Course correction for your journey

JTE-White_250A few weeks ago I answered a question about whether a unit should rearrange its adult roster to take advantage of points available on the Journey to Excellence. By registering a den leader as an assistant Cubmaster instead, the pack would qualify for additional JTE points and possibly a higher level.

It’s not a good idea to fudge the numbers this way, because it doesn’t accurately reflect where your unit stands, and takes away an opportunity to realize where you can improve your service to your youth members.

While you shouldn’t try to optimize your JTE score this way, you can certainly use it to suggest a course correction for your Journey in the coming year.

Reviewing another unit’s Journey to Excellence scorecard, I realized there were several areas that they could have easily picked up additional points if they had either planned to do one more thing during the year, or simply taken the additional steps to finish what was already started.

Here are some things you could look for as you plan your program for the coming year. Think of them as New Year’s resolutions.

Cub Scout Packs

  • Does your pack committee meet often enough to take care of necessary business? In some packs, there’s plenty to talk about, but in many, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to warrant a get-together. But even if the agenda is sparse, it’s good to sit down with the other adult volunteers just to talk things over. Group discussion can often spur ideas that might not come out when everyone’s just acting independently. Meet six times a year and you’ll score 100 points. The first step is to schedule your committee meetings when you plan your calendar. Set up a regular day or date each month and make sure everyone knows about it. And since you’ll be doing this at your annual planning meeting, give yourself another 100 points for holding that session.
  • If your Webelos dens aren’t meeting with a Boy Scout troop at least twice, put your den leaders in touch with the troops in your area and make sure they arrange these visits. That’s good for 25 points. You can’t make them join a troop at crossover, but if 60 percent do, that’s another 50 points – and 100 points if at least 80 percent continue their Scouting adventure.
  • Put the outing in Scouting by planning three pack outings or field trips and pick up 50 points. Four outings gives you 100 points and five are good for 200. These can be bike outings, picnics, museum trips, family campouts, sledding or fishing events – easy to do yourself. Easier yet, look for council or district-sponsored activities to take part in. You can also cash in some points by either holding a family campout or going to a day or resident camp put on by your council. It’s fifty points if one-third of your Scouts attend.
  • Nearly every pack meets at least eight times a year and dens meet twice a month, which gives you 50, but if your pack also earns the National Summertime Pack Award, it’s doubled to 100.
  • Helping others is worth points. Two service projects give you 25; three are worth 50, and if one of those is conservation-related, it’s 100 points. The key is to record your service projects with the Journey to Excellence service hours reporting website. Don’t drop the ball on this simple recording task.

Boy Scout Troops

  • As with Cub Scouts, a troop committee that meets six times a year is worth 100 points. If your annual planning meeting involves youth leader participation (and why wouldn’t it?), give yourself 200 points.
  • Help the Webelos den leaders earn their points by sponsoring joint activities with Webelos Scouts and pick up 25 points. Recruit them and earn 50 or 100.
  • If you’re not using the patrol method, you’re leaving points on the table. A troop whose patrol leaders’ council meets ten times a year and sends at least one youth leader to advanced training picks up 200 points.
  • Service projects earn points too, but troops must participate in and record three projects to earn 25 points. It’s four projects for 50 and five for 100 points, and at least one must benefit your chartered organization.
  • If your Scoutmaster and assistants are trained, as they should be, it’s easy to double that 100 points by having two-thirds of your committee complete the online Troop Committee Challenge course. This assumes at least one of your adults has completed Wood Badge or another advanced course (and if not, it’s another good reason to promote, encourage and help pay for it).

So sharpen your pencil, make your New Year’s resolutions and go for the Gold!


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