Join the Excitement, Join Scouting

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

 

Mike Moegenburg 
Marketing and Communications Chair 
mikemoegenburg@comcast.net

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Join the Excitement, Join Scouting

Growing Scouting is exciting because we can share the fun we have with more youth and impart important lessons along the way. The question is: how can commissioners help leaders grow their units?

Start with – “What makes your unit special compared to other programs competing for young people’s attention?” Shooting sports, campfires, and outdoor adventure are probably some of those things. Then ask, “what makes your unit special compared to other units?” Remember this quote from Lord Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting:

“A fisherman does not bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes. So with boys”

 

Another thing to keep at the top of your mind is the potential Scout’s mom. Moms are generally (but not always) the gatekeepers of their children’s time and activities. You need to help them see why they want their children to join. Be sure that your unit leaders have their “elevator speech” (30 seconds on why a child should join scouting) ready and on the tip of their tongue. The child having fun and being with friends is a big part of the answer, but so are the lifelong values we teach.

Once you help the unit find out why youth would want to join them, and why a mom would want their child to join the movement, you need to help the unit share their story. There are many ways to tell the story; having the Scouts invite their friends to join is one of the most effective. Have the Scouts share the fun they are having; youth always want to join activities with their friends.

Like with the Scouts themselves, talking about Scouting parent to parent is an effective way to reach families. Be sure to explore all the communication channels available to you at schools and organizations: Back to School nights, PTA/PTO meetings, flyers home, Facebook, email, electronic folders, and so many more.

You and your unit leaders are not alone in this effort. Please check out all of the webinars, brochures, and other materials available at Recruitment | Boy Scouts of America (scouting.org).

Remember to have an exciting pack and den meeting the month after your Join Scouting Night – you want Scouts to be on the edge of their seats looking forward to attending. Be sure that you share all the resources families will need in order to start the year off on the right foot.

If Scouts are having fun, and if they are with their friends, you will have a successful program siblings and friends will want to join.

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Engaging and Inspiring Unit Leaders

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Karen Bengston
kkb08@comcast.net 
Commissioner Recruiting and Retention Chair

Engaging and Inspiring Unit Leaders

The heart pumps blood, sending oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our bodies while carrying away carbon dioxide and waste. In much the same way, commissioners direct energy and support to unit leaders while helping them find solutions for problematic issues.

As each council works to rebuild membership, re-energize packs, and recover from losses incurred during the pandemic, unit leaders need commissioners more than ever. One of the most effective ways commissioners can help with membership growth is supporting unit volunteers, especially new pack leaders who join Scouting with their children this fall. Commissioners can provide valuable support to unit volunteers by helping them feel inspired, engaged, and optimistic. How exactly do we do that?

Here are a few ideas:

Inspire: Share a brief example of how Scouting impacted your child or helped nurture a stronger parent/child bond. Let new leaders know how much Scouting means to your family. Encourage the unit Key 3 to involve all volunteers in decision making. Motivate by communicating.

Engage: Invite new leaders to Roundtable. Make sure volunteers know how to access training. Help the unit Key 3 understand the value in planning several months ahead and including all unit leaders in that planning. Encourage den leaders to schedule fun den activities that keep Scouts interested.

Display Optimism: Be the example! Optimism promotes excellence in leadership, creative thinking, and a higher level of success. Shaping experiences through a lens of positivity will make Scouting more exciting for our youth. Give affirmative feedback. When navigating a difficult situation, adopt a solution driven approach to resolving problems. Correct the negative, but don’t dwell on it.

Units leaders need commissioners to support them, encourage them and applaud unit success. Every unit, whether established or newly formed, deserves commissioner support. Inspired, engaged, optimistic unit volunteers result in a better program for youth. Great programs increase membership because they attract more Scouts!

In the past, commissioner success was determined in part by the number of registered commissioners and the number of unit contacts documented in Commissioner Tools. Recruiting was often instigated by a lower than acceptable ratio of commissioners to units. While those numbers are still indicators of successful unit service, our focus for the next few months must include membership growth and rebuilding packs.

A commissioner’s greatest impact comes from developing trusting relationships with unit volunteers. As we work diligently to rebuild membership, let’s also identify, recruit and empower unit commissioners to support unit volunteers. Scouting will rebound. Packs will return. And when they need our help, commissioners will be there in a heartbeat!

