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Seeking advice on Scoutbook access

Hi, all,

We have new leadership in our troop, and a committee member has asked that I (as unit Scoutbook admin) grant all registered adult leaders view access to all Scouts’ advancement information regardless of their role and to grant Assistant Scout Masters edit access to the same. Our current Scoutmaster, who announced a few months ago that he would be retiring from this position in January 2020, had limited who could approve advancements, so this new direction is quite the “about face.”

When I accepted the role of unit admin, I did so to set up Scoutbook for our troop as it was new to us then. That was January 2019. It was always my intention to turn over administration to a Scout who would serve in the “Webmaster” youth leadership position. The troop has not yet elected or appointed one, but I believe that is still the intent. (It’s only been since September that we have adopted a historian, librarian, quartermaster and other youth roles; webmaster is to be designated, too, at some point. The troop had me buy a shoulder patch for webmaster along with the other ones.)

Those of you who have been using Scoutbook successfully in your troops, I would like to hear from you how you have access and administration structured. It is my understanding that parents should only have access to their own child(ren)'s profiles and advancement info, unless they are registered adult leaders in the troop and have a role that would be relevant.

For example, we have an ASM of programming now, who requests real-time updated advancement info prior to PLC meetings to help with planning. Ideally, the patrol leaders should be gathering this information themselves, but since Scoutbook still doesn’t let youth members view the advancement info of other youth members, I offered to send the patrol leaders updated advancement info whenever they request it. I also pointed out that they don’t need Scoutbook to get this information. When I was a Scout years ago, we didn’t have Scoutbook and we never had any trouble getting this information. We’d actually ask the other Scouts at our meetings, or (gasp!) pick up a phone and call them.

Anyway, I don’t see any legit reason why any adult should be able to edit the advancement information of a Scout who is not that adult’s child. Is there a good reason to allow this?
It defeats Scoutbook’s built-in privacy protections and seems to unnecessarily present an opportunity (and therefore temptation) for adults to administer Scouts’ advancement instead of requiring the Scouts to take ownership of their own advancement.

I welcome your thoughts and invite you to share your experiences on this topic. Thank you for your perspectives.

OK, so a committee member has requested:

  • View Advancement permissions for all registered adults leaders in the unit and
  • Edit Advancement permissions for all Assistant Scoutmasters

The BSA Guide to Advancement says: The Scout Is Tested
The unit leader authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include the patrol leader, the senior patrol leader, the unit leader, an assistant unit leader, or another Scout. Merit badge counselors teach and test Scouts on requirements for merit badges.

It is up to the Scoutmaster (unit leader) to decide who may approve individual rank requirements. Giving Assistant Scoutmasters Edit Advancement permissions would allow them to Approve items in Scoutbook. Other adult leaders with only View Advancement permission would not be able to mark items as Approved.

View Profile is the minimum connection level needed within Scoutbook in order for adults to be able to use Scoutbook’s Send Message feature to connected Scouts / parents.

My suggestion / recommendation would be for you to have a discussion with the Scoutmaster and Troop Committee Chair about what kind of permissions adult leaders should have based on their positions / roles.

Many troops have adult leaders (usually Assistant Scoutmasters) update Scoutbook based on what has been signed off in the Handbooks (by whoever in that unit is authorized to do so by the Scoutmaster). It all depends on how your troop wants to use Scoutbook.

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You will need at least a few leaders who are able to edit advancement. While scouts (preferably) or parents should be entering their advancement, it cannot be marked approved by parents. That is up to the Scoutmaster and whoever that person appoints, generally one or more of the Assistant Scoutmasters. There should also be a committee member set as Advancement Chair who is responsible for tracking and purchasing awards, then marking them awarded once that has been done. While the Advancement Chair needs to have edit advancement permission, if the Scoutmaster doesn’t want that person approving advancement, that should easily be addressed by a quick conversation.

