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Should Packs and Troops recruit a committee member to assist as Unit Commissioner?

Perhaps packs and troops should identify a member of their unit to participate as a commissioner thus creating one more conduit for information back and forth between the unit and district/council. I know the COR is a member of the District Committee and a voting member to the council but honestly, how many of those individuals are that active? Roundtables are great places to exchange information but especially now they tend to be zoom meetings with little or no two way exchange of information and they are poorly attended. In a perfect setup there would be ample information exchanged monthly and roundtables, commissioner meetings and district meetings would be well attended in person. Roundtables used to be social events with a break for coffee, cookies, cake, pie… and they were great fun. Folks looked forward to pow wows, University of Scouting and other such leader events. Then we got lazy, the computer age hit and we started taking shortcuts, on line meetings, fewer opportunities for in person events. I doubt that we will ever regain what we had, not so long ago. But, maybe if the commissioner service could be salvaged we could improve in that area and help keep our units healthy.

Some councils have programs similar to JTE and troops providing someone as a commissioner for a pack is a criteria. However, quality over quantity. If the person doesn’t really want to be a commissioner, they shouldn’t be a commissioner just to chase numbers.

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My understatnding is that a unit does not provide their own unit communissioner. The district is suppose to provide a “new unit commissioner” or “unit comissioner” to the unit. If you do not know who your unit commissioner is, contact your district commissioner,

A “new unit commissioner” helps one unit get started over a period of years.
A “unit commissioner” ideally serves 1 to 3 units for a year at a time. More units if the district is short on unit commissioners. The units served are not their own.

For more I suggest reading:

  • 522-025-Unit-Roadmap-Final.pdf (scouting.org) - This is the national model for how districts serve units (provided they have the experienced volunteers to do so.)
  • “What Is a Unit Commissioner?” in DISTRICT OPERATIONS HANDBOOK:
    ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OPERATING COMMITTEE AND THE COMMISSIONER STAFF, 34739, ISBN 978-0-8395-4739-6, ©2007 Boy Scouts of America, 2012 Printing, 34739.pdf (scouting.org), pp, 7-8.

I suspect many district commissioners are currently looking for experienced people to serve as unit commissioners to other units,



Units are not supposed to provide their own commissioner but where districts are understaffed and a unit has a parent willing to do that role, why not? Too many units have no direct service from the district/council. The only downside is it may in some instances be difficult for that person to be objective but the benefits would outweigh that issue. The district I am in for example is grossly understaffed. The commissioner staff has perhaps 5 functioning members. We don’t have a membership committee and our DE just resigned. Units that are begging for commissioner service might be well advised to ‘grow their own’. All the fine plans, documents and tools are useless without the manpower to utilize and implement them.

I think because at that point, the commissioner can’t provide the type of advice they would normally provide. So, in the end, they really aren’t a commissioner.

When you talk about the COR not being active and are suggesting the commissioner route, maybe this could be handled by having a member of the unit committee agree to either be active on, or multiple to, the district committee? This would provide the conduit and we wouldn’t have to agree/argue on units providing their own UCs?

In your suggested plan, if each unit does offer up a UC, why not have them move one “chair” to the left. That is, if every unit offered up a UC and was a UC for a different unit, then the resourcing issue would be resolved. For this to work, units would have to offer up the resource.


Kinda. I could see a situation where a combination of recruitment by the DC and “volunteers” from units could cover the scope.

The biggest issue I can see tends to come in because exactly the sort of folks you generally want to serve as commissioners (folks who’ve done the job) are often the ones who are in greatest demand/most committed within the units themselves. It’s a bit hard for most parents (and even many registered scouters) to simply slide into the UC role. Can somebody be trained into it and get real-work guidance from “senior” commissioners? Absolutely. However, those folks are often only going to be a communication channel, rather than necessarily being ready to offer direct support to the units. That’s not without its own value, but it seems (to me) like only a small part of the role of a UC.

It seems like units might be best served by recruiting skilled “former” unit scouters to serve as commissioners, if they need that support and information conduit. At the same time, there are often reasons why they are now “former” unit scouters. Frequently, it’s some combination of burnout and a desire to spend some time doing something that isn’t scouting after however long they’ve served. :^)

The point of a commissioner is to have a coach to help the unit. In most units I’ve ever been a part of, the Key 3 are the most experienced, most trained Scouters. In my unit, I’m CM, been in Scouting over 20 years. My CC is over 30 years in Scouting. No one else has more than 2. What value is one of the parents going to bring to me as a commissioner? It feels like if I pick one of my unregistered parents to be my unit’s commissioner, that would be just “checking the box” and of no real help.


If a Scouter has to retire. Has a replacement been trained? If so, how and when?

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I agree that the best option is an experienced volunteer that can guide new leaders but even then there are some leaders that as commissioners don’t really follow through. A commissioner position is not a place to keep your tenure going. It is an important job and requires commitment and effort.


Let’s be honest… when you have decades of experience represented in your unit key 3 a commissioner may be almost redundant except for when the district needs to coordinate events, functions and communications and insure that they get out. In this day and age of phones, instant messages, emails, facebook and twitter, just because you post it still doesn’t mean the other person will have opened it. Just a thought…

Now on my reading list. One thing that I learned well over the years is that you need to learn the job above and below you to make things work great.


I cannot say I have never used this approach in my 40 years or so doing Commissioner work, but it is not ideal. Unit Commissioners are about a lot more than bringing messages to the attention of other leaders. They are, in my understanding, watching for problem areas or areas where improvement would be good and finding ways to get help or suggest alternatives in a friendly way if possible. Sometimes there are differences among the registered folks in a unit or problems with the chartered organization. It is very hard for a UC who is also a member of the unit to act or even being seen as an objective observer or advisor when difficult action is necessary.

With respect to the information problem raised here, I do agree that too often no one is paying attention to any of the methods we use to get the word out. Unfortunately, if no one is doing that now, simply telling someone that it is now their role is not likely to result in the action desired. We all are struggling with that now, but I don’t think making someone a UC is the answer.

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As I have said, during my ‘professional years’ I considered my Commissioner Staff and my Training Staff to be my two most important teams. When they are effective units stay healthy and deliver quality programs. Today, so many districts lack volunteers to meet the need. A commissioner is supposed to make a monthly ‘contact’, preferably in person at a unit meeting or a committee meeting but all too often they show up at recharter time if at all with maybe a phone call or email here and there. Some commissioners make it their job to get one or more leaders to Roundtable and strongly promote events, summer camp/day camp/resident camps, along with Pow Wow’s and Institutes. A quality commissioner can make the difference in a weak unit that turns over kids and leaders and a quality unit that has solid retention.

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