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Plugged in to Scouts BSA

Scouts BSA Blog
IN THE SAME BOAT: a blog for Scouts BSA parents

This month I want to share with you a few resources, recently made available, that can make your life easier as a Scout parent. First off, as of this past March, the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Kindle library on Amazon includes a Kindle version of the Scouts BSA Handbook (both for girls and for boys). The cost is $17.99, the same as the hard-copy version. If you want to read about the pros and cons of a digital versus hard copy of the handbook, see this article by Bryan on Scouting.

As of April 2020, merit badge pamphlets also are now available through Amazon Kindle. They cost $4.99, the same as the hard-copy versions. The digital pamphlets are great for several reasons. No more trips to your local Scout store, or waiting on shipping, every time your Scout starts a new badge. No more packing pamphlets on camping trips. No more wondering what to do with all of those hard copies, especially if your Scout is on a mission to earn a lot of badges. For a list of all the merit badge pamphlets that are now available on Kindle (as of June 11, 2020), see this article by Bryan on Scouting

You don’t need a Kindle device to read these ebooks. The Kindle reader app can be downloaded to your IOS, Android, Mac or PC device for free.  

Interactive, Online Handbook

When I last checked in January 2020, the BSA’s interactive, online version of thePlugged in to Scouts BSA (then) Boy Scouts handbook was no longer available. This was a great, free resource for Scouts. The online version had additional resources such as videos that supplemented certain rank requirements (e.g., a video showing how to use a map and compass to take a bearing for Second Class rank requirement 3a). I’ve recently learned that this interactive handbook is being updated and will be released in 2021. Keep an eye out for it. One good way to do that is to sign up for the Bryan on Scouting newsletter (see form in the right-hand column). This is a great source for finding out about anything new that is happening in Scouting. There is also a whole lot more to be found on the website (use its "Browse by Category" feature in the right-hand column).


Many troops use the Scoutbook website to keep track of their Scouts’ rank advancement, merit badges, awards and activities. You should be added as a parent so that you have access as well. If your troop doesn’t use Scoutbook or another system to which you have access, I highly recommend that you set up your own Scoutbook account (free). You and/or your Scout can use it to input details and dates related to your Scout’s progress. That way you have your own backup. There is also a mobile app for tracking.

If you are using Scoutbook, make sure you take a look at any new updates for 2020. For example, as of last month Scoutbook has new activity logs for service, camping, hiking, etc. that are part of the Activities module of the Internet Advancement section. The BSA has a “how-to” page that explains all this in more detail, if you are interested.

BSA Program Resources

Finally, here are two online resources you should bookmark:

Some things that you as a Scout parent will find of interest on the Program Resources page include:

  • Board of Review Guidelines – find sample questions that Scoutmasters might ask your Scout during a Board of Review, to help him or her prepare for this event
  • Merit Badges – the latest requirements for each badge
  • Scouting Magazine’s ScoutCast – a monthly podcast featuring how-to and informational topics.

And on the Program Updates page, look for all the latest information affecting the Scouts BSA program, including updated requirements for rank advancement and merit badges, new or updated language in Scouts BSA printed material (e.g., the handbook), and information on new initiatives or opportunities for your Scout.


Lastly, but importantly, don't forget to check in occasionally with the BSA's COVID-19 FAQ page to see their updates on how the pandemic is impacting Scouting. The FAQs cover in-person unit activities, camping this summer, and advancement.

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll share it with another Scout parent!

P.S. Do you wish being a Scouts BSA parent was a breeze? It is with the Smooth Sailing eGuide, Planner and Organizer for new and continuing Scout parents! Updated January 2020.

Smooth Sailing Through Scouts: Guide, Planner & Organizer for Scouts BSA Parents


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