Need to Schedule Self-Assessment Meeting

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This year, the Journey to Excellence (“JTE”) scorecard will be required in Rechartering. In April District Commissioner Jeff Heck emailed a link to a self-assessment form to each unit. An article about this email was posted on this blog.

JTE and the self-assessment are two parts of the same processJTE. National council’s goal with JTE is to encourage units to become more self-aware of what elements of their programs work well and what elements need a boost. JTE scorecard is designed to help units see where these elements in a simplistic scoring method. The self-assessment is designed to take those simplistic scores and translate them into actions that improve the unit in a meaningful way.

Let’s take a look at what has been recent experience versus how this process is supposed to work. We will use the example of a Cub Pack.

Before JTE and self-assessments, the Pack Key 3 (i.e., Chartered Organization Representative (“COR”), Pack Committee Chair, and Cubmaster) were expected to sit down and agree on the principles and personnel used to run the Pack. They were expected to read through all of the manuals for Cubmasters, Committee Members, and COR and figure out what needed attention. What often happened is that some of the Key 3 had read everything, some had read only what applied to them, and others read nothing. When the Key 3 did meet, there was no clear agenda on what the Pack’s principle focus for improvement should be.

Unit Commissioner PatchWhere a Unit Commissioner was assigned to the Pack, the Commissioner would sometimes offer some verbal guidance or an outline on how to proceed. More often than not, especially in North Star District, the Pack Key 3 neither knew what a Commissioner was or who was assigned to the Pack.

With the new JTE and self-assessment combination, the Pack is asked to have a dedicated meeting for the Pack Key 3 and the Unit Commissioner every six (6) months. The agenda is to review the a self-assessment form with focus on identifying the Pack’s strengths and weaknesses today and designing a plan for improvement over time. The self-assessment form emphasizes identifying specific areas that a healthy pack needs to thrive. Within those areas, the Key 3 are asked to describe what specific tasks that they would like to undertake, who will be delegated primary responsibility, and when the deadline for completion will be.

This process is designed to mimic the business planning processes of any healthy organization. The process is broad in scope of what needs to be reviewed. The process is systematic in its regular method of assessment to avoid complacency or reckless ignorance. The process is brief in documentation necessary. The process is clear on delegation and responsibility to avoid confusion or omission.

With these a self-assessment forms in hand, JTE scoring should be much similar. The categories in the JTE scorecard and the self-assessment match up nearly identically. Within an outline of an action plan from the self-assessment form in mind, the JTE scorecard’s intent and focus is much easier to decipher. The expectation is that a regular self-assessment with clear delegation of responsibility and accountability will make the scores on the JTE scorecards go up as a natural consequence of successful planning.

Rather than using the sample form on this page, please print out your own form from the link emailed to you (or contact your Unit Commissioner to send you a new link). This form from will be automatically populated with some of the BSA’s records about your unit. This will allow you to double check your unit’s records versus BSA’s and make sure that you know your unit’s training status.trained patch

The District Commissioner’s Service is working hard to prepare our units for October’s rechartering and the added requirements of preparing the JTE scorecard. Please discuss with your unit’s Key 3 when they can meet to review your self-assessment and invite your Unit Commissioner to attend. Attend a District Roundtable or Commissioner’s Coffee to learn more.

District Training for August

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As part of our effort to streamline and improve North Star District, the Commissioners Service and the District Training Committee are offering three trainings in August 2015:

1. Unit Commissioners Training on Monday, August 3rd at St Luke’s UMC.

2. Merit Badge Counselor Training at Roundtable on Thursday, August 6th at Second Presbyterian, 4th Floor.

3. Chartered Organization Representative Training on Monday, August 10th at St. Luke’s UMC.

For more details about times, locations, RSVPs, go to

The Scouting Game

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In my work as District Commissioner, I am often in a position to ask volunteer scouters to complete training. It is very easy for me to sound as if training makes scouting. The joy and enthusiasm for our activities make scouting.

Clarke Green has a weekly blog post where he posts Lord Baden Powell’s bi-weekly magazine columns about scouting. It is interesting to see many of the problems we face today were the same problems that Lord Baden Powell advised his scouters about.

This week’s post is “Scouting – Game, Not Science.” B-P emphasizes that scouter training serves a purpose, but it is too easily misinterpreted. Scouters then become depressed, and the boys catch the depression. He says,

Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their individuality and initiative. No — it is a jolly game in the out of doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.

B-P recommends how to properly view training:

[The Scoutmaster’s] job is to enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods and of gaining results.

B-P helps enlighten us about the correct point of view for training. It is to teach us the best way of applying the scouting methods to get results. In today’s business language it is the “best practices” of scouting.

Our emphasis at District on training is not for enforcing discipline. It is for giving each pack, troop, or crew the tools to achieve “best practices” as quickly as possible. Skip some of the pain of the School of Hard Knocks. Focus on what works. Shift responsibility for the program’s planning and action to the boys in an age-appropriate manner. We want to train you so that you are more comfortable with scouting.

How much more enjoyable is a sport or a card game if you understand the rules, goals, boundaries, and methods of play? Learn scouting’s “best practices” so that you can focus on the game – not the rules – of scouting.

Pack Membership Coordinator Recruitment 

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This is the time of year that it is so important for a pack chairman to recruit a pack membership coordinator. 

One of the hardest parts of recruitment is explaining the nature and duties of the position. Units that have had the luxury of having one parent assist in year one and then do the job in year to have the advantage of on the job training.

For most other packs, most of the training has to be done using other resources: classes, literature, or on the job experience.

