Here we are – the beginning of a brand new Year in Scouting! Surely you’ve set goals for your Den and yourself as a Leader (right?) and are excited to kick off the year with fun, engaging, interesting meetings and activities. There’s a leadership motto in Scouting that I need all of you to recite right now – KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT FUN! So let’s go.
We are all likely up to our necks choosing the adventures we’re then planning to the smallest detail, working hard to promote the youth in our care up through the ranks of Scouting, dripping with badges and pins like the chandeliers they were meant to be. Even if you weren’t a Cub Scout yourself, you can certainly feel the excitement and pride that beams off of a child when you call their name to present them with their hard-earned bling. So imagine the inevitable moment when you’ve forgotten to log a requirement for a Scout or two and they are left sitting criss-cross-applesauce wondering why their peers are loading up their belts with loops and they were left out.
Of course it isn’t personal! But try telling an elementary school aged Scout that they’re leaving with an IOU instead of a fancy new badge. A Scout isn’t very cheerful – and that includes you – in that situation. There are some fairly simple ways to ensuring this doesn’t happen to you, or them. In my years as a den leader and Cubmaster, I’ve found that sharing really is caring, and the last thing I want for you to do is disappoint someone or reinvent the wheel when you should be shaping young minds.
Here are a few simple tips (and resources) for successfully tracking rank advancement along side ScoutBook!
Put Together A Leadership Binder
If you’ve read my other posts, you already know that I’m a stickler for organization. In my opinion, there are far too many resources out there to just wing it when it comes to a leadership role, and my favorite tip for staying on top of things is putting together a good leadership binder. You can read all about it in my post Three Rings to Bind Us All: Den Leader Binder Organization Tips.
Download Simple Meeting Plans and Attendance Sheets
Use a Den Month Planning Worksheet to plan your month in advance. This sheet is meant to be printed out and included in your binder so you can make notes of what items you completed or didn’t cover as planned. You’ll use this, along with an attendance sheet, to verify that you’re updating achievement records appropriately.
Each year, print a brand new Den Attendance Sheet and take a quick roll call at the beginning of each meeting. If you stick to your meeting plans, using your attendance sheet to update your achievement records should be a breeze! (Note that there are two tabs associated with this attendance sheet. One is for your Webelos and AOL dens that utilize the Patrol Method, the other is for all other dens.)
Download Simple Advancement Trackers
There are two ways to use these simple trackers. One, you can print them out and include them in your Leadership Binder, dating loop and pin completions as you go and allowing parents to quickly glance at what their Scout might need to catch up on. Two, you can keep an electronic copy of this and save it as a PDF once a month or so and share it with your parents via closed Facebook group or email. Below are links for Advancement Trackers for each rank, in both DOCX and PDF formats. Google Docs doesn’t support anything but horizontal text directions, so if you save the DOCX and open it in Word, you should be able to easily fix the adventure titles.
The best time to update your trackers is immediately after you get home from a meeting. Regularly syncing your Advancement Trackers to Internet Advancement or ScoutBook is a fail safe for accurate Scout Shop purchase orders. Trust me, your Scouts will thank you!
I’m not sure that there’s any data out there about the number of active units utilizing Internet Advancement versus ScoutBook, but I’d bet that despite it’s buggy-ness, ScoutBook is in the lead by a long shot. If your unit isn’t using ScoutBook to track advancement, I implore you to ask why.
- In 2018, Boy Scouts of America made the program FREE FOR EVERYONE!
- Once synced with your Council, any youth applications submitted through the My.Scouting.Org website are automatically assigned to your unit in ScoutBook, saving you numerous steps and lots of time.
- Leadership can enter their own den advancement for their own Scouts, taking that gigantic task off of your Advancement Chairperson and providing another layer of accuracy.
- Parents can/should create their own user account to see their Scouts personal advancement and, if you desire, enter advancement for Leadership’s approval.
- It creates Purchase Order Reports that pull all new approved advancements into one easy document that make the visit to the Scout Shop about a thousand times easier AND allows for you to pick-up rank badges while you’re there. Once you’ve made that purchase, mark everything “Awarded,” close out your Purchase Order, and you’re ready log new advancements for the next month.
As a Den Leader, you can use your Advancement Trackers and Attendance Sheets to properly log advancement in ScoutBook… AND you can use ScoutBook to see the completion percentages of individual adventures and ranks, which can be dropped into your Advancement Tracker and used to update parents on their Scouts progress. It’s a circle…
Keeping up with your Scouts is one thing, but staying on top of their advancement is another. Remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT FUN, and give credit where and when it’s due by taking attendance, planning your meetings well, and tracking completions as you go. Immediately after your meeting, review your attendance sheet against your meeting plan, update your advancement tracker and ScoutBook, and enjoy watching those Scouts smile when they’re called up to receive their awards at each Pack Meeting.
Yours in Scouting,
Did my post help you? Did you download any of the Advancement Trackers, Meeting Plan Worksheets, or Attendance Sheets? If so, how did they work for you? What would you change?