Journey to Excellence
It’s that time of year 🎼 🎶 . . . no, no, no, not that. The JTE report time of year.
As we are wrapping up Rechartering, we have a better idea of what the year’s end 2017 Journey to Excellence report will look like.
First a refresher on definitions. Gold level means that a unit, district, or council has scored in the 80th percentile or better. For those of you who are not currently in my son’s statistics class, that means the unit, district, or council has scored as well as or better than 80% of the units, districts, or councils, respectively, out there. Silver is the 51st to 79th percentile. Bronze is 20th to 49th percentile.
So with those definitions in mind, the drum roll, please! 🥁🥁
As of the report this morning, North Star District has 33 of 40 units scoring Gold:
- Packs 18, 35, 105, 171, 174, 175, 358 (all five tribes), 514, 625, and 830 (total packs: 14);
- Troops 18, 35, 56, 69, 72, 73, 174, 180, 269, 343, 358, 512, 514, and 804 (total troops: 14); and
- Crew 358 and 408.
North Star has 2 units scoring Silver, Pack 180 and Crew 56 (chartered in December 2016).
The District has one unit scoring Bronze, Pack 64.
Three units reported but did not qualify for any JTE award. One unit has tendered no report yet. Pack 73 is too new to have any historical data yet on which to generate a report. Consequently, this looks like the final results.
So what does this mean for the District? With the November End of Month report (preliminary data, subject to revision), North Star has 2250 points, qualifying for District Gold again for the third year straight. Unfortunately, Del-Mi has slipped into a 25 point lead with 2275. This would break a streak of North Star wins.
Right now, we do not have all the results of Unit JTE Reports entered. Based on the information above, the categories that we can still improve on before year’s end are as follows:
- Cub Scout Camping: Worth an additional 50 points for us. This will come out the JTE reports, so we expect this to increase. We are 25 Cub Scouts short of necessary, but some of the JTE reports have not been processed yet. If you think that you have additional reports that could help (like October or November family camps that were not included), email Jessica Hofman to clarify where your pack stands.
- Boy Scout Camping. Worth 25-75 more points, depending on the reports made. For the mechanics, it is nearly identical to the Cub Scout Camping described above. If your unit did summer camp out-of-council or did high adventure but not on high national council base, we need your numbers. We need 73 boy scouts reported camping from outside local council or national council camps or high adventures or specialty camps (like STEM). Email Jessica if you think your boys were not reported as having done long-term camping.
- Additional Service Man-Hours: We need 3,274 more man-hours reported. That works out to about 80 man-hours per unit. Please make sure to login to http://servicehours.scouting.org with your Internet Advancement login and password to make sure your unit’s records are up to date through December 2017.
- Unit JTE Gold: We have met this criteria, but it is not scoring yet. That will be worth an additional 150 points.
Your outgoing Key 3 is working on a few tasks to boosts these numbers a bit more yet from the administrative. Let’s keeping working to put Del-Mi behind us.
Even so this is all very good news. You should be proud of the efforts that you are making on behalf of your youth!
As we are reaching year’s end, your district leadership was reviewing our reported service hours for 2017. As we have mentioned in the past, service hours reported help contribute to a worldwide goal of reporting one billion hours of scouting service hours by 2020.
Please make sure that your unit chair or your advancement coordinator (or whoever else your chair has designated to report service hours) has entered their information through my.scouting.org’s legacy tools.
Remember these reported hours boost your Journey to Excellence score.
You will need your unit’s advancement code to login.
If you don’t have the code or just want to email your report, send an email to DE Jessica Hofman.
For the most part, at the unit level, there are few changes. On line 10, the consistent change is from requiring the minimum adult leadership for rechartering plus an assistant unit leader (i.e., assistant Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, or Associate Venturing Advisor). Now the requirement for Bronze on line 10 is simply to have an assistant unit leader. This makes sense, since the others are required to recharter. Even units that do not qualify for bronze need a unit leader and committee members. This is less of a change than a simplification of the scoring method.
I have omitted other wording changes that do not change the underlying scoring mechanism for the criterion.
The significant changes are at the District level. While most unit leaders have little interest in what district qualifies for, it does impact units. The impact is on what commissioners and committee members do to support the units. In their efforts, they need the cooperation of unit leaders to be able to meet BSA JTE requirements.
On line 4, membership growth, the focus is shifting from the district-at-large to Cub Scouts. So lower overall growth is sought but actual growth in Cub Scouts is the minimum level. The logic is that if we grow Cub Scout membership, we will grow overall membership. With co-ed taking effect in 2018 for Cub Scouts, ideally this is an easy requirement to meet.
