smartphones-3

The Ultimate List of Scouting Apps

Once upon a time, we used maps printed on paper to find our way. We studied laminated sky charts to identify constellations. We counted seconds after thunder strikes to locate storms.

What were we thinking?

Today, thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone, we can do all that and more with a few taps.

As Scout leaders, we can now carry a library, GPS, weather radio, compass, map, camera, and field guide in our pocket. But which apps are worth downloading or — in some cases — paying for?

I tapped our Facebook friends to find out. 

Smartphones in Scouting

A post about smartphones isn’t complete without a discussion on whether these devices are appropriate in Scouting.

For Scout leaders, smartphones can be an important tool in tracking advancement, researching questions on the spot, and keeping Scouts safe from weather hazards. For Scouts, I think the best approach is “everything in moderation.”

While smartphones can be a distraction from the great outdoors, they can also be a modern-day Swiss Army knife — a multipurpose tool to enhance a young person’s Scouting experience. Facebook friend Michael Kunz agrees. He wrote: “Mobile will become an accepted practice in Scouting. Prepare now for it.”

In fact, next summer’s national Scout jamboree will again embrace the use of smartphones by Scouts. Boys and girls who bring their connected devices will have an enhanced jamboree experience that allows them to find their way around the site, learn more about jamboree activities, and connect with other participants.

Related: Should you allow your Scouts to bring their smartphones on camping trips?

Readers’ Favorite Scouting-Related Apps

Here’s the list with links to download them. Each was submitted by you, and I should point out that most of these aren’t “official” Boy Scouts of America apps. In other words, use at your own risk.

AccuWeather

Devices: Android, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Phone

Cost: Free

Description: “Voted ‘Best iPhone App’ by the 2012 Mobie awards, AccuWeather for iPhone is free and users tell us it is their ‘Go-to weather app.’”

Download: Android. iPhone/iPod Touch. iPad. Windows Phone.

Animated Knots by Grog

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $4.99

Description: “Teaching and reference tool for boaters, climbers, fishermen, Scouts and hobbyists. Watch as knots tie themselves in simple step-by-step photo animations.”

Download: Android. Apple.

Audubon Birds

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $4.99

Description: “The award winning, must-have bird guide. Now including 49 new species and field marks for over 650 birds.”

Download: Android. Apple.

BackCountry Navigator DEMO and BackCountry Navigator PRO

Devices: Android

Cost: Free for demo, $9.99 for pro

Description: “Use your phone or tablet as an offroad topo mapping GPS with the bestselling outdoor navigation app for Android! Explore beyond cell coverage for hiking, hunting and more.”

Download: DEMO. PRO.

Backpacker GPS Trails Lite and Backpacker GPS Trails Pro

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free for Lite, $4.99 for Pro (no ads, offline maps, video shooting)

Description: “Record hiking trails, backpacking trips, and camping adventures with Backpacker GPS Trails Pro. View maps, navigate with GPS and digital compass, take photos, and backtrack to the trailhead.”

Download: Free Android. Free Apple. $4.99 Android. $4.99 Apple.

Boy Scout Handbook

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $9.99

Description: The official “first digital version of the Scout Handbook.”

Download: Here.

BSA On-The-Go

Device: Android

Cost: Free

Description: “The most complete collection of BSA requirements on the Android.” Includes Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing, and Varsity awards and advancement.

Download: Here.

Camera+

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $0.99

Description: An upgrade to Apple’s built-in Camera application, featuring lots of handy tools.

Download: Here.

Camera ZOOM FX

Devices: Android.

Cost: $2.99

Description: “The award-winning camera app for Android devices! Camera ZOOM FX is now Editor’s Choice on Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Mashable and SlashGear. Replace all your camera / photo FX apps with just one.”

Download: Here.

Campfire Songs

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free (or remove ads for $1.99)

Description: “A collection of 175 classic campfire favorites. Great for use at Campfires, Campouts, Troop Meetings, Pack Meetings or whenever you have the desire to sing. Songs can be accessed by a type, such as Patriotic Songs, by an alphabetical index or by their tune.”

Download: Here.

Camp Recipes!

