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.
This suggestion always seems to be met with “a scout is trustworthy” and that we should be able to trust that a leader won’t change things they shouldn’t, but a scout/scouter also sometimes makes mistakes.
When updating Scoutbook to match the records in our scout’s handbooks, if no one else is handy to update my son’s, I typically mark things as green-box Complete so that our reports will count him correctly until another leader gets around to approving it. I’m always nervous, though, that I’ll be in the zone and just click the box the way I would for any other scout. So far my double/triple-checking has stopped that from happening, but it would be nice if that weren’t even a possibility.
This would be even more useful when using Quick Entry. If my son is one of many who have completed a requirement as a group activity, it would be really useful to be able to include him in that list and mark it as leader-approved for other scouts, but have that approval be left off his until another leader confirmed it. As things are now, I think the options are to either update his record completely separately, or to mark it complete for the whole group then go back and approve everyone but my own son.
Logistics aside, I would prefer to avoid any possibility of someone even making unfounded claims that I had rigged things in favor of my own child. If it were simply not possible for me to approve my own child’s requirements, that would be a quick way to shut down those rumors.
While I understand Christy’s reasoning, and in a perfect work, her suggestion would be a good one, but it isn’t practical. Our troop has an internal ethics policy about when close relations (parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles) can sign off on requirements in Scoutbook. However, there are circumstances when it is not practical to impose a total prohibition. For example, if the close relation is the Scoutmaster, Unit Advancement Chair or the only counselor for a particular merit badge, they inevitably will have to sign off on some of their youth member’s requirements. In my troop, I have leaders who are tech adverse - they know how to post to SB but they rarely will actually do it. It falls to me to do the postings and approvals in SB. The alternative is to penalize the Scout - which we should never do.
I guess I didn’t realize this was a unit policy area.
I’ve been told that a parent NEVER should sign off on their own child’s advancement and since neither our SM or Adv Chair have kids in the troop right now, that specific issue hasn’t come up. Since you need 2 adults present anyway, allowing the parent to check the complete box, but have a second leader approve it as a witness seemed reasonable - but I hadn’t considered merit badges.
I think it’s a good policy to follow, though, when possible. Before we joined the troop, a parent I barely knew ranted to me about so-and-so who has his eagle ceremony coming up and what a mockery that makes of Eagle because you know good father just pushed him through on everything and it’s impossible to earn that many merit badges in so little time.
All unfounded, as far as I can tell, but it’s hard to totally eradicate those seeds of doubt the parent planted. My son isn’t advancing at a rate anywhere close enough to fit that scenario, but I would hate for any of the kids to have to deal with whispers of “he only got that rank because his mom does the scoutbook updates.” If it were simply impossible for a parent to do that, then you wouldn’t even need access to scoutbook to be sure the rumor is false.
I see how the MBC aspect would be problematic, though, even if this were implemented as a setting a unit could choose or not.
As has been said, it is a good policy to follow in all troops but not a requirement. Our troop policy is that parents cannot sign off for their own kid except in cases where there is a large number of people working with that parent. Just as an example, say a parent offers a Swimming Merit Badge session for the whole troop. It isn’t fair to his own kid if everyone in the troop can get it but their own kid. In our troop we have two merit badge counselors for swimming so we can have the other counselor sign off for them but you get the idea. We follow that policy for all kids in the troop. If the Advancement Chair’s scout, gets a merit badge or rank, I am the one that signs off for it. Except for the Eagle rank itself, Assistant Scoutmasters sign off for the Scoutmaster’s scout.
The one exception beyond that for us is summer camp. I enter the advancement for summer camp for everyone in the troop at the end of summer camp, including my own son. It fits the requirement on doing it for a large group and since I was actually on the trip it makes more sense for me to do it then the advancement chair who wasn’t on the trip. However when I enter it I attach the proof of the badges for every badge so people can see the actual person that signed off for the Merit badges and know it wasn’t me.
Great thoughts and concerns here. Similarly, we have an unwritten policy in our unit that we do not sign off on our own kids’ advancement. I’m glad though this is not hard coded into Scoutbook namely for the reason that if I taught a skill to a group for advancement or acted as the merit badge instructor, I should be the person to sign off on that.
A scout is trustworthy but we must “trust but verify”. So to assuage any possible future questioning with my own kids, I always utilize the comments with details and pictures to document. For instance, when we do board of reviews in our unit, we have a sheet that is filled out by the scout, signed by the scoutmaster during the SM conference and then have the 3 committee signatures for the BoR. Many times I am the only one entering and approving advancement so even for my own kids, I scan and upload a picture of the approval form for verification purposes. Any leader can see who was involved
I would want people to go in and audit my approvals! At the end of the day, just documenting I think is the best way to go about it if another leader doesn’t approve your own kids stuff.
That you have the scout do that is adding requirements. That is explicitly forbidden by the G2A. If the adults want to do some paperwork, no biggie. Making the scout do it - biggie. That is what their book is for.
@Matt.Johnson, I can see your point so I wish to offer some clarification. Asking a scout to put their name on a piece of paper with what rank they are going towards would only be considered a requirement if filling the paperwork out was a condition of their rank, which it is not. The scout is not denied rank due to this paperwork not being filled out which would be a biggie. This is more a a communication tool to the adults to see who is needing SM conferences/BoR for that evening. By your logic, having a scout verbally request a SM conferences/BoR would be forbidden since it not required by the scout to do so and would delay their advancement.
I can agree with you on adding requirements in that one could not say, require a scout to be in good financial standing with the troop before doing a BoR or even be in uniform (188.8.131.52).
Scoutbook follows BSA Policy as much as practical given complexities and resources (ie: development dollars and staff) .
The BSA does not have a policy that says parents cannot sign off on a Scout’s advancement. It is the Unit Leader who is responsible for all advancement and the Guide to Advancement delegates the authority of deciding who can sign off to the Unit Leader.
Education is the key to using Scoutbook. If a unit does not want parents that are leaders approving their Scout’s advancement, they need to make sure they have told all parents to never check the Leader Approved check box.
In my years of using Scoutbook, I have never had an issue where a parent checked the Leader Approved check box after they have been instructed not to.