tunes from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and cruised under bridges.

On straightaways, Peace River lives up to its name, offering a slow, peaceful trip. However, that means the guys had to paddle harder to get downstream. Around turns, the current speeds up, so if they wanted to change places in the canoe, it was best to do it on calm water.

It’s always safest to switch on shore, but you can accomplish this maneuver on open water. Put your paddle down and keep your hands on either side of the boat to stabilize it as you move. One paddler should lean down and to one side while the other steps over.

The person in the back of the boat, or stern, primarily steers while the one in the front, or bow, provides power. If three people are in a canoe, the one in the middle can relax.

“I liked the front; we did switch around a lot,” says Joshua Gersbach, a 14-year-old Second Class Scout. “We mostly stayed in the spot we were most comfortable in and would swap to the middle so we could rest.”

Pack Light, Pack Right

You don’t need much for a two-day trek. Rylan’s pack, for example, weighed little more than 10 pounds.

“We brought just what we needed and a little extra clothes or food, just in case,” says Douglas Medeiros, a 12-year-old Tenderfoot Scout.

Inside their packs, the Scouts stuffed gear into garbage bags or waterproof sacks. That didn’t help Jacob, who had his pack and bag open when his canoe flipped. His stuff was still waterlogged when the troop reached a grassy area to set up camp. He laid everything out to dry as others started dinner.

Each Scout was in charge of his own meals. Most brought a small backpacking stove and fuel to cook dehydrated meals. This kind of cooking is quick and easy: Boil some water, pour it in the bag and mix, and it’s ready to eat.

After dinner, the troop played a game of tag and huddled around the campfire before turning in for the night, serenaded to sleep by the bellowing of nearby cattle.

A Castle in Florida

The second day of paddling proved less intense than the first. The guys had already tackled three-quarters of the trek, but they still had a few more miles to go.

“I go on almost every Scout trip; I’ve never been canoeing that far,” Nathaniel says.

This stretch of the river didn’t provide as much shade. Time to break out the widebrimmed hats and sunscreen. Even on a mild winter day, you need to protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water. Each Scout carried at least two gallons of water.

Reaching the pick-up point didn’t mark the end of the journey; Troop 2001 had one more place to visit before heading home. A short drive took the tired guys to Solomon’s Castle.

Built by sculptor Howard Solomon in 1972, the castle is adorned with stained glass and stands three stories tall. Reflective metal printing plates cover the exterior, making the building shine in the sun.

Inside, hundreds of Solomon’s quirky art pieces fill the rooms — many are recycled from scrap metal, used car parts, and old farming and office equipment.

But the onsite restaurant, built inside a 60-foot wooden replica of a 16th century Portuguese galleon ship, grabbed the guys’ attention. Jacob ordered a tuna fish sandwich, a meatball sandwich, lemonade, root beer and a chocolate milkshake — a royal feast for a hungry Scout after a long weekend of paddling.

“It was amazing,” he says.

Fossils in Unusual Places

Earth looked vastly different millions of years ago. Continents were still connected, mountain ranges had not yet risen and oceans covered places where we now live. This is why scientists have found fish and whale fossils in the Andes and Himalayan mountains, and why you can find shark teeth in the middle of Florida.

Other unique findings around the country include:

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Large petrified logs litter a desert that used to be a Late Triassic forest.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado. Volcanic ash preserved 1,700 species of plants, insects and fish in this valley.

Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Utah. More than 12,000 bones from at least 74 different Jurassic-era dinosaurs, mostly the carnivorous Allosaurus, have been found at this site.

Love adventure stories like this? We’ve got insider tales and tips just for subscribers. Get a year’s worth of the best and funniest and most interesting things you need to know for $12.

Spice Up Your Camp Meals With These 8 Essential Spices

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 11:12am

Take a look in your camp kitchen box. Do you see any spices? No? Well, put them on the shopping list.

Spices add flavor to your food, transforming bland dishes into delicious meals. Just be careful not to overdo it — follow your recipes. Here are a few spices to use on your next campout:

Salt: A must-have. Instead of adding it to your plate later, use it while you’re cooking to enhance flavors.

Black pepper: Another must-have. Tip: Use peppercorns, which you can grind up — they’re more flavorful than ground pepper.

Cayenne pepper: This robust spice adds a lot of heat. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

Paprika: It’s ground red bell peppers. Great for adding a little color and seasoning to rice, stews and meats. Sprinkle it on deviled eggs or hummus.

Chili powder: This is a blend of several spices, usually including cumin, garlic powder, oregano and paprika. It can add a kick to meats, stews, beans and veggies.

Oregano: This herb goes perfectly with tomato-based dishes, like pizza or spaghetti. You can also combine it with olive oil to marinate meat.

Cumin: This earthy spice comes from seeds and is best used in savory dishes.

Cinnamon: It’s a staple for desserts, but it’s also delicious at breakfast when added to oatmeal or pancake batter.

Bow Saw or Folding Saw? Which Camp Saw Should You Get?

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 11:05am

A camp saw can be a handy tool for cutting firewood or clearing a trail of fallen timber. Folding and bow saws are the most popular types. Which one should you get?

You might want to have one of each, because they both have their advantages. Bow saws usually feature thinner blades, which allow them to slide through wood easily. However, they’re not as nimble as a folding saw because of their large frames.

Folding saws are best for cutting smaller branches. Usually, because of its smaller size, a folding saw would be the first choice to take on a backpacking trek, though collapsible bow saws work just fine, too. Typically, the longer the blade, the quicker the saw can get a job done.

Since camp saws can range from $10 to $50, you might be tempted to buy a $5 wire saw. Survival kits often include these thin, lightweight saws, too. However, wire saws can easily break if you pull the blade around a branch rather than keep it taut across as you saw. Here’s a tip: Find a bendable branch around which you can wrap the ends of the wire saw, creating a makeshift bow saw.

It’s better to buy a folding or bow saw or even a pocket chainsaw, which works like a wire saw but is thicker and more durable.

