Journey to Excellence
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 process. 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.
Where 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 my.scouting.org 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.
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.
UPDATE 7/21/15: In July BSA open direct access to this reporting from within my.scouting.org. Now there are two ways to access the national database: my.scouting.org and servicehours.scouting.org. 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.
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.
As any veteran scouter can attest, the BSA has had a program encouraging unit health and growth for years. Until 2009, the program was called the Unit Excellence Award. From 2010 to 2013, the program was called the Centennial Award. Since 2014, the award is now called the Journey to Excellence Award. All of these have used different measurements to assess the health of pack, troops, and crews, while maintaining similar goals.
For the first two years of the Journey to Excellence, the program has been completely voluntary and incentivized by discounts on various products, such as pinewood derby cars, when specific goals were met.
For 2016 rechartering, this will change. Now the Journey to Excellence Award Report will be a required part of the rechartering packet. That does not mean that units are required to pursue the award. It just means that the units must disclose their statistics at the end of this charter period.