Tips to make your family's transition into Scouting a breeze.
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Families that are new to Scouting discover a world of adventure with new learning experiences and lots of personal growth in an environment that prepares children for a happy, honorable future. But the program is so new, with new terminology, a uniform, and unfamiliar advancement requirements. For some it can be a bit intimidating. In this series of blogs we’ll discuss five tried and true tips to make your family’s transition into Scouting easier.


Five Tips for New Scouting Families
Part 3: A Single Idea to Help Your Son Stay Organized, Now and in His Future Life

Scouting teaches hundreds of skills that will one day make your son a more successful adult.  Leadership and citizenship may be the most impactful of these, but what about the important life skill of keeping good records? Whether you son is a Tiger Cub or working on his Eagle, teach him to keep track of his own advancement records, and see how this helps him mature. 
 
For Boy Scouts, have your son write down in his Scout Handbook any service project hours (for projects approved by his leader), including the date, location, and a description of the project. This information will be most helpful when he goes to pass his next rank rank. It’s sometimes difficult to remember in what month and what year he helped that friend with his Eagle project, so give your son the habit of recording this as soon as he gets home. The very same applies for camping over nighters. Your son should record each Scout camp out night with its date and location, including long-term summer camps. It not only serves as a great memory later in life but will be essential when he goes to pass his First Class rank, which requires at least three overnight camping activities and camping merit badge, where he must demonstrate that he completed 20 nights of Scout camping.    

Putting your son in charge of tracking his own merit badges in his handbook is also essential and will guide him toward what badges to earn next. Have him make a copy or scan of every merit badge application (aka blue card) before he turns it in to his leader. It’s rare, but occasionally these get lost, and this will save you from having to chase down signatures from a counselor. Keep these scans forever; when your son is filing his Eagle application, he’ll want proof that he’s earned each badge in case of a mishap in the troop’s or BSA’s records system.

What about Cub Scouts? It’s never too early to teach organizational skills. Spend time with your son helping him read his Tiger, Wolf, Bear, or Webelos handbook. They are all intended to be readable by a boy, though most younger Cubs like my Tiger Cub, Danny, may need some help. Show your son how his parent or leader can sign off completed requirements, and let him be the one to ask his leader to sign for his progress.

Whether a Cub or Boy Scout, a young man who “owns” his advancement record keeping will take greater pride and interest in advancing further. You’ll also see a spillover effect to schoolwork, where he may just become more serious about getting credit for completing homework assignments. Scouting is all about teaching young people to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Helping your son learn to track his own progress is a great enabler for success both now and in his future life.
 
In the next part in this blog series, we will explore volunteering as the backbone of the BSA.
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