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Entering Advancement

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.

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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.


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.



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.


I agree it’s a positive tool, I was at a scouts house today, ( she is one of two scouts passing out the badges for our next court of honor) I pulled up scoutbook on my iPad pulled out the needs awarding report just happened to pull the boys up first I left the room while she copied the list down came back asked if she had any qustions was really impressed that not having done this before she was able to get to the girls troop screen and get those names down. Anyway right before I left we were talking about her advancement ( she is still working on her phy fittness) pulled up her screen her eyes lite up showing all close she is to tenderfoot and willing lite up when she saw the 34 percent done for eagle.

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I also want to call out - if a scout has been in a troop for nearly 2 years and has been very active, and is still a Tenderfoot, I see it as a failure of the scout leadership to check in regularly and counsel them.

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