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What Version 18 Means to You

The essence of version 18 upgrade is a very significant change to how information about members is stored.

To explain how things are different in this release (and why it's an improvement), it's important to understand how things used to work.

While this explanation looks long, it's been written in a non-technical way, so grab a coffee and dive in!

The Way Things Used to Work

Imagine that you're a member of a Cub Pack.

You have a uniform (grey!) and a name tag with your Pack nickname (“Big Red”) and a big binder that holds your

  • badge progression
  • your qualifications (e.g., first aid)
  • your emergency info (allergies, diet, other health notes, phone numbers and addresses)

Then near the end of the year, you move up to Scouts.

Your former Pack Scouters hand you a new uniform (green!) and a new name tag (in case the Troop gives you a nickname) and an exact photocopy of your big binder, and send you off to Troop, while keeping your original big binder as part of the Pack's records.

Most of the time, this is a simple solution. As you start to participate in events with your new Troop, the Troop leadership team updates your continuing badge progression in your big binder, and record when you earned your Standard First Aid, and update your address when your parents moved to a new house, too. All that happens in the photocopy of the original Pack binder that you carried up up to Troop. Your original big binder is just gathering dust in the Pack's archives.

But, things are a little uglier if you only linked up to Scouts, and keep on participating in Pack events after you starting to participate in Troop events. In this case, your Pack's big binder isn't just gathering dust, it's still being updated as you participate in the end-of-year “Howler Camp” at which you complete additional badge requirements. Meanwhile, the Troop only has a photocopy of the Pack binder that was created for them when you linked up, so this photocopy won't include any of your final accomplishments in Pack that happened after you linked up. Likewise, the Pack won't know about your first few Troop activities because those have been recorded only in the photocopied big binder used by the Troop. So it's very common to end up with two big binders that start to contain different information.

Up until version 18, the solution for youth who are simultaneously participating in two Sections (e.g., a Cub linking up to Troop) was to have the Pack move the Cub up, again, when that youth is finally and completely done with Pack. This second move up results in the creation of another exact photocopy of the Pack's big binder and sending it off to Troop.

But now the Troop has two photocopied binders for you! To address this problem, ScoutsTracker has always had a way of merging the two binders so that the Troop ends up with a single big binder that blends the last few accomplishments done in Pack along with the first few accomplishments done in Troop. This now gives the Troop the most accurate up-to-date record of your progress. Yeah! But it's still not a perfect solution because the Pack is left with a now stale version of your progress in their original binder!

Similarly, Scouters experience the same sort of issues associated with having multiple big binders, because if a Colony 'A' records in a Scouter's big binder that they've re-certified their Wilderness First Aid, then the Colony 'B' binder is suddenly out of date, and will also need to be updated with the same re-certification information. But this requires that the Scouter actually remembers to update their second binder, with a typical outcome that the Scouter ends up with conflicting data in their two big binders.

The (Smarter) Way Things Work, Now

ScoutsTracker no longer “photocopies” a member's big binder, and instead lets all the Sections that the member is involved with have shared access to a single big binder.

This means that when the Pack records that you accomplished some things at the end-of-year “Howler Camp”, then they're updating the same big binder as is being used by the Troop who are recording the fact that you went to the climbing Gym with the Troop. And when the Troop updates your new address after you move to a new house, that important emergency information is now automatically visible to the Pack.

And when the Colony Scouter re-certifies their Wilderness First Aid, that updated qualification is automatically visible to all the Sections they work with.

Sharing a binder as you move between sections means that really the only thing that happens when you move up to a new section is that you get a new uniform, and a new name tag, and a handful of settings that pertain to your current section (e.g., which lodge/lair/patrol you're in, whether you're currently active/inactive, etc.), but the bulk of the information is left untouched in a (now) shared big binder.

Simple, eh?

Your Scouting "Resumé"

A typical resumé includes

  • Some basic details about yourself, e.g., name, telephone number, email address; as well as your qualifications/education/interests, and maybe a description of your personal strengths.
  • A historical look back at your current and former jobs. Each entry in your Work Experience includes a company name, a position/job title, and the dates that you held that job. Throughout your life you will keep adding additional roles on to your the work experience section of your resumé.

