Starting, Sustaining, and Growing Units

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

Starting, Sustaining, and Growing Units

GROWING SCOUTING…is the single most important thing we can do today as commissioners.

Commissioners often wonder what they can do to help Grow Scouting…if you wonder about that, open two links to learn about new ways and resources you can share with the unit leaders you serve to help them promote and grow their unit:

Look at the resources it references.

Some commissioners ask, “isn’t GROWING SCOUTING why we have Membership volunteers and professional staff? Isn’t that their responsibility? Sure, it is, but they can’t do it alone.

Commissioners have a key role in GROWING SCOUTING:

  • Great program attracts and retains both youth and adult volunteers.
  • We help the unit leaders we serve deliver great program.
  • We help the unit leaders we serve understand the importance of planning to GROW SCOUTING.
  • We help the unit leaders we serve develop year-round plans to attract and retain members.
  • We help the unit leaders we serve understand that retention is an essential element of growth.
  • We provide the unit leaders we serve with access to resources to increase retention and growth.

The attachments, developed by John Hearrell, Marketing Lead for National Service Territory #8 is a great example of some of the resources available to you and also of how our national service territories are coming together to support our councils in new and different ways.

There are other resources available to you to help the unit leaders you serve GROW SCOUTING. Check them out:

As commissioners, we need to help

  • Ensure the safety of the youth Scouting serves
  • Ensure our local councils have a strong financial foundation
  • GROW SCOUTING

Thank you for all you do to serve youth through Scouting!

Related Articles

What’s a Commissioner to do About Membership?

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Jim Libbin
jlibbin@msnu.edu
Council Support Chair 

What’s a Commissioner to do About Membership?

The great challenge of all Scouters across the fall of 2021 and into 2022 is growing membership across our great movement. We all must internalize the vision that to have a real impact and to ‘prepare every eligible youth in America to become a participating citizen and leader,’ we must reach out to every eligible youth in America. Should commissioners be recruiters? Yes! Like every other Scouter, commissioners should take every opportunity to share the vision (and the fun!) with parents, neighbors, the community, and every youth possible. Commissioners, again like every other Scouter, can help spread the word that Scouting offers a tremendous outdoor program, leadership development, fun, fellowship, and confidence building activities and methods. 

There are at least three main ways to impact membership: recruit (or invite) new Scouts, retain existing Scouts, and help create new Scouting units. Membership growth is not just recruiting new members. Commissioners do not make up the Membership Committee of a district or council; they support the Membership Committee. Membership Committees create plans for and implement strategies to help councils, districts and units recruit new members. Commissioners support. So, how can commissioners help without dominating the recruitment role? We are the ties to units that every Membership Committee should have in its midst. 

When recruited, every new Scout needs a unit. Commissioners can help units participate in district and council membership activities, apply the Unit Roadmap, and then support the process by encouraging units to have an active new member coordinator and deliver an active, well-executed, exciting program. This builds on the real strength of the commissioner concept – Unit Service. Commissioners, more than any other position within Scouting, can directly help units deliver a program that attracts new Scouts and retains existing Scouts. Don’t think of this as a numbers game (as in every Scout retained is a Scout we don’t have to recruit), but think of this as an impact on the future of our community and nation (every Scout retained is a Scout who learns and develops more and is more likely to ‘make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes’ because of their continued participation in Scouting). 

District Executives are often charged with seeking new chartered partners to create new units. Every time a new unit is considered a real possibility, a unit commissioner should be selected to participate in the process to help guide that new unit along the path of developing a strong and sustainable program. As well as a set of trained adult leaders who have a positive attitude and assurance that they can do the job. 

Don’t ever miss the opportunity to recruit a new youth member, but also never miss the opportunity to strengthen an existing unit or help a new unit get started on the right path.

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Commissioners Can Build Belonging to Grow Scouting

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

Linda Baker
lalbaker@aol.com
Council Support Chair 

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Commissioners Can Build Belonging to Grow Scouting

Build Belonging to Grow Scouting

Qs: 1. How can Scouting enhance its appeal to youth and young families?

  1. How can Scouting retain youth and their families once they’ve joined?

A:  According to sociological researchers, the most important factor is helping youth and young families feel a strong sense of belonging.

Appealing to youth and young families means: 

  • Personally welcoming them and making them feel at home.
  • Showing that Scouting families are people like them, people who have a lot in common with them in terms of values and interests, and people with whom they can identify.
  • Inviting them to engage in enjoyable and meaningful activities. 

Remember that in today’s world there is little interest in joining organizations, but there is abundant interest in being a part of team that has a shared purpose and sense of belonging.

