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Entering Advancement

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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As the AC for both a boys’ troop and now for a girls’ troop, I’m struggling to understand the issue here. Nothing is approved until either the SM, ASM or AC says it is (via the approval button), so what’s the problem?
Here is how we handle it: I ask the scouts to enter their completions as they are signed off. Then, ideally at each meeting or campout, scouts come to me with their books. I quickly compare their paper pages with what they’ve checked off in the SW. This saves me the trouble of entering everything, but it’s not approved until someone does this.
Some kids never enter in their items, so we don’t enter anything until the night of the Board of Review, when their full rank is advanced. Then individual req’ts don’t get marked off; they do from 0-100% all at once.
Here’s a true story I tell my scouts: the handbook is still the official BSA documentation of rank advancement, so keeping it safe is a prime directive. One day, a Star Scout was fooling around, tossing his book like a football (it was in one of the nylon covers). Surprise, surprise, into the sewer drain it went. Non-recoverable. But, because this was one of my STAR scouts (emphasis mine), he had regularly been updating his completion of requirements in Scoutbook. So there was no question of what was complete v. remaining, and there was no drama.
YMMV.

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In my unit, advancements through First Class are signed off in a Scouts handbook by the reviewing (Star or above) Scout. We use the handbook because SB does not enable Scouts to approve individual requirement completions without also having much broader access that they shouldn’t have. As a SM, I have no interest in approving each requirement as they are completed - way too much work. The Scouts can check their handbook to see where they stand. We approve the full rank advancement in SB at the completion of the BOR. For the upper ranks, the MB and leadership requirements are tracked in SB and the rest reviewed by me during the SM conference and similarly approved in SB at the conclusion of the BOR. It is a system that works well for us.

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The electronic Scoutbook is exactly that, an electronic version of The paper Scoutbook. As a Scoutmaster, I work with the Scouts and I have my older Scouts work with them also. I do not care who signs off the item as completed, but prefer the older Scout who worked with the advancing Scout to sign so I have a record of which Scout said they were sufficiently skilled at the task to be ready to have a Scoutmaster Conference. I approve the items as I do the Scoutmaster Conference. I ask the committee to mark their BoR as completed. The advancement chair then approves the BOR and the awarding of the Rank.

The issue with the Electronic Scoutbook is once it has been fully approved it cannot be taken back. The advancement form being completed and submitted is no longer needed. So you really need to be clear on who can approve items as completed more than who notes they are completed. I agree with the comments that marking the requirements as completed is the job of the Scouts and the job of the Scoutmaster is to mark them as approved.

Approvals can be cleared in Scoutbook. This is one of the things registrars liked because units could fix their own mistakes instead of having to contact the registrar.

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I am “just” a Cubmaster, so my experience as a leader with Scoutbook from a leader standpoint is totally different, but…

My older son is a First Class Scout, and I wanted to share how we use Scoutbook from his perspective as a kid and my perspective as a parent.

My son struggled when he crossed over. He went from 100% all in as a Webelos/AOL, to lost and confused and losing interest just a few months after joining his troop. I watched from a distance to see if it was maturity or anxiety… just to see how he would adjust to the new environment.

After a while, when he’d been “stuck” at Tenderfoot for about a year, he came to me and asked to quit Scouts. Of course, I told him I accepted his decision, but I wanted him to explain to me what led him to that choice. We made a list of the things he still enjoyed about Scouting, and another list of the things that were bugging him. There were a ton of things he enjoyed, but the number one thing that was bothering him was that he didn’t feel like he was making any progress. He wanted to advance ranks, but felt like he was going nowhere. (We also talked about if advancing was the only reason to be in Scouts, and he agreed it wasn’t, but that was his goal, and he felt like he couldn’t get anywhere).

I asked why Webelos/AOL was different, and the answer was that his den leader kept a huge poster chart that showed their achievements and what they had left to accomplish.

For him, it was all about visualization.

That night, I showed him his little brothers’ Scoutbook account (his troop used it, but not regularly). His brothers were both AOL (twins) and I am their den leader, so he could see what they had checked off on each Adventure and each Elective, as well as the entire rank.

The ability to see the progress really spoke to him, so we logged into his Scoutbook and inputted all the requirements signed off in his book by leaders for 2nd and 1st class. Just looking at it in the book made him feel overwhelmed that there was so much to do, but the colorful little wheel in Scoutbook showed him he was 60% done with 2nd Class and 35% done with 1st Class. Just visualizing it like that made all the difference, and he suddenly loved Scouting again.

I hoped I wasn’t stepping on any SM or AC toes, but I know that this little thing got my son really excited and really motivated again. Since this tiny change, he’s more involved, more social with other scouts, and excited to be a part of things again.

After every troop meeting/activity, we’d sit down and enter his achievements in so he could see the percentage go up and up and up. He finished 2nd Class in just a few more weeks - and 1st Class about two months later. Now he is working on Star and is just as excited about seeing the percentage wheel go up each time he completes requirements for his merit badges.

I imagine this is one of the reasons why the programmers made it so Scouts and parents can enter achievements and “approval” is required by a leader.
Some kids get motivated differently, and I’d bet there are tons of kids (especially in this digital/video game age) that are motivated and feel a greater sense of accomplishment by the visual representation of their progress that Scoutbook gives them.

A few weeks ago, one of my younger sons (who cross over this week) joked that their older brother is just addicted to the percentage wheel, not to the achievements, the skills learned, or the knowledge gained. He quickly corrected them, saying that is wasn’t the wheel itself, but knowing and having real concrete proof that he was making progress towards his goals.

Sorry for the long ramble - I just wanted to share another benefit of allowing Scouts/parents to enter their achievements into Scoutbook.

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Michael,

Thank you! We have heard that Scouts can become motivated by Scoutbook but this is the first description of a real situation I have seen.

May I use your case (without any names) in my upcoming University of Scouting class?

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Absolutely. If my son’s experience can help even one other scout connect with the program and their goals, then it is totally worth it.

If you need more details or examples, I’d be happy to help.

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