Boy Scout advancement plan

Launch Versionbeta 3beta 2beta 1
Help Contents

This app offers for free (and without warranty) some essential planning and tracking features for patrols of new scouts in the Boy Scouts of America. These capabilities are frequently exceeded by a good memory and habits to faithfully keep a patrol journal. If only I had the discipline and training to work on paper that I had to write code and make databases. But if it were so, we might not have shared the pleasure of this virtual introduction to my app!

To try it, just click or tap, browse by icon, and input data freely. No registration nor accounts to create. Make any edits you'd like and you can save it locally right in your browser.

The action bar at the bottom of every screen in this app has a and a which are active when such actions are desirable. Think of the as a single but powerful undo that rewinds the app back to the last point at which was picked. Please read carefully and understand the content on this About tab so you might know how your data is stored and ways you might backup your data. See the top of the about tab for the last modified date of this app.

While I work on the latest improvements, feel free to use beta 2 or beta 1 at your discretion or to test them all out in parallel. The latest and beta 2 automatically prompts to upgrade the existing beta 1 data, but otherwise beta 1 operates separate from latest and beta 2.

Who should try this app?
  • Assistant Scoutmasters for scouts working towards First Class
  • Scouts working towards First Class
  • Parents of scouts working towards First Class
  • Boys age eleven (or older) who might like to join a patrol
  • Friends of scouts
  • Former scouts
  • Anyone who loves scouting!
What this app offers

Would you like to offer your time in support of a boy scouts patrol in your area? Would you like to join a boy scouts patrol? Would you like to improve your experience with boy scouts? Here is how this app can help.

Have a checklist for guiding the adventures of new boy scouts organized by topic
Prepare to create a patrol calendar
Create a patrol calendar in the app
Create a patrol calendar on paper
Verify the patrol calendar regularly
Track who attended right on the calendar
Track the requirements completed after marking who attended
Transfer completed requirements from the handbook (2009) to the app
Transfer your boys' completed requirements from the app to the handbook
View a checklist for completing BSA requirements (2009)
Trace single items between 2016 BSA rank requirements and 2009 BSA rank requirements
See what's new in 2016 BSA rank requirements
See what's deprecated in 2016 BSA rank requirements
New features that I am entertaining for inclusion

In order of personal priority.

  • Custom events and/or tasks
  • Cloud save (Google Cloud Storage)
  • Cloud share
  • Materials lists for meetings
  • Merit badge suggestions
  • Calendar sharing
  • Patrol responsibilities record
  • Rank advancement record
Disclaimer (what you must know)

Please see the terms of service for important disclosures.

This app is beta software and without warranty of any kind. Like any other tool, this app must be used carefully and thoughtfully to be effective and secure. The language, tools and records in this app are not authoritative, but are developed to be a terse or utilitarian reminder of the explicit BSA rank requirements. To be effective, guidance is required from those who understand the BSA program and are properly trained. In fact, I wouldn't doubt that proper training and experience would alleviate some need for this app, but that is another discussion entirely.

All assurances about your data are your own. The mechanism of saving and loading operates within the browser's cache and not on my server. Please expect that I cannot recover lost data for you. I created import and export functions to help protect myself and other users from any action, setting or plugin that may clear this local cache unexpectedly.

This is a beta app, so please expect any scout data you store may get corrupted and need to be manually repaired. See the troubleshooting section for more help.

Some aspects of saving scout data require certain permalinks also called (very) foreign keys or external references. I have crafted a few permalinks from your scouts to my multipart requirements and from your calendar plan to my event templates, but it is not well tested. Once I feel more confident in my permalinks and data structures, and when I feel like I have taken due measures to preserve your calendar and scout entries into my app, I will stop calling this app a beta, but until I do so, please consider that in some situations you might need to contact me patiently for help, or else simply wipe the data and start over to restore a working app.

A special thank you goes to my wife Julie for most of the illustrations (done on day 1 of app development), help crafting the spreadsheet which formed the basis of this app, reviewing the requirements organization and descriptions, for putting food in front of me and my two boys frequently, and a few more jobs in supporting this app that I haven't asked of her yet. I would also like to thank you, the patient reader of this about tab!

Design choices (and more disclaimers)

Some adventures are repeated throughout the year including camping, service, fitness and advancement. Scouts can work together with separate roles towards separate ranks for repeated adventures, so in those cases I encourage each scout to focus on requirements of a single rank. In subsequent repeats, I encourage the scout to take greater responsibility and to progress in rank. The repetition solidifies learning but also gives boys the chance to grow in accomplishments and responsibilities.