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $1.99

Description: “Whatever you can think of to cook on a campfire, this app has 10 ways to cook it. And they aren’t just made up either….these are campers’ favorite recipes from all over the country, tried and true, cooked and eaten. With over 700+ recipes conveniently listed by category, by time, and by keyword search, you can literally go on 100’s of campouts and hike’s without eating the same thing twice.”

Download: Here.

Dutch Oven Calculator

Devices: Android

Cost: Free

Description: “Calculates the number of charcoal briquettes needed to cook a given recipe in a camping Dutch Oven.”

Download: Here.

eTrailToEagle

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $1.99

Description: “Using your eTrailToEagle account, you can use this application to manage rank and merit badge information for all of your Scouts. You also have quick and easy access to your troop address book to quickly contact anyone in the troop.”

Download: Android. Apple.

EveryTrail and EveryTrail Pro

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free or $3.99 for paid version with no ads and offline maps

Description: “EveryTrail is the best way to share trips, connect with other travelers and find great new things to do. Plot your trip, photos and videos right on the map and upload it to EveryTrail.com, Facebook and Twitter.”

Download: Free Android. Free Apple. $3.99 Android. $3.99 Apple.

First Aid by American Red Cross

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free

Description: “Accidents happen. The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Get the app and be prepared for what life brings. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to know first aid.”

Download: Android. Apple.

Geocaching

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Phone

Cost: $9.99

Description: “Groundspeak’s Geocaching Application provides real-time, direct access to Geocaching.com’s database of worldwide geocaches, as well as many other features designed to provide you with a lifetime of outdoor geocaching adventure anywhere in the world.”

Download: Android. Apple. Windows Phone.

Knots 3D

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free or $1.99 for paid version with “slow-motion and zoom control, favorites list and over 70 knots”

Description: “Choose from over 70 knots and see how they’re tied in incredible detail.”

Download: Free Android. Free Apple. $1.99 Android. $1.99 Apple.

Leafsnap

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free

Description: “Developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.”

Download: iPhone/iPod Touch. iPad.

Munzee

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free

Description: “Munzee is a real world scavenger hunt game where items are found in the real world and captured using your smartphone. You then level up and gain rank based on your score. Points are obtained by capturing other people’s munzees or when your deployed munzees are captured by someone else. Munzee is based off of the fundamentals of geocaching and adds another layer of fun to the hunt.”

Download: Android. Apple.

National Parks by National Geographic and National Park Maps HD

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free for National Parks, $3.99 for Maps HD

Description: “National Geographic presents an award winning, new, beautiful, and interactive guide to twenty of the most-visited U.S. national parks with a new app for iPhone and iPad.”

Download: National Parks. National Parks Maps HD.

The Night Sky

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $0.99

Description: “Enables you to identify the stars, planets, galaxies, constellations and even satellites you can see above. Just stand anywhere and hold your device up to the sky and The Night Sky will display the names of the stars, planets and other objects you are able to see.”

Download: Android. Apple.

Pack Badges

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $3.99

Description: “Helps you track the advancement of Cub Scouts, including requirements for Tiger, Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos badges, and the various electives and activity badges for each year of the Cub Scout program.”

Download: Here.

SAS Survival Guide and SAS Survival Guide Lite

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Phone

Cost: Free for Lite, $5.99 for the version with full text

Description: “For over twenty years, the SAS Survival Guide has been the definitive guide to surviving any situation, anywhere in the world. Now, for the first time ever, the million-copy bestselling book has been reinvented for the iPhone.”

Download: Free Android. Free iPhone/iPod Touch. $5.99 Android. $5.99 iPhone/iPod Touch. $5.99 iPad.

ScoutTrail

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $0.99

Description: “Be Prepared with ScoutTrail, the app that every Scout and Scouter should have for up-to-date information for all BSA ranks, merit badges, and special awards.”

Download: Here.

Sky Map

Devices: Android

Cost: Free

Description: “Turns your Android-powered device into a window on the night sky. Open sourced and donated by Google.”

Download: Here.

Spyglass

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $3.99

Description: “Spyglass is a powerful toolkit essential for every outdoorsman. Augmented reality navigator and a compass for the off-road. Packed with many useful tools: a hi-tech viewfinder, milspec compass, gyrocompass, maps, GPS tracker, speedometer, sextant, gyro horizon, inclinometer, angular calculator and 5x zoom camera. Tag, share, find and track your position, multiple locations, bearings, Sun, Moon and stars, all in real time.”