So, the essence of the resumé is there is some information about you as a person, followed by the things (past and present) that you've done.

In ScoutsTracker your shared big binder represents the information about you as a person (e.g., your name, birthday, qualifications, emergency information, badge progression). And your involvement in different sections (as a Beaver then a Cub then a Scout, or as a Scouter, etc.) is kind of like the jobs you've held. Indeed, because your big binder is shared as you move from Section to Section, it's now possible to look up which members in each Section (past and present) have access to your binder, and list them as your overall Work Scouting Experience (including the Company Section, your position, and your start/end dates).

In other words, your Scouting journey is just like a resumé in that there is some information about you as a person, followed by the things (past and present) that you've done.

The concept of a resumé fits so well with ScoutsTracker that that's basically how information about members is presented. Specifically, when editing the details of one of your members you'll find

  • the top part of the page will detail all the fields that pertain to that person, irrespective of what they're currently doing (or have done) in Scouting
  • the second part of the page contains all information about the member's Scouting Role within this Section (e.g., their nickname in the Troop, the Patrol and Adventure Teams they belong to, whether they are the Troop Leader, when they joined the Troop, etc.)
  • the last part of the page lists all their other Scouting Experience (e.g., the were previously a Cub in the “1st Muddy Paw” Pack, a Beaver in the “1st Muddy Paw” Colony, a Beaver in the “99th Rubber Boot” Colony)

And, yes, a person's Scouting experience can include both youth and Scouter roles. E.g., a Venturer who is volunteering as an Under-18 Scouter will have have her current Scouter role, her current Venturer role, and all her previous Scout, Cub and Beaver roles listed.

Building up the Scouting Resumé

All members' Scouting history will grow, naturally, over time. I.e., each time ScoutsTracker is used to move up or transfer a member, their resumé will automatically record the new Scouting Role.

But you can also flesh out a member's Scouting Roles, manually.

For example, you discover that one of your Venturers “Emma” also has a set of records in her MedVent Company, or that she's been helping out with the Cub Pack as a Scouter. In this case, a Scouter in those other Sections can tell you that Emma's MedVent role has an ID of “2-1234-abcde12345” or that her Pack Scouter role ID is “0-9999-abcde12345”. (This Role ID is something that someone can look up by editing the details of a member).

You can then edit Emma's Venturer details and click “Add Other Scouting Role” (at the bottom of the page) and enter her Pack Scouter Role ID. This tells ScoutsTracker that the two members (Emma the Venturer, and Emma the Scouter) are actually the same person, and their big binders are automatically merged. You can then do the same thing to add Emma's MedVent Role ID, with the result that you'll end up with one person with current roles of “Venturer in this account”, “Venturer in Muddy Paw Regional MedVents” and “Scouter in 1st Muddy Paw Pack”, as well as any other roles that Emma was already linked to (e.g., her former Scout, Cub and Beaver roles).

But, a word of warning! Remember that fleshing out someone's scouting history does carry some risk. To illustrate, if the MedVent Advisor mistakenly gave you the ScoutsTracker Scouting Role ID for similarly-named youth (e.g., they told you it was the Role ID for “Emma Xiang” but actually had gotten the one for “Emma Wang”), then adding Emma W's Role ID to Emma X's Venturer role would irrevocably jumble up the badge progression, qualifications and emergency information of those two different people, and ScoutsTracker Support will not be able to help you unjumble them. This would be very, very bad! So, there are times when it is important to be able to “Add Other Scouting Role” to accommodate someone's current roles, but for the most part it is not recommended to worry about historical roles, and simply enjoy the fact that moving forward, the members' resumés will automatically grow as they progress through the Program.

