Journey to Excellence 2016

JTE-White_250As we approach the end of the year, packs, troops and all other units are working to compile their statistics for the 2015 Journey to Excellence evaluation tool.

Yes, it’s best to think of it as a tool to help your unit identify its strengths and weaknesses, and guide you to make the changes necessary to improve your service to youth.

Each year, the team of volunteers that manage the Journey to Excellence process evaluate the previous year’s statistics, correlate the results with the aims and goals of our movement, and make adjustments to try to help move closer to the ideal goal of a well-run unit.

In contrast to the first couple years where the checklist items changed substantially, we seem to now be at a point where the list has stabilized. There have been a few tweaks but they are generally minor in nature and are intended to better reflect the actual performance of successful units.

Cub Scout Packs

Here’s what has been changed for 2016:

  • Item 1 – Planning and Budget. The Gold level now asks the pack to conduct a planning meeting involving the den leaders. Previously, the annual program only needed to be presented by October 31. The date has been deleted.
  • Item 3 – Retention. Previously, a pack could have a lower level of retention than the target if it could show an improvement in order to qualify at each level. Now, the metric must be met (60, 65 and 75 percent for the three levels).
  • Item 4 – Webelos to Scout transition. Gold level formerly required the pack to have at least one active Den Chief. Recognizing that Den Chiefs can be hard to come by, the 2016 checklist deletes that requirement.
  • Item 5 – Advancement. Clarifying wording during the year has been added to the percentages of Scouts required to advance. Year refers to calendar year, not Scouting year.
  • Item 10 – Leadership recruitment. Silver level previously required the committee to identify the next program year’s den and pack leadership prior to May 31. Now, it just has to be prior to the recruiting event. And there’s a little more time to recruit den leaders for Gold level; where formerly October 15 was the cutoff, it’s now October 31.
  • Item 11 – Trained leadership. For Bronze level, completing position-specific training is now required for the Cubmaster, an assistant Cubmaster or the Pack Trainer. The requirement that all leaders complete “orientation” (presumably Fast Start Training) has been dropped. The hope is that trained top leaders and the pack trainer will encourage other leaders to become trained as well.

Overall, point values are the same as last year and the total number of points has remained unchanged.

Boy Scout Troops

There are only a couple changes at the troop level:

  • Item 3 – Retention. As with the Cub Scout pack checklist, the provision to show improvement at a lower level of retention has been elimiated.
  • Item 5 – Advancement. Again, showing improvement at a lower level is no longer an option.
  • Item 11 – Trained leadership. Similar to the Cub Scout change, the Scoutmaster or an assistant Scoutmaster must have completed position-specific training – not just the Fast Start orientation. And for Gold, the requirement that one person has attended Wood Badge is changed to an advanced training course. Any course that continues a Scouter down the road past his or her basic training could be considered advanced. Some examples are Powderhorn, Wilderness First Aid, Okpik or presumably any of the advanced courses conducted at Philmont.

As with Cub Scouts, point values and required point totals for the various levels remain unchanged.

Crews, ships, teams and posts, along with districts and councils, have checklists of their own.

As you complete your 2015 evaluation, look ahead to 2016 and see where you can improve. Get your adult leaders trained! Work with your commissioner if you have any questions about Journey to Excellence.


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4 Replies to “Journey to Excellence 2016”

  1. Reducing focus on trained leadership is disappointing. I’m not sure the online training could be made much simpler or easy. Our kids deserve better than this, in my opinion. Position-specific training should not be a measure of excellence, it should be a minimum requirement.

    1. Dustin,

      I see it as more of a shift in training expectations. Fast Start certainly “wets the sponge” and should be a natural first step – after all, who would want to step into a job with no idea how to do it and no interest in finding out? It’s good to have an item that requires actual position-specific training for someone, even if it’s only one person. I think the JTE team may have thought “let’s try this step, and if it’s successful, expand it next year.”

      I think many of us would like to see position-specific training be made mandatory – as you said, the online training is easily accessible and is not much of a burden. Chartered organizations can certainly make that requirement, and experienced Scouters can guide the new volunteers toward training, but any Scouter who wants to do their job the right way will put training at the top of their to-do list.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. When measuring retention, how do boys who ‘age out’ count? To me, they shouldn’t count against you if they turn 18 and are removed from the charter.

    1. Joe,

      The calculation of retention percentage for a troop allows you to exclude Scouts who turned 18 during the year and thus are no longer eligible to register as a Boy Scout. The formula is:
      Subtract (Registered youth who turned 18 during the year) from (Youth registered at beginning of year) giving (Youth eligible to register).
      Divide (Youth actually re-registered at the end of the year) by (Youth eligible to register) giving (Youth retention).
      Multiply (Youth retention) by 100 giving (Youth Retention Percentage).

      It’s similar for other programs (Cub Scouts, Venturing, etc.) with their age-outs as well.

      The calculation is done for you if you use the spreadsheet and fill in the numbers.

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