Download: Here.

Star Walk

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $2.99 for iPhone/iPod Touch, $4.99 for iPad

Description: “Augmented reality app that labels all the stars, constellations, and satellites you point your iPhone at.”

Download: iPhone/iPod Touch. iPad.

Theodolite

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: $3.99

Description: “Based on a centuries-old navigation instrument, Theodolite is a cool multi-function augmented reality app for the iPhone that serves as a compass, GPS, map, zoom camera (photo & movie), rangefinder, and two-axis inclinometer. Theodolite overlays real time information about position, altitude, bearing, and horizontal/vertical inclination on the iPhone’s live camera image, like an electronic viewfinder.”

Download: Here.

Trail to Eagle

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Phone

Cost: $0.99

Description: “A reference guide for Boy Scouts. Quickly look up the Scout Oath or Promise, Scout Law, Scout Motto, Scout Slogan, or Outdoor Code. Easily track a scout’s progress along their trail to Eagle. All ranks; Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, Eagle are available.”

Download: Android. Apple. Windows Phone.

US Army Bugle Calls

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost: Free

Description: “This selection of United States Army bugle calls allows people to play from 18 classic bugle calls. Great for Soldiers, family members, ROTC Cadets, Boy Scouts, band members and anyone who wants a soundboard of Army bugle calls.”

Download: Android. Apple.

The Weather Channel

Devices: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone, BlackBerry

Cost: Free

Description: “Accurate and relevant weather information whenever weather matters to you. With 200+ meteorologists and, our ultra-local TruPoint(sm) forecasting technology, we provide you with the weather tools you need to plan your day, week, or even the next hour.”

Download: Android. iPhone/iPod Touch. iPad. Windows Phone. BlackBerry.

Your turn

Which of these apps do you like or dislike? Which of your favorites are missing from the list? Help me keep this list fresh by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

83 thoughts on “The Ultimate List of Scouting Apps

  1. I have the use of OH, Ranger! park finder for android and its a free app. that gives new ideas of places to go camping at and whats available etc. I also find google sky map an awesome app for star gazing.

  2. The geocaching one is AWESOME. We leave the GPS at home now. Even our littlest ones can find the cache easily with this app. I’ve also used Starwalk and that’s really cool too.

    I’m looking forward to trying the knots ones to refresh my memory. The dutch oven calculator look like it may help as well – maybe I won’t burn so many biscuits now ;)

  3. What about ScoutAdvancement.com Mobile? I know it’s not an “app” but it works offline on most mobile devices.

    We just launched our mobile version of ScoutAdvancement.com which is a HTML5 mobile website which works on most mobile platforms (iOS, Andriod, Blackberry). It is basically in it’s beginning phase but we do have most of the Scouting references available for offline browsing. It also has Scouting videos, news, etc updated daily to keep you up to date in Scouting news.

    We have a mobile blog post about the new site here:
    http://www.scoutadvancement.com/mobile/blog/blog.asp?BlogID=1

    Check it out and let us know what you think. It may be useful to some of you. We just added the Search and Rescue merit badge requirements to the site this morning. (thanks Bryan!) Read our blog post about it here: http://www.scoutadvancement.com/mobile/blog/blog.asp?BlogID=2

    Since national is allowing/encouraging mobile devices at Jambo 2013 we think these devices have a place in Scouting.

    Shawn from ScoutAdvancement.com

    • This is just Awesome! You must make an app to download and install on the ios, not just trust the cache. PLEASE do that! Make it a check list as well would be awesome!

  4. Wow! As the developer of Knots 3D and an Eagle Scout myself, I am very excited our app was included in this Scouting Magazine list! The latest version, released a few days ago, now includes a pioneering/lashings section with square, diagonal, sheer, and round lashings. Also the much requested Monkey’s Fist for a total of 80 knots. The free version has 33 knots including all those needed up through First Class.

    Dave Boren
    Nynix – Knots 3D

      • Sorry De. The cross platform dev tool we use doesn’t support Blackberry or Windows 8 so it won’t be anytime soon for either platform. There is something in Blackberry’s Android version for BB10 or Playbook (I don’t recall the specifics anymore) that keeps it from being able to run our app.

