BAND compensated me to review their app and share my findings with you. As always, the opinions are mine.
When our kids are involved in activities such as Cub Scouts, sports, dance, and church youth groups, we want the group to keep us informed. BAND makes it easy! It's an easy to use, all in one communication app. Find out more about the free tool and how it can help your organization.
Communication is key to a well-run Cub Scout pack! There's nothing worse than hearing a parent say, “I didn't know about that meeting.”
There are so many different ways to communicate now. You can call, text, email, post on some type of forum, get push notifications, and more. How do you know which one to pick?
Today, I want to tell you about BAND, a comprehensive communication app that helps groups (such as Cub Scout parents) stay connected. The folks at BAND asked me to take a look at their app to see how it could benefit Cub Scout packs. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed.
What Is BAND?
BAND is like a mini-website for your pack. Whenever you do anything on BAND, a post is created that everyone can read. These posts include general notifications to your pack, calendar events, uploaded photos, etc.
Some of the features of BAND are:
- Community Board where BAND members post information
- RSVPs and event reminders
- To Do List
- Photo & video sharing
- iOS, Android, and desktop versions
BAND's feature guide book gives you step-by-step instructions for utilizing all of the app's awesome benefits!
Why Use BAND?
BAND is a great (and FREE!) option for Cub Scout packs. The easy to use app gives packs a flexible communication tool, an awesome calendar function, photo and video storage, and to do lists which also function as a signup sheet.
Many of you use Scoutbook as your tool to track your Cub Scouts' progress. If you are, you know that you have the capability to send emails and texts within Scoutbook. It also has a calendar feature that you may be using.
While these features are available through Scoutbook, they have some limitations that make them difficult to use. BAND's functionality is so much better! Read on to find out why.
When you create a post in BAND, it is indefinitely available for everyone to see. A parent can scroll back through prior posts to find the one they're looking for, or they can use the robust search feature.
You can also mark posts as a “notice” or “important notice” which will move them to the top of your board. One idea of how to use this is to post your Pinewood Derby rules file and mark it as a notice. After the Derby is over, you can remove the notice indicator until next year's Derby season.
While you can send emails through Scoutbook, they aren't stored within the system. If someone says they didn't get the email, you have no way of sending it again from Scoutbook. If you can't find anyone who saved the email, you have to try to remember all the details you included.
And the most beautiful thing about BAND? You can see who has read the posts and who hasn't. You can then chat with those members who haven't read it yet.
Chat through BAND
We usually think of “chat” as a smartphone thing, but with BAND, you can also chat via your PC.
BAND gives you the ability to set up public and private chat rooms. Here are some ideas for chat rooms you might want to consider:
- Committee Members
- Den Leaders
- Parents of a specific den
- The three families who live in your neighborhood (Great for arranging carpools!)
When I started testing BAND's calendar, I was so impressed! It has so many features that I wish were available in Scoutbook.
Families in your pack can add events to their own personal Outlook, Apple, or Google calendars.
BAND will remind families of events when you set the date to remind them.
RSVPs are so simple. You get a notification on your phone or PC that an event has been created, and all you have to do is click on it and reply.
We all know folks are notoriously bad at RSVPing. I'm not saying that BAND will eliminate that headache, but it eliminates the “it's too hard to RSVP on Scoutbook” excuse.
A HUGE benefit of BAND is that families can now tell you how many people are coming. When you set up the event, select “allow additional guest members.” When a parent RSVPs, she can add guest members who aren't BAND members.
With Scoutbook, you have to add a comment with how many people you're bringing. Sometimes a response would be “3.” Does that mean that only 3 members of the family are coming? Or does that mean the person who's RSVPing plus 3 other family members?
If you've set up events (like all of your den meetings for the year!) in Scoutbook, you know that if you add a new family and don't go back and add them to all of the events, they won't be notified.
This was a very poor design. When a new child joined your pack, someone would have to go back into all of those events and add the family. And I never forgot to do that (she says with sarcasm)!
With BAND, you don't have to worry about that! When a person is added to your group, they can see and RSVP for all prior events.
Is it getting close to the date of your event but not everyone has RSVPed? You can chat just with those families.
Photos and Videos on BAND
At every event, parents are going to have their phones out to photograph or video the Cub Scouts. With BAND, they can upload the photos or videos directly to the app to share with other parents.
You can create different albums for different events such as Fall 2018 Camping Trip, Pinewood Derby 2018, or Blue & Gold Banquet 2019. This will make it easier for families to find the photos they're looking for.
BAND provides enough free storage for most groups. Afterward, you can purchase additional storage, if necessary. Only 2% of groups that use BAND go over the free storage, so most packs will enjoy BAND totally free of charge!
