Scouting Forums

Camping and Hiking

hello. I was wondering, for the camping and hiking logs, is this just for hikes and camps that the Scout does with their den/pack OR is it for all hikes and camps, including the ones they do only with their family (not Scout related)?

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Some Scouting Requirements clearly say “under the auspices of BSA” - so only those miles/nights count toward the requirement. Others say “With your patrol…”. So if you mix non-scout stuff in it could make it confusing in the future

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@DonovanMcNeil is right that it can get confusing. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible, though. We log everything, and make heavy use of the notes/journal field to document where/what/with whom the hike was done. So if there’s anything other than a routine hike with the troop, there’s a note like this in the log:

Maya, the account belongs to the scout. If he wants to record all his activities, he can. I like to be able to see what the scouts are doing, both in BSA and outside BSA. So when an entry is made for a BSA event, we add a tag to the title, like these:

Pineridge Natural Area - Pack 98 hike
Poudre River Trail @ Lee Martinez Farm - Dens 05 & 20 hike

So, if the entry does not say it’s a BSA hike, we assume it’s a family/other event.

Also, we have a pack Hiking Club with a patch for 3 BSA hikes, and a pin for every 10 BSA miles. We keep track on the log with zero mile entries:

Earned Pack 98 Hiking Club patch - 3 scout hikes, cumulative 5.01 scout miles / 1/16/2017 / 0 miles
Earned Pack 98 Hiking Club 10 Mile pin, cumulative 4.45 scout miles toward next pin / 6/5/2017
Pack 98 - running total of scout miles toward next pin = 6.84 / 3/17/2019

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While I agree with @DougWright that it’s the scout’s account, one thing to keep in mind is what sort of future development the BSA is planning/likely to do with Scoutbook.

For example, I know that there have been numerous requests to link the number of camping nights into (for example) Camping MB. I don’t know if the BSA will ever do so, or if the idea has already been rejected, due to the lack of transparency in the development process. However, if such a request (or something similar) was implemented, any camping nights that are not “under the auspices” would still appear in the total (because they are already in the logs), but should not do so (because they aren’t under the auspices). This may require some revision of the logs by the unit/scout to make sure that the data is correct.

My general advice is to limit any data entered to data that would “count” for a BSA requirement. At the troop level, this would be service conducted and approved by the Scoutmaster, camping under the auspices of the BSA (which includes both Cub Scout and Scouts BSA for some awards, but only Scouts BSA for others/advancement). Hiking logs can be complicated because (for example), not all hiking requirements explicitly specify that they be conducted “under the auspices”, just that they be approved by the scoutmaster/counselor (e.g. Hiking MB Reqs 4 & 5 don’t specify “under the auspices”).

ETA: Edited second paragraph to clarify.

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Charles, you do make a good point. I expect that revising the logs will happen in the future, but the timing is not known. I will be pleasantly surprised if it happens within three years.

How is doing something that is approved by your Scoutmaster and counts toward advancement not “under the auspices”? It doesn’t say ‘at a BSA event’ or meeting.

Sorry, this is a bunny trail and not on topic.

Yeah, I wish we had PM so that we could take things like this off-channel.

That said, I know that the BSA defined “under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America” to be more restrictive than just “approved by the Scoutmaster” in this Bryan on Scouting article.

That said, I tend to use the term as a catch-all for activities that must be done as part of a BSA-sponsored event (such as the camping for Camping MB) or as part of a troop/patrol event (such as for rank requirements on the Trail to First Class).

Camping data for JTE?

There is also the issue of collecting data for Journey to Excellence which needs both local council BSA resident camp camping and other camping data. For details see camping reporting information and tools at

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I’m a very strong proponent of keeping the Scout in the Scout Handbook (be it in electronic form or otherwise). That is why ScoutBook has become so popular. Boys and girls can manage it!

Auto-advancing a scout based someone else’s perusal of his/her camping log goes against the counselor-youth relationship in the merit badge program. The intent is for the youth to bring his/her log to the counselor, and they go over the list of events and what would apply for a particular badge. Scouts with complicated trajectories (e.g. transfers between units, multiple registrations with crews or ships, arrowmen, staff, etc …) need to be masters of their own histories.

I agree with @Bill_W that there is some merit in using camping attendance to auto-fill JTE scorecards. But, it’s also not a hard thing for the SM and unit commissioner to determine based on other data like treasurer’s report of camp fees paid. That data may be more readily available in a committee chairs minutes then the multiple clicks it would take to enter into and extract from ScoutBook.

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This thread seems like a good argument for unit mgt software in addition to ScoutBook.

It’s something that we all need to keep in our heads. Do whatever efficiency tools we make really help the scout, or do they merely enable adults to generate analyitics that won’t bring one more smile on anyone’s face?

In the old forums, there was suggestion that the developers add the same functions to the camping, hiking and service hours logs that are found in advancement, namely, the ability for the unit leaders to be able to approve qualifying events.

We had a parent show that her Scout had completed the requisite # of camping nights for the camping merit badge when most of the camping nights came from the summer camps he attended. We had to go into the merit badge and remove that “completion” then have a chat with the Scout about what he actually had to do.

Chuck Olson

That request is still in the backlog, but I do not know when it will be addressed.

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The hiking log in Scoutbook cannot be used by a hiking merit badge counselor as evidence of completion of requirement 4, because the hike only counts if the Scout has prepared a written hike plan in advance, and the plan has been approved by the Scout’s Scoutmaster.

Not by itself, but a Scout can track / log the hikes in Scoutbook. They can show the hike plan separately to the Scoutmaster / SM’s designee. They can also upload their plan to Scoutbook by using the “Notepad & Comments” feature under each hike.

I wasn’t, per se, suggesting that the logs be the only evidence, or even that they are evidence. I was just pointing out that there have been requests made. Remember that the folks actually programming the system don’t likely understand the intricacies of what is actually required, which was sort of the point I was trying to make. It’s complicated to use the logs to “automatically” do anything.

Jennifer and Charley,

That was my point. Even if there were a separate field in the log of miles that qualify for hiking merit badge (or a box to check indicating that the hike qualified), and Scoutbook could evaluate that all the required hikes of appropriate lengths have been taken in the proper sequence, I would not like to see the hiking merit badge requirement populated with an indication that the hikes (one or all) have been done.

I think we’re on the same page.

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If you want to manage this electronically, I would suggest not using scoutbook for this purpose, but creating a cloud space where a scout could save photos of his/her hike plans, the trip itself, and after-action review.

The tally of miles and camping nights is a fun statistic to rattle off at the end of a scout’s career, but it really is not central to what any merit badge counselor needs when working with a scout.


In a large Troop, having multiple data files for each Scout creates both privacy issues and data management issues. My Troop ended up creating a Troop adult leader duty of 'Registrar" who manages and coordinates the electronic systems and cleans up non-qualifying data entries by Scouts and parents. Scoutbook was supposed to simplify administration and record keeping at the unit level, which it has to a large extent, but at the same time it has created additional requirements for the adult volunteers.

If each scout owns his space, and only shares pertinent images with appropriate parties (e.g., parents, SM, and advancement chair), then confidentiality is maintained.

Moreover, if the scout leaves the troop, his collection of plans, trip images, and reviews are his own to use later. (That gives real meaning to “Prepared for Life.”)

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