Recommend a Durable Tent That’s Easy to Set Up

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 10:36am

Q: I don’t have a tent, and we might need to camp a lot. Do you have some good recommendations?
— Jiale, Dublin, California

A: Hopefully, you’ll be camping a lot, and for that I recommend getting a tent that’s durable and easy to set up, and comes with a few helpful features.

Tents range from $30 to $5,500 — yes, some tents designed for Mount Everest expeditions cost $5,500.

You won’t climb the world’s tallest mountain on your first campout, so look at affordable entry-level tents, like the Coleman Sundome series ($30-$140, scoutshop.org).

A few tents I’ve tried out include:

The one-person Skyscape is designed for backpacking, weighing only 40 ounces. It doesn’t come with poles, but that’s OK because you can use trekking poles to prop it up.

The Cross Canyon’s body is primarily mesh — you’ll feel like you’re sleeping under the stars. For privacy and protection, its thick rain fly easily attaches using snap buckles. The tent’s storage bag unrolls, so you can use it as a floor mat to help keep dirt out.

The Aurora’s steep walls provide plenty of interior room. The tent also features a few large storage pockets and a light-diffusing ceiling pocket for your lantern or cellphone to help illuminate the whole tent.

Stuff We Like: Max Shade Chair

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 1:01am

If your campsite is out in the open, the sun quickly becomes an annoyance, especially on a hot day. With the Max Shade Chair by Quik Shade ($45. amazon.com), you can instantly have shade wherever you are.

This camp chair features an adjustable canopy attached to the back, which you pull overhead as a sun shield. Lock it in place, and then you can tilt or raise the shade to provide protection where you want it.

The chair also has two mesh cupholders and a large side storage pocket.

Extra-Cool Camping Gear to Make Your Outing More Fun

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 5:46pm

Sure, camping is already a fun way to spend a weekend or a week — but with extra-cool gear on the trip, it can be really fun. Check out these 6 gadgets for your next outdoor adventure.

Forget everything you know about headlamps — the KNOG BANDICOOT ($35, knog.com) is the coolest light for your noggin. For starters, it’s a rechargeable headlamp that’s lighter and cheaper than many competitors that use batteries. The Bandicoot’s silicone housing seamlessly merges the strap, body and LEDs, and stretches to fit everyone. It has five modes with four brightness levels each, including high-power, proximity and red, plus a lockout mode and charge indicator. Now you can afford to give up the battery habit. 2 oz.

Make your campsite a true hangout with the SERAC CLASSIC SINGLE HAMMOCK ($35, exploreserac.com). Perfect for first-time hammock buyers, it’s easy and quick to set up and pack up. It’s made from parachute-grade nylon, measures 9 feet by 4 feet deployed and has a capacity of 400 pounds. The kit includes tree straps and carabiners. 14 oz.

Combining modern and ancient tech, the BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2 ($150, bioliteenergy.com) burns small sticks or wood pellets to create a portable campfire, and it converts that heat to electricity for charging phones, lights and other small devices via a USB port. The flames generate enough heat to boil a liter of water in less than 5 minutes — that’s fast for a portable wood-burning stove — while the entire unit packs down to the size of a liter bottle. 2 lbs.

THE OUTDOOR ELEMENT FIREBINER MULTITOOL CARABINER ($15, outdoorelement.com) puts six useful tools at your fingertips in a device that weighs only an ounce: a firestarter that produces sparks when you swipe a built-in wheel, a bottle opener, a utility blade, a screwdriver, hanging slots and extra ferro rods for the spark wheel. Plus, the carabiner is rated to hold 100 pounds. 1 oz.

For the ultimate solar-powered charging station for multiple days of camping, grab a GOAL ZERO YETI 150 POWER STATION + NOMAD 14 PLUS KIT ($330, goalzero.com). Quiet and tough, the Yeti can be charged by the sun using the Nomad 14 Plus solar panel, a car battery or a home wall outlet. Two USB ports and the 12-volt output will charge devices as large as a laptop. The 14-watt Nomad 14 Plus solar panel has a kickstand so you can adjust its angle to the sun, and a solar intensity indicator tells you the angle for maximum recharging. Really cool: The Yeti’s auto restart feature kicks the unit back on if it’s somehow disconnected without achieving a full charge during the day. 13 lbs., 14.5 oz.

Thinking smaller and more affordable? Juice up a phone and light up a campsite with the GOAL ZERO MINI LANTERN ($40, scoutshop.org). Charged via USB at home or solar panels (sold separately) in camp, the Mini Lantern casts up to 210 lumens from its adjustable lantern and can recharge a phone or other small device. Folding legs and a magnetized base provide options for positioning it. 8 oz.

90 Funny Halloween Jokes and Comics

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 1:01am

Happy Halloween! We dare you not to scream with laughter when you read these funny Halloween jokes by Boys’ Life readers. Do you know a funny Halloween joke? Click here to send in your joke.

Laugh at 4,000+ more funny jokes at jokes.boyslife.org!

Joe: What do you call wood when it’s scared?
Bob: I don’t know.
Joe: Petrified!
Joke submitted by Daniel B., Lincoln, Neb.
Comic by Daryll Collins

Lucas: Where do the baby ghost go?
Jeff: I’m stumped.
Lucas: Day scare!
Joke submitted by Lucas Z., Evans, Ga.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Ayn: What does a turkey dress up as for Halloween?
Samantha: I don’t know. What?
Ayn: A gobblin’!
Joke submitted by Ayn A., Pittsburgh, Pa.

Michael: What treat do eye doctors give out on Halloween?
Matthew: I don’t know. What?
Michael: Candy corneas.
Joke submitted by Michael and Matthew A., Elba, N.Y.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Jenna: What did the vampire say to the ghost at the Halloween party?
Brenna: What?
Jenna: “Come on! Why don’t you live a little?”
Joke submitted by Jenna C., Columbia, Mo.

Thomas: How do you mend a jack-o’-lantern?
George: I have no clue.
Thomas: With a pumpkin patch.
Joke submitted by Thomas W., Shreveport, La.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Arlene: What kind of dessert do ghosts like?
Alice: What?
Arlene: I scream!
Joke submitted by Arlene A., Selma, Calif.

