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Entering Advancement

Could someone please help me? Possibly point our if this has been discussed before. What do you do if the Advancement Chair doesn’t want the scout, or parents to mark on Scoutbook that the scouts have completed a requirement?

I understand that the leader has to approve the entry, but I feel there is no better way to kill motivation than to not update the completed requirements until AFTER the rank or badge has been awarded.


This is Scouts, not cubs. So, parents should not be marking things complete. In our troop, we really ignore what Scouts mark on individual requirements. We mark leader complete for items that were done as a larger group such as a hike. Then, we mark the rank complete after the BoR. So, for us, any interim marks are irrelevant.

What does the Scoutmaster think? They are the ones where these types of advancement decisions are made.

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I would ask if it is ok for the scout to mark their handbook with completed items. In theory it is the same concept but that being said if the unit chooses to ignore either one or the other or both…then so be it. Just thinking out loud.


I’ve seen this handled various different ways in different units. Before I get into different schemes I’ve seen, I wanted to clarify something from your post:

It seems like you can’t purchase the rank badge (or other restricted items) without Leader Approving it first, since I believe that the item doesn’t appear in the database for purchasing (i.e. Needs Purchasing report → Purchase Order) until it’s Leader Approved, not just Completed.

Back on the topic of how different units handle this, I’ve seen several versions discussed.

Some units create a policy indicating that the only people who should be marking things “Completed” are the same people who are authorized to mark them “Leader Approved”. They will ignore or “unmark” items that don’t comply.

Some have policies that require that, if a scout, a parent, or a scout via a parent account marks an item complete, they need to provide some sort of “traceable” verification in the comments. For example a photo of the relevant signature page, or notes identifying who signed off the requirement and when so that the adult leader marking it “Leader Approved” can back-check the information before approving it in Scoutbook. Similar to the first case, they will ignore or “unmark” items that don’t comply.

I’ve also seen a “hybrid” approach where ranks, awards, and their requirements are Leader Approved by a selected group of ASMs, merit badges are entered and approved by the Advancement Chair upon receipt of the signed blue cards, and nothing is marked Awarded except by the Advancement Chair. The ASMs are responsible for keeping up with their assigned scouts’ advancement data (e.g. checking in periodically for new signatures in handbooks, watching for notice of completed BoRs, etc).

Others, as @Matt.Johnson notes, ignore any interim data altogether. Those groups fall into a couple of general camps, as far as I’ve noticed. Some will only Leader Approve the final rank/badge/award, and never mark the intermediate steps Leader Approved. Others Leader Approve all related requirements, along with the final rank/badge/award approval.

@Matt.Johnson raises an important question. This seems like a unit leadership (whether SM corps or committee) policy decision, since whatever is decided has implications for how the unit operates. It probably shouldn’t just come from a single individual without review by the relevant leadership cadre.

The only exception I would take to @Stephen_Hornak’s remarks is that there is no way to accidentally sign-off a large number of requirements that have a checkmark in the left column of the handbook. It’s very easy, given the Approve All button, to make this mistake in Scoutbook. It’s also very difficult to remedy such a mistake (albeit less difficult than un-signing something on paper…).


@CharleyHamilton - yes point taken and understood. It really is a discussion that has to happen at the unit level. Is it cool to see progress in scoutbook especially for a scout connected to their record, a bit visually challenging in the book. But as I stated every unit needs to work this out and not run afoul of the GTA.


So this should be a discussion between the Scoutmaster and Advancement Chair and sounds like someone is overreacting a bit. Bear with me as I explain. So there are two camps of SB users to start: the lovers and the haters, either you embrace it or avoid it. I jumped in feet first with my pack 5 years ago when it was released. Cub Scout parents are taught from day one to use Scoutbook to record the requirements their kids complete. Den leaders take parents at their word just as if it is signed off in the Handbook and generally will “approve” with minimal need to follow up. That need (of oversight) increases as Scouts get older and require more den activities to complete adventures.

Once those Scouts are in ScoutsBSA it becomes the scout’s responsibility to keep track of advancement. I have a Scout who moved from out of state whose troop did not use Scoutbook to track advancement. His former pack where his brother was a member and Mom was advancement chair did. Her first question of my troop was “do you use Scoutbook?” Point is some of those parents still WANT to enter those requirements so they know how their child is advancing.