Some requirements in this app are split into multiple parts by design and necessity, so I hope you will agree with me that repeated requirements in the rank advancement tab is not a bug. Here are my reasons for the split in chronological order of need:

  1. Track progress in greater detail for complex requirements
  2. Clarify and contrast the 2016 requirements from legacy requirements
  3. Organize requirements into patrol meeting topics
  4. Add requirements sensibly and chronologically within events on a calendar

Now what this means is that some requirements are completed through multiple calendar events, so topics form a progression best completed as a whole. Of course I limited these divisions where it made sense to me, but I recognize that my patrol or any of my scouts who attends or completes a fraction of the activities, will have somewhat less than that fraction of their book signed off, even once I catch them up for all the times they forgot their book. Frequency of scouts missing meetings and forgetting their books is a big reason I was driven to the spreadsheet that made way for this app!

Troubleshooting and known issues

To preserve the scout data saved on this browser, do not use any import functions. Instead, use an export function to download a file, show/copy the data from the browser to a file, or confirm your manual hard copy (written).

From the options tab, picking may trigger navigation on some browsers, so pick first as a precaution (see the glossary). Unsaved edits are lost when you navigate away from the app page. Saved edits are not lost by navigation alone, but clearing the cache will delete saved edits, so save often and export regularly for recovery from browser incidents.

  • Are some scouts or calendar items missing while others remain?
  • Is all data missing from the app?
  • Do some calendar events show "undefined" or are mismatched to the adventure? Has the blue link turned gray on the meeting plan?

Does the app appear to be broken in one of your browsers? Try the following steps to repair browser issues related to your configuration.

  • Update your browser.
  • Verify settings or plugins are not blocking the localStorage object for this website (might be referred to as site cache or local cache).
  • Close and re-open your browser (required to receive app updates).

General troubleshooting steps for current users.

  • If you make an improvement, or a problem disappears or is repaired at any point, remember to push save after verifying improvement
  • If you make a mistake, or a problem appears or is made worse at any point, remember to push reload to try something else
  • While this app is in beta many data structures are still in flux, so I suggest deleting and re-entering user information with new app versions as a way to provide a better user experience.
  • If problems began with an app update, then delete any offending records and recreate them to see if the problem goes away. (See the top of the about tab for the last modified date of this app)
  • If all else fails, perform a wipe from the options tab. Confirm possession of or create an independent record (hard copy) of all important data first.
  • If the wipe and save fails to reset the app to working order, you might go clear the browser cache to remove the localStorage object and all saved data. Unfortunately, browsers do not commonly offer a way to clear this cache without also deleting other cookies and cache for all sites. Please consider that some features for your family's favorite websites may also be affected noticably by clearing the cache.
What do boy scouts do?

Young boy scouts, especially eleven year old boy scouts and those on the path to First Class scout, have joined onto a path to attain a breadth of knowledge and experience. This is a path to becoming capable and honorable men one day. When a boy joins their first patrol, for many, it is also their first brotherhood and first team after their own family, and often their first chance to be a leader among their peers. After First Class, scouts are challenged in depth at many topics (merit badges) increasing in breadth once again as they progress through the ranks of Star Scout and Life Scout. They reach a full breadth of challenge in scouting again by earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

So, the boys' first patrol can be their first brotherhood and a quorum in training. A boy can have a chance to partake of First Class scouting beginning as soon as age eleven and by his regular participation and heed, he will become an Eagle Scout in training. My hope for each one of my scouts after graduating from our patrol is that he can become an Eagle Scout, so that he may show himself that he is on a path to become a moral and honorable man.

What do I do for boy scouts?

In fall of 2014, I began helping the boy scouts in the new scout patrol. This began my first experience as an adult in scouting. Perhaps by no coincidence, my new beginning is twenty years since I was awarded my Eagle Scout rank.

In my new responsibility, I joined a 7 year veteran Assistant Scoutmaster for the new scout patrol and did my best to fake my way through a complete lack of recent familiarity or experience through several patrol meetings. In much of my spare time, my head is still swirling at the challenge of this task.

Scouts enroll and join my new scout patrol upon turning 11, and move up at age 12, so I consider that boys will be practicing at different levels of experience in parallel. Until I know how my boy scouts have progressed, I cannot be effective in helping their progression. I include all boy scouts in the meeting and encourage parents and family to attend meetings and fathers to attend campouts.

How is BSA changing in 2016?

