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Helpful Scouting Phone Apps from Bryan on Scouting

posted Oct 7, 2017, 4:52 AM by Webmaster Troop 13

The Best Scouting Apps of 2016

It’s 2016. The smartphone doesn’t detract from the Scouting experience; it enhances it.

Where in the past there was a debate over whether smartphone use is appropriate in Scouting, these days most Scouters see the devices like pocketknives. They are multitools that — with guidance to prevent misuse — are an important part of the Scouting experience.

With the right apps, your smartphone becomes a navigation device, sous chef, first-aid adviser, weather radio, camera and reference library. All inside a pocketable rectangle of glass, plastic and metal.

But which are the “right apps”? A fair question, given that the Google Play and Apple App Store each house more than 2 million of them.

For this list, I tapped Scouting magazine’s Facebook audience and consulted with Doug Goldring, an assistant Scoutmaster in the National Capital Area Council who compiled a list of Scouting apps for a Wood Badge ticket item.

Here’s the list with links to download them. 

boys-life-app-logoBoys’ Life magazine

DeveloperBoys’ Life magazine, Boy Scouts of America

Devices: Android, iOS, Kindle

Cost: The app itself costs nothing, and anyone can browse a preview of any issue for free. Print subscribers get free access to the digital versions of their issues. Others can subscribe in the app or with this special print-and-digital bundle.

Description: If it’s in a boy’s life, it’s in Boys’ Life. And if it’s in Boys’ Life magazine, it’s in the magazine’s app, with content enhanced for the digital experience. You’ll get up-to-the-second news and feeds from BL social-media channels — plus, of course, all the great magazine stories about Scouting adventures, sports, cars, gaming, science, technology and more.

Download links: AndroidiOS.

knots-3d-app-logoKnots 3D

Developer: Nynix

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $1.99

Description: This easy-to-use app is popular among Scouters and Scouts because it’s fun and allows you to digitally tie, untie and rotate more than 100 knots with just your finger. “It can be slowed down and replayed for any level needed,” Scouter Dana says. “I tell other Scouters about it all the time!”

Download links: AndroidiOS.

grog-app-logoAnimated Knots by Grog

Developer: Grog LLC

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $4.99

Description: “If you’re going to pay for knot-tying app,” Scouter Mike says, “then Animated Knots by Grog is the best thing out there.”

Download links: AndroidiOS.

geocaching-app-logoGeocaching

Developer: Groundspeak Inc.

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: The app is free, though you can get more features with a premium subscription for $30 a year.

Description: Think of it as the original Pokémon Go. Geocaching is the most popular app for enjoying the fun outdoor activity that spawned a Boy Scout merit badge. The official app of Geocaching.com helps you find one (or a dozen) of the millions of geocaching containers hidden across the globe. “My Scouts always love it when I start up the Geocaching app when at camp,” Scouter Richard says. “They love getting a group together and grabbing a cache wherever we go.”

Download: AndroidiOS.

scouting-magazine-app-logoScouting magazine

DeveloperScouting magazine, Boy Scouts of America

Devices: Android, iOS, Kindle

Cost: The app is free. Once inside the app, enjoy a free, two-minute preview of any issue. Or buy any single issue for $3.99. The best deal, though, is the all-access subscription: unlimited access to every issue for $4.99 a year. You can subscribe in the app.

Description: By swiping through Scouting magazine’s digital archives, you’re literally scrolling back in time. Where you stop to explore deeper is up to you. I find even the advertisements — for fundraising products like fruitcakes, animal-shaped candles and Florida oranges — to be interesting. Discover Scouting history, and American history through the eyes of Scouting, in the Scouting magazine app.

Download: AndroidiOS.

star-walk-2-app-logoStar Walk 2

Developer: Vito Technology Inc.

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $2.99 for iOS, $0.99 or free for Android.

Description: The sequel to the 2014 bestseller. There’s something magical about the night sky, especially on a camping trip. This app helps you understand just what you’re seeing. I love the augmented reality feature that labels all the stars, constellations and satellites you point your phone at. Just point your phone or iPad at the night sky and learn.

Download: Android ($0.99)Android (free)iOS.

american-red-cross-app-logoFirst Aid by American Red Cross

Developer: American Red Cross

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: The only app here that may some day save a life. The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Includes videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice.

Download: AndroidiOS.

audubon-app-logoAudubon Bird Guide: North America

Developer: National Audubon Society

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: This popular app, now free, helps your Scouts or Venturers identify birds they see or hear. The app includes 808 species, 3,200 images and eight hours of bird sounds. A featured called eBird helps you locate birds seen recently around you, using the continuously updated database from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Download: AndroidiOS.

bird-id-app-logoMerlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Developer: Cornell University

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Speaking of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the wizards there have created Merlin Bird ID, which asks you five simple questions to help identify which bird you and your Scouts have spotted. It contains the 400 most common bird species in the United States.

Download: AndroidiOS.

dutch-oven-helper-lite-app-logoDutch Oven Helper Lite

Developer: Kyle Kendall

Devices: iOS

Cost: Free

Description: A simple app with a clear purpose: telling you exactly how many charcoal briquettes you’ll need for a Dutch oven meal. Choose a temperature, Dutch oven size and cooking method, and the app does the rest — well, except for preparing the meal. And eating it. And cleaning up.

