During this last years recharter we had an extremely disappointing turn in of the Journey to Excellence form. As a District committee we chalked this up to a couple of things.. perhaps it was that many people were not aware of the change in program. Maybe some Scouters did not receive proper or inadequate training on the subject. It could have been that the program was not communicated effectively. Another reason may have been that some Scouters just don’t care enough to fill it out. Then again, it may have just been that there are units out there that really are not delivering the promise and would not fill out the form for any reason.
I will go on record and say that the answer is All of the Above. (In my opinion).
So rather than simply complain about it.. I figured that the right thing to do, because I love Scouting and believe in the program, would be to tackle the issues and start with training.
So I volunteered to teach about the JTE program and give out all the tools that would make a unit successful in at least getting the 2012 form in with their charter in November.
So back in January, I announced that we would hold a JTE session at the February Round table. I made arrangements with the Round Table commissioner and we decided that this would be a great class. We could have all levels of Scouting attend and present the information in a clear and easy to use format.
I made copies of all of the materials and even used my own Troop as an example. I made copies of our spreadsheet JTE tracker and our goals for this year. A sample budget was included as well as the Pack, Troop, and Crew requirements for 2012.
Last night at Round table, the room was set and I prepared to teach this subject of which I have developed a passion for. 7 people showed up for the training. 7. 2 of them were Assistant Scoutmasters from my Troop, 1 was a Scoutmaster of a high performance troop that is using the JTE tools and is delivering the promise of Scouting. 2 were Cub Scout leaders that I assume got a lot out of the class. They had great questions and seemed to be very interested in getting this ball rolling within their Packs. 1 was an Assistant Scoutmaster of another Troop that is always in the hunt for Troop of the Year, and finally a committee member from on of the LDS units in our District. She had never heard of JTE and took lots of notes. She informed me that she thought that this was all done at the Stake level.. but wanted to know more so she could get the program started with the Troops she worked with.
85 units did not bother to fill out and turn in the form during the last recharter process.
So essentially last night I preached to the choir… again.
As I drove home from Round table last night my mind was filled with disappointment which of course drove me to thinking about the other areas in which we fall short in our District, Council, and of course the BSA.
Mostly I think it comes down to training. We do a fantastic job of getting people to help. Just look at the numbers.
1.1 Million volunteers currently serve the youth of Scouting. 1.1 Million. Now I am no fool, and I know that in any population you will never get 100 % of the folks to do anything, but we need to try right?
So we have lots of Scouts that deserve the best, and we have lots of volunteers that have at some level made a commitment to give their best, and yet we don’t.
Lets assume that my District (which I consider a real great district) is representative of most if not all districts in the BSA. First, lets throw out some numbers again… bear with me here. Remember that I said 85 units in my district did not bother to turn in the JTE form. My district has 129 units in it.
In 2010 the BSA reported that there were 47,259 Cub Scout Packs, 40,099 Boy Scout Troops, 8,539 Varsity teams, and 18,856 Venture Crews. That would be a total (in 2010) of 114,753 units in the BSA.
So assuming everything is equal, 40,000 units within the BSA did not turn the JTE form this last year. Now I do not know this to be true.. I am just looking for a solution. IF that big a population within an organization that makes it its business to deliver the promise of Scouting to the 2 million (plus) Scouts that come to us allows this to happen.. then I think it is worth a review. Not a change in the Journey to Excellence program. It is rock solid.. after all its all about making every unit the best. It follows the methods and places its focus on what is important.. serving Youth!. No, it does not need to change. What needs to change is how we present, train, and work with units to ensure that the program (both the Scouting program and the JTE) are being followed. Units that are in need of help need to get it.
I think this is where the commissioner service comes in… and there again.. we are preaching to the choir… assuming again that your district is like mine.. where are all the commissioners? We are in need of good commissioners that are dedicated to making every unit a great one.
There are many ways that we need to attack this. I think that we have a huge disconnect here and it will not get better as long as we keep preaching to the choir. The choir is fine and is singing loud and clear. It is the folks that don’t want to sing that we need to reach. It is the people we never see, it is the countless applications that come through the council that never get a hand shake or a visit. It is the volunteers that are not reached by hands on training or a friendly invite to Round table.
As much as I am a big fan of computer based training.. I think we may have lost some of the contact by going away from class room training. We need to connect with the 1.1 million volunteers, or what ever that number is in your District and not only fix this JTE problem, but get more leaders trained, active, and taking on rolls that complement their skills, attitudes, and level of committment within the District. We need commissioners that actually pay visits to their units. Commissioners that do not wear multiple hats in Scouting. Commissioners that can take the time to work with and mentor unit leaders.
We need to get a bigger choir! I’ll have more to say on this later… I am curious to hear what you have to say about all this… leave a comment!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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