A photographer goes to a haunted castle determined to get a picture of a ghost on Halloween. The ghost he encounters turns out to be friendly and poses for a snapshot. The happy photographer later downloads his photos and finds that the photos are underexposed and completely blank.

Moral to the story: The spirit is willing, but the flash is weak.
Joke submitted by Jacob S., Lebanon, Ore.

Comic by Scott Nickel

A book never written: “All That’s Left of Me” by Myra Maines.
Joke submitted by Kieran F., Emporia, Kan.

Bert: What did the ghost wear to the dance?
Sam: I have no clue.
Bert: Booooots.
Joke submitted by Bert Y., Corpus Christi, Tex.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Danny: Why didn’t the ghost go to the Halloween party?
Cody: I haven’t the foggiest.
Danny: He was afraid he was going to be booed.
Joke submitted by Danny V., Camarillo, Calif.

Brett: What do mummies like listening to on Halloween?
Brent: I don’t know.
Brett: Wrap music!
Joke submitted by Brent J., Upper Arlington, Ohio

Comic by Scott Nickel

Spencer: What plants like Halloween the most?
Tanner: Which ones?
Spencer: Bam-BOO!
Joke submitted by Tanner S., Tampa, Fla.

Micah: What do you get when you drop a pumpkin from your roof?
Cameron: What?
Micah: Squash!
Joke submitted by Micah T., Abbeville, S.C.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Yashaswi: What’s the witch’s best subject?
Amy: I haven’t the foggiest.
Yashaswi: Spelling!
Joke submitted by Yashaswi S., Fredericksburg, Va.

Bill: Why did the policeman ticket the ghost on Halloween?
McKenzie: Why?
Bill: It didn’t have a haunting license.
Joke submitted by Howard H., Newark, Calif.

Comic by Daryll Collins

Sarah: What are a ghost’s favorite rides at the fair?
Brian: Tell me.
Sarah: The scary-go-round and rollerghoster!
Joke submitted by Sarah O., Springfield, Mo.

Barbara: What kind of pants do ghosts wear?
Cindy: I don’t know.
Barbara: Boo jeans!
Joke submitted by Barbara M., Simpsonville, S.C.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Christopher: What did Superman say to Batman when he invited him to the graveyard on Halloween night?
Daniel: I don’t know.
Christopher: “Sorry, I can’t go into the kryptonite.”
Joke submitted by Christopher S., Chesapeake, Va.

Max: What would you find on a haunted beach?
Sam: I’m stumped.
Max: A sand-witch!
Joke submitted by Maxwell C.

Comic by Scott Nickel

John: Why didn’t the skeleton like the Halloween candy?
Mark: Why?
John: He didn’t have the stomach for it!
Joke submitted by John C., Houston, Texas

Aiden: Where do ghosts make their movies?
Bob: I don’t know.
Aiden: At Univer-soul Studios.
Joke submitted by Aiden W., Granite City, Ill.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Erick: Where do ghosts like to swim?
Carl: I don’t know. Tell me.
Erick: The Dead Sea.
Joke submitted by Erick O., National City, Calif.

Sam: What do you call a cleaning skeleton?
Frank: I don’t know.
Sam: The “grim sweeper.”
Joke submitted by Sam M., Pittsburgh, Pa.

Comic by Thomastoons

Chris: What’s worse than being a five-ton witch on Halloween?
Jill: No clue. Hit me with it.
Chris: Being her broom!
Joke submitted by Christian H., Fredericksburg, Va.

Luke: What do you call two witches sharing an apartment?
Jen: I have no clue.
Luke: Broommates!
Joke submitted by Luke B., Kenosha, Wis.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Brenda: Where does Count Dracula usually eat his lunch?
Bianca: Where?
Brenda: At the casketeria.
Joke submitted by Brenda D., Elmira, N.Y.

Daffynition: Pocahontas — A card game that comes back to scare you.
Joke submitted by Omkar S., San Jose, Calif.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Jake: Why couldn’t the ghost see its mom and dad?
Philip: I don’t know.
Jake: Because they were trans-parents!
Joke submitted by Jacob C., O’Fallon, Ill.

Darius: What part of the street do vampires live on?
Chad: I don’t know.
Darius: The dead end.
Joke submitted by Darius C., Columbia, Md.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Brandon: Which ghost is the best dancer?
Nolan: I don’t know.
Brandon: The Boogie Man!
Joke submitted by Chris S., Centennial, Colo.

Everett: What’s a ghoul’s favorite game on Halloween?
Francisco: What?
Everett: Hide-and-ghost-seek.
Joke submitted by Everett C., Tequesta, Fla.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Rich: Why do they put fences around graveyards?
Mitch: Tell me.
Rich: Because people are dying to get in!
Joke submitted by Richard D., Granville, Ohio

Jerry: Why do ghosts like to ride in elevators?
Woody: Why?
Jerry: It raises their spirits.
Joke submitted by Matthew R., Dix Hills, N.Y.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Joshua: What do you get if you cross Bambi with a ghost?
Belia: What?
Joshua: Bamboo.
Joke submitted by Joshua T., Cheltenham, Pa.

Gavin: What do you call a tired skeleton on Halloween?
Connor: Beats me.
Gavin: The “grim sleeper.”
Joke submitted by Gavin H., Stoughton, Mass.

Comic by Thomastoons

Tim: What is a ghost’s favorite dessert?
Tom: What?
Tim: Booberry pie.
Joke submitted by Joshua N., Napoleon, Ohio

Tom: What’s a ghost’s favorite room?
Jerry: I dunno.
Tom: The living room!
Joke submitted by Steven G., Virginia Beach, Va.

Comic by Jon Carter

Kirk: Why do mummies have no friends?
Mike: Why
Kirk: Because they’re too wrapped up in themselves!
Joke submitted by Kirk J., Bothell, Wash.

Tom Swiftie: “That ghost movie was horrible!” Tom booed.
Joke submitted by Zakir G., Los Angeles, Calif.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Aidan: What is a ghost’s favorite Cub Scout event?
Taylor: What?
Aidan: Boo and Gold.
Aidan: What is a witch’s favorite Cub Scout event?
Taylor: I give up.
Aidan: Brew and Gold.
Aidan: What is a werewolf’s favorite Cub Scout event?
Taylor: What?
Aidan: Pack meetings, of course!
Joke submitted by Aidan T., Mount Airy, Md.