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Future Focus

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Future Focus

For over a year we’ve focused on delivering Scouting in the face of two challenges: the BSA’s restructuring (bankruptcy) and COVID -19. Both challenges remain, but more recently we’ve seen good reasons to be optimistic their grip is loosening. As a result, Scouting’s focus has started to shift to the future and to how we will continue its mission ‘to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.’

Our focus has both short and long term elements.

Immediately, we all must concentrate on three priorities: 

  1. Ensuring the safety of the young people we serve. 
  2. Growing Scouting
  3. Building firm financial foundations for our local and national councils. 

As commissioners, we need to consider what, specifically, we can do to support each of those. In this issue, members of your service team will provide insights into how you can help with Growing Scouting. Youth safety and financial foundations are essential; but if we’re unable to reverse the decades long erosion of our membership, other challenges become even greater.

As we focus on Growing Scouting, we need to remember that Unit Service is all about impact. 

Consider this: 

Scouting’s mission is focused solely on youth. As youth membership declines, so does Scouting’s impact. Our first responsibility in Growing Scouting is to attract – and retain – new youth members. But Scouting doesn’t serve young people in a vacuum; they are served in units, and those units can’t serve young people without unit leaders

Some ask what defines success for a commissioner. The answer isn’t frequency of contacts, or the number of entries in Commissioner Tools, or the number of unit service plans written, or attendance at roundtable, or Colleges of Commissioner Science, or commissioner meetings. Those are simply leading indicators – numbers of activities that hopefully indicate we’re doing the right things. Success is defined by the number of young people we attract to and retain in Scouting, the number of units formed and retained, and the number of unit leaders those units attract and retain. That’s Unit Service; that’s how commissioners have impact.

The new format of The Commissioner will help you find specific information to help you Grow Scouting. Check out the variety of topics ranging from Building Belonging to Growing Scouting through Roundtable.

Nearby you’ll find a bit more detail about the graphic here. Those details are important, but only because they support the impact we must have on Scouting; impact that must begin with Growing Scouting.

On the uptrail…

Larry Chase Articles

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Information Access Enables Growth

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Information Access Enables Growth

Commissioners should be our unit leaders’ best source of information. To achieve that goal, commissioners must keep current. Easy to say; sometimes it just seems hard to do. An array of tools is available to help:

  • The commissioner webpage 
  • The Commissioner (a quarterly, web-based newsletter) 
  • This newsletter, published at the end of the month and sent directly to all registered commissioners. 
  • News for Commissioners 
  • Council Commissioner Confabs (a monthly Zoom meeting designed specifically to for council commissioners to enable them to provide input and share best practices) 
  • Scouting Forums (the BSA’s web-based discussion site) 
  • Scouting Wire 
  • Social Media 

Check them out: 

Commissioner Webpage

The Commissioner

News for Commissioners

Scouting Forums

Scouting Wire

Roundtable News and Discussion

Commissioner Development – BSA

Commissioners of the Boy Scouts of America

Larry Chase Articles

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Retention Enables Growth

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Retention Enables Growth

Growing Scouting isn’t limited to starting new units and attracting new members; retaining units, young people, and unit leaders provides a firm foundation for growth. Scouting’s impact is limited when new units and members serve just to replace losses.

A commissioner’s impact is greater when their work supports starting new units and attracting and retaining new youth members, and unit leaders. It defines their success. Everything commissioners do should be focused on young people, units, and unit leaders.

Consider a simple picture of Unite Service:

There are a few tools we use to enable success: 

  1. Our mission defines our purpose: ‘to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them values of the Scout Oath and Law.’
  2. Our vision shows us what success will look like: every member of the BSA has a great Scouting experience. That enables us to attract and retain both youth and adult volunteers.
  3. Culture is our way of life as a group: it includes our characteristics and skills and defines our approach to achieving our mission and fulfilling our vision. We’ll be talking more about that in the future.
  4. We have just five objectives:
    1. Supporting unit growth and retention
    2. Contacting units 
    3. Linking unit needs to resources 
    4. Supporting timely charter renewals 
    5. Supporting unit leaders 
  5. Our focus today is to support Scouting’s immediate focus:
    1. Ensuring the safety of the young people we serve 
    2. Growing Scouting
    3. Building firm financial foundations for our local and national councils 

There are other details that require our attention: recruiting and developing commissioners, communicating information, and certainly, adapting to change. But this picture helps keep it simple. And it helps us stay focused on Growing Scouting through both adding and retaining units, young people, and unit leaders. 