The Boy Scouts of America will be publishing their 13th edition of the boy scout handbook on January 20th 2016! With that update comes new requirements. All Boy Scouts may transition as soon as 2016 and must fully transition to new requirements by 2017.

2009 Requirements
The legacy BSA requirements for rank advancement as of 2009. The 2009 track is deprecated in 2016 and obsolete by 2017. My detailed understanding of the transition is as follows.
New scouts
May not use legacy requirements in 2016.
Tenderfoot scouts
May use legacy requirements through First Class until 2017.
All other scouts
May use legacy requirements for one more rank as of January 1st 2016.
2016 Requirements
The new BSA requirements for rank advancement to be introduced in 2016. I am excited for the new handbook!
All scouts
May use 2016 requirements as of January 1st 2016. Must use 2016 requirements as of January 1st 2017.
Scouts who join in 2016
Scouts who start working on requirements in 2016
Must use new requirements as of January 1st 2016.
Why did I make this app?

Since spring and when school got out, our patrol meetings have suffered from tardiness and unpredictable absenses of both scouts and leaders. Or maybe I'm over-dramatizing the situation, and we just need someone to buy these guys some wrist watches. I also thought a suitably tasty treat enjoyed by those who are timely might properly affect their timeliness. So regardless of proper causation, I have felt the weight and urgency to improve our patrol meetings while the progress of the boys has received more time pressure than necessary. In context of our service to these boys, I feel this is the primary challenge on which we all ought to put our best ideas, focus and energies.

I have thought about and studied quite a bit recently about the boys' opportunities on the path to advancement. As I have been reminded, this new scout patrol is usually their first brotherhood and a foundation for their remaining years as boy scouts. Failure now might become a barrier to their progress in scouts so also in life. Success may aid them in finding their path to be the best man that they can be. So at 11 years old, these scouts have a pivotal year of activity.

Some scouts have learning disabilities or impatience for learning new skills. I have been taught that a clear agenda, and an illustrative way to set the cadence of the meeting helps in mental preparation and follow through irrespective of disabilities or other personal challenges.

I wrote this app for helping 11 year old boy scouts, or in guiding what is often called the new scout patrol. It was conceived by me in a desire to be more effective in understanding the work to be done, and the progress of my boy scouts. I had originally only intended to create a spreadsheet for requirements tracking which I began in the new year.

I worked to improve the spreadsheet until one day I came upon the document detailing the 2016 program changes for Boy Scouts, with full details and comparison to the 2009 handbook requirements. Many changes were coming, but at the same time, not much was changing. To prepare for the change, I decided to act to add columns to my spreadsheet to show both the old and new requirements notation. I added rows for the new requirements, but this map was not one to one, so I also added rows to help reflect what parts between the old and new requirements were basically the same. By 17 August 2015, I had completed my first iteration of that map, which moved my checklist quite progressively towards the new requirements.

On 9 September 2015, I had an epiphany which started by my labelling each requirement with a meeting type. Patrol meetings, camp, conferences, homework, swim, hike, trips and other events. Most requirements could be done in a patrol meeting, so I labelled them "patrol". However, many of the other meeting types were really topics too such as swim and hike.

I realized that the meeting types should be further divided into categories by adding a week number to group them. I saw two swimming activities, and not many hikes, so it was easy to logically separate the swimming and hiking into separate weeks. But then all the patrol meetings, I had to pick out from a large list which ones fit together and assign numbers to them. So, I added a topic column and replaced the meeting type to reference a particular day. Patrol meetings were Wednesday, other activities were Friday or Saturday. I already had added a chapter names column referencing the 2009 BSA handbook for these requirements, so the topic column was really a modest extension which added my own style of categorization to the requirements.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had taken all the requirements through First Class, and organized them into topics, weeks and days. I got really excited as I realized I might have just made a plan for all my patrol meetings and activities.

I continued to improve and maintain my spreadsheet along these lines until Friday 18 September 2015. And then something curious happened. That morning, before heading into work and in excitement for capitalizing on my discovered year's worth of meeting agendas, I added a table-to-json converter to my website so I could read and convert the spreadsheet programmatically. I wanted to start exploring this idea of grouping requirements to create meeting plans. My hope was that I could print agendas before patrol meetings by simply picking from a list of meeting plans. At work, I checked my personal email and scrolled to the bottom of a newsletter mentioning that the LDSTech conference was coming up which included a game and app contest! I saw that my efforts up through this very morning had been leading up to this contest, so I got really excited once again. There was only one slight problem. The contest submission deadline was Friday! Today! And I had unknowingly started development on the app to be submitted today!

