Why use Scoutbook?

If you work with Scoutbook, you will find it has rough edges here and there.  It’s not perfect.   However, BSA releases a new version about every week.  Each new version has bug fixes and improvements.   It has a very active and responsive support forum.  I have found Council to be very quick in resolving issues with Scoutbook, like two entries for a parent or a wrong email address. Scoutbook released a version on May 11th that allows us to change email addresses and have it sync with the national BSA database.

It distributes the load among multiple people by allowing Troop Admins, Patrol Admins, and other people to send messages, enter events, etc.    This way one person doesn’t have to do everything.

It allows for announcements without having to synchronize Scoutbook with a Google mailing list or other external program.   The goal is to keep Scoutbook information as accurate as possible with email and physical address changes, new phone numbers, etc.

It has reports made for a troop: health form status, swimming status, Individual Advancement Reports.

I heard that the troop stopped using Scoutbook for events because it has one big flaw: events are entered into the calendar and invites are sent.   Weeks or months pass and scouts and leaders are added.   The problem is that they’re not automatically given invites.   So each one needs to be tracked down and sent invites for the events that occur after they’ve joined.

There’s multiple ways to fix this but it seems like there’s two kinds of events: recurring and one-time events.   Recurring events like troop meetings or committee meetings don’t need RSVPs.   We’re going to have the Troop Meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.

For one-time events, we can put in the event but not send invites.    2 or 3 or even 4 weeks ahead of the event, we send invites and people can RSVP at that time.  

One issue is keeping Scoutbook current.   If we are using Scoutbook more, that becomes a very minor issue.   We would just have to work with the people who joined 2 weeks ahead of the event and their application hasn’t been processed yet.

The ability to RSVP can be closed at a specific date. Or all of the Maybe people can be flipped to No.  

Having a narrow window where RSVPs can be made makes sense.   We don’t want people signing up 6 months ahead and forgetting that they did sign up.  

It’s possible to set up automatic reminders for an event. It seems like this should be done when the ability to RSVP is turned on but not used after that. The reason is that the reminders are sent to everyone, even the people who said No.

Instead, there’s an extension for the Chrome or FireFox browsers called Feature Assistant. It was written by a Scoutmaster to smooth some of Scoutbook’s rough edges. One of the things it does is let you message people who have responded Yes, people who have responded No, or people who have responded Maybe. More on using Scoutbook Calendar.

We can message people who haven’t responded and ask them to RSVP. We can message people who responded Yes and give them info on changes in plans, etc.

Scoutbook prin


One of the things that Scoutbook will let us do is generate reports based on unfulfilled requirements. For example, we could run a report on the Minotaur Patrol and see how many Scouts need to do this:

This would give the Scoutmasters a roadmap for what to focus on at meetings. Of course, this works best if there’s an effort to keep Scoutbook in sync with what Scouts have in their books.

Parents and Scouts should be encouraged to do that themselves, by using Scoutbook on the web or the Scoutbook app on their phone. In Scoutbook, there’s 3 stages of a requirement:

  1. Completed
  2. Leader Approved
  3. Awarded

The ideal situation would be: Scouts or parents mark as completed; Patrol Scoutmaster or Advancement Chair marks as Approved (checking book against Scoutbook); and Advancement Chair marks as Awarded after a Court of Honor.

Marked completed by parent but Leader Approved by Advancement Chair

Protocol for this would seem to be that a parent can mark things as completed for their own Scout but not approve them. That needs to come from a different leader.