Keeping the interest of youth and young families means:

  • Continuing to be friendly and caring about our Scouts and families.
  • Ensuring a safe learning environment and trained leaders.
  • Delivering on promises made by the local program and providing abundant opportunity for meaningful engagement; including helping others.
  • Keeping them “in the loop” in terms of communication and information.

Youth and families stay in Scouting when they feel a sense of belonging because of the relationships they’ve built and the accomplishments they’ve achieved as part of a team effort.

Building belonging is partly about the conscious steps we take as Scout leaders and partly about removing the barriers we don’t consciously realize are in place. 

At this point you might be thinking: “but what does this concept have to do with commissioners? Is there really anything commissioners can do to help youth and families develop feelings of belonging?” 

As with everything we do as commissioners, our success in helping to build belonging depends on our approach when serving units. We’ve all learned that it doesn’t do any good telling someone what to do; instead, we need to share resources and information and steer conversations toward priorities. 

Discussions with unit volunteers could include:

  • Asking them to remember how other Scouters inspired belonging – both when they first joined and as they continued in the program – and how they can incorporate those methods into their relationships with new and potential members.
  • Encouraging units to assemble and support welcome teams, led by New Member Coordinators, to keep in touch with families.
  • Exploring thoughts about building Scouting community in social media groups. 
  • Determining types of events and invitations that are welcoming and meaningful to families.
  • Anticipating the informational needs of families new to Scouting and planning/preparing a series of quick blurbs to distribute both electronically and in paper form.

These are the kinds of conscious steps we can take to build the feeling of belonging.

But what about the barriers to belonging? Think about how to facilitate conversations concerning barriers others have identified, such as:

  • the uniform      
  • lack of diversity among current members
  • lack of outreach to diverse communities 
  • too few current leaders or leaders who seem too busy to engage with new members
  • not enough information or information that’s hard to access    
  • not using favored communication platforms where people feel comfortable.

Recognizing and discussing these barriers paves the way for strategizing how to mitigate and address the challenges. 

Helping local Scouters build feelings of belonging for families may be one of the most important unit service opportunities we have. ‘Be the heart. Build relationships. Change lives.’

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It’s the People Too

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Sean Byrne 
Resources Chair 
sppbks@gmail.com 

It’s the People Too

Last month I had the pleasure of giving the keynote presentation at Atlanta Area Council’s quarterly commissioner meeting. My topic was ‘Growing Scouting,’ and it was a slightly expanded version of a talk I gave during Commissioner’s Week at Philmont Training Center. (A quick aside, 2021 was my first time at Commissioner’s Week and it was a BLAST. Definitely put it on your calendar for next year, June 5-11, 2022, if you haven’t already.)

My presentation, both in Atlanta and at Philmont, included three main points:

  1. Emphasize collaboration and support 
  2. Eliminate silos 
  3. Focus on the youth

Your national commissioner service team believes that if we work on perfecting these three points, we can grow Scouting. Here’s a quick dive-in to each point.

Focus on the youth:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is simple: “To prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” ‘Young people’ are the third and fourth word in that mission. Everything we do must be for the youth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too! By all means, please share all the fun you’re having – that’s a great way to grow our movement.

Emphasize collaboration and support: Through our resources (this newsletterour Facebook page and groupsNews for Commissioners, etc), we often know where the organization is heading before our units and volunteers. Let’s proactively share that information with our units and build up the relationship. Sometimes it’s difficult information and sometimes it’s joyous, but we build that trust either way by sharing. A better informed unit is a better unit to serve, and therefore deliver, our program.

Eliminate silos: Silos dampen our ability to achieve our mission and serve the youth. When units have a question, we want to be the person they approach first. But that doesn’t mean we have to be the answer. Our job is to act as a resource to our units and link them to other resources. Connect your unit with district and council committees, and don’t forget your professional. If a unit isn’t recruiting, that’s not just a commissioner problem – that’s a membership problem; eliminate the silo and bring in other people to help.

But since my focus is on resources, I have one more thing to share.

In the crowd at Philmont listening to my presentation was Louis Todd, Atlanta Area Council’s council commissioner. He decided that I could be a resource to his volunteers and he invited me to Atlanta. And in inviting me down, he, and all the new folks I met down there, became a resource to me.

People are resources too. In Larry’s article, you’ll recognize that we have a lot of digital and print resources available to you. But don’t forget the value of other people. Nothing can be more effective in Growing Scouting than including, teaching, and talking to others.

