JTE.. More

The balanced Score care approach is nothing new, it has been floating around organizations for some time now and provides a balanced view for organizational performance.  Who looks at this?  Well really you do.  As much as some would like t0 think that Councils and District level leadership are actively engaged in what goes on at the unit level (and I am talking Pro staff here, not volunteer) the fact of the matter is that where the rubber hits the road, the unit leadership are really the only leaders dedicated 100% to their units.  That is not to say that District, Council, and even National leadership could care less.  It is just that they have different fish to fry.  They are concerned at the “Big” organizational level in areas of membership, fundraising, and policy.  And that is fair.  Hey, I don’t want to think about that stuff, I want to go camping.  So the Journey to Excellence program is a tool that ensures our units are meeting the mark as we can measure our programs.  I think this is important to make sure that we all are delivering the promise of Scouting in a uniform manner.
Last month I attended the National meetings of the BSA in San Diego.  The Assistant Chief Scout Executive for Council Operations Gary Butler gave a great talk at the Scoutmaster dinner.  In his talk he gave the analogy of Starbucks coffee.  He said that when you order a coffee at Starbucks in Seattle it tastes like the same cup in New York City, or Atlanta, or Boston.. the message is that the coffee is the same where ever you go and that is part of business model of Starbucks.  The Promise of Scouting is just like that cup of coffee.  It needs to be the same consistent program, delivered in many ways, but the same program throughout the Boy Scouts of America.  We have great outline, but Scouters choose not to use it.  The Journey to Excellence program attempts to bring some of that back in line.
Now, I know that many of you, myself included, do not like to view the BSA as a business.  Certainly not at the unit level.  But just like every organization if certain measures are not in place, lets say for growth, for financial stability, for improvements in the program, the organization will fail.
Remember a couple posts ago, I shared that I knew a unit that was a Quality unit every year, but then it just folded?  It is because they did not have a plan to grow and stay fit.  They took it year to year and hoped that the Cub Scout pack would just continue to “Feed them”.  They did not have a stable financial plan, they did not have a plan to assist the youth leadership… and yet they were “always a quality unit”.
None of us want to see our units fail.  JTE is a week to week, month to month, year to year tool that sets on a Journey to Excellence.
OK.. 500 words in and not a word about camping.. so lets talk just a little about Short term and Long term camping as it applies to the JTE.
You all understand that Short term equates to weekend camp outs and long term camping refers to those week long (or longer) camping opportunities such as Summer camp, Jamboree’s, High Adventure base participation.  Now I think the BSA set the bar low on this one, and so many if not all of us will automatically qualify at the Gold level when it comes to short term camping.  Bronze = 4 camp outs throughout the year.  Yeah, that is not a typo.. I wrote 4.  Silver requires a unit to camp 8 times and to achieve the Gold standard you need to camp at least 10 times.  Like I said.. I think we all have this one in the bag.   And for the Gold level you get 200 points for just doing what we all do, and that’s camp.
Now I think it is interesting how the JTE handles long term camping.  You will qualify for the bronze level if your unit attends a long term camp.. lets call it summer camp.  You will achieve Silver level status if 60% of your Scouts attend Summer camp (or another long term opportunity).  And it only takes 70% of your unit attending camp to achieve Gold level status.  I recently had a small discussion on Camp staff with some Scouters that I consider “In the know”.  We debated on whether a Scout that serves on camp staff is counted in that percentage.  And the answer according the definitions of JTE is this; ” Boy Scouts attending any in council or out of council long term summer camp (of at least three days and nights), high adventure experience, jamboree, or serve on camp staff within the past year”.  The part that really weirds me out on this is the three days and nights.  But not to worry, most if not all summer camps run a week.  No problems there.
The bottom line is that camping is where Scouting happens.  It is where the Patrol method is executed, it is where teaching happens, it is where the boys can be boys and learn, practice, and teach skills.  Camping, I am sure you will agree is what most think about when we talk Scouting.
Next time we will dive into the Patrol Method.
Thanks for the emails, you can email me anytime.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. I get all of this, and I am on board with the new JTE. It’s a tad different for Packs as they do not have a Camping section as Troops do. There is a Summercamp section.