Stephen: What did the ghost say when the skeleton lied to him?
David: I haven’t a clue.
Stephen: “I can see right through you.”
Joke submitted by Stephen S., Knoxville, Tenn.

Comic by Scott Nickel

A book never written: “Ghost Hunting” by E. Gadd.
Joke submitted by Jet S., Ooltewah, Tenn.

Jess: Why don’t ghosts like rain on Halloween?
Thomas: Why?
Jess:  It dampens their spirits!
Joke submitted by Jess W., Spartanburg, S.C.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Race: What is a goblin’s favorite cheese?
Nathan: What is it?
Race: Monster-ella!
Joke submitted by Daniel B., Tyler, Tex.

Joker: Why did the monster’s mother knit him three socks for Halloween?
Harvey: I have no clue.
Joker: She heard he grew another foot!
Joke submitted by Matthew C., Gladstone, Mo.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Two monsters went to a Halloween party. Suddenly one said to the other, “A lady just rolled her eyes at me. What should I do?”
“Be a gentleman and roll them back to her.”
Joke submitted by Billy J., Hershey, Pa.

Sam: What is Dracula’s favorite circus act?
Ethan: Tell me.
Sam: He always goes for the juggler!
Joke submitted by Sam C., San Antonio, Tex.

Comic by Scott Nickel

Steve: What do you get when you divide your jack-o’-lantern’s circumference by its diameter?
Paul: What?
Steve: Pumpkin-pi!
Joke submitted by Steve H., Sagamore Hills, Ohio

Dale: What do you do if you want to learn more about Dracula?
Gayle: You join his fang club.
Joke submitted by Dale K., Somerset, Pa.

Bill: What can you say about a horrible mummy joke?
Bob: What?
Bill: It Sphinx!
Joke submitted by Eric H., San Diego, Calif.

Chris: What’s a vampire’s favorite fruit?
Taylor: I have no idea.
Chris: A necktarine!
Joke submitted by Christopher F., Wildwood, Mo.

Gracie: Why do vampires need mouthwash?
Selena: Why?
Gracie: Because they have bat breath.
Joke submitted by Gracie Y., Los Gatos, Calif.

A book never written: “Did a Vampire Bite Me?” by Chick Yerneck.
Joke submitted by Coleton M., Cary, N.C.

Bruce: What is a vampire’s favorite dance?
Kevin: I don’t know. What?
Bruce: The Fang-Dango.
Joke submitted by Zac D., Danville, Calif.

Trent: Why are vampires so easy to fool?
Brent: Why?
Trent: Because they’re suckers.
Joke submitted by Trenton G., Shaftsbury, Vt.

Eddie: What do you call a vampire that lives in a kitchen?
Red: What?
Eddie: Count Spatula.
Joke submitted by Sam M., Greensboro, N.C.

Todd: What is a skeleton’s favorite instrument?
Leanne: What?
Todd: The xylabone.
Joke submitted by Todd F., Indianapolis, Ind.

Ben: What do you call a kind and considerate monster?
Jonathan: What?
Ben: A complete failure.
Joke submitted by Benjamin M., Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Comic by Daryll Collins

Tim: What would you get if you crossed a vampire and a teacher?
Tom: What?
Tim: Lots of blood tests!
Joke submitted by Tim T., Whitehall, N.Y.

Daffynition: Retreat — To get another piece of candy on Halloween.
Joke submitted by Anthony P., Watkinsville, Ga.

Tom Swiftie: “I’m not eating too much candy,” Tom said sweetly.
Joke submitted by Kevin A., St. Louis, Mo.

Pam: What kind of phone do witches use?
Sam: What kind?
Pam: A touch-toad phone.
Joke submitted by Pam A., Wasilla, Alaska

Cresencio: What was the witch’s favorite subject in school?
Chris: What?
Cresencio: Spelling.
Joke submitted by Cresencio A., Norwalk, Calif.

Jayden: What is a panda’s favorite Halloween food?
Cayden: What?
Jayden: Bam-BOO!
Joke submitted by Jayden V., Westerly, Rhode Island

Do you know a funny Halloween joke? Click here to send us your jokes.

Laugh at 4,000+ more funny jokes at jokes.boyslife.org!

28 Fun Toys for the 2020 Holiday Season

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 8:23pm

Making a holiday list? Check out some of the latest and greatest from the toy world.

MAKE A NEW FRIEND

Squeakee is like a balloon animal come to life. Play with, feed and train this interactive “pet” that responds to your voice. With more than 60 sounds and movements and multiple touch sensors, our 12-year-old reviewer says Squeakee is “pretty much a real companion” to him. ($59.99, moosetoys.com)

OUT-OF-THE-BOX FUN

Sometimes you want toys you can build, like interlocking bricks or intricate models. Other times, you just want to take them out of the box and play with them. That’s what you get with Star Wars The Black Series Snowspeeder. A tiny bit of assembly is required, but mostly it’s ready to go. Dak Ralter’s snowspeeder and action figure are incredibly realistic, with colors that look like they’re straight from The Empire Strikes Back. ($119.99, shop.hasbro.com)

DIFFERENT WAYS TO FLY

There are tons of cool drones out there these days. Here are a few to check out:

Our 13-year-old tester had the Potensic A20 Mini Drone flying within minutes. Its tiny size is great for beginners and indoor use. It struggles in wind but is perfect for navigating your home’s twists and turns. Flight time is short — 10-13 minutes — but it comes with two batteries so you can charge and play at the same time. ($49.99, potensic.com)

As soon as you take the Force1 Scoot Drone out of the box, you’ll notice something different: There’s no controller! The drone moves when it senses something nearby. You can “push” it in certain directions with your hands or let it roam inside. Don’t fly it outdoors — you can’t stop it unless you catch it! ($34.99, force1rc.com)

Our tester was pleasantly surprised with this remote-controlled flyer. We’ve played with flying birds, bats and bugs, and none was as easy to figure out as the Go Go Bird. Unlike others we’ve tested, it moves at a nice, smooth pace. Learning more advanced tricks takes lots of work, so be patient. ($43.99, zing.store)

The cool LED lights make the Force1 UFO 4000 Mini Drone stand out. It’s the most fun we’ve had flying a drone in the dark! Because it’s designed for stunts, the controls are harder to master. Once our tester got it going, it performed as you’d expect: not much speed but tons of maneuverability. ($39.99, force1rc.com)

Before using flying toys, visit knowbeforeyoufly.org for guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration.

