UPDATE 7/21/15: In July BSA open direct access to this reporting from within my.scouting.org. Now there are two ways to access the national database: my.scouting.org and servicehours.scouting.org. There is one way to access the local database, described below.
Like any business, Crossroads of America Council wants to be able to understand what is happening in its territory. Since the Council cannot have a person at every Pack, Troop, or Crew activity, Council seeks to learn what is happening by asking its units to report their various activities. We are all familiar with recharter reports, JTE reports, advancement reports and summer camp reports.
What we are not as familiar with is Service Hours Reports.
Council seeks to learn information about unit service hours for many reasons. One is to be able to better market scouting in our Central Indiana territory. When scouting was in its infancy, newspapers such as the Indianapolis Star ran reports about the activities of Boy Scout Troops all over the Indianapolis area. For nearly 20 years, these newspapers ran a column entitled, “Star’s Column for Boy Scouts.” It was the blog of its day.
Most of the time these articles were focused on the Troops’ advancement, camping, and sports competitions (such as troop vs. troop scores in basketball).
During World War I and the Liberty Bond Drive, reports about the troops’ bond sales and other service activities took greater prominence in the columns.
In addition the newspapers general News Department would run stand-alone stories about the scout troops service to others.
Today, newspapers do not spend any time running regular columns about scouting. There are too many competing youth organization that would want equal time.
The current generation needs to rely on newer technology than a newspaper beat reporter to get the word out about what the scouts are doing every day.
We troop leaders need to be our own newspaper reporters. We need to gather information about the story. We need to write reports. We need to publish the reports. We need to make sure our reports get into the hands of prospective scouting families.
Service hours are an important part of Journey to Excellence reporting, which will be required with this year’s Rechartering.
The Council’s Service Hours Report is a key part of that reporting mechanism.
Many Packs, Troops, and Crews gather service hour information in TroopMaster, PackMaster, or similar computerized recording systems. Who ever sees the information? Does your Scoutmaster or Cubmaster know the information to share it with prospective families? Does your Committee Chair know the information to make sure it is published on the unit’s website? (By the way, does the unit have a website that the general public can see?) Does the Committee Chair cause that information to be transmitted to Council so that Council can tell the bigger story about Scouting in Central Indiana? Based on the information that I have reviewed from Council this month, almost none of our units have reported any service hours to Council. I know our units. We are doing lots of service hours. I have been present for many of my own troop’s projects.
We need to have every unit publishing this information on their own website, sharing it with their own unit regularly to make sure it is top-of-mind for everyone for recruiting purposes, and reporting to Council.
So we understand why this reporting is important. Now how do we do it?
There are two ways:
First, there is a secured system at the National Website servicehours.scouting.org. This only works if the user has a username and password. (It should be the same one used for Rechartering.) This is cumbersome and impractical, since it generally requires that only one person in a unit can enter the information.
Second, Council has created a non-login system to report the information locally. It can be accessed by clicking here or on the link at the right side of this page.
Please encourage your service project leaders to make reporting part of their standard operating procedure. That is, complete the project then report the hours the same day.
Help us tell the Scouting Story better.