Download: iOS.

dutch-oven-calculator-app-logoDutch Oven Calculator

Developer: More With Less Software

Devices: Android

Cost: Free

Description: An Android cousin of the Dutch Oven Helper Lite above. It’s a simple app to figure out how many charcoal briquettes you’ll need for Dutch oven cooking.

Download: Android.

camp-scout-app-logoCamp Scout!

DeveloperBoys’ Life magazine, American Park Network

Devices: iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Use this official Boys’ Life tool to plan your next outing with ease. Type in a city and state or ZIP code, and let the app find BSA council camps near that location. You can filter by activity — ATV, fishing, horseback riding and more — to make sure that camp features activities your Scouts crave.

Download: iOS.

weather-underground-app-logoWeather Underground

Developer: Weather Underground, LLC

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: There are hundreds (thousands?) of weather apps out there, and everybody seems to have a favorite. Mine is Weather Underground, the free app that uses traditional data from the National Weather Service and a network of 200,000 personal weather stations. You can even add “smart forecasts” for things like hiking or stargazing where you can string together multiple conditions (temperature, wind speed, humidity, etc.) to find the best times for your favorite Scouting activities. 

Download: AndroidiOS.

storm-shield-app-logoStorm Shield

Developer: E.W. Scripps Company

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $2.99

Description: Turns your iPhone or Android device into an emergency weather radio. You’ll get severe weather alerts for your exact location — or up to five other locations you specify (a favorite camp, perhaps?). Alerts include natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, thunderstorms, winter storms and other life-threatening events.

Download: AndroidiOS.

peakfinder-earth-app-logoPeakFinder Earth

Developer: Fabio Soldati

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $3.99

Description: Point your phone toward any mountain, and PeakFinder tells you its name and elevation. Works offline worldwide and includes more than 250,000 peaks — “from Mount Everest to the little hill around the corner.” 

Download: AndroidiOS.

leafsnap-app-logoLeafSnap

Developer: Columbia University, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution

Devices: iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Point your phone toward any leaf, and LeafSnap uses visual recognition software to help you identify the tree from which it came. Fair warning: The app, like most things in nature, still has a few bugs.

Download: iPhoneiPad.

gaia-app-logoGaia GPS: Topo Maps and Trails for Offline Hiking

Developer: TrailBehind

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $19.99

Description: It’s not remotely cheap, but Gaia GPS is your best friend in remote locations. Many call it the best hiking GPS app you can find. It offers the functionality of a standalone backcountry GPS unit and lets you download worldwide topo, road and aerial maps for those times when you don’t have a cell signal.

Download: AndroidiOS.

ramblr-app-logoRamblr

Developer: Bientus Inc.

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Track your Scouting adventures, and then share your story and photos with the world. That’s the promise of Ramblr and its “geo-located stories.” It tracks your basic hikes, but Scouter Doug says “its real attraction is the ability to take and share videos or photos along the way, as well as write mini-blog entries. These can all be uploaded into the Ramblr database and viewed by other hikers following the same route in the future.” Did somebody say “recruiting”?

Download: AndroidiOS.

campfire-songs-app-logoCampfire Songs

Developer: ScoutApps.net

Devices: iOS

Cost: Free

Description: More than 200 campfire songs at your fingertips — perfect for campouts, pack meetings and troop meetings. The app’s design is a little simplistic, but you can’t beat the price or song selection.

Download: iOS.

adobe-acrobat-app-logoAdobe Acrobat Reader

Developer: Adobe

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Save a tree! The BSA is making more and more of its forms and guides (like the Guide to Safe Scouting and Guide to Advancement) available online as PDFs. A PDF reader allows you to easily view these, download them, search them and share them. There are other PDF apps with more features, but this one’s free. I like free.

Download: AndroidiOS.

square-app-logoSquare Register

Developer: Square Inc.

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Cash is so last century. Accept credit cards for pack and troop dues, popcorn sales, and anything else using a free reader from Square. Simplicity comes at a price, though. Square takes 2.75 percent from every swipe, so be sure to factor that into your budgeting.

Download: AndroidiOS.

white-noise-free-app-logoWhite Noise Free

Developer: TMSOFT

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Falling asleep to wind rustling through trees or rain pattering on your tent? Incredible. Tossing and turning all night because the Scouter in the next tent over is a snorer? Less incredible. Use technology to help you sleep better.

Download: AndroidiOS.

Scoutbook.com — the web app for advancement

Developer: Boy Scouts of America

Devices: Any

Cost: Varies based on unit size

Description: There are dozens of unofficial apps to help you track advancement, and many are well-liked by their users. But an ever-increasing number of Scouters count on Scoutbook.com because it’s robust, easy to use and constantly updated. “One thing I love about this app is the ability of Scouts and Scouters to interact through it,” Scouter Doug says. “No longer does a Scout need to worry about a lost blue card or torn book. Instead, the Scout can mark his progress in the app.”

Learn moreScoutbook.com.

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