Importance of Quality Unit (1/2)
Wed, 27 Nov 1996 21:42:51 -0600
How important IS this Quality Unit thing, anyway??
> Mike. Tell me where did this Quality Unit program come from. Is is a
>National thing. I've never heard of it until now, even though I have seen the
In 1970, the first real national-level evaluation tool, called the
Presidents' Honor Unit Recognition, was offered over a four-year period.
For meeting ten time-honored tests of successful Scouting units (including
membership and leadership), members received a nice certificate, a flag
streamer, and for the first time in the history of the BSA, "permanent
patches" to be worn on the right shoulder immediately below the Patrol
medallion or Den number or US Flag for Explorers.
These blue squared emblems resembled square knots without the knot in the
For the first year that your unit would meet the goals that were set with
you as unit leader and your neighborhood or unit commissioner (or Explorer
Service Team member), you would get a blank "bar". In subsequent years,
your bar would add a star until you received three stars in 1974.
The program was doomed for failure from the start. First, the commissioner
was to certify the requirements and most Commissioners took the Scouter for
his word and signed off. Next, everyone was confused about the bar: I know
I get a blank one in 1970, but if I don't earn it in 1971 and do in 1972, do
I get a one star (yes) or a two star as illustrated in the materials (no)?
The same goes for 1973. And what about those units that don't recharter
until 1974...do we get cheated out of a star??
See what I mean.
The BSA revamped the program, keyed to the LOCAL COUNCIL's charter year,
and called it HONOR UNIT. It seemed to work, because the unit leader
certifies that the requirements were met, requirements similar to the
present Quality Unit requirements but in 12 categories, and the Commissioner
certifies the unit. The Council, however, picked up the tab for the
patches, and it became a rather expensive venture for ALL local Councils.
The certificate, however, was very attractive and something that many units
handed to their chartered partners to display. It was a sure
attention-grabber in the lobby of ANY business, with the raised Scout emblem
and nice lettering.
The only thing left to correct was this "permanent patch" thing. See, when
became a Honor Unit, they got this patch with the same design, different
color scheme each year from 1974 to 1988, the last year we were supposed to
have BSA "Honor Units" (it was extended to 1989 to cover units caught in a
BSA reorganization and because of a fire at the BSA's national offices in
1988). They got to wear this patch "permanently". So, we had Scouts and
Scouters parading around with literally rows of those things from top to
elbow (or until their shirt ran out of space!).
At the same time, corporate bodies and small businesses were catching the
"Quality kick". Quality became a household name, since the United States
was getting beat up by foriegn companies, particularily those in the Asian
Rim, for putting together "inferior products which tear up as soon as you
get it home". So, the BSA re-created the Honor Unit program, threw out some
elements which were good
like the number of days and nights camping, the number of First Class Scouts
over last year and concentrated on eight core "elements of a successful
program". Also for the first time, Districts, local Councils and Regions
would also qualify if a significant number of their units, Districts and
Councils qualify and if they met youth, unit, and financial goals (among
other program goals) over the previous year.
One Quality Unit, District, Council or Region patch would be worn, and the UNIT,
not the Council, would now bear the cost of obtaining and distributing the
unit level patches (and plaques, replacing the cheaper and much more
attractive wall certificate).
>What's the difference between a "honor unit" and this QU thing? My Troop's
>been a honor unit for years and got to do retreat ceremonies.....what will
>Unit do for me and my unit?
The difference is that what you are calling "honor unit" may be something
your local Council has engineered to "up the ante" of the current Quality
Unit standards, which are low to start with. They have always been low, but
they have been made low to encourage new Scouters to meet the requirements
without a lot of confusion,
frustration and "hoop jumping".
Also, Quality Unit is part of the leadership development requirement for the
Scoutmasters' Key training award and some other training and service awards
such as the Commissioner's Award of Merit and the Scoutmaster's Award of Merit.
Honor unit, is not.
By all means, be proud that your unit's exceeded the Quality Unit standards
and has been a "Honor Unit". In the National Capitol Area Council as well
as several other Councils like the Circle Ten, Georgia-Carolina, South
Florida and Crossroads of America, they have similiar programs to what Pete
>A amuch tougher awsard in our district to earn is the District
>Outstanding Unit award. Only about 25 or so units earned this last year,
>out of about 180 in the district. My cub pack earned it the last two
>years I was CM, and I'm working on getting my troop up to this level as
>well (we're not there yet).
>The Outstanding Unit award got started no doubt because QU became so
>common that it didn't really serve as a measure of excellence. Making QU
>harder to earn, so it means something beyond being ambulatory as a unit
>and not much else, is a good think, I believe.
Which leads me to what Mike Derleth stated:
>Gripes, complaints, etc voiced on Scouts-L sometimes
>eventually are heard. How about a more direct approach
>for expressing our displeasure --Don't apply for the
>award. Sure, there will be units upset at the prospect
>of breaking that string of awards, but it will happen
>anyway according to the messages.
How do you know how well your unit has performed as compared to others
unless you have some tool to do the comparison with? Remember, the Quality
Unit Award is NOT a tool to determine "the best troops, packs, posts, teams,
and ships" in the nation. It is a tool to determine "how YOUR unit stacks up
against YOUR unit LAST YEAR this time". The little patch, the pin, the
nice plastic plaques, those spur (or should spur) you onward to doing even
better NEXT year. Yeah, National Supply will probably lose some bucks from
units that refuse to even compete, and if enough units refuse to compete, the
program will surely go the way of the Youth Leadership in America program
and many others. But its YOUR unit that will suffer from the lack of a common
tool to evaluate YOUR unit by.
>Don't QU's directly impact Quality District and Qual.
>Council designations? Methinks the message we're
>sending would be heard louder, clearer, faster if QU
>applications dropped by a large number in protest.
The number of Quality Units do tie in with the Quality District and Council
designations, but like the unit's counterpart, it is only ONE element.
Districts and Councils need to have full staffing. They need to meet or
exceed their financial goals set by them in the previous year. They need to
meet or exceed their membership and unit goals set by them in the previous
year. They need to have a good year
at summer camp. Want to ruin your District and Council's chances for Quality
honors?? Don't do ANYTHING. *grinning*
Seriously, while a boycott of the Quality Unit program won't make you
friends with your District Executive, there's no place I've read here that
says that YOU HAVE TO PARTICIPATE in the Quality Unit program. But I still
say that I
enjoy seeing how MY Senior Patrol Leader and myself stack up with ourselves
LAST YEAR, when we were struggling to get the Troop out to summer camp!!
>How do I tell these Troop that they just don't measure up? What tool am
>I left with as a Commissioner to get them to do the other things that we
>know will assist their having a quality program?
Yourself. Your knowledge. Your resources. You can take that same Quality
Unit Committment sheet and work with each unit and get them going toward the
right direction on leadership, on membership, on outdoor program, on Boys'
Life. As a former Commissioner, I used that sheet to tell unit leaders and
their adult advisors
"Look. You've made the grade but only by the skin of your eye teeth. Let
me work with you and get you the resources you need so that next year, you
and I can
check off ALL of these. Between the great resources you have in your unit
and the people I know and the places I know to go to, that you couldn't have
ALL of your members to take part in a long-term camping experience once
during this year.
I can help you get the members you need. I can do a lot of stuff with you
and your adults, but you'll have to seriously take this form back and say
"we'll do it".
(I ran out of lines....I've continued it on the part 2/2 posting)
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
(Brigade) Signal Officer, TF 21, 21st Theater Army Area Command
Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany
"everything I say is "on the record"; speaking ONLY for myself unless indicated"
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