Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category


Hooray! Scoutbook is now free for all troops and packs to use. The Scoutmaster of Troop 68 brought laptops to our last troop meeting to introduce this program to the Boy Scouts. I think things went well. The boys seemed to be having fun checking it out during the meeting. Time will time if they actually use the program.

As the advancement coordinator of our troop though, I am not finding the love. Maybe I misunderstood how this program was to be used. I thought I would be able to go online with Scoutbook and update the Scouts advancement or see what they have accomplished and update my records. So far I have not been able to do any of that.

It seems that only the troop’s “key three” have access to the Scout’s information. I understand the need to keep things private but it is not helping me in my position. As far as the “key three” accessibility, I understand the scoutmaster and the committee chairman, but the charter organization representative? Really? Like many charter organizations across the country, ours is not very involved with the troop. I highly doubt that our charter rep even knows about Scoutbook, much less wants to access it.

After playing around with Scoutbook for awhile I have found I have no use for it. In fact, I grew very frustrated with it. Like I stated earlier, maybe I am trying to accomplish something with it that it was not designed to do, and if that is the case I see no reason for me to go back to it.

Am I missing something? Do you find it useful for your troop? Leave a comment and let me know what you think about Scoutbook.

I subscribe to the Bryan On Scouting blog, found at https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org . I recently received an email about a post stating the online program Scoutbook would be free to use after January 1, 2019. I remember looking at the online program a few years ago but never went very far with it. I decided to take another look.

I like that it would be a good tool for keeping track of advancement but I question if the program as a whole would be a good fit for our troop of fourteen Scouts. So here is my question. How many of you who read this blog use Scoutbook? What do you think of the program? Has it worked well for your troop or pack? What do you like the best? Is it easy to use?

I would really appreciate your comments before making a decision to use it for our troop.

I am a member of a few Scouting related groups on Facebook. These groups include Boy Scout Collectables and Scout Patch Collectors. Both are fun to belong to, and once in awhile you can find some nice items for sale or trade.

Recently, a post was made from someone who had a batch of rank patches and advancement cards for sale. The old rank patches from the 1980-1990’s caught my eye. After a few messages being sent back and forth I decided to buy the set of patches and cards for $60 shipped. True, that is not a rock bottom price, but it was comparable to the price I would pay the the Scout shop. The current patches we could use in the troop as the boys attained their ranks. The older patches, and one set of the older cards, I would keep for my Scouting collection. Unfortunately, I did not receive the Eagle Palm Pins.

The older rank cards are going to be fun to use. I asked the troop’s patrol leader council if they would like to use the cards for their current advancement until they run out. They thought that would be a fun idea. They liked the idea of the “retro” rank cards. I wonder if we should set a time limit though. A time period may add an incentive to the Scouts to finish their ranks. The goal could be the end of the year. Of course, they will be used on a first come, first awarded basis. I will have to ask the troop leaders what they think of the idea. I also plan to use the merit badge cards for the Scouts who earned badges at summer camp.

Would your Scouts enjoy getting retro cards with their ranks? Leave a comment and let me know.

Troop Record BookOctober 29th was a busy Scouting day for me. It began with the troop’s roadside cleanup service project, followed by a trip to the council Scout Shop, and ending with the troop’s spaghetti supper fundraiser in the evening. The trip to the Scout Shop was with the new scoutmaster who needed a new uniform. While we were there I decided to pick up a few needs for the troop also.

One of the items on my list was a Troop Record Book. If you have been a reader of this blog you know that I am not a happy camper that the Boy Scouts of America did not come out with a new record book when the new rank advancement requirements began in January of 2015. A few weeks ago I finally broke down and made some charts on the computer. I still wanted another record book though because they are a good place to keep basic Scout information and attendance records. Even though we can not use them for rank requirements we could still use them to keep track of  merit badges.

I saw three record books on the shelf at the store and at first planned to grab all three since I thought the BSA supply division might plan to drop this item from their inventory. After opening one book and looking through its pages I quickly changed my mind.

I was shocked! I was surprised! I was actually excited! It was an updated Troop Record Book featuring the current rank requirements! I could not believe it at first. It took our Scout Shop nearly a year and a half to get them, but I was finally holding one in my hands.

A question came to mind. When did these new books become available? Has my council Scout Shop been holding out on me for the last 18 months? Why couldn’t I find it when I did a search on the scoutstuff.com website? I looked for a printing date on the inside cover and discovered they were printed in 2016. Okay, so they only started printing them this year. After inquiring about it, I discovered they became available this summer.

I bought two of the Troop Record Books, one for myself as the troop’s advancement coordinator, and one for the scoutmaster. It will be nice to once again know where the Scouts are in their advancement progress. (Our troop does not yet do online advancement. I have not been successful getting into the online program.)

My goal is to now get the information from the old record book, along with the informations in the Scouts’ handbooks, to have an updated record book. It is going to be a challenge but it will be worth it when it is completed.

Scout Rank record

angler awardI was in the local Scout Shop last weekend and saw something new posted near the merit badges. There is an award called the Complete Angler that can be earned by Boy Scouts who love to fish. The requirements seem fairly simple. Earn three required merit badges and earn this special patch. What are the merit badges, you ask? They are a) Fishing, b) Fly-Fishing, and c) Fish and Wildlife Management.

I know that a few Scouts in our troop have earned the Fishing merit badge. Several of them have earned the Fish and Wildlife Management badge at summer camp. I do not recall any of the Scouts earning the Fly-Fishing merit badge. We do not see very much fly-fishing done in central Minnesota. Of course, that does not mean the Scouts cannot earn the badge.

