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Record-keeping tips

When tracking your Scouts’ advancement achievements, you could find yourself in a sky-high pile of disorganized chaos. So what do you do as a den leader, Scoutmaster, advancement chair, or even a parent when a Scout needs proof to backup his next rank advancement?

We asked our 10,000-plus Facebook friends for their suggestions on record-keeping techniques. Click through to read their advice.

Take Charge

“Our troop has an advancement chairman who is responsible for keeping all advancement records and keeping our Scouts advised on their status. Anyone charged with keeping advancement records should have a thorough grasp of the advancement guidelines of the BSA.”
Troop 76

Go Digital
“I’ve been keeping records for a pack and a troop for 21 years now, so I’ve used several different methods. I started out with the printed record book from BSA and then, when I got a computer, I built my own record-keeping spreadsheets. Now I use PackMaster and TroopMaster—these programs have made my life much easier!”
Liz Anne Dechert

TroopMaster. The software package allows you to set up ‘roles’ allowing you to have different adult leaders be responsible for particular areas—advancement, membership, activities, training, etc.”
–Tom Morin

“I use the free spreadsheets generated by CubTrax. Love it!”

–Lindsay Foster

ScoutTrack! I would be (more) nuts without it!”
Missie Maddox Dickey

Internet Advancement
“Get to know the BSA’s Internet Advancement feature.”
Chris Anderson

“Our advancement chair receives monthly updates via e-mail from the den leaders and loads the advancement data into Internet Advancement.”
Lisa Durgin

“As a new advancement chair, TroopMaster DotNet works great. Make sure you use BSA’s online Internet Advancement feature to transfer rank advancements and merit badges for each Scout from Troopmaster to council’s site. It’s very easy.”
Christi Stroup Rogers

Troop-Level Records Increase Reliability
“I’m the advancement chair for our troop, and I use TroopMaster. Unfortunately, our council’s Internet Advancement has a lot of bugs in the program, so keeping a copy of our own records isn’t just a nicety, but a necessity.”
–Heather Solomon Cromar

Paper Positives
“We use TroopMaster, and I’m the advancement chair. I also keep paper records that I print out and always have with me. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to keep up-to-date paper records on hand, especially for summer camp. I will print out new records for each Scout before camp starts, that way I know the info is up to date.”
Kurt Larson

Track as a Team
“Each leader tracks everything on ScoutManage and our advancement chair gets the awards”
Jane Hansen

“Den leaders enter achievements into ScoutTrack, and then the achievement chair pulls records to order and distribute badges.”
Karen Kirkland

Know the Requirements
“Always keep the most current copy of the BSA Requirements book. This book comes out every year and not only lists all of the Boy Scout rank requirements, but it also tells (on the inside cover) what changes were made from last year’s rank advancement and merit badges.
Katie Knowlton Marr

Unified Tracking
“Whatever system is settled upon, it is critical that all den leaders commit to using the same. While this change from individualized systems to a collective system was not easy for all, our pack was wonderful in the process. After a year, I think all would judge our decision as a big success. Everyone pulling the oars in the same direction makes the boat go faster.”
David Bacon

A Parent’s Role: Backup System
“I regularly remind Scout’s parents that they must keep their own records at home—blue merit badge cards, copies of the back of their Scout’s handbook, camping logs, etc. This will save a lot of frustration and heartache down the road.”
–Heather Solomon Cromar

“Make sure you always have a backup copy of your son’s records and keep these records in a different place. I learned this when my son went to get his Eagle and needed stuff from more than six years ago for his record.”
Katie Knowlton Marr

Do you have additional suggestions on how to avoid advancement record-keeping headaches? 

20 Comments on Record-keeping tips

  1. I use – works great. All the scouts and parents can go on-line and look everything up themselves and know exactly where they are in the advancement process. Of course they can only make changes to their personal information and not the Troop information. Switched to this 6 months ago and no regrets.

  2. Pete Siegel // August 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm // Reply

    I’ve learned as a Unit Commissioner That the units that use Packmaster and Troopmaster have the most success, BUT you do have to control you does the data input and remember the GIGO principle – garbage in, garbage out.