So here’s your invitation to reach out to a unit or a volunteer. Include them, talk with them, help them. And connect them with others. That’s how we can grow Scouting.

Join the Resources Team: I’m looking for people too! If you have any experience in copy editing, web design/analytics, research/history, or project management – let me know. I’m looking to fill two SME roles: one to copy edit our resources and one to run routine website updates. If these aren’t for you but you’re still interested, I’ll be opening up more roles during the year, so still reach out. Scouters of all experience levels, backgrounds, demographics, and ages are encouraged to fill out the Interest Survey and email it to commissionerserviceteam@scouting.org.Thanks

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Recruiting NST Exploring SME’s

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Craig Martin
Exploring Chair
 bruin1967@aol.com

Recruiting NST Exploring SME’s

Looking for National Exploring SMEs to support the National Service Territory Program Leads…

Following in the footsteps of the other BSA Older Youth Programs (Venturing & Sea Scouting) in their support to the National Service Territory (NST) Program Leads, our National Exploring Program’s goal is supporting all sixteen NSTs with an Exploring Subject Matter Expert (SME) who will support each NST Program Lead (PL) as their Exploring Resource point of contact (POC). Also, like the other older youth programs, we offer this Exploring SME who NST PLs could contact if they need an Exploring Resource POC to help field questions or to help on an Exploring event, project, issue/concern, etc., originating within their territory; but, their assistance is at the behest of the NST PLs, and they are neither formally or informally part of the NST organizational construct.

If you are interested in becoming one of the National Exploring SME supporting one of our NST PLs as their Exploring Resource POC, please contact Craig Martin (Exploring Chair, National Commissioner Service Team) at bruin1967@aol.com. Also, attached to this newsletter is “National Exploring SME Service Territory Application” which you may send to the National Director of Older Youth Programs, Tim Anderson, at tim.anderson@scouting.org and Craig Martin.

While we are in the process of identifying and vetting an Exploring SME/Resource POC for each territory, our current five National Exploring SMEs and National Commissioner Service Team Exploring Chair have divided the sixteen NSTs among themselves and they will support the NST Program Leads temporarily, until we have someone identified within each territory, as follows:

  • National Exploring SME Stuart Mahler (in California ‘s Golden Gate Area Council) will support NST 1, 2 & 3 
  • National Commissioner Service Team Exploring Chair Craig Martin (in Colorado ‘s Pikes Peak Council) will support NST 4, 7 & 8
  • National Exploring SME Roger Engelbart (in Missouri’s Greater St Louis Area Council) will support NST 5, 6 & 14
  • National Exploring SME Richard ‘Rick’ Belford (in Massachusetts’ Western Massachusetts Council) will support NST 9, 10 & 11
  • National Exploring SME Linda Hassler (in New Jersey’s Monmouth Council) will support NST 12 & 13
  • National Exploring SME Kenneth ‘Ken’ Leedham (in Florida’s Gulf Stream Council) will support NST 15 & 16

Related Articles

Growing Exploring

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Craig Martin
Exploring Chair
 bruin1967@aol.com

Growing Exploring

Commissioners’ Role in Re-Growing Exploring after Covid-19 Impacts. 

Thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations, we are seeing Scouting and Exploring units returning to in-person meetings and activities with proper prevention protocols in place. However, we have a long road in front of us as we begin resurrecting the dormant and lapsed Exploring clubs and posts. As a Systems Engineer, I like looking at numbers to establish a baseline, so let’s look at where Exploring was in January 2020, just before the pandemic, versus where we are in mid-2021.

As of…

Units

Youth Membership

Adult Membership

Clubs

Posts

Clubs

Posts

Clubs

Posts

Jan 2020

395

4,055

14,903

80,474

704

19,095

Jul 2021

76

1,164

1,382

12,776

144

5,819

Difference

(319)

(2,891)

(13,521)

(67,698)

(560)

(13,276)

As the numbers tell us, we have taken significant losses in every category. Therefore, Exploring’s #1 goal is to resurrect these clubs and posts, along with their youth and adult membership. This is where our council’s commissioner corps (unit commissioners and Exploring service team members [a.k.a. Exploring commissioners]) can play a crucial role.

As an aside, if commissioners are unfamiliar with the Exploring program, they should visit the Exploring homepage at www.exploring.org to learn more especially using the Exploring Resources at the bottom of the homepage.

Additionally, there is a concise and brief training module, SCO_756, within the BSA Learn Center entitled “Servicing Exploring Units.”

