Journey to Excellence

Review your Unit JTE Scorecard

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North Star District Commissioner Stephen Heath recommends that all units take some time at their next unit committee AND the Patrol Leader Council (and Venture Crew Officer) meetings to review their 2018 Journey to Excellence Scorecard. We recently discussed the minor changes for 2018. You can download copies of the scorecard for your unit here.

Stephen recommends focusing on the section headers and picking one to be the focus of JTEthe committee’s attention for the next 30-60 days and state a clear goal the committee wishes to accomplish with that subject. At the end of that period, assess your progress and determine how well you met your goal. Then either renew your commitment to that topic with new efforts, or pick another topic to be the committee’s focus for the next 30-60 days.

Stephen believes that a unit committee, PLC, or Venturing officers that regularly review the JTE Scorecard and makes a conscious effort to improve a section at a time will have remarkable improvement before the end of 2018.

If you know where you need improvement but cannot come up with a plan to move the score forward, this is the perfect time for the committee chair or the chair’s designee to reach out to your Unit Commissioner or District Commissioner Stephen Heath to open discussions on what can be done. That is what the Commissioner Service is intended to do for you!.


IYOS website rebuild

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What is “IYOS”? It is the “Ideal Year in Scouting.” It is the way for the Crossroads of America Council to tell you what the Best Practices for units will be in the next 12-18 months. What camping opportunities and activities are coming up. When deadlines for summer camp are. When rechartering will take place. When popcorn sales will begin and end. How unit budgets should be developed. How big summer events can be paid for.

Council is in the process of rebuilding the website dedicated to IYOS. Make sure to stop in regularly and monitor the progress. Hopefully you will learn something every time you stop in. We expect the 2018-2019 district calendars to be added in the next couple of weeks.


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Setting the Stage for Continued Growth2018 Recognition Dinner

[INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, February 8]  District Leaders, mentors, family and friends assembled at the 2017 North Star District Awards ceremony to offer well-deserved congratulations to the Leadership team and to recognize members of the District for their commitment to service.  Included in these honors was the highlight of the Journey to Excellence Gold Award status earned by North Star with the overall highest score in the Council and an announcement that North Star’s contribution led to the Crossroads of America Council being the highest scoring council nationally, too.  A highlighted list of honored outgoing leadership and 2017 Award Winners can be found below.

2018 District Objectives

As 2018 North Star District Committee Chair Mark Maucere outlined in his keynote address, there are four pillars on which the upcoming leadership team will be focused in order to build on the success of this past year, which are:

Membership Growth.  This includes development of strategies to communicate with Charters and Schools as well as in assisting our Units with Leadership Outreach and Program Awareness.  This work will help keep up the interest with new/prospective Cub Scouts and their parents in the competition for time and attention with other extracurricular activities.  Our new Membership Chair is soon to be named.

Increased Unit Commissioner Involvement.  Stephen Heath is the 2018 District Commissioner, and he is looking forward to building the Unit Commissioner team and for these Unit Commissioners to create stronger and more cohesive working relationships with each of our District Units as “one team.”

Program Offering.  Mark Pishon as 2018 District Program Chair will bring a passion and energy to this critical pillar to enhance our current program offering as well as expand in areas that will further encourage greater recruitment, participation and retention.

Communication.  Cheryl Bilsland will be serving as 2018 Communication Chair and brings corporate digital marketing and Toastmasters communications mentorship experiences to the role.  We look forward to building upon and expanding our communication and outreach presence in a way that best meets the needs of the District.

Mark emphasized his “open door policy” and is humbly looking forward to meeting and working with each of you, thanking you for your service, insight, talent, energy and involvement in order to grow our District in 2018.

2017 North Star District
Leadership and Award Winners

We want to thank our 2017 District Key 3 team for their dedicated servant leadership:

John Wiebke                                       District Chair

Con Sullivan                                        District Executive

Jeffrey Heck                                            District Commissioner

Hearty congratulations and gratitude for your service, goes to the following 2017 District Award Winners:

Alec Damer T514 Merle H. Miller Eagle Scout Project of the Year Award
Austin Damer T514 Judge John Price Outstanding Eagle Scout of the Year Award
Agrayan Gupta T56 Dr. Bernard Harris SUPERNOVA Award (the first awarded in North Star District, based on our information)
John Wiebke T358 District Award of Merit
Mike Yates T56 District Award of Merit
David Sperry T514 Unit Leader Award of Merit
Michael Faulk T56 Arrowman of the Year
Bill Buchalter P83 Cubmaster of the Year
Ron Wells T343 Scoutmaster of the Year
Denise Purdie-Andrews T69 Firecrafter of the Year
Katherine Ritchie T343 Boy Scout Committee Chair Person of the Year
Todd Sanger P514 Cub Scout Committee Chair Person of the Year
Nick Griffith T56 Hooked on Scouting
Jason Chamness T358 Hooked on Scouting
Laura Gunderman T358 Hooked on Scouting
James Stiles T358 Hooked on Scouting
Amanda Walsh T358 Hooked on Scouting
Jill Williams T358 Hooked on Scouting
Mary Fenchak T514 Hooked on Scouting
Jill Carson T343 Spark Plug Award
Mark Carson T343 Spark Plug Award
Brendan Cavanaugh T358 Spark Plug Award
Joe Forler T358 Spark Plug Award
Brad Gibson T358 Spark Plug Award
Kathryn Gibson T358 Spark Plug Award
Bob Jalaie T358 Spark Plug Award
Dawn Pasquale T358 Spark Plug Award
Chris Pishon T358 Spark Plug Award
Chris Strachan T358 Spark Plug Award
Jane Sullivan T358 Spark Plug Award
Valerie Swack T358 Spark Plug Award
Matthew Glaze T514 Spark Plug Award
Marilyn Mathioudakis T514 Spark Plug Award
Ken Savin T514 Spark Plug Award
Lisa Savin T514 Spark Plug Award


If you would like more information about this topic, please call Cheryl Bilsland, 2018 North Star Communications Chair, at 317-225-6102, or email

JTE Report from District

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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:

  1. Packs 18, 35, 105, 171, 174, 175, 358 (all five tribes), 514, 625, and 830 (total packs: 14);
  2. Troops 18, 35, 56, 69, 72, 73, 174, 180, 269, 343, 358, 512, 514, and 804 (total troops: 14); and
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 with your Internet Advancement login and password to make sure your unit’s records are up to date through December 2017.
  4. 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!

Unit Service Reporting

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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’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.

JTE Changes for 2018

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As we are wrapping up our 2017 Journey to Excellence scorecards with rechartering. Now is a good time to become familiar with next year’s scorecards.


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 reportingJTE 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.


Long-Range Planning: an Alternate Proposal

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

How are we doing? Read your Finish Line Report

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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 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.

Magic of 5% Improvement

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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.


2016 JTE Patch order forms

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For all of our JTE units, the form to order your patches is available here. Download then use it at the Scout Shop.