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  8. As an avid Android App Junkie, I have the following recommendations:

    First, if you are you are an Android user, I highly recommend that you download and install the Amazon App Store app. Each day, the Amazon App Store makes a paid/ commercial app available for free. Past offerings have included Audubon Birds, and a couple of weeks later, Audubon Trees (both $4.99). Camping Checklist ($0.99), Knots 3D ($1.99), Knot Guide ($1.99), Star Chart ($2.99), Gaia GPS ($9.99), as well as non-scouting apps, too, including a variety of games and office apps…

    As for my favorite Scouting apps, I would have to say that c:geo and Geocaching 4Locus (and Locus Free) both great FREE apps for geocaching; Gaia GPS for USGS Topo maps; Scout Trip Coordinator (to coordinate who’s going with whom, who took what equipment home, and to send mass texts/emails upon departure for home, amongst other things – FREE); Audubon Trees (and Birds); Google Sky Maps (mentioned above, as well as Star Chart); Surveyor (to measure distances, etc – FREE); Scoutgames (FREE); and during the Historic Merit Badge availability – Semaphore Flag (FREE); Knot Guide; and to quench my curiosity at different large Scouter gatherings – BSA Square Knots (referring to the emblems worn above a Scouter’s – or Scout’s – left breast pocket – FREE). I also recommend that parents and Scouts download BSA On-the-GO, so that they can track their own/son’s progress.

    I also utilize the FREE Background Check by BeenVerified, which gives me one free credit for one free search, each month, now that I have learned that the BSA does not do full criminal background checks (one of our Scouts was assaulted twice during summer camp in 2011, by an ASM who is a convicted felon, and had been incarcerated, previously). Sadly, the victim’s membership was revoked the morning after the assaults, and the offender’s not until the next week, after he continued to stalk the victim. The offender has now plead guilty to Felony Harassment of a Minor, and the BSA has yet to re-admit the victim. As a matter of fact, after I sent a copy of the Police Report and the DFS Hotline Report showing that the Scouting Professional failed to hotline the abuse, and interfered with the investigators, lying about the availability of witnesses after he finally called the police over 15 hours, later, the General Counsel of the BSA called me, at work (I’m the SM, and a probation and parole officer), and told me that the BSA does not have enough money to pay for full criminal background checks (our Council Executive was paid $454,000, in FY 2010)! I HIGHLY recommend that all units download this app, and use it, especially if they do not have access to full, legitimate law-enforcement-grade criminal record sources, as I and other law enforcers do.

    Finally, in order to read all of the great PDF’s that are starting to find their way around, PDF To Go, part of Documents To Go.

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  11. I like the idea of using the smartphone for the scouts to track their progress. While I can always go look at my son’s book to check his rank progress, the book does not track his progress on Merit Badges and my son is much more likely to track his progress if he can just tap on a requirement to mark it done than he is to pull out a chart or go into the spreadsheet I made him for that purpose. I would love to find an app that will track his rank and MB progress AND nights spent camping. It would also be nice if there was a way to link the apps together so that he could check it off on his phone and I could check his progress on my phone. Haven’t found one that will do all this, but thought I’d throw it out there in hopes someone will see this and create it.

  12. Here’s an app that some troops used that was just recently released.

    TroopMaster/PackMaster Web +
    Devices: Android

    Cost: Free

    Description: This is the NEW non official troopmaster AND packmaster web application. All rights go to TroopMaster Software, Inc. This personal app has been created for personal use only. If you would like your troop or pack to be listed in our app please purchase this within the app. Please tell all your scouting troops and packs about this app. Troopmaster or Packmaster Web is required.

    Download: Android. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.conduit.app_8cf5cefbc4114f7e947b8afab324abe9.app&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5jb25kdWl0LmFwcF84Y2Y1Y2VmYmM0MTE0ZjdlOTQ3YjhhZmFiMzI0YWJlOS5hcHAiXQ..

  13. BSA on the go is an android based app that tracks up to 20 scouts and leaders on what looks to be all requirements in BSA.

  14. I am looking for an app that will help our Girl Scout troop manage their meetings, activities and all the other important things that go along with girl scouting. Does anyone know of such an app? The girls are older and need a more “hands on approach” to leadership

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