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Treflienne

Rank cards -- are they important?

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22 minutes ago, FireStone said:

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:

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

I think we're looking at two sides of the same coin. Consider the blue card, the unit leader's signature on the middle portion of the card ("APPLICANT's RECORD") is basically a declaration to the effect that the SM has received the unit portion of the card, will make sure the badge becomes part of the unit records, and will order that badge (and certificate) for the scout. I don't see that changing anytime soon. I wager that the "checked and recorded" (by whoever in the unit does checking and recording and, until a few years ago, filling out the BSA Advancement Report) will eventually be replaced by "logged online".

When I took Son #1's Eagle app to HQ, there was a discrepancy on an MB award date (in addition to the one issue that motivated my first post on scouter.com). A date was off in their system.  They had to walk back to the file room, pull his advancement reports and find the source discrepancy (I can't remember if it was on the report or only in their database). They then reconciled everything to what was written on the blue card.

So, I think when BSA says "official record", they are referring to that BSA Advancement Report. Eagle applications and other things will now be checked against what was recorded in Scoutbook, not against the hundreds of sheets of paper that was sent to council from a unit over the scout's tenure.

What is especially nice about this, is the level of transparency to the scout. He/she now can compare cards and handbook with the official record at any time (well, any time with a device and internet, which these days are far closer than council HQ)! This means that discrepancies in award dates, etc ... are likely to be resolved long before the scout turns in his/her Eagle application (which, hopefully will be pre-printed).

Furthermore, that transparency extends to scouters, the last line on the unit portion of the blue card, "certificate and badge presented" is intrinsic to Scoutbook. I think that line will disappear, because most courts of honor are held near where someone with authority can check those boxes on the Needs Awarding Report. Any time the unit advancement chair wants to audit the record, he/she can simply take the stack of blue cards, generate that list online, and check there that all other steps were followed.

But, as I mention above, if there's a discrepancy between the handbook and Scoutbook, we're aligning everything to the handbook. The tail doesn't wag the dog.

Back to @Treflienne. I think the right thing to do with erroneous certificates (if a troop issues one) is to issue a new one with corrected info. That's because it demonstrates to the scout that people make mistakes, and they can make some very official ones. A tenderfoot who knows that you'll correct a certificate will one day be a life scout who knows that you'll reconcile the dates between her blue card and Scoutbook. That could be the difference between a scout who gives up on the trail to Eagle and one who stays in the good race.

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The tenderfoot was consulted as to whether she wanted a corrected card or not.

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A board of review cannot reject a Scout for not having his or her handbook at the BOR, so I don't know if it's correct to say that the handbook is the official record or not.  However, we always sign the Scout's handbook (if the Scout brings it to the BOR).  The members of the board of review are supposed to sign a unit Advancement Report as part of the process.

Scoutbook and Internet Advancement 2.0 both use the same database, so it doesn't matter which one of them units use.  If units use third-party software like Troopmaster, then I would double-check IA 2.0 after uploading the advancement import file to make sure that everything got uploaded correctly.

Guide to Advancement:  Electronic Advancement Reporting

I view the handbook and Scoutbook / IA 2.0 as backups to each other.  So if a Scout loses the handbook or if it gets damaged beyond usability, then Scoutbook / IA 2.0 can be the backup.  I know some people who take pictures of the signature pages in the handbook from time to time.  And electronic records can have their own issues with data being lost or corrupted, so the handbook can be used to correct the electronic record, if needed.  As far as I know, the pocket certificates for rank are not required for anything, but are nice to have.  However, if the handbook got lost / damaged and the electronic record in SB / IA was missing for some reason, then you could probably use the pocket certificate to get the date that the rank was earned.

The blue card is the nationally recognized merit badge record.  If the date doesn't match between the blue card and Scoutbook / IA 2.0, units can correct the date to match.  The merit badge pocket certificate is nice to have, but not required.

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Does any other youth organization have discussions like this? This might seem like a silly question but how does having a most official record support our goals? Asking a scout to try and keep track of his records is a learning opportunity. The internet cloud seems to hurt that. Requiring a specific place (card, book, computer) doesn't seem to help. If a scout came up to me in a panic that he had lost his official record I'd chalk it up to being 14 but I'd give credit that the scout knew there was a problem. At that point the lesson is over so I'd help the scout recreate a new record.

