Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.
Wouldn’t it be a great help to those councils (in fact, to ALL councils) if we could offload much of that work to the volunteers?
Like, for example, if SB worked in a rational fashion that allowed fine grained access controls so that council and district volunteers could be granted permissions to add and remove MBs from a MBC rather than the registrars having to do that. The registrar would still process the leader application but the district volunteers could process the “white sheet” (form 34405 Merit Badge Counselor Information).
Or if national released a proper form fillable PDF of form 34405 that could then be directly imported, via software, into ScoutNET / ScoutBook thereby reducing human time to almost zero.
Or national could provide an online application for merit badge counselors that could feed directly into the database. It would simply require an “approved” button click with near zero human time spent.
Or national could allow volunteers to donate their time to create these and numerous other features in either ScoutNET or ScoutBook, for free. Thereby saving councils and national hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in labor expenses every single year.
There are lots of good options. Unfortunately we have an organization that is heavily “top down” in terms of control and thus is stifling innovation while costing tons of money.
I think not taking advantage of tens of thousands of “free” programmers is a huge a mistake on BSA’s part. They have a vast resource of volunteers who could both reduce their programming budget AND save councils untold hundreds of thousands in annual labor costs. There’s literally no justification for BSA to take this stand while simultaneously increasing registration and other costs exponentially over the last decade (registration went from $10 in 2010 to $100 in 2022). All the while also reducing the services and programs (and the quality) provided.
Our council does put the info in ScoutNET and it is being synced to ScoutBook. Unfortunately that’s not the problem. What we need is a way for volunteers to access this data so they can do their jobs and take work off the plate of the council paid staff.
I have stated awhile back that I wished they gave us some honey with the vinegar. Or a spoonful of sugar. For example, if costs go up that require $5 more per Scout, charge $6. Use that extra dollar to improve the experience. Let the org know that the fees went up since costs went up, but they are getting new features a), b), and c) to improve the experience.
A quick update on this. Our council has decided to go with the “export data” solution.
Since SB refuses to supply a useable interface, I built my own in a few hours. This is a perfect example of why BSA needs to allow volunteers to subit code. SB (supposedly) has this item on their backlog (never to see the light of day) and yet I built a solution in a few hours that is far superior to any functionality currently in SB.
My solution allows filtering by distance (zip code centroid calculations), sorting on every column, multi-column sorting, searching on any column, multi-column searching / narrowing, global searching across all columns, etc. It is a single page web app with 256 bit AES encryption and it requires NO server / database / backend, etc. so it can be hosted anywhere including github pages, google drive, dropbox, or even on doubleknot if you are stuck using that dumpster fire.
If anyone is interested, I’ll post a github link as I plan to open source the solution. Let me know if you want that.
The funniest part, to me, is that I built the tool in far less time than it’s taken my council staff to figure out how to export the data. I’m STILL waiting for them to give me a clean export with all the necessary fields. I had to build a fake dataset of merit badge counselors just to test my code.
But hey, let’s not allow the “idiot” volunteers to mess up our codebase, amiright?
We have said before, Scoutbook does not allow the MBC lists to be exported except by Council Admins because multiple Councils demanded that it not be made available except via the MB Counselor Search function. This is not a case of lack of skills to build a different interface, it is what the councils wanted.
@edavignon and as I’ve repeatedly said before, I’m not asking SB to export anything. I want an interface where council and district folks can search and filter as necessary to do their jobs managing the list of MBCs. That’s precisely what I built.
The fact that SB refuses to acknowledge the need for this is beyond understanding. Like most things in SB, they half-support what is needed rather than providing a complete, workable solution.
How do we get some actual unit, district, and council serving volunteers on the precious SUAC? It seems to me that input from this group is missing or being ignored.
The desires of councils are understood. There are members of the SUAC that serve on Council Advancement Committees and have provided input on MB processes in Scoutbook. All of the BSA is operating under very tight budgets due to the bankruptcy. All development work needs to be prioritized. At this point, changes to the MB process have not risen on the priority list to the point where they are scheduled for development.
It is great that you were able to produce something that works for your council.
We’ve been promised MBC support for years. I don’t believe it is likely to ever happen.