Now, in my troop, I have no problem if a parent or Scout goes into SB an marks something “completed”. I say that is just the same as the check mark in the left column of the Handbook meaning they are ready to show/tell/do to get it signed off in the right column. The advancement chair should have absolutely NO SAY in how “completed” requirements are entered into SB (in my opinion). As long as the SM (or authorized ASMs) are verifying the completions & marking “Approved” the AC should be glad the process is working as it’s designed. It should be looked at as a positive because it helps ensure transparency and accountability.

To your point, with which I agree, it completely defeats the purpose of individual requirement tracking as a motivational tool if parents or scouts are told “don’t do that”. Personally, I love using the % rank completed next to every Scout’s name.

Currently I am the only person approving any completed requirements in my troop because we are small. I keep a printed copy of the Individual Advancement Report for each of my scouts and fill it in when something gets signed off to take back and put into SB.



Perhaps I misspoke when I suggest that the parents sign off on the requirements. I understand that in scouting parents are not supposed to sign off on a requirement.

The steps of advancement in scouting requires that the scout learns the task gets tested on the task gets recorded for the task and then gets rewarded for the past.

All too often the scout does the first three and then sits and sits and sits waiting for the reward to occur. I’m not saying that the badge or rank should be awarded immediately as in Cub Scouts what I’m saying is like you suggest the percentage of rank completed is a huge motivational factor. I’m wondering if it makes sense for the parents to be allowed to give their child access so that the child may record in scoutbook those things that he’s already learned been tested and been signed off on in his handbook.

The motivational factor that simple percent complete marker is huge and I am wondering why more people in more units do not take advantage of that.

I know that many units have many scouts to follow and to track and I am thinking that too often people wear too many hats and feel too overwhelmed to allow other people to assist in these tasks.

I’m only suggesting that the scouts or their parents who have access because they have full control be allowed to mark that that requirement has been learned and tested by a first-class or above scout depending upon the troops requirements that they be allowed to mark those completed requirements and tested requirements in scout book.

Why is this not allowed…

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Short answer: it is allowed by Scoutbook.

Long answer: many troops treat the scout handbook as the official record and do not update scoutbook unless the entire rank or MB is complete. So, it would then be up to the individual scout (Or parent, especially in the case of a scout who is not old/mature enough for that) to track the individual requirements.


Short answer: Tell your advancement chair that decision is not theirs to make.

Long answer: You need to understand why the Advancement Chair objects to this, since it has absolutely no bearing on the Advancement Chair’s job.


Knowing everyone is different, this SM would be delighted if his scouts marked things as complete in SB. I would push the SPL to have the PLC review those on a regular basis to follow up on anything to ensure it was really completed.

My view of proper program functioning is that most of the requirements from First Class and below should be taught and examined by scouts when possible.This is part of what “scout led” means to me.We started with my den crossing over. But even in the second year I had those original scouts leading the way for the next year’s cross overs.

I think it is great when a scout is looking at what is needed and watching for what they have completed.


That may depend on exactly what the AC’s scope of responsibility is for the particular unit, though. What I mean is, in our unit the AC uses the Scoutbook data to determine what does and doesn’t need purchasing, and to generate the PO/advancement report for purchasing. The responsibility for validating data (besides merit badges) is largely the scope of the delegated ASMs. However, if the unit’s AC is delegated the responsibility for validating the data, whether I agree that it should be so delegated, I can see how having various people entering data in Scoutbook would be a concern for him or her. It could, potentially, mean substantial increases in the amount of work to be done validating the entries before approval.

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Eugene, thanks for the clarification, perhaps I misunderstood with the reference to the Advancement Chair. I agree with you 100% that Scouts be granted access to SB as soon as they have an email address and have a way to access it. I would also encourage them to mark requirements “completed” when the are ready for the next step. As you stated, a requirement is not “signed off” i.e. Scoutbook “Approved” until the scout has been tested by the appropriate individual. The worst that could come of that is a parent asking why their scout has not advanced and it would probably be “he hasn’t come to me to get those things signed off” and a simple explanation of the process.

Besides the immediate recognition (announcement) following a BOR I have made it a habit to purchase the rank awards ASAP so the patch can be presented and sewn on the uniform. I recently handed out three at a weekend campout. We save the card and parent’s pin (and Merit Badges) to hand out at a Court of Honor.