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2 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

A board of review cannot reject a Scout for not having his or her handbook at the BOR, so I don't know if it's correct to say that the handbook is the official record or not.  However, we always sign the Scout's handbook (if the Scout brings it to the BOR).  The members of the board of review are supposed to sign a unit Advancement Report as part of the process. ...

Can a BoR reject a scout if he/she doesn't have Scoutbook? Say, if no internet is available?

We don't waste a scout's time waiting for extra stars to align. Have a quorum? Will review! Our MCs have gotten away from signing anything but the handbook and checking off SB. So that handbook is becoming pretty essential. I guess if we had to we'd sign a label for the scout to put in his book.

I think BSA's point is that going forward, all councils will look to SB for accountability with advancement, and they want units to participate in that process. SB provides a lot of carrots for the unit to do so.

With 20/20 hindsight, I think blue cards should have been used for rank advancement as well as MBs. (Okay, maybe a different color for oval awards, but same dimensions and layout.) The SM or designee would be the "counselor" and would review the scout's handbook for the requisite signatures, discuss any outstanding issues with the scout -- perhaps noting partial completions as usual, and ultimately approve and sign. The scout could then take that card to a BoR, and the chair would approve and sign the applicant's portion. Had this been the procedure for both ovals and circles, we would have had more uniformity. One could then capitalize on that uniformity to use 21st century tech to take photos of the cards, submit them, interpret the image and save relevant fields to a database, and get back those spiffy online reports for cross-checks.

33 minutes ago, MattR said:

Does any other youth organization have discussions like this? This might seem like a silly question but how does having a most official record support our goals? Asking a scout to try and keep track of his records is a learning opportunity. The internet cloud seems to hurt that. Requiring a specific place (card, book, computer) doesn't seem to help. If a scout came up to me in a panic that he had lost his official record I'd chalk it up to being 14 but I'd give credit that the scout knew there was a problem. At that point the lesson is over so I'd help the scout recreate a new record.

Scouts ... Love ... Paperwork. (More or less.) I think we are uniquely obsessed about this sort of thing. Accountability is a big real-world deal in this country, so it may reflect a bit of 21st century citizenship.

However, I am seeing this in other youth activites. E.g., data-driven sports ... our soccer team's statistician had some serious responsibilities that the coaches valued. Of course, the big goal there is to not "earn" yellow/red cards.

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

Can a BoR reject a scout if he/she doesn't have Scoutbook? Say, if no internet is available?

We don't waste a scout's time waiting for extra stars to align. Have a quorum? Will review! Our MCs have gotten away from signing anything but the handbook and checking off SB. So that handbook is becoming pretty essential. I guess if we had to we'd sign a label for the scout to put in his book.


All I am saying is that if a Scout forgot to bring his or her handbook to the BOR, the board cannot reject the Scout just for that reason.  That seems to be what the GTA says: "A Scout must not be rejected at a board of review for reasons unrelated to advancement requirements. For example, the Scout must not be rejected for not bringing a Scouts BSA Handbook or being tardy for a board of review, but the reason for the tardiness may certainly be a topic for discussion."  It seems that it would be appropriate to go ahead and hold the BOR when the signoffs (whether in the Scout's handbook or in Scoutbook or perhaps the Scout has an older version of the handbook and is using the printed sign off sheets "Scouts BSA Rank Requirements" printed from this BSA page ) have already been verified prior to the BOR.  On the other hand, it might be appropriate to postpone the BOR if the Scout forgot the handbook, and the signoffs have not already been verified.

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As others have mentioned, the cards are solid back up documentation.  Handbooks get lost and fall apart.  BSA administrative processes and IT = shoddy at best.

Plus they are great mementos.  I still have all of mine.

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7 hours ago, MattR said:

Does any other youth organization have discussions like this? This might seem like a silly question but how does having a most official record support our goals? Asking a scout to try and keep track of his records is a learning opportunity. The internet cloud seems to hurt that. Requiring a specific place (card, book, computer) doesn't seem to help. If a scout came up to me in a panic that he had lost his official record I'd chalk it up to being 14 but I'd give credit that the scout knew there was a problem. At that point the lesson is over so I'd help the scout recreate a new record.

No. It's out of control. My son's advancement for a single rank was held up for more than a year for something not even part of the requirement, but scouters who are check box mad can do that. Since we're not rank, merit, or Eagle driven, we kind of ignored it. But in the meantime, he lost whatever enthusiasm he had for scouts and almost quit. Thankfully a new scout master has come on board and he's having a better time. 

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