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  • New advancement coordinator needs help!

    I'm a new advancement coordinator for a growing cub scout pack of at least 40 kids (maybe more?) The only thing I was given were a printout of a few old emails from den leaders regarding previous advancement. I've been researching an online program that will help us organize the pack and I think something like scouttrack might work. My pack leadership group is too overwhelmed to have the time to consider something like this right now. What can I use in the meantime that can be uploadable to an online program when the pack is ready to consider this option? I desperately need to get something organized for myself and the pack. Do I need to depend solely on excel spreadsheets or is there something else workable? Thanks!

  • #2
    Melissa,

    You have several online/computer options open to you. Your pack can purchase PackMaster a great program that lets you track each boy, his achievements, vital stats, fundraising goals, on and on. My pack has used it for years. It links to the national data base and lets you upload your advancement.

    Another option is to speak with your DE or someone at your Council service center and have them help you set up a ScoutNet account. It's free and relatively easy to use. Your info goes right on to the National database. It even gives you a shopping list to take to your local scout shop.

    There are also several free shareware type spreadsheets available at www.usscouts.org I've used all of them. Using them you can then complete a hand written advancement form your kids awards.

    Go to a roundtable in your area and ask for help. My roundtable has a time slot for Q&A. Ask what others in your area use. Your local scout shop can alos be a great help. As a clerk in mine I've helped lots of newbie advancement chairs get through the first couple of months. Or ask your DE for help or to help you find a mentor in another pack.

    Please don't give up. Help is there you might just have to be a little vocal to get it. GOOD LUCK!

    Comment


    • #3
      If your Pack does not want to go with something like ScoutTrack, then they will not go along with any of the other unit management systems out there, like PackMaster (installed software), or ScoutManage (online like ScoutTrack).

      Until/unless your Pack decides to get off the stick and spring for a Pack management system, your only other option is spreadsheets.

      ScoutNet is not unit management. It is BSA's database, and not always accurate. Most councils now give access to it to their units thru online advancement entering and online re-chartering.

      If you want to compile a history, ask your den leaders for their past advancement/award info.

      BSA has a number of forms that you can use, and/or, have your den leaders use, and give you a copy of monthly -

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/CubScoutMeetingGuide/PDF/Appendix/511-804.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/CubScoutMeetingGuide/PDF/Appendix/511-811.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33828.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/CubScoutMeetingGuide/PDF/Appendix/33847.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/CubScoutMeetingGuide/PDF/Appendix/33850.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34403.pdf

      http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34299_6_7.pdf

      You will have to keep hard copies of these if you want to have the info available if your Pack goes with a Pack management program in the future.

      The Unit Advancement Report is necessary to purchase restricted items, such as rank awards. The rest of these reports are fine if your Pack only awards the advancement awards and belt loops/pins. My Pack purchases small segment patches for all kinds of attendance recognitions (pack meetings, parade, camping, service project, etc), so these do not work well for us. I put together a Pack Meeting award report sheet that the den leaders can fill in, and send to me for whatever type of award they need purchased, and then I would consolidate in on my own spreadsheet for a shopping list.

      Once we got ScoutManage we no longer needed the den advancement reports. Everything was entered online by the den leaders. With ScoutManage we have the capability to create our own, Pack specific, awards, so those could be entered too. Then I can run a complete shopping list, and also a filled in Unit Advancement Report, to take to our local Scout Shop. It automatically archives all award information, so you have it if you need it for any reason.

      Comment


      • #4
        I really liked being the Advancement Coordinator for my Pack. It really helped me get to know the people (adults and youth) and the program. (I'm Webelos Den Leader now)

        We use Scouttrack. It's wonderful. The den leaders update the boys' records, and the AC updates council & does the shopping.

        Before Scouttrack, we used emails, and a week before the Pack meeting, I'd send out the email: "Email me any advancement information." Stuff not in by the deadline go to the next month. Print out all those emails, staple them together, and enter what's necessary into Scoutnet. I kept them in an expandable folder for the year.

        I didn't use spreadsheets, but that's because I never learned Excel.