In my troop I only have ONE scout who is over First Class who can review requirements as you suggested. We do utilize him as much as possible to keep the program youth-led as much as we can. We do have an advancement chart in our meeting room also that needs to be better kept up to date so the boys have another way to see their progress. As I gain more First Class Scouts I will delegate that responsibility to them.

I have heard of units restricting access like you mentioned, too. On the whole I agree that it should not be done. However, it would be nice to build in more layers to that administration of accounts built in. Parents with full access can sometimes do more harm than good. (Off topic, but…) Last fall one of the new cub scout parents apparently went in and deleted a bunch of connections (mine included). So I had to request from him to be reconnected as I was Committee Chair and was responsible for the whole unit. Just last month he asked why his son was not getting the awards he has earned. Turned out he had also removed the advancement chair so the scout did not show up on her reports for “to be awarded”.

Sigh - perhaps you should let the parents know who should remain connected to their youth. This parent probably every few months.

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We ended up “curing” a problem like this by making our advancement chair a unit admin in Scoutbook. It’s worked well so far, since our AC is even more…detail-oriented…than I am, and doesn’t click on anything she doesn’t fully understand. Our incoming AC is similarly inclined, so that’s a plus. However, if we got the wrong person in the job (“I’ll just click-it-and-see-what-happens…”), having the AC be a unit admin could create havoc. Really, this is true for anyone who’s a unit admin.


I’ve seen it two ways:
In my daughter’s troop nearly every girl has a mobile phone/email and they are tasked not only in ensuring that their paper Scout Book is marked off, but also in marking things off online in ScoutBook. After a group event, the scout leader has the option of marking advancements as “complete” in bulk as not every girl remembers to bring her booklet. In the end, it’s the paper book that is considered the source of truth and what the advancement chair (or ASM) will refer to in marking something as approved.

My son’s troop is different, as most of the younger boys not only don’t have a phone but also don’t have email, so most of the trail to first class is marked off by the scout leadership. My observation is that pattern starts to change when they hit 8th grade and generally once they are in high school. Why? Because that is when the boys start getting their own phones/email accounts. :slight_smile:

Both patterns work, it’s really more about meeting the scouts where they are and having a consistent policy.

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I understand your concerns, but it is the advancement’s responsibility. Its your scouts responsibility to make sure it happens. As parents - we are always watching - but here, this is the scouts journey. And it is SUPER important that they take responsibility to bringing the completion to the advancement coordinator and that it gets inputted. Part of this journey to Eagle - is the growth that they make individually. :slight_smile: Have faith in your young person. They will do it…

It really is up the the Scoutmaster, not advancement coordinator.

I would focus on the boys book as his guide and motivation towards advancement.
Our unit leans this way with the scouts book as their “official” record. They take it camping, they have it at the meeting, etc. Any database is only as good as the entries so it is reasonable to limit access. We generally do this through the advancement chair and we encourage the scouts to meet with the advancement chair so he can update the computer records.

Scoutbook marks them as “completed” when the scout or parent marks them off on the app. All the entries will be in blue until a leader confirms that they are completed. Sometimes a scout may get a little ahead of themselves and mark things as completed when they are not and the thing at the top you are supposed to check off showing 100% done and leader approved and awarded wont let you put in a later date unless you go back and delete the dates on the incorrectly entered parts. Only then can you delete the bad “completed” date and put the correct date in. I imagine this is what your advancement chair has ran into and the solution of deleting a date for one part so the completed date can be deleted and entered correctly was not intuitively obvious.

First I would be very thankful to the advancement chair, it is a lot of work tracking troop advancements and getting the awards. It is very nice of them to volunteer to do the job. I would then offer to help and ask them for some details on what they do and how scouts updating scoutbook impacts their job. Once you understand the issue in detail you can work with them to help lessen the burden and potentially get a better tracking system in place so the scouts can update prior to leadership sign off.

My understanding is scoutbook is designed so scouts can update their progress. Nothing is considered done until it is signed off by a scout master. As someone else mentioned there are purchasing reports that can be run which are based off of completed (signed off by scoutmaster). If the reports are not working properly i.e. the scoutmaster sign off is not required or merit badge counselor is not defined you could offer to contact scoutbook support team for a fix.

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