So now you know why I can honestly say I made this app in a day, and at time of submission I barely laid claim at a single poorly written feature and mockup of a second feature. Since that day, LDSTech conference approached quickly and I have laid claim on many features. Now, I feel I am much closer to my vision of what this app can be.

By submitting an app before spending much time developing, I really felt the pressure and motivation of many other eyes reviewing and trying my app. So to a great extent, my work on this app has been one continuous sprint since that day. They did not award a category for most improved, so I did not win, nor did I hope to win nor even to do well, neither in the judging nor in the popularity contest. I really just aimed to have as much of a rockstar utility knife style app by the time LDSTech conference began which was motivation enough for me.

Faith in the Lord, love, patience, forgiveness and repentance — these essentials really do transform our sins, transgressions and adversity into something worthy, and by that I mean something to really brag about. The best challenges and adversities come from within, and when accepted for conquering, will grow the best parts of ourselves and our lives.

Glossary of illustrations, terms and abbreviations
Ready for signoff as of the date shown
scouts tab
adventures tab
ranks tab
calendar tab
options tab
about tab (this tab)
fullscreen toggle button
Sends the pick to the ranks tab for inspection
a fire and a tent
the camp topic (the topic icon is the left icon)
three people arm to arm
the family topic
a running person
the fitness topic
a square knot
the knots topic
a waving flag on a pole
the nation topic
a broad tree near a flowing stream
the outdoors topic
a saluting scout
the scouts topic
a hand extending forward
the service topic
a saw laid across an ax
the tools topic
a person swimming in choppy water
the water topic
a bandage
the first aid topic
an oval climbing stairs
the rank advancement topic
six people standing in a circle
A patrol meeting activity
a pencil and a paper
A homework activity
a fire and a tent
A campout activity (the activity icon is the right icon)
A field trip activity
two individuals sitting and facing one another
An interview activity
an oval climbing stairs
A Court of honor activity
First Class rank requirement
Second Class rank requirement
The first task item done in Second Class requirement 3e
The fifth task item done in Second Class requirement 3e
This scout finished all items to complete Second Class requirement 3e
Plan this event 3 times annually (generally, repeat each event annually or once per scout)
The 2009 BSA Handbook
The 2016 BSA Handbook
Delete Cache
Remove all scout data from your browser immediately without confirmation.
Forgets all edits which have been saved.
Short for demonstrate or to show by doing
To output your scout data in JSON format to a file named by date and time.
Includes unsaved edits!
To be used with Upload
Distance in feet
Hypertext Markup Language 5 is the kind of web standard that can take us into the future. For instance, date and time controls make sense and remove the need for most other datetime controls. The standards body figured that out ahead of almost any browser technology which implements those standards. As of this writing, many browsers are still behind on implementing one or both of those controls. I use my website articles in the "browse" category as reference when creating my own HTML5 documents. Feel free to do likewise!
Import Paste
Paste your scout data in the expected JSON format so you can restore a backup.
Forgets unsaved edits and prepares to replace saved edits!
To be used with Show Copy.
Joining requirement
JSON format
Javascript Object Notation is the data format—how the app reads, queries, modifies and stores data effectively
Distance in miles
Page down towards the bottom of the visible content
Page up towards the top of the visible content
Pick by ∪
Picks items similar to the current pick
Restore from last save to cancel unsaved edits.
Forgets unsaved edits!
The numeric hint before checkboxes to show the experience level for repeated events. If this is the scout's first experience, they follow rep 1, and so on. Some items are distributed according to experience. I consider the experience of a scout as he progresses with each repeat.
Sample Data
Replace your scout data with sample data.
Forgets unsaved edits and prepares to replace saved edits!
Store data in my browser's local storage.
Remembers unsaved edits!
Scout rank requirement (new rank in 2016)
Time in seconds
Show Copy
Output your scout data in JSON format and then copy the full text to a local file for backup.
To be used with Import Paste
Prepares the pick to be confirmed or deleted for a boy scout
Tell, explain or define
Tenderfoot rank requirement
Records of scouts and events that fall within a number of weeks before and onward from today
Timely window
The number of weeks before and onward from today which are generally applicable
Replace your scout data with data from a file.
Forgets unsaved edits and prepares to replace saved edits!
To be used with Download
Remove all scout data from your browser. The wipe is not confirmed until save is pushed, which essentially resets the browser cache to initial values. The wipe may be rejected if reload is pushed instead.
Forgets all edits which have been saved!
Distance in yards