BSA District Operations
Craig Bond (CraigB1051@AOL.COM)
Wed, 22 Feb 1995 10:26:41 -0500
District Operations Primer..and comment
BSA Districts are supposed to be set up on a standard structure,
with a Key Three as a sort of executive committee. The three are:
District Committee Chair, District Commissioner, and District
The District Committee voting membership comprises all chartered
organization representatives and elected members-at-large.
Structurally, the committee has three main functions and a sidebar
(love that term). The main functions are membership, finance and
program. (incidentally, there is a very good series of
publications called "Highlights of..." that detail all of these
better than this primer).
Membership includes cultivating relationships with potential
chartered organizations, organizing new units, and recruiting new
youth members. This is near and dear to a DE's heart (if I keep my
checkbook in the left vest pocket -- but never far from my mind).
Finance includes fund-raising (Friends of Scouting/Sustaining
Membership Enrollment), United Way relationships, product sales
(popcorn, scout show tickets, etc.), and unit finance (approving
unit money-earning applications, advising on banking, etc.). These
are also near and dear to the DE's checkbook.
Program has four parts: Activities and Civic Service, Advancement,
Camping and Camp Promotion, and Training. These are near and dear
to a DE's arms, legs, back, and soul...but usually not my checkbook
(unless something goes wrong, in which case my neck also tingles).
The program areas' responsibilities are fairly clear from their
names, but it should be noted that it is the volunteers who staff
them who should/must be responsible for setting calendar, policy,
promotion, and staffing, not the DE. I don't do District Pinewood
Derby, Webelos Woods, Camporees, Scouting for Food...or a bunch of
other things...but I administer them, providing logistical support,
mailing, budgeting, purchasing, etc. Most of them I attend. Out
of personal choice, I do some training because I enjoy it (can you
The sidebar area includes such areas as publicity and properties
which are certainly very important but are not part of the
The District Commissioner oversees an area called Unit Service,
comprising unit commissioners and roundtables. Unit commissioners
are counselors to the unit leaders and monitors of the units. A
ratio of three units per commissioner is the goal, with a structure
of assistant district commissioners to help the District
Commissioner to keep in touch with them. Roundtables and
roundtable commissioners and their staff are part of the continuing
education effort of the district. A well-staffed unit service
organization ensures that units are active and well-informed, saves
a DE time, the council money, and *most important* ensures that our
kids are getting quality program.
I somewhat jokingly refered to membership and finance as being near
and dear to a DE's checkbook. I have three M's of responsibility:
money, membership, and manpower. If I do the last right, the first
two get taken care of and so does program. Among professionals,
there is a saying: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; what a volunteer
doesn't do, the professional must." If I'm doing what a volunteer
should have been doing, I didn't recruit right, somewhere along the
My job is not program, it is recruiting the right people to do
program (preferably, recruiting the right people who believe they
should recruit the people to do the program -- and then do). The
same is true in finance and membership, and unit service.
Truth is, it is easier *one time* to do it myself. But not all the
time, nor with all the things that must be done. Nor with nearly
the panache that a volunteer can. New DE's often try; old DE's try
not; DE's who are former volunteers have a difficult time avoiding
this trap, particularly if it is something they loved to do as
Enough already, I'm gonna go lurk.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City