ELECTRIC ACTION

Get a smooth, stable ride with the Mongoose React electric scooter. Our 11- and 13-year-old testers tried out the E4 model and were cruising right away. The E4 maxes out at 15 mph — and at slower speeds with models for younger riders. Always, always, always wear a helmet. (E4 is recommended for ages 13 and up, $229.99; E1 and E2 for ages 8 and up, $119.99 and $139.99; mongoose.com.)

GET CRAFTY

Make your own paper for cards, decorations and more with the Crayola Paper Maker. It includes three ink colors, a mixing beaker, spatula and paper press. Our 11-year-old tester says, “The pigment in the dye is very good and the press works really well.” She adds a note of caution that “it takes a bit of effort to get the tray through the press.” ($19.99, shop.crayola.com)

DIY PUTTY

Customize your own putty with a Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kit. Choose from three: Holographic, Glow in the Dark and Hypercolor. Our reviewers — two brothers and a sister ages 7, 10 and 13 — loved the hypercolor kit. The 13-year-old says he thought it was so cool, he wishes he had one all to himself. ($20 each, puttyworld.com)

CALLING ALL DISNEY EXPERTS!

With Disney Sketchy Tales, pick a character and a scenario card and draw them together. Maybe it’s Piglet jumping out of a cake or Aladdin mowing the lawn. Pass your drawing to the next player, who writes down what they think you’ve drawn. The next player then sketches a scene, and so on. Win points for best doodles and funniest guesses. And don’t worry about your drawing abilities. Our 12- and 14-year-old players assure us: “If you aren’t artistic, it’s OK. It actually makes the game even more entertaining!” ($19.99, bigpotato.com)

BY LAND AND WATER

The Monster Jam Megalodon Storm All-Terrain Remote Control vehicle can tackle dry land and water. Our 13-year-old tester says he was surprised by how well it performs in the pool. He also offers one note of caution: Be careful that it doesn’t run out of juice on the water. Not necessarily fun to retrieve. ($49.99, spinmaster.com)

RAPTOR RAMPAGE

Our 6-year-old tester suggests that you chase your dog or maybe even your parent with Robo Alive Rampaging Raptor. The dino robot not only runs, but also chomps, so watch out! Available in either red or lime green, each includes a dino egg filled with slime — our tester’s favorite part! ($9.99, zuru.com)

GLOW FUN

Make neon chalk, glow sticks and more with Glow-in-the-Dark Science Lab — and you’ll learn about chemistry while you’re at it. Our 8-year-old reviewer and her friends had a blast with the experiments and thought it was a “unique twist” that the chalk molds came in fun shapes like dolphins and stars. ($19.95, thamesandkosmos.com)

GARDENING GURU GAME

Design your own Japanese garden with the Miyabi game. Skillfully place tiles for stones, bushes, trees, ponds and pagodas on multiple levels to earn points. The “gardener” with the most points wins. Our 14-year-old player says it’s a lot more fun than you might think. She reports, “It took strategizing. It’s not just based on luck.” ($39.99, habausa.com)

OH, SNAP!

Build multiple crafts with Snap Ships. Our 12-year-old tester liked how the parts snapped right together. He also downloaded the free app and brought his ship to life to record real battle videos. With the Gladius AC-75 Drop Ship set, you can build a ship and attack rover. All sets and pieces are interchangeable for more creative play. (Gladius: $44.99; other sets from $11.99 to $34.99; snapships.com)

LET IT FLY

Like the box says, “Build It, Light It, Launch It.” With the Power Blox Light ’N Flight 5-in-1 set, build a helicopter, airplane, airboat and more. With the motors and propellers, you’ll have whatever you build flying “all over the place,” like our 8-year-old tester did. He says he loves how it “lights up so you can play with it in the dark.” ($43.99, myeblox.com)

ZOINKS!

Crack codes, figure out puzzles and solve mysteries with the Scooby-Doo: Escape From the Haunted Mansion game. Our 10-year-old reviewer played it with her dad, and they say, “It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book mixed with an escape room and logic puzzles.” Is it any surprise their favorite part was the Scooby snacks? ($29.99, theop.games)

“WHAT AM I?”

That’s the big question with the HedBanz game. Pick a card and, without looking at it, stick it in your headband. Ask the other players “yes” and “no” questions to figure out what’s on your card before time runs out. If you guess, you get a score badge. The first player to get three of them wins. A fun party game! ($15.99, spinmastergames.com)

FROM A YOUTUBE SENSATION

Pro domino artist Lily Hevesh created H5 Domino Creations for the ultimate design, build and topple experience. Our 12-year-old reviewer says, “It’s very satisfying to see a long run fall all the way to the end. It can be very pretty.” She also says creative designing became a competition. ($24.99, hevesh5.com)

MAY THE CHILD BE WITH YOU

Who doesn’t want a baby Yoda? Especially one that interacts with you? With The Mandalorian The Child, you’ll enjoy more than 25 sound and movement combinations from your animatronic pal. You can even activate his Force move. ($59.99, shop.hasbro.com)

AIM HIGH — OR LOW

Brush up your skills with the Nerf Elite Digital Light-Up Target. Our 12-year-old tester says it’s “easy to set up for two people to compete against each other. I love how it buzzes and lights up when you hit the target.” It also keeps score. There are single and multiplayer game-play modes. ($19.99, nerf.hasbro.com)

INDOOR STUNTS

This RC vehicle should be parent-approved for indoor play. The lightweight Airhogs Stunt Shot is capable of wheelies, flips and more. Our 13-year-old tester says, “This car is really cool! The best part is that because of the foam wheels, it won’t damage anything that it crashes into. I put an action camera on it and got some really cool first-person racing action!” ($34.99, airhogs.com)

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Star Wars Kylo Ren’s Shuttle is a very detailed, very authentic Lego set that’s challenging, but not so much that it can’t be done in a reasonable amount of time. It comes with figures of General Pryde, a Sith Trooper, a First Order Stormtrooper, two Knights of Ren and, of course, Kylo himself. ($129.99, lego.com)

LET THEM LOOSE!

