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Posted (edited)
Hello fellow Scouters and thank you for letting me join this forum!
 
I wanted to share something with everyone that I recently created for a group of scoutmasters I met at a University of Scouting event here in the Omaha metro. 
 
When my boys bridged over from Webelos the former scoutmaster found out I was an Eagle Scout and military veteran, so he asked if I wanted to take the reins of troop since his sons had made Eagle scout years ago. While I have years of Scouting under my belt and years of experience utilizing my survival skills in Afghanistan, I was very nervous. Honestly, I didn't even know where to start. 1). I wasn't born in Nebraska and didn't grow up here, so I had no clue about the hidden-treasure campsites all of the others seem to know about. 2). Military experience does not somehow magically give someone the ability to train youth. 3). I was now responsible for the lives of 70+ boys during troop activities and campouts.
 
All I can say is... wow! I was completely overwhelmed, so I went back to the basics. 
  1. What makes the troop run? Answer... the Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC).
  2. How can I get 70+ boys on the same page? Answer... a strong Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) that has the Patrol Leaders (PLs) constantly using the Patrol Method.
  3. How can I ensure consistency? Answer... develop a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) that acts as a sort of living-and-breathing pass down book of information. 

We had a closet of binders with all sorts of outdated information and, of course, there was the sea of online resources out there that was like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant. That got me thinking about the next scoutmaster... the one after that... so on and so forth. 

I thought to myself... what is the most simple way to collect and share information? Answer... OneNote. It is a very basic, but very powerful (free) program management tool that is pre-loaded on all Microsoft machines, it is accessible online, and it can be accessed on all smartphones/tablets (it is available for Macs too).

So, in keeping with the scouting spirit... I made a public version of the OneNote digital Troop Book I compiled for my Troop and I am wanting to share it with all of you. This is what the SPL uses to help run the show. Now, this is a public version that everyone can use to copy tabs and pages over to their troop's own OneNote file... but feel free to add tabs and information to this public version.  https://1drv.ms/f/s!Alr8Y5Jfi-zJhJJB7gi6h9RKI_o-ug
 
I know some folks aren't familiar with OneNote, or how to even copy pages from this public version to a private version for their own troop, so I created a sort of "how to" instructional video. Up front, I am not a professional narrator... and I was kind of just winging it... but here is the URL to the instructional video... https://youtu.be/bWdN0jjrnj8
 
Overall, there are a lot of changes happening in scouting...  so our focus needs to be on delivering a quality training program to the scouts in our community. For those that are new to scouting and don't know where to start... I hope this helps get you on the right path. 
 
Edited by Gilwell_1919
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Scanned your troop book, but didn't have time to look at the video.

Excellent work.

I would suggest under activities, you add two forms:

  • Permission slip. If you are using BSA's form, just include the link.
  • Hike/camp plan of where, when, how (e.g. transportation, which adult leaders will be present/driving, who reviewed and approved the plan). This could be another page on your campout planner form, or it could be a separate page that the PLC or a patrol might use, for example, to get their event on the calendar.

FWIW, not every SPL will be good with software like this. As long as your prepared to help a scout manage the same material using pencil and paper, you'll be fine.  (Instead of documents, the scribe uploads pictures of his paperwork.)

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Great work.  I always thought a "pocket guide" to troop operations would have been a useful tool when I was Scoutmastering.  This comes about as close as anything I've seen.  I think the key is going to be how much it actually gets used by the youth and adult leaders and (even if it isn't really intended for them) the parents:  The more that people rely on it, the better chance it will have of being updated over the years and integrated into troop practices, rather than becoming an electronic version of those outdated binders in the closet. 