Larry Chase Articles

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Why Local is the Most Important

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

group-2.png

Scott Sorrels,
National Commissioner
scottsorrels@comcast.net

Why Local is the Most Important

From Bryan on Scouting

The COVID-19 pandemic was tough on Scouting units, especially Cub Scouts (if you find virtual meetings frustrating to sit through, imagine how your 7- or 8-year-old feels!). As we transition into a post-pandemic era, what is a solution for returning to normalcy? Start a Cub Scout pack. Even better, start a Tiger den.

That was Scott Sorrels’s advice during the BSA’s recent National Annual Meeting. Sorrels is entering his second year as the organization’s national commissioner. His primary duty, as he puts it, is being the chief morale officer. And American families’ morale, including that of youth, took a major hit during this past year. Isolation, breaks in routine and missing beloved activities and events concocted an unwelcome recipe for anxiety and depression to take hold.

That’s where Scouting can help.

“I sense a level of anxiousness and enthusiasm as we’re coming out of this unusual period in our history,” Sorrels says. “Scouting can be an ideal structure for the American family to get on its feet again”

More important than ever 

For more than 110 years, the Boy Scouts of America has helped change the lives of millions of young men and women, teaching the values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.

The organization continues that mission, and those in the program know the life-changing opportunities Scouting provides both youth and adult leaders. One challenge, though, is meeting the needs of today’s families, addressing busy schedules, cost prohibitions and different priorities in diverse communities.

“We need to be creative and flexible in how we make Scouting available,” Sorrels says. “That includes how we embrace families.”

It’s an ongoing conversation that will call on the voices from everyone. That includes Scouts, too.

Sorrels served as the co-chair for the World Scout Jamboree , held at the 2019 Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. For that event, which hosted more than 40,000 Scouts from around the globe, adult leadership recruited a team of Scouts, nicknamed the “Dream Team,” to provide input and help execute what they wanted out of the jamboree.

“A group of adults can sit around without talking to the youth they’re trying to serve, and they’re not going to be able to deliver a successful program that the youth are going to respond to,” he says. “We need to listen to the young people we’re trying to serve.”

That’s why he highlighted a couple of youth-written letters in his NAM presentation. One, penned by a Scout named Jack, requested that his pack to meet again — the unit had not had a meeting in nearly a year.

A recent Harvard study on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic found that two-thirds of the study group, which consisted of youth ages 7 to 15, showed clinically significant signs of anxiety and depression. However, research shows that those troubling effects can be reversed through positive experiences and challenges, structured routines, exercise and less screen time.

Sounds like Scouting can be an answer, just as it has been for more than a century.

“We do a very good job of talking about the passion and the experience of Scouting within the Scouting family,” Sorrels says. “Something we’re working very hard on is communicating the value of the experience to non-Scout families.”

As National Commissioner, a role first held by one of the BSA’s founders, Daniel Carter Beard, Sorrels sees his role as supporting local Scouting.

“I think of myself as being the guardian for our front-line volunteers who are out there serving America’s youth in units or working in district committees or council advancement committees — Scouting happens locally,” he says. “My fundamental job is to try to do everything we can to partner with them, to collaborate with them and to make them successful. If we do that, we’ll serve more youth and preserve the mission of Scouting, which at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing we’re doing right now.”

The path ahead

The leadership is in place for the BSA to step up post-pandemic and post-bankruptcy to fulfill the needs of American families. Teamwork will be needed for the next step.

“Our volunteers have to reach out and embrace and partner with their professionals,” Sorrels says. “We’ve got to build a collaborative team like we never have before. We’re going to have fewer professionals, and that means that we as volunteers will step up even more to help move us forward.”

In the end, parents, unit leaders, council executives, national staff — we all have the same goal: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes.

“It has to support the local councils because that’s where Scouting is delivered,” Sorrels says. “We’ve got to deliver the resources they need to be successful.”

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Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

group-2.png

Scott Sorrels,
National Commissioner
scottsorrels@comcast.net

Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

What is the most important thing you can do for Scouting? That’s easy. Go start a Cub Scout pack!

