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  • Lodge Journey to Excellence

    Dear Fellow Arrowmen,
    I was recently elected lodge chief in my lodge, and predecesor and I have been reviewing the requirements for Journey to Excellence for the lodge. We meet many of the requirements for the highest level, except for one: obtain positive growth in the lodge. Our lodge is contracting, but only slightly. It's disappointing.

    I object to this requirement for two reasons: 1.) it is not something the lodge can control. We don't control the number of Scouts entering the Order; 2.) It would be against the principles of the Order to admit people who are not yet ready. In order to obtain Journey to Excellence, a lodge should be pushing electing as many new members as possible. I, quite frankly, believe that's wrong. I recognize that Scouting and the Order are falling out of relevance in society and becoming smaller, but do we really need to sacrifice our ideals and principles to save it? If so, I want no active part anymore.

    I feel I have two options, since we can't fix this problem. One would be to let the lodge not earn Journey to Excellence. That would be extremely disappointing, as we have earned Quality Lodge for as long as we the Vigils can remember. To not earn Journey to Excellence would maar the record - and I don't want my time as Lodge Chief being remembered for that. My second option is much more drastic - I want to write to Nationals my objections for this requirement, possibly with a petition of Arrowmen from the Lodge.

    What do you think I should do?


  • #2
    Interesting take. My troop has a similar situation; we camp 10x per year, summer camp, etc.

    The way the JTE is written, we have to improve or grow. We've already grown, fast, in the past three years, and we can't add months to the year to camp more.

    Have you formed election teams to hit every troop? It's a bit late, but perhaps you can get to the troops that didn't hold elections. The SM is the individual that decides if a scout is ready or not.

    Go for it. Do your best. Don't let anyone say you didn't get there for want of effort.


    • #3
      If it's not practical or desirable to keep growing, don't. You don't earn the award that year.

      That's life in the big city, or the small rural district.


      • #4
        What about targeting past members who did the sash 'N' dash? Letters asking them to re-up, maybe for a limited-time discount, might be effective. Link it to a cool outing.


        • #5
          The easiest way to grow is to retain your members. Keep the old ones and get the newly inducted ones active. Once people realize that it can be a rewarding and fun activity, they'll stick around. I doubt Lodges will qualify for JTE every year. We always had years that membership dropped and we missed Quality Lodge. It's just natural cycles and not something to get too disturbed about.


          • #6
            Tokala took the words out of my mouth. Positive growth isn't just about new members. If you are retaining members, than only one new Ordeal member is positive growth. Of course that is an extreme example and there is going to be attrition in any program. As Lodge Chief, what can you and your VC's, your Chapter Chiefs and all Advisers come up with as a way to draw former members back into the fold? Look at your numbers. If you had 500 on the roster for last year and only 475 this year with 20 candidates and only 15 go thru Ordeal, you are left with 490 on the roster. That is 11 below a "positive growth" number of 501. Surely there are 11 people in the Lodge who have not paid dues that you can get to pony up.


            • #7

              Shortridge is so right most lodges do a pretty poor job keeping the sash N dash members informed and getting them active. That was one serious problem with the lodge I was asked to be staff advisor for by the SE. Once an effort was made to organize both some fun and some service activities and invite that group to participate on a regular basis membership remained both high and active. The problem I have seen is that many lodges do too few activities to entice their members to stay active.(This message has been edited by BadenP)


              • #8
                I like the JTE criteria better than Quality Lodge. It gives us measurements and benchmarks to see how things are working. I know that one year we might chase membership and another it will be Brotherhood conversion. My job as the Lodge Adviser is to help the youth determine where they need emphasis. Timuquan's retention stays around 80% annually. Positive growth is fairly easy to maintain, but we've had hiccups. This year it is currently down to about 55%. This was discivered at our LLDC and the Chief realized he has a huge task ahead of him and his officers. They stand a good chance of missing the mandatory requirement of positive growth if they don't get busy. So, I will remain that voice in his reminding him to keep working on getting members to pay their dues.


                • #9
                  To qualify myself, I am a current section chief and am on my regional JTE committee and worked on the JTE handbook.

                  The JTE system is tiered with bronze, silver and gold levels, each representing a specific number of points earned by a lodge accomplishing different tasks. The levels are earned not by accomplishing every objective as if it were a requirement but rather by earning points where a lodge is able to. The JTE system differs from the Quality Lodge system by this very groundbreaking principle: It's intention is to recognize lodges for how they perform on what they perform best at and still give them incentives to improve other aspects rather than having requirements that must be met in order to receive the award at year's end.

