Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Re: New Member--Joseph Gulick
Re: New Member--Joseph Gulick
Settummanque, the blackeagle
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 21:12:53 -0500
Joe Gulick introduced himself and then asked us all:
>I guess one thing I would like to ask as a District Commissioner is,
>first, do most other Councils have a hard time recruiting Unit
Yes. The BSA even acknowledges this fact over the past three years.
It used to be that the Scoutmaster or Cubmaster was the hardest job to fill;
now that "title" belongs to the Unit Commissioner.
A lot of it is based upon "legends" and "stories" handed down from bitter or
embarassed Scouters to other, newer and impressionable Scouters. Some of it
is in the marketing of finding these individuals. But most of it is because
nobody bothered to explain just what in the blazes does a Commissioner do in
Most people, Joe, get the impression of what a Commissioner does by thinking
about the title and equating it to what they think they know what
Commissioners do. Commissioners "manage things", as in the Commissioners of
sports leagues and tournaments. Commissioners "make decisions", as in
community Commissioners and legal Commissioners. Other Commissioners "pass
laws" and "represent people".
Commissioners in Scouting do NONE of those things, Joe. A Commissioner is
foremost a coach, advisor and trainer to the unit leaders and lay
committees. He or she is the "communications medium" between the local
Council and its District and each unit leader and committee. He or she
approves unit awards and should be the person signing adult leader training
certifications. He or she insures that we're running Scouting programs and
not other things draped in the "Scouting cloth".
More than any of those other things, the Commissioner and in particular the
Unit Commissioner, is a friend, someone who has "been there, done that" and
isn't afraid to explain what HE or SHE would do but also what the BSA SAYS
should be done in a particular situation. And because he or she "has been
there, done it and most times can talk about it", those few things they
don't know, they can "use their resources" to get you the answer you need to
know (and maybe some stuff you really don't want to know about! *heheehehehee*).
> Second, how do those Councils that do have a functioning
>Commissioner Corp go about recruiting UC's? Our Council use to have >a
VERY healthy Corp in the '80's when I was a youth, but now I am >faced with
a dilemma where NO ONE wants to volunteer.
That's because many Councils have overburdened the Unit Commissioner with
tasks that they were NOT designed to do: raise monies, fire volunteers, and
monthly inspections of unit meeting sites and unit operation. Those ARE NOT
Unit Commissioner tasks, no matter where in the world you find yourselves.
Those tasks BELONG to the District's professional team, but many of those
teams find themselves being stretched soooooooooothinly, that they have
"enpowered" the Unit Commissioner to do a great deal more than what the
Commissioner training materials, the basic training and guidance from the
District's Commissioner has provided.
How to fight back:
First, DEVELOP A SPECIFIC JOB DESCIPTION FOR EACH UNIT COMMISSIONER. I can
just hear some of the experienced Unit/Pack/Troop Commissioners now:
"There's already a job desciption, Mike...where have you been??"
That's true, gang. There IS a job description. It's found in the first
pages of the Commissioner training materials, on cardboard punchout cards
available from your local Council Service Center, and in a couple of other
But what I'M talking about here, is a SPECIFIC JOB DESCRIPTION for "Mike
Walton, Commissioner for Pack 000, Troop 000, Team 000 and Crew 000, East
District, Cardinal Council".
This job description should clearly state WHAT it is that I'm to do, WHO it
is I report to, HOW OFTEN should I visit my four units, and WHEN I should
record and/or report unit progress (or lack thereof). Armed with this
specific description of duties, along with attendance at the training course
(a MUST, not a "given", for there's a LOT of Commissioners out there that
are Commissioners without the training;
one of my "rules of thumb" as a former Council Assistant Commissioner was
that NO Exploring or Varsity Commissioner WEARS THE COMMISSIONER PATCH
WITHOUT ATTENDING AND COMPLETING THE BASIC COMMISSIONER COURSE. They can
wear a Roundtable staff patch until they attend the training. ONLY
COMMISSIONERS wear the Commissioner patch!!) can they be effective in their
roles as Commissioners!
Second, develop a set of "experienced District-level Commissioners" to serve
as mentors for the newbies. Not just the "ADCs" (the Assistant District
Commissioners...you should have one for every five Unit Commissioners), but
older Unit Commissioners.
Third, insure that Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Coaches and Advisors/Skippers
KNOW what this person wearing the "wreath of service" can do for them. One
of the things I encourage my Commissioners to do is to ALWAYS BRING
SOMETHING THAT THE UNIT LEADER CAN USE EVERY TIME THEY VISIT. It doesn't
have to be big...if your District is holding a Camporee soon, bring him or
her a listing of some songs which were sung at previous Camporees. Don't
bring him or her the Camporee packet....bring them something that they can
USE in connection with the event!
I had my small Commissioners' staff in Georgia to be referred to as "Saint
Nicks" because they constantly came armed with something every other month
to the Troop and Pack meetings.....
In another Council, I made sure that my Commissioner team went to each unit
and held a uniform inspection (with several months' advanced notice) and
gave out silver and gold medals (the ones with the wreath around the
Universal emblem....ding ding!) to Scouts whom "tried hard and excelled" as
well as "those that tried hard and tried hard". The Commissioner made that
call. Those "excelling" more than once got to get a Commissioner's device
to the medal. Talk about MOTIVATION!
Talk about CHEAP WAYS TO INSURE UNIFORMING!
Finally, MAKE SURE THAT THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE APPRECIATED AND IMPORTANT TO
THE PROGRAM. Just like other Scouters, Commissioners get burnt too. They
find themselves going to the same locations every month, and doing the same
things every month. So halfway in the program year, have a couple of unit
Commissioners TRADE JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND UNITS, not as a punitive measure
but rather to break the cycle of "same old, same old".
You'll see that those two Commissioners will do a LOT of talking between
themselves, which is what you WANT them to do naturally...you just gave them
a reason for doing so now.
All of this, Joe, I cover in my talks with Commissioners when I'm invited to
do so...I enjoy motivating those individuals, because they ARE the BSA
moreso than the unit leaders or our professionals. We Commissioners ARE the
BSA because we're volunteers, in a very key role to keep this program on
track and on a roll.
Hope this and the other advice will help your Council and District!
Maybe I am going about
>it wrong, but I need some help here, and I know there are other Councils
>that fall into the same situation. Thanks in advance for the insight.
>Eagle Class of '90
>Scoutmaster Troop 212
>Kotso Lodge #330(Vigil 10-11-98) Advisor to the VC of Unit Elections
>Patch Collector Extrordinar
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
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