We know from our personal journey how the lockdown has affected our lives. Our Scouts have similarly been affected. Our older Scouts often found ways to stay engaged, and even thrive. Nearly 50,000 Eagle Scouts in 2020 — including our inaugural female Eagle Scout class — show the magic of the movement. It has been harder for our youngest Scouts. For the first time, our Cub membership currently lags Scouts BSA membership. Rebuilding our Scouting base after the pandemic can most benefit from rebuilding our Cub Scout base. Cub Scouts are the future foundation of our program, thus the mantra: Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

Reflecting on this past year, I am struck by the realization that Scouting is ideally positioned to help and support American families in the post-pandemic environment. Think about it: Our program provides a structured, goal-oriented comprehensive program that is ready made for the American family. We can demonstrably prove how Scouting improves lives through character development, outdoor adventure, and education. That is the message we need to take to the American family.

Ongoing research about how we can best support our younger generation shows that there is much work to be done. A current Harvard University study suggests that two-thirds of their 7 to 15 age sample has clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression, with corresponding increases in hyperactivity and inattention. According to Dr. Ronald E. Dahl,[1] the good news is that “troubling trajectories can be relatively easily reversed with positive experiences and by supporting kids through challenges.” The Harvard study has found that those who had structured routines, exercised, and had less screen time fared better. Is that starting to sound like Scouting? Other psychologists recommend that parents help their children find activities that give them a sense of purpose and help them set related goals. That sounds like a recipe for Scouting to me!

The re-emergence of Scouting is already happening. Summer camp attendance promises fun and adventure for tens of thousands of Scouts this summer. Our high-adventure bases are ready for a strong year. We, as a nation, are rediscovering the great outdoors. We are indeed ready to “Escape the Great Indoors,” as our new campaign will suggest. Units are meeting. Courts of honor are being held. Scouting is happening in America.

As commissioners, we should focus on retaining youth in a quality Scouting program. That has always been our calling. We urge you to reach out to lapsed units and see what we can do to reinvigorate delivery of the Scouting promise. We are already starting to see positive results from supporting and re-engaging units that just need a little extra attention. Finally, go start a Cub Scout pack! Call your local Scout professional or membership team and ask how you can help start a Cub Scout pack. Together, we can make a difference as we move forward to deliver our mission.

Thanks for all you do for Scouting,

Scott

[1] “Loneliness, Anxiety and Loss: the Covid Pandemic’s Terrible Toll on Kids,” Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2021.

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Welcoming New Team Members

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Welcoming New Team Members

Five new members are joining your National Commissioner Service team. Three are replacing current chairs who are completing their terms of service (see a related article nearby); two are assuming new roles on the team as council support chair, opportunities created to enable support of our new national service team commissioners and commissioners elect.

Linda Baker, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 9-16)

A former council commissioner, regional commissioner, Northeast Region vice president — program, area vice president — membership, and current council executive committee member and Scouts BSA linked troops committee chair, Linda brings a wealth of Scouting experience to the team. Her recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to the broad perspective she brings to the

“You’ll watch kids become amazing leaders right before your eyes” and “You’ll work with wonderful people” were among the motivating messages Linda heard decades ago when she was recruited to be a Scouting volunteer, and they have stood the test of time. A focus on welcoming millennial parents has guided much of Linda’s work in the past 10 years, especially her leadership of the new member coordinator development team. She’s also served on a variety of national committees and task forces, as Wood Badge staff member and course director and course director conference staff member, and faculty for numerous Colleges of Commissioner Science and national commissioner conferences. Linda is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Linda’s participation in the design of our new national service territories provides her with a unique perspective that prepares her for this new role on your national service team.

Sean Byrne, Resources Chair

Sean brings a unique and valuable perspective to your national service team. Active in Scouting since joining as a Tiger, he has been continuously registered for nearly 22 years and is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. The National Capital Area Council has been his primary Scouting home. There he serves as a unit commissioner and deputy chair of marketing, as well as program director for Camp Catoctin BSA, one of the organization’s few all-volunteer, nationally accredited Scouts BSA resident camps. In 2019, he staffed the 24th World Jamboree with the Rover Brigade and later joined your national commissioner service team as a subject matter expert for young adult recruiting. In response to the pandemic, he produced NCAC’s Capital Camp-In and kept nearly 1,000 Scouts from across the globe Scouting On at home.

His personal, Scouting, and professional experience have well prepared him to help continue to strengthen resources available to all commissioners.

 

Karen Bengtson, Recruiting & Retention Chair

Karen fondly remembers the day her oldest son came home from 1st grade clutching a Cub Scout flyer. She signed him up because she thought it would be a great thing for him to do with his father. Seventeen years later, Karen is still volunteering. She currently serves as council commissioner for the Middle Tennessee Council.

