Is improving your unit the way you roll?

In bowling, you get instant feedback. Roll the ball, watch the pins, and look at the screen.

What if tracking the hits and misses in your Scouting unit were that easy?

Turns out it is.

With the Journey to Excellence program, your pack, troop, team, crew, ship, or post simply uses the appropriate scorecard to track 10 to 13 objectives — areas like advancement, retention, budget, service projects, and camping.

Then — voila! — you know instantly if your unit qualifies for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award. And if not, you know where you can improve to stay out of the “gutter.”

JTE perfects on and replaces the old Quality Unit awards, and with the 2013 scorecards now online, the timing’s right to make sure your unit is aimed at success. Here’s what you need to know:

Seven ways Journey to Excellence helps your unit

  1. Offers a framework for planning the year.
  2. Helps you evaluate your unit.
  3. Points to areas where your unit can do better.
  4. Provides specific guidelines and standards for what Scouting success looks like.
  5. Warns you of potential problems before they hinder your unit.
  6. Recognizes good packs, troops, teams, crews, ships, or posts.
  7. Establishes benchmarks for you to get tips and ideas from other units.

Which award year applies to my unit?

Consult this calendar that’s based on your unit’s recharter month:

Where do I find JTE scoresheets?

Find 2011, 2012, and 2013 scorecards at the official BSA Journey to Excellence hub.

What “stuff” can we earn?

Show off your success with Journey to Excellence patch emblems and flag ribbons — available at, of course!

More questions?

First consult this list of 51 frequently asked questions for the unit-level JTE awards (link opens PDF).

What do you think?

Has your unit earned a JTE award? What did you think of the experience. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

10 thoughts on “Is improving your unit the way you roll?

  1. This will be a tough one for our crew to maintain this year. We will likely lose 8 youth due to moving or graduating and moving off to college. We currently have 30 registered youth. To get Gold we need to register 10 new youth. We added 14 last year with a good recruiting program. We hope our Open House September 30th will be a big hit. The next big thing is to get more than half our youth to go on the annual superactivity. We had 12 out of 30 go this year to Kentucky.

  2. Just not worth the time or effort to fill out another piece of paperwork. WE ALREADY KNOW WHERE OUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES ARE; most units probably do. Just useless paperwork.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Gary. Ugh. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! Just like job reviews, exit polls, and Wood Badge (“feedback is a gift” so they say, hah!), just big time wasters. I agree, none of that can help us one way or the other.
      We stopped bothering with Merit Badges for the same reason. Scouts thought it useless having to do something they didn’t enjoy and would never do again. Composite Materials and Traffic Safety merit badges? Really? Geez. We don’t track service hours, either. WE know what we’ve done, why should we prove it to someone else?
      We skip most of the training, too. Yes, we HAVE to do Youth Protection now (can’t believe this is a requirement!) but what a yawner. It’s all common sense. 30 minutes gone of my life that I’ll never get back.
      JTE even wants us to have “budget”. Thhhppp. If you haven’t noticed, the bank keeps track of our spending. When our statement gets near zero we stop doing things until the next round of dues come in. (Don’t even get me started on popcorn and pine straw sales.)
      I’m glad to say that long gone are the days of monthly camping. Those really suck away the weekend time, don’t they? We’ve got camping down to one really intense weekend at Fort Wilderness in Disney World. The kids are gone all day while the Parent Patrol can get some quiet time, finally. We don’t see them until after supper. They have the best restaurants, too. No need for cooking!
      And When families come and inquire about joining our pack and troop (it’s mainly where our “retention” comes from), we just tell them our strengths and weaknesses. After all, a Scout is “trustworthy” and we’re all very honest about how our unit is run. No need to “prove” it by filling in some paper that some bored national Scouter came up with, that’s for sure.
      Rock on, Mr. Holewinski! You’re a credit to your Scouts! Wish we had more like you.


      • Nope, we ARE too busy with camping and the boys planning where they would like to go and what they would like to do and new adventures. THE PLC has decided that they would like to add a bigger trip. We know what MBs the boys would like to work on for enjoyment and we also know what they need for advancement. We adults work to insure opportunities for those things to happen. We also sponsor a Webelos event that draws 100- 150 each year. The troop sponsors it, not district, not council. We also know that we need to spend more time reaching out (we aren’t affiliated with a pack) that’s what we need to work on. Don’t need another form to tell us these things.

      • i hope you all realize my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek with my reply (probably go carried away though). to toss outright a great self-checking system out the door as Gary and his unit seem to be doing simply because one doesn’t like to do paperwork seems lubricious to me. it’s units like this that fall down the hole quickly because they never saw a problem coming until it was too late.

  3. I can say that when I took over the Pack in 2009 and started looking at all the requirements, which included the Cubmaster Knot, Summertime Pack Award and the Quality Unit Award, they all helped me figure out the program.

    The JTE is a great guide to keep a Unit on target. Since 2009 the Pack has earned each year’s award. We were Gold in 2011 and on target for 2012 for the same. This includes Boys life too.

    While my fellow Scouter’s might view it as extra paperwork, it’s a good reminder and benchmark to work towards.

    I know that the District and Council use this to be graded on by National. Yes, the Professional’s use this for their own uses and needs. To me, there is a sense of Pride in wearing the bit of cloth. It shows that you are DOING YOUR BEST and HELPING THE PACK GO.

    I can honestly tell you that if it were not for these programs, that our Pack would be not where it is today.

    So, do the paperwork, turn it in, get the patch it’s a sense of pride. If your in a Troop/Crew/Team/Ship delegate it to a Scout to watch over it as part of their Position.