                  You said your lodge qualifies for the top level of everything but a single requirement of the JTE criterion, number 3: Membership Impact. Assuming you were unable to reach any levels of this requirement, your lodge would have still earned an impressive 2,200 points, more than enough to qualify for the Gold JTE award which has a limbo stick of just 1,400 points.

                  Your lodge isn't failing a test, it's going to reach a JTE award of some level and your legacyisn't going to be the lodge chief who didn't get the lodge the inaugural JTE award. Instead, focus your concentration on the aspect that caused the lodge to lose a few points: Membership Impact. How you can do this, I don't know but ideas have already been presented by a few people above.


                  • #10

                    I'm not sure if I am reading you correctly.

                    Either you are saying that they do qualify for JTE gold, which is incorrect, or you are saying that they only need to work on one area.

                    The issue is the the Order of the Arrow is an honor society which has a conflict between increasing membership and sustaining quality. There will be big years that increase enrollment much higher than others. Even if those scouts don't sash and dash, sustained growth over longer period isn't really feasible. There are going to be drop offs year to year. The only way to get around this is either to have the Lodge pay dues for inactive members to sustain the trickle of growth or to eventually accept a year without JTE. It seems silly that a Lodge that has seen 20% growth a year for four years and then a 1% loss in the fifth year is not a quality lodge.

                    I have a lot of complaints about JTE, but this is my main OA related complaint.


                    • #11

                      I'm not sure what you mean by saying they do not qualify for JTE Gold; did I miss something that Chief40 said that means they did not do well in other categories? JTE is a point-based system, and from what I understand, Chief40's lodge has earned more than enough points for the Gold level.

                      What I said was in reference to Chief40's nervousness that his lodge would not earn the JTE award and that he would get that legacy. My answer is simple: His lodge will get the JTE award, and by my math they will get the Gold level.

                      The JTE program is intended to reward lodges that do well on certain things and identify areas that need improvement. A lodge does not have to earn points for every requirement, they just have to keep track of their progress on things that they do. Yes, you and several others have a valid point about that requirement; the outcome of it can be as temperamental as the weather. But you're wrong by assuming that a lodge that does not do well on membership is not a great lodge. It is completely possible for a lodge to attain Gold status without having positive membership growth or any other requirement. They can have stellar service hours or solid budgets, great inter-council relations or fantastic training. All these things add up, and like a school grade, messing up on one thing (or having fate look the other way, as is the case in some places) will not severely mess up the grade.

                      This isn't Quality Lodge where a lodge either made the cut or it didn't, this is a much softer approach tailored towards mentoring and helping lodges.

                      Does this answer your question?


                      • #12

                        On the JTE form there are required categories. You must earn at least the bronze level in those areas to receive any JTE award. Membership and Brotherhood conversion are those two categories.


                        • #13
                          Just to clarify here is the language used in the JTE worksheet:

                          Overall award levels are determined as follows using the Grand Total points earned:
                          - Bronze = at least 800 Grand Total points plus have completed at least bronze performance in 10 criteria, two of which must be objectives #3
                          and #5.
                          - Silver - at least 1100 Grand Total points plus have completed bronze performance, including items #3 and #5, in at least 12 criteria
                          - Gold = at least 1400 Grand Total points plus have completed bronze performance, including items #3 and #5, in at least 15 criteria


                          • #14
                            Aye, you're right -- I apologize for overlooking that rather vital component.

                            Back on the issue at hand, though, the national JTE guide says the following on this requirement:

                            "In this requirement, lodges are asked to show positive growth in their annual membership records, which are traditionally perceived as members who have paid their dues. Therefore the successful collection of dues is essential to making a successful count of all active members. The only plausible way a lodge would fail to meet this expectation would be if more members failed to pay their dues than candidates inducted in a years time."

                            It's required because it's rather hard to fail it to begin with, though I still agree that sometimes there's just a sudden on membership.

                            But there are things the lodge can do to try and contain the damage and come out on top. Unless there's just a sore loss of members as a result of people moving out of he area, dying or leaving Scouting, a lodge can still launch campaigns to bring already inducted members back. By promoting the payment of dues, the decline can be reversed. My lodge has done it before, and it's a completely legitimate (in fact encouraged) means for achieving this requirement.



                            • #15
                              How do OA dues paid translate into funding available for OA lodges and chapters to spend?