Journey to Excellence Pt. 2

Ok.. so the first post on JTE has been met with some resistance.  Let me just say this, then I will move on.
As a Scoutmaster or Committee Chair, you need to have a way to measure the success of your unit.  Going camping, having Scouts cross over, and holding a Court of Honor or two is not an accurate way of knowing that you are delivering the promise of Scouting to the youth of your Troop.  We all can stand back and say that we are doing a good job, but can’t we do better?  Sure.
I heard a comment about JTE as it applied to the old Quality Unit program in that they were always a Quality Unit, and now they may not be in the new system.  Well then, maybe your unit needs to work harder in the areas that you fall short.  Other comments reflect a need to pass it off to the youth leadership.  And while I agree that Scout units are to be Youth led, every unit should have a plan that is part youth driven and part adult driven.  The Troop committee must have a plan that supports the plan of the PLC.  Handing off the JTE program to the PLC will only get them so far down the road.  This is not setting them up for success.  The Journey to Excellence program is designed to bring out the best in the units leadership both adult and youth.
OK.. so having said that, lets dive into the program.
In this post I am going to discuss the first couple elements of the JTE program.  Advancement and Retention.
The objective is to increase the percentage of Boy Scouts earning rank advancements.  To earn the Bronze level you need to have 55% of your Scouts earn one rank or have a 2 percentage point increase.  I think this is important especially if you have older Scouts that are not going to advance in the year.  Lets say a Scout is Life, it is likely that he will not earn Eagle in that next year.  So having a percentage increase helps your score when you have younger Scouts earning Tenderfoot to First class in that first year.  This is attainable in every unit.  For the Silver level 60 % of your Scouts need to advance or 55% AND a 2 percentage point increase.  The Gold level requires that 65% of the Scouts advance AND a 2 percentage point increase is attained.  I find that these goals are within reason and with encouragement from the committee and Scoutmasters, every Scout, especially those younger Scouts can assist your unit in achieving this goal.
So what is the PLC’s role in this objective.  If the PLC encourages each Patrol to shoot for the Honor Patrol award, then Patrol members will advance.  The Troop guides play a major role in attaining this and working the younger Scouts on the trail to First class.  So its not just a number, it is a goal that assists your PLC and Troop Guides in properly functioning within the structure of their leadership roles.
Simply put the objective here is to improve your retention rate.  So you have to retain and reregrister 76% of your Scouts or have a 2 percentage point increase from the previous year to earn the Bronze level.  80% for Silver and 85% for Gold.  I think this is a worthy goal.  My only heart burn with this goal is retention in general needs to be thoughtfully considered with each Scout.  Here is what I am saying.  I believe that every young man should be in Scouting.  I don’t however think that every young man fits in Scouting.  I have often said that I would rather have 10 Scouts that want to be there than 100 Scouts and no one really wants to be there.  Having a large troop that has a small percentage of active Scouts is just as good as having a small troop.  I like the idea that the Boy Scouts of America wants us to retain everyone, but at 85% retention that means we are really allowing for those that do not want to be there to find a fit elsewhere.  I like that.
So in my Troop I can lose 6 Scouts (not that I want to) and still have an 85% retention rate.  Last year we gained 9 and lost 6.  Our retention rate was still at 85%, but our net gain for the year was +4.  This would be a 40% gain for the year and qualify for the Gold in the JTE program for both retention and Building Boy Scouting.  Most of us would agree that these numbers are reasonable and easy to attain, as long as we are building a good program that the Scouts want to be a part of and establish good recruiting habits and relationships with Cub Scout packs.
Now, more than likely I lost many of you that are tired of the numbers.  Those of you that think that Scouting should not be about the numbers and that this is just an excercise in helping the DE’s look good.  I beg to differ though.  I think that periodic looks at the numbers keep your unit on track.  Further, I think it is important for the Scouts of your PLC to understand some of this.  It is a tool that they can use to assist in recruiting for the future of your troop.  Who better to recruit then the Scouts that enjoy the program?
This is just as much a function of the Patrol leaders council as the Troop committee’s.  They, working together will achieve success as a unit on a Journey to Excellence.
As much as the PLC of my Troop wants every year to be the Troop of the Year, the Journey to Excellence is a part of the program that gives them goals and tangible results.
I know that I am not going to convince some of you.. and you are probably the same Scouters that balk at anything that “National” forces on you.  Like methods and Aims.. you reluctantly went along with Quality Unit and this has no meaning to you either.  So be it…  I am sure you can run a great program without it also.  As for me.  I like the tools and I like to teach and mentor Scouts to do the hard things in life.  To set goals and plan to achieve them.  This is yet another opportunity to do that with our Patrols, our committees, and our Scoutmasters.
More later. 
Your comments are welcome.. send them to or simply leave a comment here or at the SMMVoice mail 503-308-8297.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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