You may already have some kind of new parent information guide with troop meeting time and location, where to get uniforms, troop dues and fees, how to get troop email, and a complete calendar (all school dates, all troop, PLC, and Committee meeting dates, Courts of Honor, service projects, campouts and other activities, summer camp / high adventure), and everything that needs volunteer help.  If you do, I'd suggest integrating that into the Troop Book.  If you don't, I'd suggest adding a new "Parents" section right at the top.  When one of your experienced parents -- unprompted -- tells new parents that the first thing they need to go is get the Troop Book, you're there.  And the parents will love you for making this available to them.  Not only does it answer a lot of their questions, it will help enlist them into supporting what you are doing, and will lead to some of them volunteering.  

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@qwazse

Great suggestions! Thank you. If you have some... would you be willing to add them to this book? That would be incredibly helpful. If not, I can create some. 

I work with the SPL and PLs at our monthly PLC, and we conduct training on OneNote. These young kids eat it up... they feel empowered and in control. 

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@dkurtenbach

Thank you! 

We use scoutlander for our calendar, internal communications, sharing pictures, etc. We use Groups.IO for mass communications, and we use scoutbook for everything else.

On Scoutlander, we have all of the information for new parents, our annual plan, and the calendar with all of that information. The goal of this digital troop book is more of a "how to"... as well as any other type of information we want to capture and pass along to future generations. But yes, I want to get everyone on-board. All of my scouts and their parents have complete access to this book, Scoutlander, and Scoutbook.... so they have as much info at their fingertips as the could possibly want. I only rolled this out a few months ago, so it is a "work in progress", but so far everyone seems to enjoy the transparency and flow of information. 

Maybe I am a bit idealistic... but I would like other leaders and scouts (across the world) to add information to this. Cooking recipes, camping tricks, etc. Little nuggets of info that can be passed down to future scouts. :)

Thank you again for taking the time to look over it and give your input. I sincerely appreciate the effort!

 

Happy New Year!

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2 hours ago, Gilwell_1919 said:
 [A]nd, of course, there was the sea of online resources out there that was like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant.

And . . .

9 minutes ago, Gilwell_1919 said:

Maybe I am a bit idealistic... but I would like other leaders and scouts (across the world) to add information to this. Cooking recipes, camping tricks, etc. Little nuggets of info that can be passed down to future scouts. :)

But . . . 

11 minutes ago, Gilwell_1919 said:

The goal of this digital troop book is more of a "how to"... All of my scouts and their parents have complete access to this book, Scoutlander, and Scoutbook.... so they have as much info at their fingertips as the could possibly want.  

(Emphasis added to the last quote.)  Now I'm just a little confused about what and who it is for and how it would be used. 

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@dkurtenbach

The OneNote SOP is what I created for my Troop. I created a standardized version to share online for anyone who wants to use something similar... that way they can take what I have done and create one for their troops. Since the public OneNote version is just a public template... if people want to add to it... they are more than welcome to add to it. If people add in new tabs and pages... I can snag them to incorporate into my Troop's OneNote. 

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Posted (edited)

Great work!  It's clear that a lot of time and effort went into your Troop Book. 

One thing to consider is that the BSA is constantly changing requirements for ranks, awards, and merit badges, so you might want to consider linking directly to BSA pages such as:

https://www.scouting.org/programs/boy-scouts/advancement-and-awards/
https://www.scouting.org/programs/boy-scouts/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/
https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/

Unfortunately, the Requirements Book does not always list all of the changes made each year, so I think you are probably better off just linking to BSA original sources whenever possible.

Same with BSA forms like permission slips, Annual Health and Medical Record forms, etc.

Edited by Thunderbird
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Have you browsed https://troopleader.org/?

It has a hodge-podge of materials that may fit.

One of thier many links will take you here https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/forms/. One of the .pdf links is to a permission slip.

For a while, BSA had a tour permit .pdf. Although it no longer is in use, I thought it would have been a great tool for patrol leaders.

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Thank you for sharing this template!  I already use OneNote for my personal life and keeping up with meeting notes for jobs so I am familiar with the application :)   ....now off to continue my preparations for our new troop starting in two weeks....

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