In our troop, youth leaders who meet certain requirements are permitted to sign off advancement in handbooks, which effectively marks that item as approved, but it takes an adult leader with access to then mark it approved in Scoutbook. Because of that, we have a few ASMs who have edit advancement permission, so that it doesn’t all fall on one or two overworked adults. However, we also have several ASMs who don’t have that permission, not because we don’t trust them in the grand scheme of things, but because there is a learning curve to any system and the more people who can change things, the easier it is for something to get messed up. In practice, at the moment the only ASMs who do have access have it because they are also unit admins, but so far that has been sufficient.

I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t all have read advancement and read profile if they want it (most have never asked). They already have access to the troop roster that we keep separately on our Google drive, so I don’t see any privacy issues.

The only other consideration I’ve heard from others (fortunately not a problem I’ve personally seen so far) is that if a parent is also a leader and can mark things approved rather than just completed, there is the risk that a few rare parents might decide to mark things approved that were not actually done. However, that is based purely on their position - if a parent is an ASM, they will have edit advancement permission for their own child, whether you give it to all ASMs or not.

Granting new permissions is a decision that should be made by the committee as a whole, not at the request of one member, and it is ultimately up the Scoutmaster to decide who can approve advancement.

But as for me, if we trust them enough to let them be registered leaders, we should trust them enough to at the very least have read permission.

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I also startedthe scout books for both troops and pack, I think I said this before although I still do most of the marking off ( due to more flexibility of being self employed) we learned a lesson last year when I had a heath scare that if I would have to take several weeks off every thing advancement wise would come to a stand still. So I brought the other leaders and assistants up to speed on running scout book ( I am a asst leader) and true-fully I am not always at every activity ( in fields this weekend harvest while the kids went camping. Now I did get the run down of what the kids did ( 5 mile hike , who did the cooking and menus etc) to me if one of the committe or other leaders want to mark stuff off as see it happen ( as long as everyone same padge ) it makes it so much more simple for the leadership and the scouts

Hi, all,

Thank you for your helpful comments.

To clarify, I was referring to parents and other adult leaders who do not already explicitly have sign-off authority. In our troop, two youth leaders (SPL and ASPL) and two adult leaders (SM and the advancement chair, who is also an ASM) have sign-off authority. So far, the advancement chair (that’s me) records all “approved” requirements in Scoutbook, but we intend to transition the Scoutbook administration to a Scout with the Webmaster position of responsibility, once the troop elects/appoints one.

We also make it a rule that leaders who have sign-off authority do not sign their own child(ren)'s advancements.

What is the goal you are trying to accomplish by giving parents (who are not registered adults in the troop) View Profile / View Advancement permissions? Also, what about the troop Scribe?

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Giving a Scout the “webmaster” position does not give him any special access within Scoutbook. With that said, I would be very reluctant to give any youth the amount of control over Scoutbook that they would have with “edit advancement” permissions (which includes “edit profile” permissions, by the way).

We have a troop webmaster account created for PLC usage, but it only has “view profile” and “view advancement” permissions, so PLC members can email everyone via Scoutbook, and check to see what each Scout needs in order to advance.

Edit Advancement does not force Edit Profile permissions. An adult can be given Edit Advancement and View Profile to one or more Scouts.

Thanks for clarifying

Hi, all,

We don’t have a Scribe yet, either, but there is intent to designate one. I bought a patch for this role, too. The scribe would stay abreast of any Scouts’ advancement requirements that have been approved by unit leadership and communicate that info to the troop’s Scoutbook admin, who would then update Scoutbook.

@SteveCagigas, are you saying you have an adult account with a name like “Webmaster?” I thought all Scoutbook user accounts have to belong to an actual person.

Interesting. It used to, or at least it always set it automatically before and I never tried to modify it. I hadn’t realized this was changed.

We have an adult account names “T104 Webmaster”. It’s not connected to anyone in, and is configured with “View Profile” and “View Advancement” and has the position “Committee Secretary”. The PLC members have access to the Scoutbook login credentials for this account (but not the loging credentials for the Gmail account linked to it; only I have access to the GMail account, and I have it configured to forward any email hitting that account to the Key 3).

The troop scribe/webmaster uses it to update the troop calendar and communicate with the troop parents. The SPL and patrol leaders use it to see what individual scouts need to do for advancement, so they can plan appropriate unit activities.

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