Here’s your chance to help make Journey to Excellence (JTE) even better

Journey to Excellence is your scorecard for Scouting success. It helps you identify, quantify, track and report key factors to make the program you deliver to Scouts and Venturers even better.

Journey to Excellence, often shortened to JTE, strengthens Scouting at least three times a year:

  • Before the year, during annual planning
  • During the year to track performance and progress
  • At the end of the year to assess progress and plan for the new year

You’ll find JTE standards at each level of Scouting — individual units (packs, troops, teams, crews, ships and posts), districts and councils.

The standards incorporate factors proven to lead to good Scouting. These specific goals are based on actual measured performance in the field, meaning a unit that scores well on the scorecard is doing it right.

Units, districts and councils want to improve their JTE scores year after year. Similarly, the JTE standards themselves are improved annually.

Dr. Neil Lupton, chairman of the JTE Task Force, says JTE standards are reviewed and reconsidered every year. And they want your help in making sure the JTE scorecard is the best it can be.

“We don’t want to change things much, because what makes good Scouting doesn’t really change much from year to year,” he says. “But in many areas, there is improvement, and the numeric standards are raised to take this into account. It’s also possible that, in some areas, what we see in the field is actually a bit weaker performance, and the numeric standards will be adjusted to take that into account.”

What are JTE standards?

Your unit’s score encompasses a number of key objectives:

  • Planning and budget
  • Membership
  • Program
  • Volunteer leadership

Jeff Rand, professional member of the National Strategic Performance Team and a JTE expert, says the standards “show what Scouts and units really are doing.”

“We sometimes will have a unit say, ‘We did the same this year as last year. Why did we get Gold in that area last year and Silver this year?’ The reason is that when most units improve, the standards get higher. In most areas, there are improvement standards to get good scores, so if a unit gets better, their score will show it.”

You can take a closer look at what it takes to maximize your score by checking out the Journey to Excellence scorecards.

How you can make JTE even better in 2016

The 2015 standards are set, but you can help shape the 2016 standards.

Your recommendations and suggestions will be considered by the JTE Task Force.

“Every year during the summer, we have focus groups to discuss the Journey to Excellence standards for the upcoming year,” he says. “Unit-level standards are reviewed by Cubmasters, den leaders, Scoutmasters and crew advisors. District- and council-level standards are reviewed by district and council Scouters from all over the country. The idea is to have the most useful and helpful possible system.”

Make your suggestions by emailing them to Rand and Lupton promise that every suggestion will be considered and evaluated in developing the standards for 2016.

Please send in your suggestions by June 10, 2015, so they may be considered.

What feedback has been received so far?

Too complicated: “One of the main suggestions that we get is that JTE is too complicated,” Lupton says. “Scouting does have a lot of ‘moving parts,’ and there are a number of factors that can help determine whether a unit is providing great Scouting. The Journey to Excellence scoreboard is based on the ‘Balanced Scorecard’ concept measuring several factors that mean good Scouting is happening. No one area determines ‘pass’ or ‘fail.'”

Eagle palms: Lupton also gets asked why Eagle Palms don’t count toward troop advancement numbers. It’s because Palms aren’t considered advancement; advancement in Scouting stops with the Eagle Scout rank. “Besides, earning Gold in advancement only requires that 60 percent of Scouts advance one rank during the year,” Lupton says. “So if some troop has so many Eagle Scouts that they represent more than 40 percent of the membership, they should be blowing away some of the other criteria like camping, service and outdoor activities. And that troop needs to be recruiting younger Scouts, as well.”

Gold isn’t the only measure of success

Earning Gold in JTE is what every unit leader wants, but he or she shouldn’t be disappointed with Silver or Bronze.

Gold is “outstanding,” Silver is “excellent” and Bronze is “very satisfactory.”

“To make Gold,” Lupton adds, “one doesn’t need to be Gold in every area, or even score in every area. There are lots of ways to deliver great Scouting.”

JTE: What’s in it for me?

Harness the power of JTE to get:

  1. A framework for planning the year.
  2. A method for evaluating your unit.
  3. Guidance in areas where you might do better.
  4. Specific guidelines and standards of what is considered good performance.
  5. Early warning of potential problem areas.
  6. Recognition for good Scouting.
  7. Benchmarking to get ideas and tips from other good units.

See more in this PDF.

Learn more about JTE

See the BSA’s official JTE website.


About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.