I realize that budgets are tight. Unfortunately BSA refuses to consider a vast army of “free” labor that could greatly accelerate development. The fact that SUAC isn’t pushing hard for using that resource speaks volumes.
We have previously requested to allow volunteers to help and have been told it will not happen. We cannot keep asking for something that has been turned down without risking all of our access to the decision makers. This was a business decision made at the highest levels of the BSA. There is nothing more the SUAC can do on this subject.
It has some filters to it. Can we start with how these filters don’t supply you with the necessary information? If a leader is searching for a MB counselor, what additional information would be needed to find the correct counselor for a Scout? I think that’s an important starting point.
@ZacharyMcCarty recall that I’m looking for something DISTRICT and COUNCIL volunteers can use to help with MBC list MANAGEMENT. I’m not looking for unit-level functionality.
Problem #1 is that unless you are associated with a unit, specifically a troop or crew, you can’t even get to this screen. There are, as far as I can tell, NO district or council position codes that have access to the MB list in SB. No volunteers have access to ScoutNET.
Problem #2 is that I can’t search by person. I want to see what badges “Zachary McCarty” is a counselor for or if he’s even registered as an MBC at all. There’s no way to do this via SB that I can find.
Problem #3 is that I can’t search for multiple badges. For example, I need a counselor for a district or council pow-wow and I want someone who can teach all 3 Citizenships.
Problem #4 is that I can’t filter or search by district, only by proximity. For example, I need someone in MY district for my district’s pow-wow, not from some other district.
Problem #5 is that I can’t search by other criteria (phone, email, BSA ID, city, state, etc.).
Problem #6 I can’t filter on who the counselor is willing to work with (unit, district, all).
Is that a sufficient list to start? Again, the biggest issue is that SB has created a semi-functional unit-facing MBC tool, but no tools to enable the district or council to manage the list of MBCs. It’s like saying “we have a great tool to manage youth advancement but no way to actually import youth members”. Kind of makes the other functionality useless.
If the “advisory council” advises something and it is turned down, doesn’t that suggest that the “advisory council” isn’t actually in a position to advise? It sounds like the SUAC is a perfunctory “feel good” group rather than actually being listened to.
National, like many councils, needs to be reminded that Scouting is a VOLUNTEER RUN organization. The paid professionals work for US, not the other way around. WE pay their salaries and WE are the ones who should be making the decisions.
Unfortunately, like many Scouting values, this too has fallen by the wayside over the past few decades. Scouting would be much stronger today if they simply stuck to their original guiding principles rather than continuously and actively eroding them.
This is an acknowledged problem. The BSA’s statement is Scoutbook is a unit management tool, not a council or district management tool. There are other tools available for district and council use. I do not expect to see any changes here until some time long in the future.
Why would a unit need to do this type of search? I’m willing to add it to the backlog but I need a use model to justify it. In my role as a Scoutmaster, I have never wanted to know all of the MBs an MBC counsels.
Fair enough. I’ll add this to the backlog. Do you want this to be an AND or an OR search? In other words, a counselor that counsels all the MBs in your list or a counselor that counsels one or more?
Two issues here. First, see my answer to question 1. Second, Scoutbook does not store MBCs by district. I am a leader in a Troop in one district and a Crew in another so even that doesn’t tell you which district my MBs are in. I would be more interested in getting good MBCs from any district than MBCs from a single district.
If you already know which MBC you want to connect to a Scout, thus you have the e-mail or BSA Member ID, you do not need to do an MBC search. Go to the Scout’s connection page, click +Add then search for the MBC by BSA Member ID or e-mail address. The other searches are not currently available in Scoutbook. I would need a usage model to justify this change as well as I personally don’t see a need and can’t write the justification.
The search will only show you Counselors who meet the criteria for your unit. If your unit is in district A, the search will not show you counselors who have set their listing preference to district B. The results are similar for units and councils. The only MBCs that can appear in every search are those with a listing preference set to Worldwide (which is what i personally wish every MBC would do).