        Comment


        • #5
          melissalb:

          Somehow when you registered this forum tied your account to my e-mail address. Now every time someone posts in this thread I get an e-mail saying "Hello melissalb, so and so has responded to a thread you are subscribed to..."

          Could you please check your account info and put your e-mail address so I don't get your e-mails?

          Thanks,

          Mark

          Comment


          • #6
            TrainerLady - Thanks for the great tips! I'm anxious to use an shared internet database so I'm going to keep working on the group. I have started playing around with ScoutNet. I appreciate your help!

            ScoutNut - Thanks for the great links! As much as it pains me to think about hard copying everything, I may have to go that route for now... Thanks!

            Greaves - Emails.... Printed out emails are the only trail I have so far. Will definitely keep using the email method for now!

            Mark - How weird is that? I have no idea how that happened, but I think I fixed it. I was wondering why I wasn't receiving any emails!

            Comment


            • #7
              I introduced ScoutTrack to my pack when I moved from another state. Prior to that the cubmaster keep spreadsheet advancement records. And the pack committee chair kept the email list. Needless to say, it was very difficult to keep accurate records. People were left off of emails or old emails didn't get deleted. Advancement ceremonies would be followed by a line of parents saying "My scout didn't get ______ and ______ but they earned it."

              I've looked into the other programs and ScoutTrack fit our needs best: cost (used to be $45 per year), accessibility (online so every parent can access it), advancement (parents & den leaders enter in advancement; ready made reports to track scout & pack progress; however, it would be better if they interfaced with the BSA for reporting purposes), email list (parents get a password and update their own email, phone addresses, etd.), storage for pack e-files like camping plans, calendar (great tool; sends out reminder emails!, tracking leader training...I could go on. But bottom line, go with an online system so that all can use it and benefit from it...it definately is worth paying $50 per year to do it.

              Good luck!
              Cubby's Cubmaster

              Comment


              • #8
                We use online advancement for everything that council will track. takes the place of most online systems. if it did belt loops it would be almost perfect.

                there are a few other things that might not be in online advancement that you might want to track, but most things are there.

                the first time I used online advancement I had to enter every scout's ranks to date, even though we had been submitting rank advancement reports each month when buying things at the scout shop. so enter what you know and submit it, then print off an advancement record and ask the den leaders to verify/add to it.

                since our pack only pays for belt loops one time,
                we use a belt loop tracker (excel) to keep track of which ones we've bought for a kid so far. if you end up with something like scouttrack, an excel spreadsheet might be uploadable --I remember reading something about it.

                we kinda like the combined report form from boyscout trail, it has all the ranks, many of the awards, and all the belt loops. You could have someone make a form and turn it into a pdf to use for all your leaders in case you wanted to keep it. If it was a fillable pdf that would be ideal, with a column for entered in online advancement, purchased and awarded to make it extra useful.

                http://www.boyscouttrail.com/docs/denrecognitionreport.pdf

                we keep a print of everything in an advancement binder all in one place in case someone moves or quits. if people send emails instead of advancement form, we print those and keep em too.(This message has been edited by 5yearscouter)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've been using an excel sheet from http://www.madsenco.com/scouting.shtml to track my troop. I uploaded it to google docs so I could give multiple leaders access. It's a little cumbersome, and some of the formulas across the different tabs broke when I transferred it, but we're getting by.

                  Anyone else use google docs to track advancements? Any good templates to recommend? Does anyone have a good solution for tracking via a smartphone (i.e. iPhone)?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for your thoughts. I'm a wee bit frustrated that we aren't jumping into online tracking. I've set my first deadline for advancement before the pack meeting so I'll get a stab at this for the first time. Still haven't decided whether to use an excel spreadsheet or pen/paper pdf. Will review everyone's suggestions over the weekend and get my act together!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hello all. I have done awards for 2 years now but someone else has done some of the duties for which I was never briefed. I order awards(activity pins, badges, belt loops and pins) but I have no notes on:
                      Service pins: do they automatically calculate in Scout Track? I hear we do ours in September
                      Attendance Bars end of year
                      Who advances their ranks at the end of the year
                      Who does Crossover advancement to boy Scouts and how
                      What else am I missing?
                      Do den leaders take care of beads?
                      Why am I suddenly flooded with "I never got..." requests in the last 2 cycles when I never had a single request in 2 years?