    I’d give it to a Webelos II, but I suspect they would forget it just like their homework..;)

  4. We’ve been using the JTE since it’s inception in our Troop. We use the goals each year as our bench mark and do our best to work towards them. It is reviewed at each Troop Committee meeting and has really helped us pickup on things before they fall by the wayside. I personally really liked the addition of the physical fitness focus to this years JTE, we need to make sure and keep that on the list. It has improved the overall level of fitness of our troop.

  5. Accountability and Responsibilty/Duty are highly lacking traits in our society today. Although BSA members MAY be in the forefront of still championing these things, sadly they are waning here too. The U.S. is more and more becoming a society of “What can you give ME” these days. Too many of our citizens (assuming that citizenship is even the case) think that the government is here to provide things FOR US. And, that taxes, voting, jury duty, volunteering, (or even legal residency / citizenship), etc., etc. are a WASTE OF OUR TIME AND MONEY. (Granted as government focuses more and more on “entitlement programs” — what a term — our tax money, time, etc. DO BECOME more and more of a waste.)

    It’s very typical that the same Scouters that say “US – not our District, not our Council did such-and-such” are the same ones that “TAKE” the BSA program for their use and then when BSA asks for the unit to complete “measurement and accountability tools” they “cannot be bothered,” These tools are used to see where it is best to support Councils, Districts, and Units to assure they do not FAIL. It is GREAT that A UNIT can be in such “good shape” that they blow off the reporting tools. Ironically, to BSA a non-reporting GOOD unit shows up just like a non-reporting FAILING unit. So, should BSA ignore both and “stay out of the business” of the Failing Unit too? Sure makes your good unit look good when the Units, Districts, Councils, that are failing around you aren’t helped out soon enough because the BSA professionals are spending all of their time trying to gather the reports that some units FAIL to turn in while others simply REFUSE to turn them in. What a good example we set for our youth?

    Frankly, the government has learned long ago NOT TO ASK FOR INPUT OR MEASUREMENTS OF EFFECTIVENESS. Society is no longer interested in providing these feedbacks to the government. Why doesn’t BSA also realize that they need to just keep “taxing us” (dues, registration, fees, and — how dare they — profits at the scout shop) for the privilege of wearing the uniform and then not ask for ANYTHING related to whether or not our money and our organization is successfully serving our Councils, our Districts, our Units, our YOUTH??? The U.S. government works so well, BSA should just emulate this GREAT EXAMPLE! (Sarcasm intended but noted because, sadly, there are actually Scouters that feel this way – though they may not put it in such words.)

    That’s my 2 1/2 cents worth (as I write this while awaiting Jury Assignment in my community today).

  6. “Accountability and Responsibilty/Duty are highly lacking traits in our society today.”

    Walk Carefully on this one – because if we were to do a J2E for the National council – they would fail. They have partaken in the idea that “You need to have a unit kickoff” and leaves it to the units to come up with the program materials to do so.

    If we were to hold the national council to the same standards, they would certainly fail. Why?

    a) They do not have a good retention rate for Scouting across the board.
    b) They are of the belief that the Cub Scouts will feed in and do all of the work and feed troops, and troops will feed crews.
    c) As a Scoutmaster and a Crew Advisor, I have said to the Committee’s involved that Scouting does not happen by Osmosis. Scouting happens as a natural progression. The National Council is too afraid to put definitions and methods to migrate Scouts from Cubs -> Scouts -> Venturing. As it seems they feed into the “Every Unit Leader’s Unit is a Castle”
    d) They have increasingly believed that an overpriced (and not very good) perishable product is the savior to all of the councils in the US. Unfortunately, next year, the perishable product for both the troop and crew will become an option.
    e) It took nearly 30 years for National to write standards to advancement that made sense in the Guide to Advancement. It seems that they, much like councils are trying to hold on to folks who are bad at their job, but are too close to retirement to let go.

    So, back on topic – The fact of the matter is that the Honor Troop, Quality Troop, etc is subjective at best. If you have 120 scouts and your program is top notch, you probably don’t need much of anything.

    But if you are a new Scoutmaster – and you don’t have a clue – then this is where the buck starts. The J2E gives you goals to achieve, and when you hit them – then you can say you have been a success.

    But there is a fair warning here – liars figure, and figures lie. There is nothing here that says “That you will he held responsible” if the numbers are not real. You just roll on to the next camping trip.

    I know there are folks who are going to need a tums and an alka-seltzer, but the facts are the facts. J2E is a program for those who don’t know what they are doing to give them goals. Unfortunately, as each year goes on, the requirements to hit are going to be increasingly higher. And the new units? Probably won’t hit this years numbers to qualify for a stitch on a patch of J2E.

    My Venture Crew, on the other hand, has been the only crew in our district that got gold, and will get gold again this year. The program that is planned keeps it going. And I only need to say “Here is your goals” and give them their paperwork and off they go.

    • Yes. VERY good points. The “figures” and “measurements” are only the starting point. They need to be dynamic and at some level tracked through accountability (at the professional level — and at least minimal-standards-wise at the volunteer level).

      The exercise itself is a necessary “evil” — I am just wary of any level not TRYING to be accountable — whether that be the entry-level Tiger Parent or the highest level BSA professional. The VAST majority of society excels based upon goals. Having a goal just necessitates that we all work from baselines of some sort.

      Accountability can be a very PERSONAL thing for units – but – BSA is just trying to establish baselines to identify where they can help to, in effect, strengthen us all the way to the top.

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