Parent-Initiated Transfers

Historically, ScoutsTracker has required that Scouters push a member to a new Section. E.g., a Colony Scouter will move a White Tail up to Cubs, or Transfer a Scouter to a Group in a new City. The former Scouter can do this by clicking “Move/Link Up” or “Transfer” buttons and providing the new account's “Section Key”. But this solution requires that

  • there is a still a Scouter who can initiate the migration (i.e., do the “push”)
  • the Scouter has to know the “Section Key” of the target Section

Problems arise when a Group folds, and the organization loses those volunteers. Then, there is simply no one left to click the “Move/Link Up to Cubs” button. Similarly, if the youth is transferring to a different Group, the Scouters in the old Group may not have any contacts in the new Group, so they can't ask the new Scouters for the new account's “Section Key”.

The result is that the youth's records aren't moved, and parents and youth (and the new Scouters!) get frustrated.

There is now a way for any member to get their own ID's that they can then share with the Scouters in the new Section. The new Scouter can then either go to “Account”| “Scouts” | “Add” | “Import By ID”, or if they've already manually added the youth to their roster, they can go to “Account” | “Scouts” | <name of youth> | “Add Other Scouting Role” (This is perfect example of why the “Add Other Scouting Role” is supported).

This then ensures that the Troop now has a Scout using the same (blended) big binder as the youth used in their former Section. There's no longer any need to hunt down the former Scouters and prod them to push the youth's records to the new Section!

So how does a parent get their children's ScoutsTracker Scouting Role ID's? There's a new “Move to a Different Group” button on the sign-in page. Or, if the parent is still able to sign into their former account, they'll also find this button under “Account” | “Use a different login”. If a parent clicks the “Move to a Different Group” button, it prompts the parent for their email address, and then sends all the Scouting Role ID's accessible by that email address, to that email address.

The parent can then forward the email to the Scouter in the new Section (there are instructions in the email!), and the Scouter can do the “Import by ID” (or “Add Other Scouting Role”), and everyone's happy.

Merging isn't Completely Gone!

When you move a Cub up to Troop, or to transfer a Scouter to a different Colony, ScoutsTracker makes sure that the new member created in the destination Section is correctly linked to the member being moved, i.e., that they share the same big binder.

As a side effect, this also means that it's now super easy to determine whether a member in one Section is the same person as a member in another (i.e., because they're sharing the same big binder). I.e., there's an absolutely fool-proof way of detecting whether a member already exists in a section's roster.

For example, suppose you moved a Cub up to Troop so that they can start linking with the older youth, but then a month later you forgot you had moved them up and moved them up, again. Historically, you would have ended up with a duplicate Scout, but now ScoutsTracker will detect that there's already a Scout in that Troop sharing the same big binder, and not add another (duplicate) Scout to the Troop's roster.

Thus, there's generally no need to ever have to merge members, because ScoutsTracker is now able to prevent the creation of unnecessary duplicates in your roster.

But… it's always been possible in ScoutsTracker to manually add a member to a roster. All you have to do is go to “Account” | “Scouts”, click “Add” and type in the name and email of someone, and click “Create”.

And this happens fairly frequently… a new youth called “DJ Smith” shows up unannounced to your Section in September, so you create an entry for them, and figure you'll worry about their historical accomplishments later. Indeed, initially you probably don't even have their Scouts Canada Member Number, and will have to ask your registrar to look that up for you!

Then a while later, the new youth's former Section uses ScoutsTracker to transfer over the records of “Daniel Smith, Jr” (SC Member #1234) to your Section's account.

Unfortunately, ScoutsTracker cannot be absolutely certain that “Daniel Smith, Jr.” (SC Member #1234) is actually the same person as “DJ”, since the names are different and “DJ” doesn't yet have a Scouts Canada Member Number to match on. And even if the names did match perfectly, it is possible (but rare) to have two different youth members with the same name in a Section. And even just relying on the SC Member Number isn't completely safe, because Scouters can erroneously enter data, so that a number of “88937” is mistyped as “89837” and now matches the wrong youth in your Section.

So if ScoutsTracker isn't really, really confident that the two individuals are the same (which requires an exact match on either SC Member # or names, accompanied by access via the same login email address), it will simply create a new record in the Troop. This means you'll now have a “Daniel Smith, Jr” and a “DJ”, and you'll have to merge them. So while needing to merge is a lot less common now, occasionally it's still going to be necessary.

version_18_major_changes.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/01 15:31 by admin