What does a District Commissioner Do?
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Mon, 15 May 1995 16:09:47 CDT
Pat Rodgers <ScareDKat@AOL.COM> writes:
>I've got a burning question for you seasoned Scouters...I've been "offered" a
>new position in our district, and I'd like some information. Sorry in
>advance for a semi-long post...
(background deleted only for space)
>And NOW for the question...my dear ticket counselor's the very man who's used
>the "only an hour a week" line on me often in the past. While I'm going to
>meet with him to discuss the duties of this new post, I'd like to hear from
>some of y'all....just what does a District Commissioner DO??? For
>instance...will I still have time to ASM our troop?
Give the Assistant Scoutmastership to another promising (female?)
Scouter in your Troop and give him or her the encouragement you were
not given toward doing a GREAT job. Register as District Commissioner
and dual register as a member of your Troop's Committee.
Pat, the role of District Commissioner is one of the MOST IMPORTANT
jobs in the operation of the District. As DC, you become one third to
one fourth of the "Key 3 (or Key 4)" of your District. The other
members are the District's Chair and the professional/career staff of
your District (one or two people).
The District Commissioner is worried about UNIT SERVICE in your
District: how units are formed and where, when units are needed and
what kinds, how to get the adult leaders trained so that they can
train and coach their youth leaders, and how to insure continuity of
each unit from one year to the next.
The District Commisioner is concerned about how units are formed and
where. You should meet with your District Executive(s) and find out
their "concept for organization and extension" of Scouting in your
District. Some of it, Pat, is dictated by "professional objectives"
that the career executive has written and worked out with his or her
boss, the Field Director. Some of it is personal, as he or she has
seen a need for a new unit in a community where there has never been
Scouting before, or when Scouting "stopped" for whatever reason. You
will also see where there are TOO MANY units concentrated in one area
of your District.
You will also note the number and kinds of units your District has. Of
course, all Districts will have large numbers of Cub Scout Packs, a
much smaller number of Boy Scout Troops, and smaller numbers of
Varsity Teams and Explorer Posts and Ships. However, the density--the
actual "spreading" of those units, is something you should be aware
of and work with your career Scouter counterpart AND the District's
Chair (neccessary because he or she has a Vice Chair for
Membership/Relationships which should be working on developing new
partner organizations for the District).
The District Commissioner is concerned about when units are needed and
what kinds. This piggybacks on the previous comment I wrote. Most
Scout Troops have a higher probability of "survival" if they are
formed in the early fall. This gives the unit an entire nine months
before summer camp, the "final exams" of Scouting. Explorer Posts need
to be formed either in the winter or early spring, to give those youth
interested in a career path the spring and entire summer to work with
that Post or Ship before the "impact" of returning to school, fall
dances, football/basketball and new friends. Cub Packs have a high
probibility of survival any time during the year, which partically
explans why there seem to be more Cub Scout Packs than anything else
in your District. Not just look at "we need a new Pack here", but WHY
do we need a new Pack here instead of forming a new Den of a weaker
Pack or perhaps splitting a huge Pack into two to serve the growing
area. You will get a lot of this "We need a Scout Troop here" from
citizens in your communities, and what they are REALLY saying is, "we
need a Scouting program, but I'm only familiar with the Boy Scout one.
Help us out please!"
This, without preaching, tells you that you need to be familiar with
ALL program elements and be ready to recommend an appropriate Scouting
program to meet the needs of that community. Your District
professionals/career executives (hey! I'm trying, but every time I
write both titles, it gets longer and longer!) will help you with
As District Commissioner, you are THE trainer, THE organizer of the
efforts to get ALL members of your District trained in their primary
position. You will have many tools to help you, Pat, but I would
recommend that shortly after you assume the role, send a letter to all
of the volunteers in your District and ask them how trained they are
(and if there's some training programs that you would like to see
implemented). Use this, along with your DE/DD's copy of the District
Summary of Trained Leaders (he or she SHOULD have a copy in their
binder....if not, SHAME ON THEM!) to get an acurate stand on how
trained your District's leaders are and what training to place an
emphasis on in the coming year. Don't forget you have Commissioners
to assist you...don't do this alone and force those Commissioners that
"are on paper" to either commit to and attend training or take them
off the District's charter!