Build a habitat for your speedy nano Flash Hexbugs with the Nanotopia set. The snap-together pieces form a winding track for the little critters, as well as merry-go-round obstacles. Four of the newly designed nanos are included. Our 6-year-old tester loved it. She gave it not just one, but two thumbs up. ($49.99, hexbug.com)

GIZMOS AND GADGETS GALORE

Build working gadgets, do experiments and maybe learn a little with the Discovery Mindblown Action Circuitry electronic set. Our 13- and 8-year-old brother and sister testers say, “It’s cool to watch everything in action at the same time” when finished. We’re talking spinning robots, a floating ball, rocket launcher and more. ($37.40, discoverymindblown.com)

CRAZY CONSTRUCTION GAME

There are only 32 interlocking shapes, but BUILDZI is quite a challenge. You can play six different games that involve speed building with the crazy, colorful blocks. Our 12- and 14-year-old sister testers report that the “game was very fun and creative!” ($24.95, playmatterstoys.com)

POWER PACK

Power Treads Full Throttle Pack lets you build and customize all-surface vehicles as well as tracks using the modular set, along with stunts and obstacles. Our 8-year-old tester says it “is a very fun toy. I like the glow-in-the-dark stickers and treads, and putting the track together to make it look like an interstate. The car has lots of power.” ($29.99, powertreads.com)

PUT YOUR SKILLS TO THE TEST

Check out the App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car from the Lego Technic collection. Our 13-year-old tester reports that it took a while to build, but it was worth it. He says, “The attention to detail is crazy! There’s even a mock engine. The gyro controls are not as responsive as the touch controls, but overall it’s pretty cool.” ($129.99, lego.com)

Do These Five Campsite Items and Snacks Work as Fire Starters?

Wed, 10/21/2020 - 2:27pm

Just like when you bake a cake, you need ingredients to start a campfire.

First, you need heat. That comes from matches. Then you need oxygen. As long as you’re lighting a fire outside (and you’re on Earth), oxygen is all around you. Last, you need fuel.

That’s where tinder, kindling and firewood come into play.

Striking a Balance

Starting a fire isn’t as simple as holding a match close to a piece of firewood.

You have to build your fire slowly using tinder, kindling and logs. Tinder is anything that burns quickly after you light it. Think of this as step 1 in the recipe of getting your fire burning. Kindling is step 2 in that process. If it can catch on fire easily but not burn as fast as tinder, it qualifies as kindling.

Like a chain reaction, you can arrange your fire fuel in a way that once the tinder catches fire, it ignites the kindling — which slowly catches your larger fuel wood that will burn for a long time. But it all starts when your match meets tinder.

BL-Tested Fire Starters

So what makes good tinder for a campfire? You probably know dry twigs and leaves do. But what about some other items you might have stashed away on a campout?

We put five campsite items and snacks to the test. Guess if each item will work to start a fire, then play the corresponding video to see if you’re right!

Note: We did the testing so you don’t have to. Don’t experiment with tinder at home.

Cheetos

WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: They’re dry and small like twigs.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: The ingredients that make a cheese puff edible might not sustain a flame (even if it’s the Flamin’ Hot variety).

THE RESULT:

Carrots

WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: We know super-dry twigs work as tinder. And carrots are about the same size.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: Carrots have a lot of water in them. Water puts out fires

THE RESULT:

Steel Wool

WHY IT MIGHT WORK: Steel wool has a reputation as a great fire starter when you don’t have a match handy.

WHY IT MIGHT FAIL: Just because it might produce a spark, that doesn’t mean steel wool can produce the flame required of tinder.

THE RESULT:

Cotton Balls

WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: Tinder is usually not dense but takes up a lot of surface area. That’s true with cotton balls.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: You use cotton balls to clean wounds. That’s nothing like starting a fire.

THE RESULT: 

Twizzlers

WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: They’re dry. They’re tubular like some twigs.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: There are chemicals in Twizzlers that make them safe to eat. But we’re not sure if these chemicals will fuel a flame or not.

THE RESULT:

FIRE IS NO JOKE!

Fire can be dangerous. It requires care and respect. Remember these fire-safety tips:

• Never play around fire.
• Never try to start a fire with a substance that could unleash toxic chemicals. Never burn something that contains paint.
• Never leave a fire to burn without supervision.
• Before you leave, make sure your fire is completely out (no longer smoking, with ashes cool to the touch).

You never know when you’ll need to think outside the box on a campout. Add to our never-ending list of fire-starter ideas at go.boyslife.org/firestarters.

Write a Funny Caption For This Photo

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 5:32pm

What’s going on in this picture? What is that shark doing or thinking?

If you can think of a funny caption for this photo, just post it in the comment form at the bottom of this page. After we approve it, your funny caption will be on this page for everyone to read.

Click here to write captions for more funny photos.

Add to the Never-Ending List of Fire Starters

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 4:31pm

Every fire needs fuel and that’s where tinder, kindling and firewood come into play.

So what “fuel” can you use to start a campfire? Check out this list of traditional and off-the-wall ideas that will get your campfire ignited with the help of a match, lighter or friction. Scroll on to add your own ideas to this list.

Fire Starters
  • Twigs
  • Dry leaves
  • Cotton balls
  • Chips
  • Rope
  • A dry, fallen tree branch
  • Newspaper
  • Cotton squares
  • Cardboard
  • Twine

This list needs your ideas to become the longest fire-starter idea list ever! Use the form below to send us your fire-starting tips:

Click here to fill out form.

Bookmark this page in case you’re ever in a pinch and need to get inventive to start a safe campfire.

