By now, hopefully you’ve had a chance to complete your troop’s annual Journey to Excellence scorecard and turn it in to your district professional. Generally, these are due by December 31st, in order to qualify for the award and help your district and council qualify for theirs. (The district and council JTE awards depend in part on units turning in their scorecards.)
When Journey to Excellence was developed by a team of experienced Scouters and national council staff, it was intended to be a flexible system, in order to reflect current BSA initiatives and to be a better predictor of the quality of a unit’s performance and program. (If you’d like to know more about how the JTE program was developed, listen to the interview with BSA regional vice-president Hab Butler on Clarke Green’s Scoutmaster Podcast #85.)
For 2013, there are a few subtle changes to the unit scorecards, and they are available in Spanish for the first time. Take note of these changes as you move forward with your unit’s program, and plan on regular checkups during the year to see how you’re doing.
- Building Cub Scouting: Large packs with steady or slowly growing membership are not penalized. In 2012, a “large” pack was 19 or more members, and a pack not adding new members could not qualify higher than Bronze. In 2013, packs having at least 20 members (or gaining three) are Bronze, while those with 40 or more members (or which gain 5%) are Silver. Packs with 10% increase, or those with 60 members and which gain at least one new Scout, are Gold.
- Trained leadership: In 2012, to qualify as Bronze, the Cubmaster and all den leaders complete leader-specific training (not a difficult feat, since training is available online), and for Silver, all direct-contact leaders (which includes assistants) must be trained. Recognizing the actual level of performance for most packs, Bronze no longer requires training, but retains the requirement that all dens have registered leaders. The Silver level requires the Cubmaster and all den leaders to be trained, and Gold requires that two-thirds of committee members also be trained.
- Camping: The participation percentages change, increasing at the Bronze and Silver level but decreasing for Gold. Bronze will require 33% attending day camp, resident camp or family camp (was 30% in 2012); for Silver, 50% instead of 45%; and for Gold, 75% instead of 90%. In all cases, a lower percentage but showing an increase of 2 percentage points will also qualify.
- Pack and den meetings: Earning the National Summertime Award is now required for the Gold level. For Bronze, den and pack meetings must start by October 31. The requirement that dens meet twice monthly moves from Bronze to Silver, and it’s clarified that den meetings are only required during the school year for this item.
- Re-register on time: Two new requirements allow units to earn more points: for providing every family’s e-mail address, and for promoting the new MyScouting unit tools.
- Building Boy Scouting: Similar to the Cub Scout item above. The definition of “larger than average troops” changes from 14 to 15, with silver and gold minimums at 25 and 35, respectively. A percentage increase can also qualify smaller troops at these levels.
- Trained Leadership: Requirements have been eased a bit. Formerly requiring leader-specific training of the Scoutmaster and all assistants to qualify at Bronze, and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills for Silver, the new Silver requirement is for the Scoutmaster and just 60% of the assistants to complete leader-specific. The Gold level, previously requiring all committee members to be trained, now only requires two-thirds to complete Troop Committee Challenge.
- Budget: The Gold requirement to have a budget in place by August 31 is replaced by “before the next program year.” This recognizes that troops may have different ways of defining a program year.
- Recharter on time: Same options as for Cub Scouting above.
There are changes for Venturing, Varsity and Sea Scouting as well. Check the Journey to Excellence section of the BSA website to download the new scorecards. You should also read the frequently-asked questions if you’d like to learn more about the requirements and their interpretation. And of course, your unit commissioner and district professional are great sources of support and assistance.