Leading a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop is a great way to give back to your local community. Many people, especially parents, decide to create a scout troop in their local area. For scout masters, keeping track of everything and maintaining good communication with the scouts, or with parents of younger scouts like Brownies and Cub Scouts, can present a challenge.
Fortunately, there are an impressive variety of options for facilitating consistent, effective communication with your scouts and their parents. Here are some of the best options, including general messaging apps, platforms designed specifically for scout troop management, and more.
TroopTrack is a software program specifically designed for managing and organizing scout troops. You can plan events, manage important information, and communicate with members of your troop using an email distribution list, which includes a monthly newsletter personalized for each member.
In TroopTrack, you can also create custom web pages and share pictures, documents, links, and videos. For many organizations, including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, they also provide information about badges and other achievements. [trooptrack.com]
Email isn’t the latest and greatest cutting-edge communication app, but it’s still in use for a reason. Pretty much everyone has an email address, and the majority of teenagers and adults check theirs regularly. If your troop is composed of younger children who don’t have their own mobile devices or Facebook pages yet, email is sometimes the simplest way to keep in touch with their parents.
Skype has always been a reliable standby for communication. If you need to have a meeting remotely instead of in person, Skype can be a great choice. It’s free for every platform, and supports text, voice, and video chat. [skype.com]
DialMyCalls is a simple yet powerful mass communication tool, making it easy to send out SMS text or voice announcements and notifications to as many people as you need to. It takes the hassle out of communicating with scouts and their parents, giving you more time to focus on planning cool activities.
You can use DialMyCalls to send out reminders about meetings, camping trips, and other upcoming events, as well as to keep in touch with parents of younger scouts. [dialmycalls.com]
Like Skype, Google Hangouts supports text messaging, voice chat, and video chat, both one-on-one and for groups. It can be a great way to hold conversations, or hold a short scout meeting remotely. [hangouts.google.com]
WhatsApp is one of the world’s leading messaging apps. You can send text messages, hold group phone or video chats, and send images and other documents. [whatsapp.com]
Google recently introduced Allo, a new messaging app for mobile, to compete with apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. It’s a stand-alone app, not a replacement for Google Hangouts, so both apps are still available.
Allo comes equipped with Google Assistant, a program with some degree of machine learning capability. It can learn from your messaging behavior over time, generating pre-fab messages and responses tailored especially for you. [allo.google.com]
Released recently alongside Allo, Google Duo is an app for video and voice chat, but not text messages. It can be useful for holding remote meetings. [duo.google.com]
You can create a private Facebook group for the members of your Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop. This can work very well for troops of middle or high schoolers, who are old enough to have Facebook accounts of their own. Facebook groups can be a great way to keep in contact, and keep track of things like upcoming meetings and camping trips.
The Boy Scouts of America website actually has a guide for setting up a Facebook group for your troop. They recommend posting twice a week with recent updates. [groups.fb.com]
Wiggio is an app designed for group collaboration for clubs, committees, sports teams, scout troops, and other organizations. It offers a variety of features, including:
- Virtual meetings and conference calls
- A shared calendar for managing events
- To-do lists and task assignments
- Real-time polls
- Email, text, and voice messages
- A shared folder for uploading and managing files
All groups on the platform are private and secure. It’s being used by many Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops as a valuable organizational tool. [wiggio.com]
Scout Manager is program designed for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. It lets you manage accounts, plan events, and keep track of advancement within the organization. Its interface is divided up into four main parts:
- Members. You can manage all of your troop’s members and volunteers, including the scouts and the parents and adults who volunteer to help out. You can assign people to leadership roles, designate awards coordinators, and more.
- Communication. With Scout Manager, you can keep your scouts and their parents in the loop with great communication tools. You can maintain shared calendars, set up RSVPs, put together trip reports and itineraries, and integrate emails and your newsletter.
- Advancement. As your scouts earn new badges and awards, you can keep track with Scout Manager.
- Accounts. The Accounts page helps the treasurer manage money. It’s set up to accept Paypal, and it keeps your accounts accurate and accessible in one convenient location.
Using Communication Tools for Your Scout Troop
It's often a good idea to combine more than one of the apps and programs listed above into your communication plans. DialMyCalls is great for sending out notifications about upcoming events and fundraisers. In addition, you can use something like Skype or Google Hangouts if you need to host a meeting remotely, and many of the scout-specific platforms like TroopTrack and Scout Manager are great for handling many different aspects of scouting. You can track achievements, organize fundraisers, manage the treasury, and send out monthly or weekly newsletters to scouts or their parents.
Today, it's easier than ever to communicate instantly with anyone, in real time. For scout leaders and their troops, this is great news. Communicating with large groups of children and their parents or guardians has never been easier.
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