While I am talking about your staff, let me expand on that a little
because you need to know what kind of "staff" you should have. The
BSA says that you should have at least ONE Commissioner for every
three to four units in your District. Some units have a Pack or Troop
Commissioner that meets the needs of that one unit; other units have
a shared Unit Commissioner which rotates as you know, between all
three or four units. Exploring has "Service Team members" which many
Councils are calling Commissioners too, for consistancy. The "Service
Team Chair" in your District should be one of your four to six
Assistant District Commissioners. One of those ADCs should be your
immediate "stand-in" for Council meetings and activities you cannot
attend in person, as well as for those unit events you cannot be at
two places at once for. One should be your Exploring "Service Team
Chair/Commissioner", with supervisory responsibilities for your
Exploring Commissioners (Exploring is a special program and needs the
specialized Commissioner staff). One should be your Varsity/Venture
Commissioner, working with training and coaching Varsity units in your
District. The other two should be supervising at least four to six
Unit/Pack/Troop Commissioners. You may also want to have a ADC to work
with your LDS units
Your "stand-in" (Primary Assistant District Commissioner, or what I
called the Senior Assistant District Commissioner) is also the
supervisor of the Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Exploring Roundtable
Commissioners and their staffs. Those Commissioners are responsible
for the monthly supplmental training meetings called Roundtables (in
Exploring, they are called "Leaders' Exchanges"; in Varsity, they are
Remember that Roundtables ARE TRAINING, not just a time for you to
look nice and to address the majority of your District's Scouters.
Don't waste their time...they are sacificing an evening away from
their families and friends to attend this meeting. Keep the
"announcements" and "talks" to a minimum!
Finally, your new job involves continuity of the program through your
Commissioners' staff going to each unit, insuring that they are
running a Scouting program, using the guidelines of the BSA and their
chartering organization, and that both youth and adults are there and
getting the most from their experiences. Your Commissioner staff IS
the "District", the "Council" , the "BSA". Make sure that they visit
each and every unit at least ONCE a month in uniform. Make sure that
YOU visit each and every unit at least ONCE a quarter in uniform. The
BIGGEST complaint I heard from MANY of my District's volunteers is
that "I only see you when you are asking for money" or "I have NEVER
seen ANYONE from the Council or District here until you" (a lie, but
nevertheless somewhat true). My response was always "I'm here now and
I'll be back three more times this year to see you. When do you want
me to come back and visit with your unit again?"
You are directly responsible, says the BSA, for rechartering and
registration efforts in your District. While your Council may have
lifted that burden from you and gave it to your career/professional
counterparts, you are STILL responsible for seeing to that happening.
You do this by insuring that ahead of time your units have seen their
Unit Commissioner and that the Commissioner knows who is doing what in
the unit. Also, there needs to be a consistant way that the
rechartering packets are sent to the units, that the units complete
them, and that monies and paperwork is handed back to someone TO HAND
TO YOU so that you can review EACH AND EVERY RECHARTERING PACKET
before it it forwarded to the Council's Registrar. By having several
eyes "look" at the packets, you reduce the amount of error (at the
same time, you can see how well or not your Unit Commissioners and
ADCs have done their jobs!). Yes, it DOES slow the rechartering effort
down significantly. However, its a lot better to slow it down than to
constantly having to harrass unit leaders or chartered partner
representatives to "sign this please" or to "modify this please".
As the District's Commissioner, you become a member of your Council's
Executive Board and should attend those meetings each month. You also
have a Council Commissioner that would want to meet with you each
month as well. Finally, you ARE a part of the District's operation,
and should meet with the District Committee each month. If you
haven't been counting, that's five meetings (the other two are the
Commissioners' Staff meeting in your District and a Roundtable
Pat, it looks like too much but it's really NOT too bad. Remember
that you will have a professional/career executive (or two) to help
you. You will have a staff of nine to thirty experienced Scouters to
help you. You will have other Scouters, members of your District's
Committee to help you.
>And another note....the LDS discussion going on here of late has been
>enormously helpful, as I've accepted an LDS troop as part of my UC duties,
>and no one was able to tell me what the differences and similarities were.
> And the SMF discussions were timely... And I've been collecting the recipes
>y'all have been sending out.... Thanks heaps!!!
Glad to see you using another resource, this list!
You will be a GREAT District Commissioner, Pat!!! Please let us all
know how you're doing.
And congrats! Remember that while the job is important, its only
there to further the Scouting program where it counts...in our
communities and to our youth.
(former District Commissioner)
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
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