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Treflienne

Rank cards -- are they important?

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My question concerned the small cards stating their new rank, that the scouts are given, along with their new rank patch,  at the COH.

Are these important to save long term?  (like blue cards)      Or does the scout not need to be concerned about saving the card,  since the sign-offs in his book are his documentation that he completed his rank?      Really, what I am asking is:   is there any problem if a scout does not have or keep these cards?

 

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Posted (edited)

The book is the proper documentation for rank advancement. Those cards are actually certificates - awards in and of themselves, and not meant to be official record-keeping. In many lower-income areas, the certificates are the only awards the boys receive, as the patches are too expensive for the units to afford. In other units, they only procure the patches, and never bother with the certificates. Either way, they are optional according to the traditions and preferences of the unit and have no bearing on the Scout's future advancement. In fact my brother, ever frugal, has a standing request in his sons' troop that they not purchase them for his boys as he considers them a waste of money. 

So, no, there is absolutely no problem if the Scout has, does not have, keeps or tosses those cards. They are, for all intents and purposes, unnecessary. What matters is what's in his book. Hope that helps!

Edited by The Latin Scot
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I guess the point is to keep the certificate of your current rank in your wallet along with your membership card. Just in case you're out of uniform and need to vouchsafe your rank. :dry:

What is special about the pocket certificates, IMHO, are the signatures. They don't prove anything beyond what's already in the scout's book and unit records. Years later, however, pulling those cards out of the shoebox in the attic and seeing the signatures of SPL, SM, and CC while your kids fiddle with your sash and loose patches can bring back fond memories. They might remind you of a story or two that you could tell. Or, maybe, your kids might know that SPL's kids or the SM and CC's grandkids. A few more cards in the stack of blue cards ... no harm in that.

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5 minutes ago, qwazse said:

I guess the point is to keep the certificate of your current rank in your wallet along with your membership card. Just in case you're out of uniform and need to vouchsafe your rank. :dry:

What is special about the pocket certificates, IMHO, are the signatures. They don't prove anything beyond what's already in the scout's book and unit records. Years later, however, pulling those cards out of the shoebox in the attic and seeing the signatures of SPL, SM, and CC while your kids fiddle with your sash and loose patches can bring back fond memories. They might remind you of a story or two that you could tell. Or, maybe, your kids might know that SPL's kids or the SM and CC's grandkids. A few more cards in the stack of blue cards ... no harm in that.

Quite true. When I left for college, my mother was going through a tough time after her divorce. In her depression, she sold anything that she didn't see important in her life at a garage sale, much of which was my scouting gear. 30 years later while moving her to another retirement house, I stumble across a small brittle card board box with my scout shirt, neckerchief and a few of those cards. As qwazse points out, the signatures on those cards were valuable part of the treasure. 

Also, for some reason I can't explain, our scouts lost their books more often than they lost their cards. And those cards save more than one scout in proving their advancement for Eagle. Of course, records are more accurate with computers today (am I really that old), but as someone who uses computers everyday in my work, I know computers only do what we tell them to do, not what we want them to do.

Barry

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While it is (now) in Scoutbook or some other software, and likely you do sign the book, so there is a record.  That being said, we encourage our Scouts to save the rank cards and the blue cards as THEIR own documentation.  At times it does come in handy

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Anybody else have a vintage BSA keepsake box? I used this hunk of plastic for my (no idea where I got it from), then handed it down to sons #1 and #2 (who for the life of them couldn't keep anything in one place).

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9 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

The book is the proper documentation for rank advancement...

Is it? I've been under the impression that Scoutbook is now the official document/record.

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10 minutes ago, FireStone said:

Is it? I've been under the impression that Scoutbook is now the official document/record.

My flip phone would beg to differ! So would my iPad 2.0. So would the wilderness where there is no reception! :p There's lots of places where the handbook works and Scoutbook doesn't. (There are also places where both work poorly, e.g. in aquatics areas, at pen-freezing temps,  and under the usual torrential downpours that involve camping with me. But, in most of those scenarios, it's easier to set up shelter where a HB works and SP doesn't.) It's far more reliable for a scout to get the sign-off in the book, then later touch base with the SM/ASM whose device can check it off.

We still use the HB as primary. Even the BSA uniform inspection sheet mention's it, and not SB, on uniform inspection.

Although, if one of our scouts isn't wearing his handbook, there's no way that the SPL's docking them 15 points on uniform inspection.

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11 hours ago, Treflienne said:

 Really, what I am asking is:   is there any problem if a scout does not have or keep these cards?

 

I'll get to my rant in a few lines, but I think the answer to your question is first, as Latin Scot said, those cards for ranks are optional certificates not records in the way that blue cards are records.  So it is much less likely that not having one of them is going to cause consternation in comparison to not having a blue card.  A 17 year old Life scout getting his paperwork together for Eagle is not going to be challenged as to whether or not he was Tenderfoot or Second Class along the way, but during that same time and circumstance there does need to be some record somewhere that they earned Swimming and Leatherworking six years earlier at their first summer camp.  So putting some effort into saving the blue cards is in the scout's best interest.

Here's the rant:

I am a big fan of recording achievements in a scout's handbook, and in getting blue cards signed and then holding on to them, AND also in promptly recording all those things in electronic databases.