Experience in a variety of Scouting unit, district, and council positions prepared her to be an excellent candidate for council commissioner, where she has continued to apply her passion for serving youth through Scouting. She continues to serve as a merit badge counselor, believing it enables her to maintain a direct connection with the youth we all serve that leaves her better equipped to provide leadership at the council and now the national level.

Karen understands the need for every commissioner to be engaged in recruiting more commissioners and will continue to provide new solutions to ensure our ability to serve every unit.

Jim Libbin, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 1-8)

A Cub Scout and Boy Scout as a youth, Jim returned to Scouting when his son joined Tiger Cubs. Since then, he has served unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. A former council commissioner, he served most recently as the Western Region’s regional commissioner. He has remained engaged at the unit level, volunteering to serve as committee chair for a new Cub Scout pack and also for a Scouts BSA girl troop.

Jim’s Scouting experience is truly diverse, including terms as a council executive board member, area president, area commissioner, regional training chair, and regional commissioner. A former Wood Badge course director, he has also served as chancellor of a tri-council College of Commissioner Science. Jim is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Jim was a member of the team that designed our new national service territories. That adds to his already broad experience and better prepares him for his next assignment, which is a new role on your national service team.

Mike Weber, Technology Chair

Mike has been active in Scouting for over 40 years, starting as a Wolf Scout, earning Eagle Scout, and continuing as an adult where he has served at the unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. In addition to experience in Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, he has also served as an Exploring post Advisor. A former Wood Badge course director, Mike is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. Most recently, he served as the Central Region’s regional commissioner, where he implemented a region-wide initiative to increase the recruiting of commissioners. He remains active at the unit level as a chartered organization representative for both a pack and a troop and as a merit badge counselor.

Mike’s personal and professional experience have well prepared him to continue our efforts to provide commissioners with technology applications that will enable them to support units more effectively and efficiently.

His recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to his broad perspective and will enable your national service team to better support our new national service territories.

Larry Chase Articles

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Using Commissioner Resources to Help in Adapting to Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Darlene Sprague
Resources Chair 
darsprague@roadrunner.com

Using Commissioner Resources to Help in Adapting to Change

As commissioners, we should always be attuned to changes in the Boy Scouts of America. We owe it to the units we serve to be informed so we can help them adapt to the changes. So how do we stay informed? By using the plethora of resources at our disposal. Here are some of the resources you should be following so you have the latest information to pass on to the units you serve:

And as for adapting to change, I will be making some changes as well. This will be the last article I write for The Commissioner, as I leave the role I’ve had as the resources chair for the past 10 years. It has been my distinct pleasure to bring you the latest information through The Commissioner newsletter, the commissioner website, and the commissioner manuals. I know my successor will bring new and innovative ideas to these resources for you to enjoy and share with your units. I will still have my hand in commissioner service as a national service territory commissioner in Territory 10. And you can be sure I will be using all these resources as I work with councils!

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Adapting to Change – “The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change”

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Sue Simmon
NCS Starting and Sustaining Units Chair
susan.simmons1@comcast.net

Adapting to Change – “The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change”

We have all experienced an abundance of change in our lives recently; most would say more than we would normally expect. In Scouting, we’ve changed our meetings and events, programs, membership, and more. But our mission remains the same:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Change will always occur; the challenge we face is how we adapt. How can commissioners support our units during this time of great change?

Whether we are starting a new unit or sustaining and growing a current unit, as commissioners we can help our units assess – plan – act to address areas of need.

We need to view change as an opportunity to build relationships with our community partners, units, districts, and council. Commissioners need to seek out more volunteers with a servant heart and a desire to help. Building welcoming and friendly relationships within our communities will benefit everyone.

Commissioners need to have a positive mindset when they communicate with their units. We need to bring resources, information, and alternatives that enable our units to thrive. Let us remember that Scouting is about having fun, and commissioners should be a part of the excitement.

It is important that commissioners regularly attend monthly roundtable and district commissioner meetings to ensure they have the most up-to-date information to share. In addition, commissioners have many opportunities to attend virtual supplemental training to cultivate their expertise. The tools we have as commissioners allow us to move our units in a positive direction.

Commissioners need to accept the challenge and adapt to the changes in Scouting. Now more than ever, every unit needs a caring and friendly commissioner to help them. Without this positive attitude toward change, our mission as commissioners could not be fulfilled.

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