Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Boys' Life Magazine

Boys' Life Magazine

Spring 2016 Website
Ages: 7 - 18 yrs.

Like the Boy Scouts of America itself, the online companion to organization's traditional, 86-year-old magazine, Boys' Life, is changing. For the better. In recent years, Boys' Life looked as cluttered and haphazardly jam-packed as the insides of a kid's backpack after wilderness trek. Now, when you access its free features, columns, departments, scout projects, contests, games, jokes and comic strips, everything's meticulously organized in an easily accessible scroll-down homepage. Everything's neatly arranged, simplified and cleaned up. So much so that it's startling.

Across the top bar are drop-down menus that take readers to the six main categories. Click Games, for instance, and choose from several dozens of simple, silly, yet addictive little videogames-from Pee Wee's Archery Challenge to Flooded Village. Click HTLM5 Games like Brixx Puzzle or Pedro's Nitro Derby for more vivid challenges. Under Jokes, you get Boys' Life's usual comics plus its Write a Funny Caption interactive. More seriously, the Outdoors and Gear category offers info on such things as camping skills, fishing and wilderness first aid. Hobbies & Projects covers everything from magic trick, knife-sharpening, and the latest good teen books, to scout-type projects from Animal Track Identification and Champion Chess Moves to Yo-Yo Tricks and Keeping Spiders as Pets. The Scouts category includes features about excellent scouting adventures and stuff to do to earn Merit Badges. And the Contests section lists the latest contest where you can earn prizes.

The scattershot approach to the same content is to scroll down the boxy-organized homepage and click on whatever catches your eye. So, there's the lead feature, "How to Make a Fast Pinewood Derby Car," that you can find under the Hobbies & Projects category; or the Test Your Star Wars IQ test you can find in the Games' Quizzes section.

Parents should know that the Boys' Life website has commercial advertising, most of it Scout-related, the latest issue including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a closeout sale from

If you are a Boy Scout, this site is a requirement-and a good one. If you're just curious about what Boy Scouts do, take a look. Even if you have no interest in joining the Boy Scouts, much of the content here now translates for anyone-which is what Boys' Life has aspired to for years.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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