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Pros & Cons of the free Website for Scouts

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  • Pros & Cons of the free Website for Scouts

    We want to set up a website for our Troop. It seems to me there are four free hosting sites: Scoutlander, Yola and two others that are bookmarked on my other laptop. By the way, I'm VERY familiar with GoDaddy.

    Many seem to pick Scoutlander but I'm finding I don't like their presentation style and getting the automatic email notices.

    What other website hostings are out there? Pros and cons of them? Things I should consider BESIDES the BSA policy of websites.. *laughing

    On the calendar: pros and cons on making it visible? Scoutlander puts it behind a password that I think defeats the purpose of a Troop webpage and I noticed our neighbor Troops don't keep theirs hidden either.

  • #2

    Pluses - Integrates with troopmaster/packmaster. Automatic email lists. Automatic newsletters. Easy to post pictures, annoucements and other items. Any page can be public or private based on what you want or need. *** Calendars integate with outlook, google calendar, iphone calendars etc.) Generally a great solution.

    Cons - Costs $99 per year (reasonable). No printable calendar.

    Note that wants "donations" now.


    • #3
      We use Scoutlander and love it. We have both a public site and a password-protected members-only area.

      The public area is used for recruiting purposes, and the private area for specific info such as what to pack for summer camp, OA info for affected members, the membership lists, etc. We also keep a private photo album there vs. the smaller public photo area. The calendar feature is also nice. Auto-emailings can be limited so as not to be annoying in volume.

      We haven't made a donation for the site yet but the Committee has agreed to it.



      • #4
        Correction. Now it has a printable calendar. Really nice. I'm pretty excited. I have three units to get that have annual planning sessions pretty quick here.


        • #5
          We use Scoutlander because of the email updates. I put some things on the calendar, like school events, as place holder so that we don't schedule a pack event the same day, and I am able to turn off notifications for those events. I also like how it will only notify members of my den regarding my den meetings. I also have a public page for recruiting. I didn't know I could print the calendar. I'll have to try that out.


          • #6
            You should look into Google Sites. It is free and does not insert ads into your pages. It also has a very easy to use editing interface. As the site owner, you can delegate editing permissions to other leaders to help you maintain the pages.

            I have not set up a scouting site before, but I have created several sites with it for another nonprofit org.

            You can set up private areas for members, but they have to create Google accounts for themselves instead of getting a password for just your site.


            • #7
              I've used Google sites, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc. They are good free tools, but they are flaky and generic. Some Google spreadsheet commands just don't work and other commands fail in different modes. Google docs has gone thru cycles where parts just doesn't work for a few weeks at a time. At this point, I have a hard time depending on them. They are good tools for free. And Google sites seems pretty good.

              For $99 per year, is a specific solution. Multiple automatic mailing lists for the troop, leaders, patrols, etc. Automated emailings that go out regularly with auto-generated newsletters. Roster management. Scouting targetted features for managing files, photos and many other features.


              • #8
                Yes, Google Sites is not a troop-specific service. It provides generic tools which I have found very useful for other nonprofits.

                Sites does not provide any sort of mailing list service, which is definitely a limitation. One way to make announcements work would be to create a Google Group and link it to the website, which I think provides a notification option.

                Google Apps for Business is also free for nonprofits and provides a lot more services including mailing lists. However I have found it to be too complex for smaller orgs.

                The Docs spreadsheet is flaky if your internet service is unreliable. I have never had a problem with the Sites tools. You don't need the online spreadsheet for sites.


                • #9
                  Google Sites in conjunction with Google Groups works pretty well. You can limit access to private information/pages to only those who are members of the group, and have public information shared with the world. And, you can use a custom domain name.

                  As for the spreadsheets... I love 'em. For summer camp this year, I was able to make a form which had the merit badge offers by time slot, and let the boys work out their own schedule. That flowed into a spreadsheet we were able to keep as a master schedule.

                  Likewise, signups for other events which require data to be collected can be managed this way.

                  Scoutlander has some good functionality for troop management, and having targeted emails to a Patrol. The only thing I dont like is the use of Cub Scout colors on the Troop emails and web pages. Itbisna not, but i find it to be a bit detracting. The support folks so far haven't responded to a request to update the style sheet used for troop pages or email templates...

                  (This message has been edited by Eolesen)


                  • #10
                    If you are just looking for a website, and a place to host the site, Dreamhost provides free hosting for non-profits.

                    We currently use a Wordpress site for our Pack's website and Dreamhost hosts it for us for free.

                    See here:


                    • #11
                      Yah, hmmmm...

                      Why don't yeh ask your PLC to look into it and do what they want? Seems like da right sort of thing for a project for interested and tech-savvy youth leaders.



                      • #12
                        The troop has had a youth webmaster for a few years. He's done a great job.

                        The crew has Google-Site/Google-Group/and I use Google Spreadsheets. The youth are responsible for a Facebook group as well -- that is turning more into an alumni association.

                        While we're jawing about this ... do any of you all know if there is any way to make unit tools on link with anything else? For example can I embed that calendar into a website?