BAND's To Do Lists
I love this feature! It's perfect to use as a signup sheet. Make a list of items that you need parents to bring or a list of jobs that need to be done at a pack meeting. Parents can check off their choices.
Polls on BAND
Want to get some feedback from your parents on the location for the next campout? Or what time to start the Pinewood Derby? Use BAND’s poll feature! It’s one of the most used BAND features.
Cost to Use Band
BAND is free to use. The only in-app purchases are upgraded stickers and additional storage space.
You can make your BAND group private, and only people you invite can join it. In addition, only members can see the information (including photos) that you're sharing. This helps to protect our kiddos.
BAND is a great all-in-one communication tool which I think would be perfect for your Cub Scout pack. Download BAND now, and try it out!
Yours in Scouting,
P.S. BAND is free, so there's no downside to taking it for a test drive. Download it and play around with it. I think you'll love it!
And while you're exploring BAND, have your Scouts go over the Cyber Chip requirements.
Thursday 7th of November 2019
Is it possible to set up Band so it is YPT compliant and requires at least two 21+ on all communications with youth? I know most Cubs don't have emails yet, but as they get older and move up to the Troop, it may be nice to have one platform for all units that everyone is already familiar with.
Monday 9th of September 2019
Was told by our new CO recently that we had to either make our Facebook group public or delete it to be in compliance with the BSA Social Media Guide https://scoutingwire.org/marketing-and-membership-hub/social-media/social-media-guidelines/ to prevent "secret societies" from being able to share pictures and communications in private.
We were considering Band but based on the above guidelines it looks like the app would fall under the same guidelines so we can't use it if we don't want pack business public.
Doesn't make any sense that email is ok since an email server is basically private communications between parents as well....even when multiple are on the email.
Wednesday 30th of May 2018
There are so many platforms for communication out there that a Pack can use, it's overwhelming! There's the Pack website for announcements and RSVPs, the Facebook page, text message groups and email, not to mention Scoutbook and Pack Master. It's a challenge to keep them all consistent with each other. Do you feel BAND replaces more than one of these? As a cubmaster I want to make it easier to communicate in my Pack, not just add another option. Thanks for your input!
Tuesday 5th of June 2018
Hi, Eden! You're right--it can be overwhelming! I think we have to look at two types of communication. The first type is external communication with those who aren't in your pack for PR and recruiting. The second type is internal communication which is everything you would talk to your pack about--announcements, RSVPs, etc.
We created a website that is very general. Here's the link: http://nolensvillecubscouts.com/ We intentionally didn't put specific meeting dates & times on it. The purpose of our site is to give people who are looking for a pack a general overview of our group and a way to get in touch with us. That way, we wouldn't have to update it very often.
We have a Facebook page (not a group) that we use to share information about specific events that are open to the community as well as some information for parents. This is more PR, in my mind.
Scoutbook and Pack Master are used for tracking advancement. Since Scoutbook is BSA's tool, it could replace Pack Master unless your pack is using it for something that Scoutbook doesn't do. I'm not very familiar with Pack Master, so I can't speak about it with 100% confidence.
BAND can be the all-in-one place for any type of communication with your pack families. It can be used for announcements and RSVPs. BAND has text messaging built in, so it would eliminate the need for text message groups and emails.
If a pack were to ask me what tools they should use, here's what I would suggest: Pack website - Very general information with a way to get in touch with the pack. This would be for the folks who google "MyTown Cub Scouts." Would only need very minimal maintenance. Facebook page (not a group) - Mostly for PR. Share pictures of events (especially community service activities) so that people can see what your pack does. Scoutbook - To handle all advancement tracking. BAND - To handle all communication with parents, including RSVPs, polls asking for opinions, sign up sheets, etc. If your pack uses BAND, there's no need for email lists, etc.
Hope this helps!
Wednesday 23rd of May 2018
I just wish Band had the ability to keep track of the kids progress or even just what den or rank they are in. And to be able to connect a parent name to a child.
Thursday 24th of May 2018
Hey, Valerie! It won't be able to keep track of the Cub Scout's progress, but I found a workaround that might help for putting a parent's name to a child. When you set up your profile, there's a comment field below where you put your name. It says, "What's on your mind?" I updated my profile to add "Grant Bear Den 3" in that field. When you're looking at the list of members, you can see it. You could have all of your parents do this when they sign up. I'll also check with my contact at BAND to see if they have another suggestion. Thanks!
Tuesday 22nd of May 2018
Omg this is a really great idea!!
Tuesday 22nd of May 2018
I thought so too! I'm considering setting up a BAND group for my family!