  3. Donna Scheer // August 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm // Reply

    We are switching from Scout Track to Troop Master for our Cubs, But as a den leader I suggested for each of our parents to keep a folder with baseball card holders that they can put all of their cards in when they recieve them. The Boy Scouts do this also to hold their Merit Badge Blue cards along with an area for tracking Camping, Hiking, Fundraising and also service projects. Each parent also will periodically be asked to look at a copy of what is in troopmaster and update as needed.

  4. Ron elliott // August 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm // Reply

    RE: Chris Anderson: Internet Advancement…
    BSA Internet Advancement feature is hog wash. You still have to print the report, sign it, and send it ibn. What used to be 1 page of paperwork is now 4 or 5. I believe I’ve used Internet Advancement Report for my 2nd (and last) time.

    • Ron,
      The BSA Internet advancement gives you control of your records.The paper system means you have to hand write all your scout’s information and submit it to your Service center. There will never be enough “paid” employees to be able to read the paper forms and reconcile the spelling and get everything correct in a timely manner. The “old” system only had the most critical of information recorded, then put in file folders and boxed away in file rooms. With online data entry, you can pull up your Scout’s official ScoutNet records 24/7.

      If you use a Unit Management Software (Troopmaster) you can upload without even typing any advancement information.. Just print out the reports, sign and take them to buy your awards. Some day, you may not even have to use any paper when your Scout Shop can pull your records online.

      Have you had the opportunity to submit an Eagle application with the electronic data? really slick how easy it is with all the advancement already completely filled out.

      Please give it some tries, there are help guides and FAQ on the main page.

  5. Steve Ranger // August 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm // Reply

    Record keeping has been difficult for our troop. One or two people keep the records, and update them when they can. In cub scouts we used scouttrack. Once all of the den leaders got on board it was revolutionary. Better messaging, better tracking of advancement and more time for leaders to spend with the boys was the result.

    My son just crossed over and our troop was using a yahoo forum for messages and file storage. Troopmaster is used for advancement with reports published to the yahoo file storage. The messages were visible across the web and only the files were secure. Feeling that troops should have the at least reasonable information systems in this day and age, I went on a search for a web solution.

    The goals were to have secure record keeping on the web with roles supporting scouts, parents and scouters. In addition, have all of this in a web site that stays up-to-date and allows all of us volunteers to spend more time with scouts and less on record keeping. I looked at scouttrack, troopmaster, scoutmanage, troopkit and many others. All do a good job. Each vendor provides a slightly different solution so your troop could use any of these. I selected troopwebhost. I deployed the new web site Aug 1 and the current response has been phenomenal. I expect this will do for our troop what scouttrack did for our pack.

    • Are you still using troopwebhost? What features do you like and dislike? We used ScoutTrack for our Cubbies but switched the Troop to ScoutManage to add a financial piece but there are a lot of glitches and not much customer support so we are shopping for a solution that fits us better. I like a lot of what I see with troopwebhost but would like to hear from some actual users…

    • Akshay Parikh // June 16, 2014 at 12:49 am // Reply

      Are you still using Troopwebhost?

  6. Our new troop went with Troopmaster and purchased the additional DotNet with it, since everyone says that is what to get. Only now I have discovered that the only place to print reports is from a single desktop version. And it is not compatible with a mac, which is what I have. We are about to try Troopmaster software seems to be very dated and not up with current trends regarding “cloud” software.

  7. Teal Young // May 5, 2014 at 10:12 am // Reply

    My question is about long term blue card storage. I do everything through Internet Advancement which is working well for me, however I do think they need to make it compatible with Mozilla Foxfire. Currently you have to use a rather dated form of Internet Explorer! My question has to do with keeping blue card records for the unit long term for boys who are now men with children of their own. What do I do with all these ancient merit badge application blue cards? Is there a protocol for this?

