Where does one find Commissioners
Sat, 13 Dec 1997 01:04:03 -0500
With the excellent posts on commissioner which have appeared the past few
days, I wanted to add my question and pulse the wisdom of the list.
The job of Commissioner as I understand it is primarily to be the friend of
the unit -- friend, counselor, guide, first aider, etc. The unit commissioner
is to have a meaningful communication with each unit each month. It can be a
visit, a phone call, a conversation at a camporee, roundtable, pow wow, etc.
The commissioner is also supposed to take responsibility for rechartering of
Now the question is, where do those commissioners come from. Take my council,
for example. We have about 450 units which means we need about 150 unit
commissioners, about 20 ADCs, 3 DCs and a couple of individuals at the Council
There is a feeling in our council, particularly on the Boy Scout side, that a
commissioner needs to be more of an expert than any of the leaders which he
serves. Since we have many experienced leaders including a couple of 25 year
Scoutmasters, this makes finding commissioners difficult, particularly if we
have to come up with 150 of them!
The other problem that I face is that serving as a commissioner does not seem
to meet the needs and characteristics of our leaders. I continually hear that
the really important jobs are unit level jobs and that the district and
council shouldn't touch any unit level leader (not just SM and CM but anyone
working in a unit). We have people who like training and camping, so they
will double up on training teams and camping committees. But commissioner
service, not really. Those that do want to be commissioners for "their own"
unit and I don't believe that really accomplishes much.
There may be a few "experts" around who are departing leaders. But many of
those are burned out or anti-district and council. And there are nothing like
150 of these people.
So our realistic choices would seem to be:
1) Recruit such "experts" as we can find and try to structure the
commissioner's staff and function so that we can get the job done with many
fewer than 150 unit commissioners.
2) Change the expectations of the unit leaders of what a commissioner should
be (and from what I have been reading on this list, change the expectations of
many of the listmembers also.) Make the job one that a rookie or novice with
reasonable training can do.
3) Some other imaginative and practical solution
I am also wondering what I can do to raise the prestige of Commissioner
service and make it things which people want to do and enjoy. Boston is a
pretty sophisticated place and I have neither the Cabots nor the Lodges on our
Commissioner's staff. How can I address the "The unit is the only place to do
real Scouting" attitude.
I don't expect a silver bullet type answer, but I would appreciate thoughts on
what has worked (and not worked) elsewhere and on things we might do. Our SE
thinks that building a Commissioner's staff and unit service is the most
important job in the council this year, so I have his full support to do
anything reasonable. I have had pretty reasonable success in most things I
have done in Scouting, but I think this is the toughest challenge I have
Thanks very much for your help and suggestions.
Boston Minuteman Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City