The picture shown contains interesting information about each of the three merit badges so I invite you to read it. Has anyone in your troop earned the Complete Angler award? Or is this the first time you have heard about it? What do you think about the patch design?

Eagle MedalAs a scoutmaster I did not plan any Eagle courts of honor. After all, that was not my job. The Eagle Scout plans his court of honor with the help of his parents. I did give advice and help a bit when asked, but I usually stayed away from the planning. That is not to say I was not involved in the court of honor. As a scoutmaster I often spoke about the Scout during the ceremony, and many times I was the presenter of the award. Since stepping down from the scoutmaster position I have served as the master of ceremony for one court of honor.

Monday night was the first time I found myself involved with the planning of an Eagle ceremony. The new Eagle Scout sat down with me, the assistant scoutmaster, and another Eagle Scout of Troop 68, and threw around various ideas as he decided on what he liked and did not like. Text messaging came in handy as he contacted a few people to see if they could participate in the ceremony. By the end of the meeting we had the agenda pretty well planned, and he seemed happy with the way it looked.

So why did I become involved in the planning this time around? Because the Scout has a short amount of time to get things organized. He is currently in college, working most nights, and to put it simply, is quite busy. His court of honor is going to be held this Sunday so yes, he needed some assistance getting things planned. I have agreed to be the master of ceremonies and his scoutmaster will be the presenter of the Eagle award. He does have a few people lined up to say a few words.

I have seen some fairly elaborate courts of honors over the last 36 years, and I have seen some simple ceremonies. This one will not be an elaborate one, and that is okay. Like I said at the beginning of this post, the court of honor is planned by the Eagle Scout to be the way he wants it to be. That is what matters. Too tell the truth, that is all that really matters. It is his moment and no one else’s. I think Sunday’s Eagle Scout court of honor will be a nice ceremony, and I am looking forward to being a part of it.

 

 

Remember my last post? I went shopping at the local Scout Shop and bought several closeout items, some for actual use, and some for the collection. I left one item out of that article, the one that was rolled up in the tube. It was something I thought the troop could find useful. In fact, it was something the troop has not used for several years, but as the advancement coordinator I thought it night be time to use one again. What is it? It is a troop advancement chart with the current requirements listed.

When I was in the Scout Shop I stopped at the advancement chart rack to see if the B.S.A. had come out with a new chart yet. I found a few of the old advancement charts, a lot of Cub Scouting charts, and a few posters, but not a current advancement requirement chart. So I asked Jenny, who was working the at the store, if one was available. She told me there was and we walked back to the rack. I felt like a fool when she showed me the new chart hanging on the wall above the rack. I never even noticed it when I was looking. My eyes were on the advancement rack’s contents, not the wall.

She looked through the rack for the new advancement chart. She did not find one. Well, now I felt a little better. She checked the computer and it said they had three of them. She went to the back room and found them. The chart is not small. It measures 36″ wide by 23″ high. It will not fit on the old chart’s piece of hardboard. I was quite happy with the price which was only $2.49.

I wish I had a larger picture to show you. I guess you will just have to go to the nearest Scout Shop and see it for yourself.

chartnew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scout_ranksI have recently accepted the position of advancement coordinator for Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, so I have been checking out the 2013 Committee Guidebook to see what my new responsibilities will be, and how much work I have gotten myself into. Let’s take a look.

1) Encourage Scouts to advance in rank.

This one should be easy enough. I was a scoutmaster for thirty years. I was always encouraging the Scout to advance. Now I will do it while wearing a different title.

2) Work with the troop scribe to maintain all advancement records.

This will be an interesting challenge since our troop has never asked this of the Boy Scout who holds the position of Troop Scribe. Do any of you readers have any suggestions that have worked well in your troop?

3) Arrange quarterly board of reviews and courts of honor.

This is an easy one. Our troop already does board of reviews as needed during committee meetings, once a month. Quarterly courts of honor have been a part of our yearly program since the early 1980’s.

4) Develop and maintain a merit badge counselor list.

This one is going to require some work. Our council is in the process of updating its counselor list so that will help a little. I think my goal needs to be finding more local counselors. We only have a few within Melrose. I will start with the parents of the Boy Scouts, and then try to find more outside of the troop. I think it would be great to find a local counselor for at least each of the Eagle Rank required merit badges.

5) Make a prompt report on the correct form to the council service center when a troop board of review is held. Secure badges and certificates.

We already do this quite well on the committee. This duty should not be a problem.

6) Work with the troop librarian to build and maintain a troop library of merit badge pamphlets and other advancement literature.

The troop librarian already has a small collection of merit badge pamphlets but it may be time to go through it with him and see if the books are outdated and need replacement, along with what other pamphlets may be needed.

7) Report to the troop committee at each meeting.

When I was the scoutmaster I made regular advancement reports at each committee meeting. The current scoutmaster does the same thing. I guess the main goal here would be to check in with him each month, at least once if not more, to catch up on the latest advancement completed and possible needs. Is there a way to help him achieve more advancement?

One thing not listed as a responsibility but something encouraged by the committee guidebook is to check out internet advancement. Our troop has never used it. As a scoutmaster I could not use it because, at the time, it was not compatible with the Macintosh computer I use at home. No one on the committee back then was interested in taking on that responsibility. I understand that today it should work on a Macintosh computer so I shall have to check it out sometime. Until then we will continue to use the Troop Advancement Report form and turn it into the council office when we pick up the awards.

Are there any other things your troop advancement coordinator does?