Be Careful With Fire and Fire Starters

Fire can be dangerous. It requires care and respect. Don’t try to start a fire with a substance that could unleash toxic chemicals, and never burn something that contains paint.

For more info on how to start a fire safely, check out our post on how to build a campfire.

How to Escape From a Rip Current

Mon, 10/12/2020 - 11:25am

A rip current can carry sand, sediment and swimmers many yards seaward.

When caught in a rip current, don’t panic and don’t exhaust yourself trying to swim against the current.

Instead, swim across the current, parallel to the shore, until you’re clear of the current. Eventually it will be easier to swim back to shore.

Inside the October 2020 Issue

Tue, 09/29/2020 - 3:40pm

Here’s what you’ll find inside the October 2020 issue of Boys’ Life magazine. Remember, many articles are only available to subscribers and are not available online.

Please visit boyslife.org/subscribe to subscribe to the print or digital editions of Boys’ Life magazine.

OCTOBER 2020 FEATURES

MARCHING BEHIND THE BATTALION

Scouts hike in the footsteps of one of the greatest military treks in American history.

Troop 500 hikes through the desert on the historic Mormon Battalion trail

PUT IT OUT!

Wildfire is spreading fast! Hundreds of firefighters and support teams rush in. How do they get organized?

WELCOMING WEBELOS

A Scout is friendly … especially when around visiting Cub Scouts.

At the Hallo-Weekend campout, the older Scouts treat Cub Scouts like friends

FICTION: GHOST BLADE

Cole loves hockey more than anything. But does he have what it takes to be a champ?

Read Boys’ Life fiction stories

BL HOW TO BUILD IT: COOKING TRIPOD

Use your lashing skills to make this simple tripod to hang a pot over a cooking fire.

How to make a cooking tripod

ONLY IN OUR BOY SCOUT EDITION

SCOUTING AROUND: A SCOUT IS …

Living by the Scout Oath and Law can help guide you to make good, wise choices.

Visit the Scouting Around blog

THE PERFECT PUMPKIN

Make your jack-o’-lantern stand out from the rest with our pro tips.

Pumpkin carving tips

THE BEST OF THE BEST

All Eagle Scout projects are great. The Adams awards recognize the best.

Visit the Eagle Project Showcase

ONLY IN OUR CUB SCOUT EDITION

LET’S LOOK AT EARTHQUAKES

Read it! Color it! Get it all in this special Cub Scout section.

COOL CARVING

Be Prepared to create the best jack-o’-lantern this Halloween season.

AND MORE!


Look for the regular score of comics, jokes, games, Scouts in Action, Tradin’ Post and more! Only in the October 2020 issue of Boys’ Life!

The Wacky Adventures of Pedro
Pee Wee Harris
Scouts in Action
More S.I.A.

Scouts Hike in the Footsteps of One of the Greatest Military Treks in American History

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 6:21pm

In 1846, more than 500 soldiers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began a 1,900-mile march from Iowa to California to help West Coast troops during the Mexican-American War. Along the way, they cooked cakes on glowing coals, tussled with “jumping” cholla cactuses and trekked across rugged deserts.

The regiment’s journey has been called “the greatest march of infantry in the history of the U.S. Army.” The trail they forged crosses more than half the country.

Today, you can hike some of that same trail and have some of those same experiences. As a bonus, you can earn the San Diego-Imperial Council’s U.S. Mormon Battalion Trail High Adventure Award. That’s what Troop 500, chartered to St. Agnes Catholic Church of Point Loma, California, did in January.

“It was amazing to walk in the footsteps and hike the same trail as those soldiers,” says Jackson Kirby, 12.

A lot of the original trail has been paved over or is on private land. The Scouts chose to hike a 14-mile stretch in California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

To confirm the route was passable, the troop’s adult leaders did an exploratory hike and found a wonderland bristling with sagebrush and foxtail cactus amid the Laguna Mountains.

THE JUMPING CACTUS

The trip wasn’t all fun. One of the troop’s adult leaders, Laurie Unthank, got stuck with a cholla cactus during the exploratory hike.

“It attacked me and embedded its barbs in the side of my calf,” she says. “I couldn’t bear the pain of pulling it out myself, so our Scoutmaster took two flat rocks and took it out for me. It hurt like crazy!”

Cholla cactus doesn’t literally jump, but it can seem like that as needle-covered stems can easily detach from the plant even if you slightly brush up against it.

In response, the troop packed tweezers. A good choice, since Tobin Skinner, 13, got stuck with chollas, too.

“It took forever to get the spines out,” he says.

A TRIP BACK IN TIME

Axel Mitchell, 15, says he enjoyed learning about the trail’s history during the troop’s three-day trip.

For six months, members of the Mormon Battalion endured sickness, starvation and the elements as they trekked over mountains and deserts.

“It must have been much harder to do it back then,” says Killian Treppa, 12.

Scouts could still see where the soldiers had built the road for their wagons and widened a dry waterfall by hammering it out with pickaxes. The battalion never had to fight, except for fending off a herd of wild cattle, later referred to as the “Battle of the Bulls.” When they arrived in California, soldiers helped build roads and a fort.

Antonio Maldonado III, 15, helped his troop re-create a meal the battalion would have eaten on the trail: greens, dried meat and “ash cakes.”

“They had few ingredients and even less flavor,” Antonio says of the cakes. “Fortunately, we added honey, and that made all the difference.”

Ash cakes are patties of flour and water cooked directly on glowing coals. They pick up a little ash, but they go down OK after a long day of hiking.

“The bare-boned meal taught us that after a long day of hiking and trail-building, all the Mormon Battalion had was scant food,” Antonio says.

CHILLY NIGHTS

Scouts learned lessons not only from history, but also while in the park.

“My tent mate left our rain fly behind to save weight. It turned out to be a bad idea, but we warmed up fast when the sun came out,” says Hayden Howard, 15. “I froze on the second night.”

Before you hit the trail, confirm the gear you’re bringing, especially shared gear, he says. Still, the guys stayed in high spirits.