My belief is that the BSA would prefer MBCs be manage in ScoutNET for the time being. All MBC data entered into ScoutNET is automatically pushed to Scoutbook overnight. This is how my council manages its list of over 2500 MBCs. When ScoutNET is replaced, MBC management will necessarily be moved. At this point, we do not know if it will move to Aklea, Scoutbook or some other tool.
I will say this: my Council uses Doubleknot. Specifically that when an MBC registers with Council and is cleared (criminal background checks, etc.) the registrar runs a report from ScoutNet. That report is then manually entered into Doubleknot, which is the official repository of MBCs in my Council. SMs, District, and Council level folks use that as their go-to source.
Once in Doubleknot of course it can be searched and the entire thing downloaded as an Excel file.
The biggest worry with Scoutbook is that it is too unstable to be trusted and/or that MBCs will be deleted before our Council can get recharter done. Moreover, not every unit uses Scoutbook.
I suspect we will never, ever rely on Scoutbook for MBCs and simply run that parallel system.
Here’s my issue Ed. You keep saying contradictory things or things that, to my knowledge, are simply untrue.
If SB is a unit management tool WHY ARE DISTRICT-ONLY POSITIONS LISTED!??? MB counselors are, by national policy a DISTRICT position. They have LITERALLY NOTHING to do with unit operations. If SB is unit-only, DISTRICT positions (MBCs) should NOT be listed. Additionally, the “My Merit Badge Counseling” section again has NOTHING to do with UNIT operations so WHY is it in a tool “only” for unit operations. SB needs to make up their mind about whether they are ACTUALLY only unit facing or not. This half-in / half-out thing isn’t working.
WHAT OTHER TOOLS!??? No one, not you nor anyone else here, has listed a single tool for district or council VOLUNTEERS to use to manage MBC lists. NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE. There are NO tools for managing MBC lists, especially not for VOLUNTEERS.
There is literally NO WAY for district volunteers to manage MBC in ScoutNET. No volunteers have access to ScoutNET. ScoutNET is NOT a tool for managing MBCs.
Now, let me address your questions …
Because the unit advancement char is SUPPOSED to be verifying that the counselor listed on the blue card is REGISTERED. SB makes this nearly impossible, or a best a GIGANTIC pain. I should also be able to do this WELL outside my own council in order to verify the MBC status of a counselor from a distant summer camp for example.
It would be nice if I could pick on the fly. If not, I’d expect it to be AND, someone who is listed for all the badges selected.
I appreciate that this is how YOU would like things to work, but maybe other people have different views? Maybe other people, especially those along district borders or those in geographically small districts would prefer to work with those in their own district. SB should include district filtering.
Again this is (at least) a problem for unit advancement chairs who need to search by various criteria depending on what information they have. You may not know this but some MBC’s do not have the best penmanship. Sometimes all you can make out is a phone or email and that’s all you have to search by.
This is a mistake on SBs part. It can’t know whether the Scout for whom I’m searching for a counselor lives in the target district or not. I have (had) Scouts in my unit from multiple districts.
Pushing data from ScoutNET to SB is not “managing” MBCs in any rational definition of that word. It’s simply transferring (when it works) data from one system to another.
RE JamesBrown Problem#2 I can see a use for the list of MBs counselled by a MBC for the Unit Advancement Coordinator. In fact I use that sort of information on helping to get a local MBC for all the Eagle MBs for my two troops (1 boy & 1 girl) in a small town in a rural district. IF we do not have at least one MBC for all the Eagles (except those that would be best at a summer camp like swimming) I ask around of the incoming parents to see who might have the requisite skills/knowledge and do some recruiting.
Note: small rural district (about 100,000 people in about 3100 sq mi) with 7 troops, 7 packs & 1 crew in 3 counties (~ 71 mi & 90 min between the two furthermost units.
RE #4 If I remember correctly what I have learned from various posts in the SB forums SB uses Zip codes for distances, locations etc. My county has 12 Zip codes some of which are at least 30 miles from one side to the other, and some of those 12 zip codes appear to be shared between two counties.
I’ve also had the entire “reply” section disappear, multiple times, while I was writing a reply. It just disappears suddenly from the bottom of the window, and then (usually) returns later, also at random.
Am I doing something to cause this or is it just busted?