There is one document every commissioner supporting an Exploring unit should have handy for quick reference, and that is the “Exploring Guidebook for Post and Club Leaders – Youth and Adult” which is found on the Exploring homepage’s Exploring Resources box under “Unit Resources”. In fact, everything in this article is explained in more detail within this guidebook.

First, our commissioners need to immediately contact all these dormant and lapsed units’ participating organization (a.k.a., the unit’s chartered organization in Scouting terminology) to determine if they are still interested in supporting the club or post, as well as the club’s or post’s adult volunteer leadership to determine if they are still available to serve.

Second, since these are lapsed Exploring clubs and posts, the commissioner and/or the district executive needs to quickly re-accomplish the Exploring “Memorandum of Understanding” (which is the Exploring unit’s “charter”). Signing & submitting this MOU to the local council, along with the adult/youth membership applications & fees, will re-activate the unit’s registration and return them to good standing with both the National Exploring Office and their council. Third, to identify possible new membership for these units or additional Exploring Career Fields’ clubs or posts, commissioners and/or council professional staff should engage with their local middle and/or high schools’ to either request career interest survey information or offer them the Exploring career interest survey, which is offered free online by National Exploring Office, to middle and high schools or school districts for youth 13 and older.

Assuming the participating organization and unit adult volunteer leadership are still committed and available to the Exploring program then, with encouragement and assistance from the commissioners, the Exploring adult leaders need to contact all their unit’s youth membership to invite them back. At the same time, the leadership should start planning the meetings and activities for first three months as well as also scheduling and advertising the unit’s open house.

 

Fourth, in support of the unit’s open house, commissioners should encourage the unit’s leadership to follow the recommendations found within Exploring Guidebook, specifically the section entitled “Phase 4: Participation” in chapter three. I would strongly recommend that a commissioner, along with the district executive and a representative of the council’s membership committee (if either are available), participate in the open house to assist post leadership.

Before closing my article, I want to remind you what the Exploring program provides. First, Exploring units and youth membership count towards your council membership goals. Second, the Exploring units’ participating organizations provide a potential funding source for your annual fundraising campaigns. And, most importantly, Exploring provides our older youth with an opportunity to learn about future careers as they decide what they want to do with their lives!

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Growing Scouting through Great Program

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Steven Lee
Program Support Chair
stevel0923@gmail.com

Growing Scouting through Great Program

Following a year and half of pandemic restrictions and waiting for easements to allow social gathering and traveling, many folks spent this summer enjoying the great outdoors and traveling to see friends and relatives all over the country. Scouting was no exception as high adventure bases as well as local camps were filled with participants enjoying quality programs, outdoor adventures, and training events. This is a great foundation to growing scouting we enter the Fall season of back to school.

Relationships

Summer time is generally a down period for packs and troops as families travel for vacation. This is the opportune time to invite new families to join our Scouts in more relaxed and informal settings like a baseball game, a favorite fishing hole, or a backyard BBQ. Developing relationships with new families is an important first step in creating a welcoming environment. Invitations to follow-on activities will allow these families to meet more people and provide natural opportunities to talk about the benefits of scouting or address any questions they may have about the program.

Quality Programs

Folks are drawn to Scouting because of what the program has to offer our youths. During a Join Scouting Night at your local elementary school, parents who stop for pack information already have a positive impression about the Scouting program. It’s a matter of providing key information on cost, logistics and benefits of participating that convinces the family to join. The pack committee should also provide a calendar of all activities for the year. New families appreciate upfront information on how they can participate, especially the amount of time and financial commitment required. Quality programs attract and retain both young scouts and their families, so advance planning and leadership training will go a long way in preparing the unit in Growing Scouting.

Communication

Given the membership challenges we are facing with Scouting across the board, it’s time to utilize all forms of communication to share Scouting accomplishments this summer. It’s time to let our friends and neighbors know that youths are coming back to the outdoors and experiencing great adventures with their units. Units are starting up again this fall and all new scouts are welcomed. Utilize social media, emails, and word of mouth to invite potential youths. Share all the great program activities your unit has to offer this coming year and introduce them to the leadership team who will be guiding them through all these fun activities.

Conclusion

Program support to Growing Scouting entails helping units run fantastic programs that are fun, adventurous, and impactful to the lives of youth. As commissioners, let’s make sure the unit has trained leadership, informed unit committees, available resources, and positive unit health overall. Deficiency in any one of these areas will affect the quality of the programs that unit offers. Now is the time to revisit JTE performance and identify goals to improve unit health. Let’s get our units ready to bring in more Scouts when they all return back to school in the Fall.

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Commissioner Week 2021 was a great success!