                      I know this can happen if you are not careful to put dates back to back when you collect the report and if parents go in after the deadline and back date. Help??

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think that as the Advancement Coordinator you need to tell the Cubmaster and Committee Chair what you need for advancement software to do your job. It's not a maybe, it's yes or no. I'm betting they won't say no. Set deadlines that you need to have, not what others think they should get. It's a big paperwork slog the first couple of months, especially if you have to recreate advancement in ScoutNet, but you can do it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I never used Scout Track. The management program I used in our Pack was ScoutManage, so I have no idea what Scout Track calculates or how. However, I assume that there should be some kind of lock out process so that parents can not go in and back date stuff. You should also be able to access some kind of report that shows what was awarded, when. Look on the 'Net for a Scout Track support forum.

                          You need to have a discussion with your committee, and Cubmaster. You need to nail down the particulars for your specific Pack. Such as, what awards are in the Pack budget, what awards you should be tracking (inputting into management program), and purchasing, and what is being awarded when, and how,

                          Service pins and attendance bars are optional. Are they included in your Pack's budget? We never did attendance bars at all. We did do Service pins. They were purchased by the Awards/Advancement Chair (me), and awarded at our end of May Pack meeting. Pre-management software, we would discuss service pin years at our Pack Leader Meetings, and have the Cubmaster dig out old Pack Scout rosters to look up a Scout if there was a question of what year he started. Then we would try to make notes so we could remember for next year because those @#X$ pins never stay on, and get lost super easily, so you could not just look at what was on the Scout's shirts! After I brought in the management program, we at least had the list of who got what at the end of last year to go by.

                          We awarded all Totems, Progress Toward Rank beads, Webelos Colors, Webelos Compass, and Elective stuff (beads/arrows/points) at our monthly Pack meetings. Our dens were not responsible for purchasing any den awards.

                          Our Webelos usually crossed to Boy Scouts at our February Blue and Gold banquet. Typically we would do regular award presentation ceremonies for all regular awards earned during the last month. A separate Arrow of Light presentation ceremony for all Webelos earning the AOL, and a separate Crossover to Boy Scouts ceremony for those Webelos moving on to a Boy Scout Troop. The Boy Scouts in our CO's Troop would plan, and put together, the AOL, and Crossover, ceremonies. The Pack also purchased all 5th grade Webelos a nice compass, and the Scouts crossing over to a Troop their new shoulder loops, and Boy Scout Handbook.

                          Rank advancement, or "Graduation", happens at the end of the school year. We did our Graduation ceremony at our end of May Pack meeting. We awarded all Scouts their new necker, a necker slide (homemade-Pack/den specific), and handbook. The rising 5th grade Webelos were awarded an arrow necker slide, and a Vittle Kit (camping cutlery).

                          We always discussed at our monthly Pack Leaders meetings what things where due to be awarded at our next Pack meeting (or two). Den leaders were required to get a list of what they needed to the Advancement/Award Chair at least one week before the Pack meeting. With our Pack management program, den leaders can either go online and fill out what their Scouts have completed/need (prefered), or send a list via e-mail. I like Scout Manage because we can create our own awards and so include for the den leaders everything we might need to purchase for that month. We also get purchase, and award, histories, by Scout, that you can generate reports on.

                          As Award/Advancement Chair I was responsible for keeping track of, purchasing, and sorting by den/Scout, everything we presented to our Pack's Scouts, and leaders, except the red "brag" vest. Our CM's wife made those, so she was responsible for purchasing the necessary material.

                          Generally I was also responsible for purchasing/making what ever theme containers we were using to distribute awards that month (balloons, holiday cards, plastic eggs, etc). I was also in charge of purchasing the whipped topping, and rocket kits for the Pack popcorn sales prizes (although that was more under my hat of Popcorn Kernel, not Award Chair!).

                          Hope this all helps a bit. As I said above, you need to work with your Pack's leaders to coordinate things.
                          Last edited by ScoutNut; 09-08-2013, 01:57 AM.

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