    • This is rather antiquated, but for active scouts, we have a three-ring binder, with tabs that keep copies of applications, BOR sheets and sports card pages to keep the troop’s copy of blue card. Once the scouts age out, or are no longer with the troop, we keep them in a storage box.

  8. I’m the advancement chair for our troop, and have been for over 3 years. My files are getting full and I want to purge, but can anyone tell me how long I need to keep my internet advancement print outs after I take the copy to the council?

  9. I’m the Advancement Chair for our BS Troop and we use Internet Advancement and Troopmaster however the new members of our Troop are looking into WebHost and transferring all records. I have been in my position for almost 4 years. I keep paper records as well as Troopmaster & Internet Advancement records however I find we’re doing double if not triple the work as our Troopmaster has not uploaded into our local Council since I started. Any suggestions? Advice on Webhost greatly needed

    • How do you meet the requirement of printing out Internet Advancement reports in order to purchase the rank advancement badges?

  10. What? Parents keeping their sons records? First and foremost it should be the responsibility of the SCOUT to keep his records of advancment, not mom or dad’s or the Scoutmaster or the merit badge counselor.
    Scouting is about learning responsibility, so if a rank requirement is complete it is the RESPONSIBILTY of the Scout to make sure it is signed off in his handbook and then DON’T LOSE THAT HANDBOOK!
    Same with bluecards. As a merit badge counselor I have the young man keep his own bluecard. I inspect it when we start the MB to make sure it is completely filled out, including the listing of the requiement numbers. SMs should not sign the bluecard unless it is complete. If the Scout loses the card then we review everything, again…”no ticket, no wash”.
    Seems harsh, I know, but this is about Being Prepared…For Life.

  11. Absolutely…GIGO…you can have the best sytem inthe world but if you don’t take the time to enter it correctly and check your work then it’s a colossal headache. Totally agree that TroopMaster makes like better especially if yu record activities and attendance. The data make it easy to generate reports and analysis to understand how to program advancment. If a large number of Scouts have not completed thier lashing requirements you see that and can plan a series of meetings or the next campout to tackle that skill. I learned that having the Advancement Chair sit with each scout every so often and review his record of advancement in the scouts BSHB and then update TM was a Godsend. Keepin attendance also helped me coach parents of an absent scout why their son may not be advancing. Information is powerful.

  12. Scout4Life // July 17, 2015 at 3:29 pm // Reply

    Is anyone using Scout Book? If so, what are the pros and cons that you have found?

  13. I’m also interested in hearing others opinions of Scoutbook. With BSAs purchase and putting the developer on the payroll, should we assume the BSA will require Packs, Troops, Crews and Posts to use Scoutbook?

  14. This is an interesting topic. Our troop has used Troopmaster for several years. We have the software loaded on a laptop, and upload the file to Troopmaster Web after information is added at least once a week. But the other advantage to the web version, is that the SM and most of the ASMs have the Troopmaster Mobile App loaded on their cell phones, where they can sync the data from the web to the phone and have it saved on the phone. So if we go camping where there is spotty phone/data coverage they’re still able to see where individual scouts stand for their rank requirements while on the camp out (cooking, assistant cooking, orienteering, etc.). But we’ve also been asking the uniformed leaders to enter completed rank requirements from our scout handbooks, sync to the Web, where they will be approved.

    Over the last year, we have been researching Scoutbook, but have been waiting to see of the usual bugs have been worked out. One interest is for email blasts for the troop’s upcoming events, in addition to record keeping, but our primary interest is whether information automatically roles up into Scoutnet seamlessly, for rechartering, JTE, and the necessary rank advancement badge reports for purchases. Often it’s a pain to upload the merit badge and rank advancement information from Troopmaster, only to find after the fact that the names of scouts are entered differently in Scoutnet, so you then have to manually enter the information.

    • Our Troop has also been using Troopmaster for several years. Yes, uploading data to Scoutnet is a pain. My understanding is that ScoutBook at this time, does not roll up into Scoutnet, for rechartering, JTE, or reports for the purchase of rank advancement badges. In the future, who knows? But you would certainly think that would be the next step.

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