Cover art is photograph of two Scouts hiking with a snow-capped mountain in background, with photos of a bald eagle and green oak leaf superimposed. Back cover shows photos of a Scout campsite, a Scout kayaking, some colorful pebbles, and a tiger salamander.
The 11th Edition is a logical continuation of the 10th Edition, continuing trends but not changing anything significantly. The advancement requirements were updated effective April 1, 1999, but the changes were minimal. More cooking was placed in Tenderfoot, and the Eagle-required merit badge list dropped Safety and Sports, made Personal Fitness mandatory (it had been optional), and added Hiking and Cycling as options for those who prefer not to earn Swimming. The book also makes slight adjustments to the explanatory wording of the Scout Law.
The book is organized by rank (most requirements for each rank are covered in that rank's chapter), but also has extensive chapters on skills such as first aid, hiking, camping, cooking, citizenship.
This is the first Handbook to mention GPS (global positioning system), but it still recommends learning map and compass. It also adds a little information about BSA's new "Leave No Trace" (low impact camping) outdoor ethic. There is more information on water filters, information and guidance on using the Internet, guidance on being home along and on babysitting ("caring for younger children"), and new first aid precautions (need for goggles, mouth barrier, and latex gloves as part of any first aid kit).
Besides the need for water filters, this Handbook emphasizes stove use even more than the last Edition, and strongly de-emphasizes fire building.
There are no merit badge requirements, but only pictures of the Eagle badges, and a listing of all other merit badges (complete requirements are contained in a separate requirements booklet).
Much of the Fieldbook-type information in recent editions has been removed to reduce the massive size of the previous edition (the information is still available in the Fieldbook). Poisonous snakes are not identified in this Handbook (though treatment for poisonous snakebite is covered). There is no stars information except a brief section on finding your way by using the North Star.
Drug abuse and child abuse information is similar to that in the 10th Edition. This Handbook mentions AIDS and STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases), and expressly states that there should be no sex before marriage, much as in the previous Edition.
The pages are brighter than the previous edition, and the paper is thicker and nicer.
Like the 10th Edition, and unlike all previous Handbooks, the cover artwork does not show any Scouts in full uniform (rather they are shown wearing what many troops call "Class B" uniform).
11th Edition Summary and Printing History
Actual 11th Edition Table of Contents
(chapters also referred to as "Trailheads")