On line 7, the target percentage of scouts with advancement is reduced between 2-3% on all levels.
On line 9, the target percentage of Cub Scouts camping is increased 2-3 % on all levels.
On line 12, unit retention is increased for bronze but reduced for silver and gold. All now seek 90% retention.
On line 13, unit commissioners are expected to have more detailed and more frequent information about the health of the units in their charge. That means the unit commissioners are expected to ask better questions so that they better understand the units. They are then accountable for summarizing that information in the reporting system.
Line 15 requires one less committee member to qualify for gold.
So for planning purposes, very little is shocking to units. The amount of requests for assistance from district may go up. It seems the goal is to have better overall scouting experiences available to boys and girls without putting more pressure on any one unit to fulfill that goal.
Please look at the scorecards for 2018 and build improving into your monthly unit committee meetingsto insure a great 2018.
Traditionally in BSA units, National recommends that units do an annual planning conference one time per year. This is designed to discuss the budget, annual calendar, and longer-term projects, like high adventure outings. The idea is that at least once per year that the unit makes sure that it is staying on course. This is usually done concurrently with the annual program calendar.
The result is that the unit has a full agenda to talk about the calendar. Dealing with other long range issues gets varying discussion and analysis. For units that do the planning as part of an evening meeting, they run out of time quickly. For units that have a full retreat, they have plenty of time, but may have different items on their agenda.
Compounding the problem, most officers of the unit only plan to be with the unit until their son (and soon to be, daughters) leave the unit. This makes planning a much shorter term vision than the unit probably needs. But in terms of prioritzation, it allows the players to focus on what affects them and shorten the agenda.
Scouting already has a tendency to “meeting” our volunteers to death. We tend to have too many short meetings rather than taking the time to do a retreat once.
As BSA puts more and more effort into Journey to Excellence as a method for units to assess how they are doing, new tools are cropping up.
If you log into your my.scouting.org account, pull down the menu. Some leaders should be able to see the “JTE Reports.”
This menu option allows you to pull up a report that shows what statistical data that council has received about your unit. The report has several line items numbered as “#1” or “#4.” These numbers indicate a measurement line-item on the JTE system. These lines are very important.
If your unit has reported their advancement properly to council, a statistic showing the percentage of scouts advancing this year will appear. If you have reported your service hours, the total reported to date for the year will appear.
If any of the lines are blank for your unit, where you think your unit has done work, you may want to make sure that you have a person designated to follow up on the missing data.
Service hours are the biggest problem. Units forget to enter the data regularly. If you have questions, look at the National website. Remember we are working for 1 billion service hours in scouting by 2020.
These reports are worth printing out at the end of each quarter, so April 1, 2017 is a good time to take a look at it. Take it to your unit committee to review with other reports like the treasurer’s report. This will make year end JTE reporting simple, since you will have fixed problems each quarter.
At the recent Unit Key 3 Conference, I spoke about the need to work with your Unit Commissioner and your Unit Key 3 (i.e., Chartered Org. Rep., Chair, and Unit Leader) to do a Unit Service Plan.
A Unit Service Plan is a six-month “business plan” for your unit. It examines your annual planning & budgeting, your programming (like camping and meetings), your leadership succession plan, your adult leader training status, and your recruitment and retention status.
If your unit is not examining these departments on a regular basis, it is easy to allow one part or another to slide. The worst case scenario is you ignore the slide until the slide is a death-spiral do you stop and try to fix it.
The goal of doing regular Unit Service Plans is to prevent this scenario from occurring.
If your Unit Key 3 meets with your Unit Commissioner in the next 90 days, we would help you define ways to succeed in a predictable and healthy manner.
One trick is building your unit is to set goals of 5% across the board improvement. Five percent does not sound like much. But it is.
If your unit has 30 boys and it grows 5%, it means that you have replaced boys who have aged out or dropped out, keeping your retention at 100%, then adding an additional 2 boys (it is hard to have 1.5 boys, so I rounded up).
In programming it means moving from 10 monthly events to 11 events (rounding again). If you have 20 events, you move to 21. More opportunities for more scouting leads to more opportunities to find the one event that sparks the passion of one more scout. With the spark ignited, he is easier to retain, even when his parents are offering different extracurricular activities.
A five percent increase in fundraising, for example by adding camp cards to your existing practices, means that you have more money to use in programming that one more event mentioned above.
A five percent increase in trained adults means one more volunteer to staff events.
A five percent increase in advancement means you are less likely to lose scouts because they are progressing and are actively engaged in the program.
Now has your unit improved by 5%? I would argue not. You have add more financing, more capacity for adult leadership, more boys, more events. You are a much healthier unit.
