As with many of us we wear multiple hats in Scouting. First and foremost we wear the Dad (or Mom) hat, then the hat appropriate to our unit, like Scoutmaster or Committee Chair. Then there often times is some District level hat, whether that is part of the District Training team, a District event, or serving on the District committee. Some are active within their Order of Arrow Chapters or Lodges, and so another hat is hung there. And for some, and the numbers narrow here, the Council comes a callin’ and more hats are added to the hat rack of Scouting. This is all well and good as long as the person wearing all of those hats can A. balance and manage the time, B. give full attention to all the positions that he or she has volunteered for, and finally C. Remember that this is Scouting and it is still a game with a purpose.
All of that to say… I am putting on my District hat right now for this post.
Thursday night at our District committee meeting I was asked to take on an additional responsibility, that of the District Committee Chair while we are looking to replace our retiring District Committee chairman. I currently serve as the District Program Chairman, so this was not to far a stretch and so I accepted the interim role.
That is neither here nor there when it comes to the subject of this post, other than to say that in the role of both the District Committee Chairman and the Program Chairman one of the reports that our District Commissioner gave disturbed me to no end and I am looking for solutions.
That report was on the Journey to Excellence status of units within our District. I’ll jump right in.
In November our Council wraps up it’s rechartering process. This way all units are good to go heading into the new year. If done right by the units, this is a nice way to end the year and start their Scouting calendar year off clean. Maybe it’s because I do not know anything else, but this works well for me.
In November we also close out our now Journey to Excellence (Former Honor unit, Quality unit, Centennial Quality unit) report. Now of all the programs listed in Parenthesis.. I like Journey to Excellence a lot. It is a fair way to rank and rate your unit. It is a good measure of how your program is delivering the promise of Scouting. In the Thunderbird District we have 129 units that rechartered this November.. well 124 actually turned them in on time.. we are still waiting on 6 of them… which will add to my point here real quick. Out of the 129 units only 35% of them turned in the paper work for their Journey to Excellence. That’s only 45 units (Packs, Troops, and Crews). 45!
So the question has to be WHY? The score card is easy to use, the goals are fair and offer a sliding scale from Bronze to Gold so that units have a way of stepping up their programs with rewards for small and large success’s. But why would only 45 out of 129 units report how they are offereing up the program?
Is it a lack of knowledge? A lack of training? A lack of buy in? Or does this tell us that the 84 units that did not report are not providing quality programs and do not want to tell that to the District and Council? I sincerely hope that this is not the case. I know that there are great Scouters out there in our District and I see the units around doing activities, service projects, and outings. So why not report.
My thoughts went back to the Good turn for America program. Our District struggled in getting units to report there also. We asked a volunteer to chase down units and assist with their reporting.. read.. do it for them. And amazingly, or not, the numbers went sky rocketing. Now I am not suggesting that this is all about numbers. I certainly am not, what I am hoping is that the Promise of Scouting is being delivered in the 84 units that have made the choice not to fill out the form.
In talking with one Scouter, I came to the conclusion that he just did not know how the process worked. So a lack of training on his part led him to not being able to go through this with his unit. I call BS on this to a certain degree. The program is not that tough to just figure out. He asked about tools that could be used to help with the process. I told him to go to Scouting.org and look up the Journey to Excellence. There he would find an easy way to set the goals of the unit, track the progress of the unit, and print the final report. Along with definitions, Frequently Asked questions, and support. I also reminded him that the number one function of the District is to support units and he could always call us.
Here is what I like about the JTE program. If you use the tracker, and I mean break it out monthly and see how you are, as a unit progressing through your program based on your goals. You will achieve success. The tracker allows the unit to see potential problems or short falls before they happen. It allows Troop committees to make adjustments, it is a nice tool for the Patrol Leaders Council to stay on track with their program. After all the main emphasis of the JTE is in program and participation. Most of us have a competitive gene in us. Our Scouts certainly do. So the Journey to Excellence plays on this part of the game. There are incentives within the unit to continuously improve. Better Performance means better Scouting for youth! Better Performance can earn a higher level of Recognition, and Key requirements are tracked and improvement can be quickly identified so they can see where they are on the field. It’s kind of like being in a 3rd and long and waiting to punt or 3rd and short and know you can score!
I also like that each year the requirements will change. Each year, the requirements will be reconsidered to reflect the improved performance by units. This is why it is important that ALL units report. Right now in my District 45 units will set the performance measurement for the rest of the District. New standards for 2012 are already out. You can see the Troop score card here.
So I am looking for solutions to this problem. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment or drop an email.
Share your Journey to Excellence success’s also in the comments section of this post.
Like I said. I know that there are good Scouters out there doing the right thing. But the Journey to Excellence program will help make Scouting better. Better for the main thing… Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!