Re: district chairman/commissioner questions
(no name) ((no email))
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 06:50:21 +0000
Howie Howland <FPHowland@AOL.COM> asked us all:
>I have recently accepted the job of District Chairman for our
>small local district. I have a plethora of questions about the job
>itself, relations with commissioners, and some specific problems
>I'm either having or anticipating.
I'm replying to both Howie and to the list; Howie, if you can post
your questions here (the general ones, not the specific ones), we
can all help you out with the answers you're seeking. There's a
few others that either will be shortly or presently being asked to
do the same things you are and would like to know as well (see,
they're nodding their heads up and down).
The District Chair is probably the second most important District
job a volunteer can hold. Only the Commissioner's job is more
important in the overall District scheme of things (to me!).
Your job, Howie, is to coordinate and manage the myriad of District
programs, events and activities important to promoting, advancing
and explaining the Scouting program in your District. Your
District Executive or senior District professional will "do your
job" for you on a daily basis, and it's highly important that you
work closely with him or her and get to know him or her. Believe
me, Howie, he or she (or they, in the event your District has a
team working in your District) will WANT to get to know you as both
District Chair and as a individual.
Your job also involves working with volunteers, and that's where
your District Commisssioner will come in handy. Your District
Commissioner, senior professional, and yourself should be
one-mindset from the start. By making a plan early and listening to
them, you can chart out how you envision letting your Scouts,
Scouters, parents, partners, and the communities at large know
This is important: EVERYTHING YOU DO, THINK IN TERMS OF "SELLING
SCOUTING"; because that's what the District is all about: selling
the promise of Scouting to the communities it serves. While units
can do outstanding events and activities to get kids to join, there
has to be a structure that will permit those kids to have access to
activities and events and programs ABOVE those found in their unit
and comparable to what they are reading about in _Boys_Life_ and
_Scouting_. What they dream about: "big time Scouting".
District Chairs represent the District to:
*Scouts and their parents
*Scouters and their employers/families
*chartered partners and their units
*the communities contained in their District and to the local
Council and its Executive Board/Board of Directors.
To assist him or her with this important representation:
*Several Vice-Chairs, with their scope up to you. You should have
ONE Vice-Chair, which is going to eventually serve as "Chair" next
year or the year afterwards. Other Vice-Chairs may cover areas
such as membership/relationships, program, finance, administration
and special programs. Some Districts have Vice-Chairs for each BSA
program: A Vice Chair for Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity
Scouting and for Venturing. Other Districts roll all of those up
into the Program Vice-Chair's position, making it the largest of
the District's sub-committees. You have to decide what works best
for your District and you (remember the "Scouting span of control"
ideal: no more than five, no less than two under you)
*Sub-Committee Chairs for each major activity, function, or event.
Remember, Howie, that your District is a "subset" of the Council.
If your Council has seventeen committees, you should strive to have
seventeen subcommittees at your level; some of the tasks, like
camping and engineering, or health/safety/youth protection may
But if there's a committee at the Council level, strive for your
District to be represented on that committee.
*Youth representation, which while isn't OFFICIAL, can play a very
important role in how your District will "seem" to youth (remember
that you are "selling Scouting" and one of those groups you're
selling the District's program to are Scouts and their parents!).
So include your District's OA Chapter Chief as a non-voting member
of your District's Committee and do the same for the Venturing
Youth Chair (once National figures out how that's going to work at
the Council level)!! Also, make it a point to have one patrol from
your larger Troops in your District to perform an opening and
closing ceremony during your monthly Committee meetings -- it keeps
everyone "on track" as to WHY they are meeting and at the same time
exposes Troops in your District to YOU and YOUR COMMITTEE, the
people "running Scouting".
*Members-at-large. I don't know exactly how you want to handle
this. As a former District Chair, this was a sticky area to
handle. There were some Members-at-large (those without a clear
role at the District level, but basically old geezers like me that
have "done the unit thing" for years and now looks to do more) that
I would love to have actually ON a committee in a "big role".
There were others that never showed, never did anything, never
returned a phone call, but at Recognition Dinner time, showed up
and occupied space at the "main table". Ask the other parts of
your Key Group for advice on this. You need these people, but HOW
MANY and WHAT SHOULD they be doing (Commissioner stuff??).
*Commissioners. LET THE DISTRICT COMMISSIONER BOTHER WITH THIS
IMPORTANT ASPECT!!! Don't get into his or her business, and leave
the unit service aspect of your District's operation to him or her
and your senior District professional to manage. One of my
mistakes as a District Commissioner was that I was trying to do MY
role as "head coach, trainer, example to Scouts and Scouters, and
unit organizer/maintainer" AND somehow I got corralled into doing
District Camporees and other District Activities -- the "baleywick"
of the District Chair. The District Chair quickly stepped back and
guess what?? At the end of my tenth month of service as District
Commissioner, I ended up as District Chair!!
There's some other advice that others here can offer you and
others; I just wanted to start this out. Congrats, Howie (and
those others out there!)...
Hope this helped!
(c) 1998 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 firstname.lastname@example.org
privately at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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