Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category


My family room has served as the troop’s Scout room for over two and a half decades. Patrol Leader Council meetings were held there, along with training sessions and some smaller troop activities. Committee meetings were held around the table once a month. One third of the room is a showcase for Scouting awards, memorabilia, and Eagle Scout photos.

I was cleaning up and sorting through some things last night and discovered a little gem I forgot was part of my Scouting collection. It is a training flip chart from 1955 regarding patrol advancement. It is for patrol leaders and discusses how to make their patrol become a First Class Patrol! It is 36 black and white pages, with the cover page, and is in excellent condition considering it is 65 years old.

As I was looking through it (yes, I had to stop and look at it) I began thinking it could be fun to scan the pages and turn it into a training video. Well, at least an interesting look at an old training resource. I was thinking about reading each page myself but then thought it would be much better if I could get one of our Scouts to read it.

I began working on it tonight. I have been in contact with one of the troop’s dads and he thinks his son may be interested in doing the reading. I have begun scanning the pages, which it going to take awhile. My old scanner is not the quickest by any means. In fact, each page is taking me over 3 minutes to set up and scan.

I will have to work with the Scout to be a good narrator. I do not think he has ever done anything like this but I think, after a couple read throughs and a few pointers, he will do an excellent job. I have even thought of trying to find an old uniform for him to wear during an opening introduction, but I am not sure if that will happen.

Would you be willing to take ten minutes or so to watch a video featuring an old training resource from 1955? Is this a project that is worth my time? Let me know in the comments!

Earlier this year I was asked to run a class at a council merit badge clinic. The council has been trying to hold these on a monthly schedule this year. They had asked me once before to run a class but I had to pass do to my schedule. This time they asked me to run a class for the Collections merit badge. The date worked for me so I agreed to do it. I have a hunch I may not be asked back.

As the evening approached I gathered a couple boxes of stuff from my house to demonstrate different types of collections. I brought along some comic books, Star Wars toys, and a couple other things I collect. I also grabbed a package of Scout Handbooks that I had just received from eBay. I had reviewed the merit badge requirements so I was all ready for the class.

I arrived a little early so that I had enough time to set up my display and ask any questions I might have before the class began. Six Scouts had signed up for the Collections merit badge which I thought was a nice manageable group. If the Scouts came prepared we should not have a problem completing the requirements in the three hour session.

I knew we were going to have a problem once the Scouts arrived. Only two had come to the session somewhat prepared. Two others had only found out they were signed up for the class a night or two before the class so they had no idea what to expect. Well, we will make the best of it, I thought to myself.

We did what we could during the next few hours. The Scouts paid attention and seemed to want the badge. As a merit badge councilor I am trained to pass off requirements once they are completed. I am not going to sign a requirement that the Scout has not even tried to complete which means that all six Scouts went home from the session with a partial. I was proud that we at least completed three quarters of the requirements. I gave each Scout my contact information so they could finish the badge later.

I hoped that the Scouts would decide to finish the badge but only one Scout ever contacted me to do so. It is nearly a half year after the session and the other five boys still have not contacted me. Either they are not interested in finishing the merit badge or they found another counselor to work with, I guess.

I have not been asked to come back and run another class, and I think I know why. The cost of attending a class was $25.00. A Scout and their parents probably expect to receive a merit badge after attending a session. Sorry, but I am not signing off on a badge unless a Scout completes the requirements, whether they pay a fee for the class or not.

I have heard complaints from a couple Scouts in my troop who have attended a some of these classes. They go to the session prepared with the prerequisites for the councilor to review. They have stated to me that it is not fair that they prepare for the class to receive the badge, but other Scouts attend that are not prepared yet received a signed blue card stating they completed the requirements. If this is true, what kind of statement are we sending to Scouts? That you can buy a merit badge?

I did not get paid for my time running my merit badge class. I thought maybe the council would give the councilors a few bucks for their time and gas but I was told the money collected went to pay for the use of the facility. While I am sure there was a charge for the use of the rooms I would bet it did not come close to the money collected by the council. After all, there were several merit badge sessions that evenings, each with a group of Scouts. I think the council uses these sessions as a bit of a fundraiser, but I could be wrong.

Like I stated earlier, I do not think I will be asked back to run a merit badge session since I did not sign the blue cards at the end of the evening. You know what? That is alright with me. I do not believe a Scout should receive an award if he did not try to complete all the requirements. What do you think about it? Does your council conduct merit badge courses?

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.