But, we get a lot of these types of questions on this forum, and I think as an institution we tend to think too legalistically about them.  Handbooks, blue cards, Troopmaster, Scoutnet, these are all just recordings about facts.  They are one, but only one among many, possible pieces of evidence of the facts, not the facts themselves.

If a scout completes a merit badge, than the fact is he has completed the merit badge.  If his blue card is in his pocket when his clothes are washed and all he now has is wad of blue pulp, that doesn't change the fact that he completed the merit badge.  We can ask him to make some reasonable efforts to try reproduce that record, but if he can't that doesn't change the fact that he EARNED the merit badge.  Similarly, if a scout has completed half the requirements for 1st Class and then his handbook gets sucked in to the monstrous maw that hunts all things owned by twelve year olds, we can again ask him to take reasonable steps to try to recreate the records of completing those requirements, but the important fact is that he has COMPLETED those requirements.  Blue cards, handbooks, electronic records, those are good evidence, but equally good evidence is a scout or scouter's attestation, on their Honor as a Scout, that a merit badge or requirement or rank was earned.  These aren't legal documents, they're bits and pieces recording that a kid had some fun and learned something while having it.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

My flip phone would beg to differ! So would my iPad 2.0. So would the wilderness where there is no reception! :p There's lots of places where the handbook works and Scoutbook doesn't. (There are also places where both work poorly, e.g. in aquatics areas, at pen-freezing temps,  and under the usual torrential downpours that involve camping with me. But, in most of those scenarios, it's easier to set up shelter where a HB works and SP doesn't.) It's far more reliable for a scout to get the sign-off in the book, then later touch base with the SM/ASM whose device can check it off.

We still use the HB as primary. Even the BSA uniform inspection sheet mention's it, and not SB, on uniform inspection.

Although, if one of our scouts isn't wearing his handbook, there's no way that the SPL's docking them 15 points on uniform inspection.

I didn't mean which one is more practical, which I agree the printed book is more reliable for out in the woods. But my understanding is that the handbook is no longer the "official" record of scout advancement, Scoutbook is. Aside from the challenges of a digital record-keeping solution, and that the handbook is still a required resource along with the uniform, the line we've been getting at least here in our Council is that Scoutbook is the official record.

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Thank you very much.   Your replies have been helpful.

My troop botched the card for one of our Tenderfeet, and it was not noticed until very shortly before time to hand the scout the card and patch.   I think I will ask the scout whether she wants a correct card to save, or whether she does not care.

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1 hour ago, FireStone said:

I didn't mean which one is more practical, which I agree the printed book is more reliable for out in the woods. But my understanding is that the handbook is no longer the "official" record of scout advancement, Scoutbook is. Aside from the challenges of a digital record-keeping solution, and that the handbook is still a required resource along with the uniform, the line we've been getting at least here in our Council is that Scoutbook is the official record.

Scoutbook is just one, of several, ways to record info and have it feed to the official advancement database.  Troopmaster also synchs through Internet Advancement to do that.  Being Scoutbook is now owned by BSA, and it is free to use, I can appreciate why so many see it as "official".  

We generally have a "no phone" policy at our meetings and outings, so the kids are generally getting rank requirements signed off in their HB.  I think our unit is about average, that 75% of the youth have even linked themselves in SB.  As far as how many actually access it beyond that first time- probably 10%.  If our SPL, ASPL, etc. aren't actually using SB, doubtful we'll have a great deal of success getting them to do their sign-offs on other Scouts using it (and, go back to our "no phones" policy...).

So, I would say HB is the official for rank requirements.  For MBs, once the Scout has given the blue card to the Advancement Coordinator to log it, by whatever means the unit is using, then that blue card no longer is significant.  And, if his handbook says under Star that he/she earned MB1, MB 2, etc. then that is now an official record.  By the time a kid goes for Eagle, it is official that they have earned at least those MBs listed in their HB.

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I have never trusted electronic record-keeping, despite all the 'convenience' it supposes to deliver. Too many units use too many different systems, and they are prone to error.

The book, however, is ALWAYS accepted as proof of record, in every program, in every unit (or at least official policy mandates as such). Stick to using the book, and you can't go wrong. Unless you lose or destroy it of course, but then, you can always take pictures of it regularly if you just HAVE to have some kind of electronic record. 😉

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It makes sense to that a council would consider SB to be the official unit record of advancement. That sure beats my SM's shoe box. Although he managed it well, my brother wasn't so lucky with his SM.

But, units fail. Electronic records get lost. The official scout record remains the handbook. Unless you find it to not be so with a quote from the Guide to Advancement.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

It makes sense to that a council would consider SB to be the official unit record of advancement. That sure beats my SM's shoe box. Although he managed it well, my brother wasn't so lucky with his SM.

But, units fail. Electronic records get lost. The official scout record remains the handbook. Unless you find it to not be so with a quote from the Guide to Advancement.

I haven't seen it in the G2A, just keep hearing that Scoutbook is the official record in various places, like this Bryan on Scouting post:

Quote

Once Scoutbook Lite is released, the Scoutbook database will become the official record of advancement for the BSA.

https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2017/12/21/scoutbook-lite-to-replace-bsas-internet-advancement-platform-in-early-2018/

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