In mid-2012, BSA released some vague information about the next Scout Handbook. They set a target release date of spring 2015, but now scheduled for release in January, 2016. This would make the 12th Edition one of the shortest tenured Handbooks (6 years). Only the first Edition lasted a shorter time (3 years).
Reason for a new edition? The usual reason: changes to the advancement system. BSA says that all Cub Scout and Boy Scout ranks "will revolve around a common set of five core content areas: character development; participatory citizenship; personal fitness; outdoor skills and awareness; and leadership." [Scouting magazine, September/October 2012]
BSA has stated that the 13th Edition will contain much of the content from the 12th Edition, adjusted for the revised advancement requirements and with more up-to-date pictures. So it looks like the 12th and 13th Editions will be a very similar pair of Editions much like the 6th and 7th Editions were.
Changes that the BSA has announced (always subject to change, of course):
BSA clearly wants to emphasize their new healthy eating and fitness goals, and to promote greater environmental stewardship (expanded Leave No Trace emphasis).
Newly announced future merit badges indicate a growing plan to embrace technology within the Scouting program, hopefully while maintaining the full outdoor program. New merit badges include: Programming; Game Design; and Animation.
Scouting has always excelled at giving boys and young men opportunites to learn and practice leadership, and BSA wants to emphasize leadership development even more.
Stay tuned for further news.