When your next recruitment cycle hits, you will likely gain more than just 2 boys, because you have that much better of a program to pitch.
Schedule to sit down with your Unit Commissioner and see where you can plan a 5% improvement plan. Your Unit Commissioner’s job is to help you find the resources to make your plan work. You will be amazed at how quickly your unit will grow in a short period of time.
Part of Journey to Excellence emphasizes that Cub leaders are trained. North Star District requires that all leaders with greater than 90-days tenure be trained in their position by November 30, 2016 in order to be renewed in that position. In order to serve that requirement, the District making sure that training is widely available and publicized to facilitate leaders meeting this requirement.
To qualify for Bronze level of training (the 20th to 50th percentile of units), one person, whether Cubmaster, Den Leader, or Pack Trainer, needs to be trained in position specific training.
To qualify for Silver level of training (the 51st to 80th percentile of units nationwide), all scouters leading youth, whether Cubmaster or Den Leader, needs to be trained.
To qualify for Gold level of training (the 81st to 100th percentile of units nationwide), all scouters leading youth and 2/3rds of the committee members need to be trained for their positions.
While BSA’s e-training makes getting the de minimis training easier, the best training in scouting is face-to-face. The trainer may not be as articulate as the paid actors on the BSA’s website, live trainers are able to adapt the message for local needs and to reflect more information about local scouting. They are able to answer specific questions or direct to local council or district resources.
Because North Star District strongly prefers face-to-face training, the District is offering the most important Cub Scout training repeatedly the week of Labor Day. Each night from Tuesday, September 6, 2016 through Friday, September 9, 2016 a combination of these course are being offered. Currently these trainings are scheduled to be held at St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 West 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260 (Meridian St and 86th St).
We are asking each pack committee chair to emphasize the importance for all pack leaders to have their respective training done by September 9th.
If this creates scheduling conflicts for the leader, other districts are offering these trainings in the following 45 days. Del-Mi (Carmel/Fishers’ District) will be offering these trainings on October 1, 2016. Other trainings at the various scout service centers in the Council are being offered throughout September and October. A link to the council calendar is here.
If your unit has more than 3 adults who can participate in a class, district will send a trainer to your unit to provide the training. You just need to give us 14 days notice, beginning after August 26, 2016.
Since our District did so well on Journey to Excellence for 2015, we now get to celebrate our success.
This is very important for the long-term success of your unit. As I often repeat, we wear patches of recognition for personal recognition but also — and I think more importantly — as an invitation to tell a story.
If you see a scout wearing a Philmont patch, you are more likely to ask about his adventure. If you have been to Philmont, too, you will share your story. This creates a personal bond between strangers.
If a new parent visiting your unit looks at your JTE patch on your sleeve, they may ask what that means. “Gold” or “silver” sounds impressive. It is an invitation for you to brag about the strength of your unit.
If you are at summer camp, other scouters may ask you questions about what your unit does. They may never acknowledge the patch, but they find your unit’s experience more powerful. This is a quiet way for us to support other units.
So, please, make sure that your unit has and wears their JTE patches.
Last note: if you also have 100% Boy’s Life subscriptions, that is a slightly different JTE patch.
At the last District Committee meeting on February 4, 2016, District Executive Con Sullivan reported that there is a bit of confusion about service hours reporting. Even this writer has been guilty of the confusion.
Apparently there are two separate service hour reporting websites. They do not share data!
The national website, accessible through my.scouting.org, reports directly to National Council and is used for your unit’s national statistics such as contribution to the World Movement of Scouting’s billion service-hour challenge, but not Journey to Excellence scoring.
We know this is a problem because many of our largest and most successful troops have reported zero service hours on one or both of these websites. At the same time, these units have had Eagle Scouts reporting hundreds if not thousands of service hours. The scouts are getting proper credit, but it is not passing on to the units.
Journey to Excellence has a separate scoring for service hours which can receive a separate gold-level recognition.
Make sure your unit secretary or registrar is reporting service hours to both National on my.scouting.org and the same data to the local website at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1v7vmkVA0iDiQKTG4u-m8tG8lsHaGKwMrQbd93olBHig/viewform?edit_requested=true which is linked on the front page of http://www.crossroadsbsa.org.
To prevent this being a problem in the future, District will be reviewing these statistics quarterly. For troops, we will be looking at Eagle project reports against unit reports. Discrepancies will be pointed out to units.
For Cub Scout Packs, we will be looking at zer0-hour reports as needing updating.
Remember, we are part of a world-wide effort to demonstrate the value of scouting to our communities. Your reports help that marketing effort.