BSA has put together a wonderful website for all packs, troops, and crews to be able to use for different recruitment purposes. There are even YouTube videos for the membership coordinator to learn their job. This is different than the usual E-learning process because there is no login required.

Take a look at this website to find out what you can do to improve your recruitment this fall. 


Making My.Scouting.Org Useful

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Over the next several days, BSA is going to continue moving more and more of its access to ScoutNet database for its volunteers from to

One of the most important benefits of the new system is that it delegates more control over data to the volunteer corps.

This means that it is important that each unit be aware that it can update information. Once aware, the unit needs to update the information.

To begin the process, you need to know your username and password. It is the same one that you used on (If you do not have an account there, you will need to register there first.) If you have never logged in to, you will have to complete the registration transfer process first. Once you are logged in, continue with the instructions below. (For a slightly older video showing the process, click here.)

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District Training Problems: Committee Challenge

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As I have described in a previous post, our District’s position with the least amount of training is our unit committee members. Ironically, they are among the easiest to train. All of their training (Youth Protection, This is Scouting, and Troop Committee Challenge) is online. The entire process can be done in about an hour for a fast reader. Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.56.14 AM

They will need a login username and password. They will also be better served if they enter their BSA Council Number andMember ID in the system’s Profile. When you ask a Committee Member of any unit to get their training, please look at the Rechartering paperwork, the training reports on either or Then give them their member number, preferably by email for easy retrieval. You will save everyone headaches.

You can also send them a link to this article. I have attached at this link to a step-by-step guide for logging into the system and taking the Troop Committee Challenge. The same process is used for the Pack Committee Challenge and the Venturing Committee Challenge.

Please give us your feedback on how to improve these instructions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.58.57 AMWe would like to have 100% of our committee members fully trained by Recharter time in October.

Training Report Updates

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Over the last several years, our District’s training records have not been kept at the highest quality. Consequently, many scouters have reported to me that their records are incomplete.

Please make sure to login in to the new to review your training record’s completeness. If you have training completed that is not reflected in the record, please contact your unit commissioner listed on the same website. If you are not sure who the unit commissioner is after reviewing the website, contact District Commissioner Jeff Heck for a referral.

We are still beta testing the extent of our ability to update the records without the Council Registrar’s intervention. However, if we are aware of the specific problems that you are having, it is much easier to figure what we can do for you.

For us to be able to make any updates, we will need some documentation to support the training being completed. Most instructors issue the required Certificate of Completion. We can accept those. If you do not have such a certificate and you attended University of Scouting or the old Cub Scout Pow-Wows, you can give us a transcript of those classes taken.

Please be especially attentive if you have taken Wood Badge, position-specific training for the position you now hold, your current Youth Protection Training class, and the Train-the-Trainer class called Trainer’s Edge.

These training records are important for facilitating Rechartering and maintaining a quality experience for the youth in our district.

Troop Committee and All Pack Training Now Online

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Remember the old days (like last month), where Pack Committee Chairs had to tell new parents that to be “Trained” as a scout leader, they needed to go to a class to obtain their Position-Specific Training? Isn’t it nice that we don’t have to do that anymore?

What you didn’t know that?Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.41.58 AM

Yeah, at the end of June 2015, now offers online Position-Specific Training. This isn’t just limited to Fast Start Training anymore (which is still available).

Now your Pack can be fully entitled to wear the “Trained” patch from online training. All major positions are included: Cubmaster, Committee Members, Pack Trainer, and Den Leaders of all types. They are even available in Spanish.

District will be asking all Chartered Organization to make a special emphasis on having newly recruited leaders attend training during the first week of September. However, this online offering will have nearly identical content.

Consequently, when your Unit Commissioners coming visiting in August, they will want to be sure that your current leaders have their training done, online if most convenient. Otherwise, they will ask that the existing leaders set a good example and attend the live training when it is scheduled for the first week of September.

All Packs should have a Pack Trainer. This person is responsible for doing live training (if necessary) and making sure that all Pack Leaders at all levels are properly trained and reported to the District Training Committee and the Council Registrar. When reporting live training, the Pack Trainer should use these Training reports.

For our Boy Scout Troop Leaders, only one position has the equivalent online training available at this time: Troop Committee Challenge. All other Troop Leaders must still do their training live with an instructor or make arrangements with an instructor to do self-study. Self-study consists of reviewing the material alone, then speaking to a qualified instructor to insure that the material was learned. The instructor still issues the certificate. Troop Leaders are discouraged from self-study except in the most dire of situations. The value of conversations and interactions are deemed to be an important part of the regular training practice. Leadership Training Committee Guide (#34169) pg. 12 (2010). Personal coaching with a qualified trainer is preferred over self-study.

This training is important for Rechartering.

Service Hours Reporting to Council

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UPDATE 7/21/15: In July BSA open direct access to this reporting from within Now there are two ways to access the national database: and 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.

Excerpt from Star Column (27 May 1922).
Excerpt from Star Column (27 May 1922).
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.

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Cub Pack Committee

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One of the first signs of trouble in the health of a Cub Scout Pack is that Cubmaster is heavily involved with the parents.

The Cubmaster, like his Scoutmaster equivalent, has the primary responsibility for taking care of the boys and coordinating the efforts of the Assistant Cubmasters and Den Leaders. He is the head of the Operations Department of a Cub Scout Pack.

So who takes care of the parents? The Pack Committee Chair. He or she is crucial to allowing the Cubmaster to provide a good program to keep the boys interested. If the Cubmaster is handling most of the phone calls and emails from the parents, the Cubmaster is going to waste his volunteer time that should be spent on the boys.

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