    Instead there is an Outdoor activities section. In our Pack, I am counting the Summertime Activities that we have for the Summertime Pack Award. There is three. Bronze. Now, we also have a Arrow of Light Sleepover at Scouter’s Mtn, Cuboree (new this year), a Snow Day up on Mt Hood and a Pumpkin Patch outing. 6 outings. Gold.

    The last three Pack Meetings we had, were held outside. Does not count, but it’s outside.


  2. Interesting thoughts on the JTE.

    I, for one, appreciate the way the JTE is constructed (much better than the QU). I think it makes an excellent self-assessment tool but I am less interested in the idea of ranking units against each other this way.

    Will this make program delivery more uniform? Will it actually have a direct benefit to living, breathing Scouts? I think the potential is there.

    Is this just another numbers juggling exercise to leverage donations and somehow advance the interests of ‘Council’ or ‘National’?

    I suggest that Scoutmaster’s view this as a tool for self-assessment and focus on results oriented changes that the JTE indicates in your unit. What happens with the numbers and ratings once they leave your unit are less of a concern.


    1. And I think if one reads my posts clearly this is what I am saying. I do not feel the need nor the motivation to pad numbers or increase percentages for the sake of my council or District. They do fine without me on that one… I think when you look at the JTE program as a tool to asses an individual units performance there is merit in the program.
      Thanks for the comment Clark, I think we both see eye to eye on this.


  3. Clarke,

    I am going to agree with you. Jerry, this was my initial hesitation on the whole % thing. I have a great District and Council. My DEs are fantastic (one is an Eagle Scout from my Troop) and our SE is one of the best. That being said, I know their main job is numbers…percentages of growth, number of units, etc. And these are the good Professionals…what of the Districts not so fortunate. I like the idea of QU/JTE patch for the Scouts to wear proudly and it gives them some goals to shoot for. Maybe I’ve attended too many District/Council meetings and see the focus on numbers and such. I should just accept it for what it is, an opportunity to self assess…



    1. BINGO! I think we are more alike than you get from this post. In my opinion, this is not about National, Councils, or Districts (good or bad).. they have their own assements in the JTE toolbox. This is about me making sure that my Scout led Troop is on track.
      I agress with you Bryan..
      Sometimes we need to be able to see the individual trees within the forest.


  4. Jerry, I am SM of a failing unit. I took over a troop of 15 scouts 3 years ago, worked on the program, got the boys in leadership to actually take a leadership role, had the boys plan the yearly camping schedule, etc. But I got 1 or 2 new boys per year into the troop. Now, due to some boys aging out and others going to the big troop down the road, I have 4 scouts. For 2 and a half years I have gone to the District Director asking for help. I asked the district commissioner for help.

    Our district leaders cannot do much except give me lists of former scouts to call and try to recruit. That has brought us 1 scout in 2 years. Our district leaders have not been much help. There is no effort here to help struggling troops to recruit. There is no training program we can take, nor anyone who can come in to the troop to give us advice. No unit commissioners, no other volunteers. We cannot even get an accurate list of cub scout leaders, as they are usually not in place until about October of any given year.

    My point is, the council and district officers and professionals can have all the statistics and unit information they need about unit programs, but if they are not set up or motivated to even contact the unit leaders, then the whole exercise of JTE or Quality Unit, or whatever, is pointless. No one is looking at my unit. No one is coming to my unit, no one can help my unit. Sigh.


  5. The post happens across the source of much of my unease with National initiatives with the Starbucks analogy. Somebody built a Starbucks up the road from me. It went broke. Whether our small towns are too small to support Chain Coffee, or we choose to support the existing main street coffee shop, or we boycott generic big box corporate America, some things just don’t work everywhere. If the BSA leadership is content to market to the middle, they’ll have plenty of Suburban Soccer moms to talk to. As for the rest of us, average isn’t good enough… nor is the median or the mode.


    1. Ahhh…. But JC Scouting is supposed to work everywhere because it does not rely on National to run the program. National sets the outline for the program.. that is the “Starbucks” of it. The BSA sets the standard. A failed francise is not the fault of big box.. it is in the hands of the operator. JTE is the assessment tool for the operator to ensure the program is meeting the standards set forth by the brand name organization.
      So when you say that the BSA leadership is content.. well then I would submit you are correct. Everything is met in the middle, just look at training. But units that choose to go above that tend to run well and stick around.
      Average is certainly not good enough.. but average keeps the brand the same everywhere.


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