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

 

John Cherry
Development Chair
 jcherry628@aol.com

Commissioner Week 2021 was a great success!

Ninety-two conference participants converged at the Philmont Training Center the week of June 6-12 for the 2021 edition of Commissioner Week. When you add in faculty members and families, there were a total of 163 attendees.

Here are some highlights:

  • We were able to be together in person!
  • There were seven fantastic week-long conferences. One was brand new and all were refreshed to reflect the most current concepts.
  • The inaugural Commissioner Symposium took place.
  • The mini session series shared focus areas as we adapt to change and facilitated interaction with the National Key 3.
  • The mid-week reception gave everyone the opportunity to connect, interact, and build relationships.
  • Conference participants had the opportunity to spend a full day living the magic of Philmont.
  • There was a meaningful commissioning ceremony for every commissioner in attendance.
  • We were able to have FUN!
Commissioner Week 2022 will be June 5 – 11. Save the date and make plans now to attend!

Related Articles

Trained Commissioners Grow Scouting

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

 

John Cherry
Development Chair
 jcherry628@aol.com

Trained Commissioners Grow Scouting

The Boy Scouts of America has been through some challenging times over the last eighteen months! The combined effects of a worldwide pandemic and the bankruptcy have had an impact on many aspects of Scouting. Commissioners are in the perfect place to help units get started, restarted, engaged, and reengaged.

The most effective commissioners will have invested the time to complete as much training as possible. This includes taking basic training, participating in your local council’s College of Commissioner Science (or one of the many virtual CCS offerings), and taking advantage of other development opportunities.

As has been noted in other communication channels, the charter renewal process is changing later this year. One specific development opportunity that all commissioners should take advantage of is the updated Charter Renewal Training that can be found here.

The curriculum review team has been very productive this year. Here are a few updates:

  • Instructor led and online versions of basic training have been updated and will be available in early September 2021. National Service Territory Commissioner Basic is being developed to support the new structure 
  • Masters level College of Commissioners Science courses was updated in August 2021. Doctorate and Continuing Ed tracks will be updated before the end of the year. 

Your development team offers numerous opportunities for national level training events that range from short Virtual Impact Sessions to week-long conferences at national high adventure bases. (Read the Commissioner Week recap article to learn more about this amazing offering!)

Take advantage of the opportunities to equip yourself to be more effective and make a specific commitment to use your knowledge to grow scouting!

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Grow Scouting through Roundtable and Unit Leader Engagement

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Chris Beaver
Roundtable Chair 
cbbeaver@gmail.com

Grow Scouting through Roundtable and Unit Leader Engagement

As we move into the fall season it will be crucial to engage all unit volunteers through roundtable, meeting each where they are and providing the Unit Service each Scout deserves. In fact, this idea of engagement is key to the next few months. As unit leaders begin to host their annual recruiting events, part of the promise we give new Scouts is fun and excitement. How can we best support unit leaders, and new volunteers, as they grow their membership? Each month, Roundtable Commissioners provide an essential service to unit volunteers through consistent, quality roundtable events. These monthly gatherings provide opportunities for program support, recruiting tips, and numerous other areas that all serve to enhance the experience of everyone involved in Scouting. When Roundtable Commissioners keep their eyes and ears open to the needs of the units they serve, the monthly roundtable can’t help but be the place to be to learn valuable information, to share successes, and to interact with other Scouters.

Your national program committees work hard each month to bring you timely, relevant information aimed at continuous improvement and growth for the units you serve. For the Cub Scouts program, the focus this fall will be helping den leaders get started on the right footing to keep our Cub Scouts engaged. As for Scouts BSA, topics will home in on how Scouters can help young leaders succeed through the program by serving in a respectful, supportive manner both to the youth and to other volunteers. Both Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA breakouts will also feature video segments dedicated to helping unit volunteers find the resources they need to be successful.

In addition to the program breakouts, there are plenty of other times during your roundtable program where opportunities for growth can present themselves. For example, Hot Topics and Safety Moments allow Roundtable Commissioners to bring in subject matter experts in areas where help is needed in the district or council. This could be a time to highlight how safe Scouting is for today’s youth, any changes in the unit charter renewal program, or recruitment tips for finding new Cub Scouts and meeting families where they are in this time of social distancing. Whatever you as Roundtable Commissioners decide to provide your unit leaders through the monthly roundtable, please always remember to consider the impact you make on the lives of the youth we serve. Through Unit Service, our focus should always rest on being the heart of Scouting, building relationships with others, and changing lives for the better. Thank you for serving unit leaders through roundtable and thank you for impacting the lives of young Scouts across the BSA.

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