“You’d think we’d go right to sleep after a long day of hiking,” says Ben Folk, 14. “Nope! Instead, we stayed up late watching the stars and taking in the view.”

While the days were mild and pleasant, the temperatures plummeted at night.

“How cold was it?” says Wade Connor, 12. “My tent got covered in ice!”

After packing up and driving three hours home, ice flew out of his gear when he unpacked.

“It was that cold!” he says.

WORTH THE TRIP

The hike and meal were requirements for earning the council award. The Scouts also toured memorials and museums. They even marched in a parade to commemorate the battalion’s arrival in San Diego.

“This was one of our troop’s best backpacking trips,” says Jake Unthank, 12.

Although Scouts were sore by the end of the trip, they were happy they completed it.

“This was my first backpacking trip,” says Garridan Gonzalez, 13. “I am definitely going to do another one.”

MAKE YOUR OWN ASH CAKES

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Start a fire and let it burn down to white, ashy coals. In a bowl, mix the water, flour and sugar with your hands. If it gets too sticky, add more flour.

Separate the dough, roll into balls and shape into patties about a quarter-inch thick. Lay them directly on the coals, turning them after 3-4 minutes. When both sides are done, remove them and brush off as much ash as possible.

Add honey or more sugar to make a sweeter ash cake. Bake some extras for snacks for the next day’s march.

THE MORMON BATTALION

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian denomination that started in 1830.

In 1846, church elders asked the U.S. government for help moving west after mobs attacked a city of Latter-day Saints in Illinois. President James K. Polk agreed to help if a group would join to fight in a war with Mexico as the U.S. looked to expand its territory.

The Latter-day Saints enlisted at the urging of the church’s president, Brigham Young; more than 30 women and 40 children accompanied the battalion. To this day, the battalion has been the only religion-based unit in U.S. military history.

The battalion met with Native American tribes along the way and stood guard while one tribe buried its dead during the war.

SPECIAL AWARDS

High-adventure and program teams at many councils across the country create special activities, treks and awards. San Diego-Imperial Council’s award program for the Mormon Battalion Trail includes options for Cub Scouts, too.

Check with your local council to see what special awards it offers. Any Scout can earn the BSA’s Historic Trails Award. Requirements include researching and hiking a historic trail, and completing a service project.

A Scout is Friendly … Especially When Welcoming Visiting Webelos

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 5:16pm

When the members of Scouts BSA troops 26 (boys) and 126 (girls) out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, talk with Webelos Scouts at their Hallo-Weekend campout, you won’t hear them saying things like, “Hey, you in the blue hat … ”

Instead, you’ll hear the older Scouts treating the Cub Scouts like friends — asking them questions, getting to know more about them and, maybe most important, calling them by their names.

“We want to really engage with the Arrow of Light Scouts,” says Haley Whitbook, a 13-year-old from Troop 126. “We want to make them feel like a member of the troop.”

Hallo-Weekend is an annual Halloween-themed event in Oologah, Okla., where Scouts BSA troops invite Webelos dens from all over the area to spend the weekend together. The Webelos get to go camping and learn some Scouts BSA skills — and maybe decide which troop they’re going to join.

The Scouts BSA members get to practice their leadership skills by taking the younger Scouts under their wings for the weekend.

In the end, everyone wins — and everyone has fun.

“It’s important for the Cub Scouts to see that they can have a connection with the Scouts they’re going to be spending time with in [Scouts BSA],” says Nathan McCorkle, the 14-year-old senior patrol leader of Troop 26 at last fall’s Hallo-Weekend event.

RECRUITING SEASON

Recruiting is a big part of having a healthy Scout unit. And an event like Hallo-Weekend can go a long way toward meeting your recruiting goals.

It’s an opportunity to recruit new Scouts not by telling them why they should join your troop, but by showing them what it could be like when they join.

At Hallo-Weekend, Scouts BSA members guide Cub Scouts through a variety of events. Some are designed to help them earn Webelos or Arrow of Light requirements. Others are just for fun.

Both are an opportunity for older Scouts to show their new friends why it’s worth sticking around for Scouts BSA.

“It helps them see what being in Scouts BSA is like,” says Maren Hettler, 12, from Troop 126. “We’re trying to get more momentum and get more girls to join, and we can kind of make the difference between if they stay in Scouts or not.”

At one station, the Scouts BSA members help the Cub Scouts earn their Castaway elective adventure, which involves cooking without pots and pans, lighting a fire without matches and building a shelter out of tree limbs.

At another, the older Scouts teach the younger ones how to fly fish. At yet another, they teach them about backpacking.

At night, they settle in for skits around a campfire.

BEING PREPARED

As with any Scout campout, the key to a successful recruiting event is planning. Because the event is so ingrained in the culture of Troop 26, everyone takes a tremendous amount of pride in doing their part to pull it off.

“It gave me some more leadership opportunities,” Maren says.

Nathan had already been part of two previous recruiting campouts, so he had a good idea of what worked and what wouldn’t.

“We want to show them how our troop functions and what we do,” he says.

That means not just camping alongside the Webelos. It means camping with the Webelos.

It’s a way of showing the Cub Scouts that you’re with them every step of the way.

“I enjoyed it,” says Haley. “They were a little crazy. They were everywhere when we went on our hike and I was like, ‘You have to stay with me,’ but I really liked seeing all of the smiling faces.”

The key is to keep them interested. Ask them questions about themselves. Find out where they go to school. Ask what they like most about Scouting.

“Most of the time,” Nathan says, “they’re really interested in what we’re doing.”

MONSTER MASH

Tulsa, Oklahoma, Troop 26 started its Hallo-Weekend event in 2010. When girls started joining Scouts BSA, girls Troop 126 became a part of the team.

The event has grown so much that other Scout troops from the area are invited as well.

To go along with the Halloween theme, each year features a different “monster,” which is really one specially chosen Scouts BSA member in a costume.

After starting with traditional monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein, the group has had to reach for lesser-known ones. The most recent was the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a character that debuted in a 1954 movie but hasn’t seen a whole lot of action in Hollywood since.

Troop 26 keeps a display of all the monster costumes from past Hallo-Weekend events.

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