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Technology and the Commissioner Service

The BSA has changed immensely in many ways over the years but probably the biggest change in the past 20 years (with the possible exception of female member joining {about Time}) has been our increased use of technology. This has become more pronounce with the national cessation of direct member tech assistance. Many councils have appointed Scoutbook Champions or IT Champions but this has occurred in a very random and fragmented way. The question is also compounded by where does this function fall in our table of organization. This is an initial followed by an ongoing level of support as well as guidance on how to deal with problems. This almost seems like a description of the service we do as commissioners. So should this role formally be part of the Commissioner service? Some would argue it should fall under training (which we do monthly under the auspices of our roundtable Commissioners anyways) but it much more than that. We don’t do much formal IT systems training but the majority of help units need is in ongoing problem solving area. So I toss a few things out for discussion:

Should the Commissioner service formally adopt this role?
Should we consider having an an Assistant Council Commissioner for Technology?
How about at the ADC level?

If this was done on a national basis maybe we could convince National to give these folks access to additional tools to help there units overcome technology challenges.

I probably have missed a number of salient points, but I just wanted to start the conversation.


That is actually a pretty good idea, Ron. At the Council level, it would be easy enough for the Council Commissioner to appoint an admin ACC for technology or something similar. A District Commissioner could do the same with an admin ADC.


For historical context, when we deployed Commissioner Tools 5 years ago, every (most) council had one or more Commissioner Tools Champions. That list has recently been updated to ensure currency. Again (most/All) councils have one or more Commissioner Tools Champions. In some councils that role has expanded beyond Commissioner Tools, but there are limitations: 1) It’s an ad hoc duty generally, 2) in most cases the intent was to help Commissioners… the need - especially now - is clearly much greater, 3) It is generally a volunteer position, which means it comes with the encumbrances we have with access to IT information, tools, etc. as volunteers, 4) Some Council Commissioners don’t communicate very well, and thus the whole concept of a Commissioner Tools Champion is diminished. I could go on…


FYI for @RonFedele - Since we are ‘handling’ this discussion here, I deleted your same post on the Commissioner Service (Boy Scouts of America) Facebook page to keep the duplication down to a minimum. It has been my experience that when a topic is being discussed in several locations we drop the ball at times.

Here is a question for you Rick. If we were to take this beyond Ad-Hoc (in some cases the Council Commissioner can adopt a sort of in the wilderness person doing it, I am my council Scoutbook Champion and while I have a lot of tie lines with various people, I do not fall in the Council Chair, Commissioner or Executive Table of Org) can we get national to recognize a Council Tech commissioner and maybe give them a non employee access to support (limited to that one person per council). When I am supporting units on tech items I now have to explain the whole issue to my registrar who may not be as savvy and have her ask national with all communications back and forth getting translated through a 3rd party.

Just thinking out loud!


Are you aware that there already is a forum dedicated to Scoutbook as well as for Scoutbook Council Champions?

Yes I am heavily involved there. The problem is an inconsistency on how councils are providing support nationwide (if they are doing it at all.


@MichaelMoegenburg are you referring to forums contained here, or is there another split universe for ScoutBook Champions. If not here would it possibly make sense to keep it within these forums (these are the only ones to which I am aware and I’m a Council ScoutBook Champion).

@RonFedele @RickHillenbrand as a Council Commissioner, I find this thought interesting. Even if we could have an intermediate training on troubleshooting that could be rolled out to a few “technology-minded” volunteers who could serve as “tier 1” support (add second member number to My.Scouting, look for a duplicate account, rest passwords, just some other basics that occur over and over again). Maybe that would lighten the load for Councils and the numerous other repetitive helps items of similar nature that occur in the forums (and probably elsewhere). Volunteers helping volunteers (or an extension of Commissioners helping units). Intriguing thoughts. I just wish there had been time to contemplate and plan before the cutoff of support.

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Yes. These forums are contained here. https://discussions.scouting.org/c/scoutbook-council-champions/2919

Ahhh, so to see these, do I need my Council to approve me, answer some questions, etc… I have already been made a Council Admin in ScoutBook.

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I am not sure how to join that group. I would run it up through the chain of command.

I wanted to chime in on the position of Scoutbook help in a council as we’ve done something different from what I’ve read. We have a ACC for tech but doesn’t address scout book specifically. We have council, district and program specific scout book mentors, all as members of the various advancement committees.

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@ZacharyMcCarty For MOST (but not all) of the BSA Forums https://discussions.scouting.org/ Groups (the major topics are called Groups) you do not need approval to join. (You can tell by the padlock icon before the Group name.) E.g.:

Within most of the Groups there are (sub) Categories such as within My Scouting Tools some of the Categories are:
** Internet Advancement https://discussions.scouting.org/c/MyST/IA/2923
** MyScouting Mobile App https://discussions.scouting.org/c/MyST/MYST-APP/3518
** Commissioner Tools https://discussions.scouting.org/c/MyST/COMMISS-TOOLS/3539

For management purposes it is best if people create new topics within the correct forum Group and category, but nothing prohibits - for example - Someone asking specific Sea Scouts programing issues in the Scoutbook Den Leader Experience category. Of course creating topics in an ‘off topic’ category makes is more challenging for those moderating the forums to help out, and others to contribute.

Please continue this dialog if you have more questions.

@RonFedele There are many that think like you do (including myself) that continue to advocate for additional permission for a select cadre of tech savvy volunteers to help national and the councils with technology issues. With the suspension of the national level support for volunteers, and the harsh reality that many councils do not have any real BSA IT technology super-User professionals, the time for this change could never be better.


@RickHillenbrand yes, I have been on these forums for over a year and a half. I was referencing specifically the ScoutBook champions group. This does not seem to be available to me nor is it shown under my profile with even a padlock to where I could request to join. The link that Mike posted above takes me to a page on the forums that says oops you do not have permission to view this page.


@ZacharyMcCarty Let’s see if @BillNelson1 or @EdDavignon can add you to the Scoutbook champions team.


I can think of very few single-action times commissioners can do that would have any greater impact to smooth operation of every single scouting unit than directed and helpful technology training for unit-level tools such as Scoutbook.

–Communication tools

All of these tend to fall on either the unit leader (who is busy) or perhaps one enthusiastic parent. There might be a few more items that could have higher priority and impact… but not many.

I’m in. Let’s do it.


@PaulMcDonald Scoutbook is a unit management software application. Training on Scoutbook exists, including a sandbox (https://help.scoutbook.com/knowledge-base/scoutbook-demo-environment/). While it is not uncommon that commissioners occasionally wear other ‘hats,’ it is neither within the scope of a commissioner’s responsibilities to teach Scoutbook nor do commissioners automatically have access to Scoutbook solely based on position. It IS appropriate for a commissioner to help their unit obtain the training they need.

None of the unit leaders I know are aware of such training. I’m glad it exists. What can we do to roll it out so they can start using it?