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How does your troop do hours, miles, and nights camping?

How does your troop track hours, miles hiked, and days/nights camping?

For unit activities, we have been entering a single entry say for a campout. There is a current suggestion that we move to a Scout responsibility model where each enters their own. This is akin to tracking in one’s own handbook.

Foe service hours, we are supposed to enter hours for JTE.

I like that we tracked nights and hours and miles as a group since one entry is so simple. But, I can see their point.

What do others do? Thoughts?

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Watching for ideas.

This is a good post for a conversation.

As UAC, I record all troop activities for our units based on attendance reporting from adult and scout leaders. Scouts are responsible for individual reporting to myself and their SM for approval of any individual activities.

a) Sanity of whomever manages your unit records: consistency of entries and fewer group entries are easier to manage and report out for quarterly awards.
b) IA does not allow you to delete scout reported activities once they are approved - yet. Although that leader could reject all individual scout entries and re-enter them as unit activities
c) most of our parents and scouts don’t yet have direct access to Scoutbook (transitioned from TroopMaster in ‘19)
d) provides an opportunity for cross check between scout handbook records and unit records near BoR

We are looking to increase SB access in our units and use the MB reporting/approval process therein first. Aside from summer camps, MBs are a more individual scout based process.

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We encourage scouts to track their own. Scoutbook is just a backup. That said, our UAC does a pretty good job of keeping participation up to date.

We encourage the Scouts to maintain the logs in their handbooks for camping, hiking, and service.

I maintain the logs in IA2, though. It’s a trivial effort on my part, and our past experience says that expecting our Scouts to track that stuff is a lost cause…


We also encourage Scouts to keep their own records. About half do record activity in their Handbooks. Troop records are maintained and input to Scoutbook by an adult leader present during a given event. We post hard copies of attendance logs and activity reports at month’s end in the troop meeting room.

Before encouraging Scouts and adults to input their individual data, then deal with the chaos, I would consider harvesting their Google location data with commercially available logistics software. A bit Orwellian, but the data and means to collect it are already out there.

I think that’s probably over-stepping the bounds of propriety. Also, simply being in a particular area doesn’t necessarily confirm that the individual was actually participating in the activity.


The second paragraph of my initial post is intended as sardonic humor in the vein of be careful what you wish for.

Scouting has gone from discouraging smartphone use to incorporating the devices in rank (1st Class - 4b) and merit badge (Backpacking - 6b; Camping - 3c) requirements.

That’s all well and good, but once in hand the phones tend to become significant distractions until the batteries are depleted. I can assure you the guys are not using the Scoutbook mobile app to record miles hiked during the weekend.


Our scouts are also told to track their own in their handbooks. In addition to part d) above, it help the ASM for approving some requirements.

Not uncommon for scouts to have forgotten an event, or to have not reported a small group/individual activity.

In both our troops (1 G, 1 B) the Scouts are expected to log there activity in the individual Scout Handbook and then get one of the Troop Adults, ASM’s, SM who was at the activity to sign for that activity at the next troop meeting (Troop meetings are usually weekly). In the B troop we do NOT / did NOT record in IA or SB. The SM in the G troop sometimes records activity electronically, but the Scouts Handbook is the official record.

If it is a troop event, I create an activity in IA2 and enter all of the pertinent information (who attended, miles, location, nights camping, service hours, etc).

For individual events, some scouts enter the activity into IA on their own and others ask me to do it for them because they don’t have Scoutbook accounts of their own and their parents won’t enter the information.

I do remind them frequently to record their activities in their handbook as well although I’m pretty sure they forget to do so. Our troop has been trying to drill it into the boys’ heads that Scoutbook and the Handbook are backups for each other so that if the record in one place is lost, we have it in the other.

Since the outdoor activities required for ranks are supposed to be troop/patrol events anyways, I don’t feel put out by making the entries so that it’s at least recorded somewhere.

For each of our events, there is a designated youth trip planner, who works with an adult mentor to put together the details of the trip using the Outing Planner Worksheet. Part of the after action is to work with an adult with proper SB access to do a bulk entry of nights, frost points, miles, service hours.

We use the Outing Planner Worksheet from the Troop Leader Guidebook, Vol 1. It’s listed as page 157 at the following link to the appendix.

However, there are no after-action pieces to this particular sheet. We use a home-grown checklist for that. I don’t really care for the BSA’s Plan on a Page worksheet…

Planners usually do much better with a checklist-type format…so you could make your own.

Key for us is that a youth is going through a checklist and making sure the tasks get done.

Hope that helps,

Scouter Rob


The the two troops I work on, the process is this:

  1. If it a unit outing (hike, service project, campout), the unit leader creates the activity and adds the members, tracking the hours, miles, and nights respectively.
  2. If it is not a unit event but otherwise a BSA event, then the individual scout is responsible for tracking it and having it approved. Examples may be camping with a different BSA unit, attending NYLT, etc.
  3. If it is not an official BSA event (e.g. you are hiking with your family), then it will not be entered or tracked.

Seems to work out really well and our books remain in order.

I have trouble getting it to take dates & how many days they camp

You should be tracking NIGHTS of camping, not days (none of the requirements for any rank or award mention “days” of camping).

SB no longer allows individuals to track their own. It’s done in IA2…and such access is very restricted (probably too much).

All that said, we have the scouts track in their Handbook as well as keeping electronic records.

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I do only do nights, with days matching nights. Simone explained awhile back there is some oddball MB or award that says days camping. I ignore that and a Friday, Saturday, leave Sunday campout is 2 nights and 2 days.

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I suspect there’s Scouts in the Midnight Sun council who enjoy some 80 straight days of uninterrupted sunlight so, there’s that…

Joke. Laugh.

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Actually, that’s not strictly true. Youth and parents can enter activity logs for themselves/their child via the Scouting mobile app (or, I think, IA assuming they have a my.scouting login). I don’t find the app particularly intuitive myself, so I don’t use it to enter info for my son. I know we have at least one scout who uses it, though, because I see his volunteer hours pop up every other week like clockwork.

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For the Cub Scout side of the house I had initially begun just by tracking my sons progress. After the first year or so I realized I was the ONLY one tracking any of that activity, so I went back in and updated those I could recall attending.
Since that point, following an activity I am trying to log all activity within Scoutbook (it’s not the cleanest process because I think it throws me to IA). This helps us on the administrative side better understand our Journey to Excellence and can help the Scouts have a true understanding of what they have done if they are looking for that data.
On hikes, I bring a Garmin GPS along and will try to track the true distance and elevation changes, etc. (Based out of Illinois so elevation changes are typically MINIMAL)

The Backpacking merit badge uses days - not nights.