Success Stories: Pursuit of Commissioner Award Leads to Excellence in Units

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By Larry Chase, Recruitment and Retention Chair

Unit Commissioner Patch

The newest recognition available to commissioners was introduced at the 2011 National Annual Meeting. But because the requirements take at least 24 months to complete, we’re just beginning to learn the impact of the Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service. Developed by a team of commissioners from throughout the United States under the leadership of then-Recruitment and Retention Chair Ellie Morrison, the Award of Excellence identifies tools and techniques commissioners should be using in Scouting’s second century. Its requirements set the standard for “Second Century Service” to units.

Here are two stories that illustrate the award’s impact:

Los Padres Council

Rick TerBorch had a vision for unit service when he agreed to serve as council commissioner in 2011. He knew his council needed an adequate number of engaged commissioners, understood the importance of training, believed in leading by example, and found a way to leverage recognition of his team members to improve unit service.

Rick set an example of his commitment to training by attending the Council Commissioner course at Philmont Training Center. Over the next two years, an emphasis on recruitment resulted in a dramatic increase (over 600 percent!) in the number of commissioners actively engaged with units in his council. He and his administrative commissioners set an example by volunteering to serve units personally using contemporary tools and techniques (including the Unit Visit Tracking System), which also enabled them to relate better to the experience of the commissioners they were recruiting. They began leveraging recognition by using the Arrowhead Honor Award to set the standard for the basic skills their commissioners should have, and then he and his administrative commissioners raised the bar by beginning to work on earning the new Award of Excellence. Several unit commissioners and two district commissioners began working on the Award of Excellence as well. Several awards have already been presented and more will be presented over the next few months.

As a result, the Los Padres team achieved JTE Gold for unit service categories in each of the last two years, which contributed to the council’s JTE Silver awards for the same period. Every unit served by commissioners who were working on the Award of Excellence completed charter renewal on a timely basis, achieved either Gold or Silver JTE recognition, and received customized support in areas such as program development, adult leadership succession planning, and membership growth. And unit visits recorded in UVTS increased dramatically overall.

That’s success!

Daniel Webster Council

R. Brian Snow serves as an assistant council commissioner and willingly offered to provide input on developing the requirements for the Award of Excellence. Never one to take the easy path, he accepted the challenge to earn the award himself. Brian worked hard to develop personal relationships with the leaders of the unit he served. The Award of Excellence requires the completion of a project—agreed upon with unit leadership—that will improve unit performance. Brian’s assigned troop asked for help in improving communications with its district and council. Over time, he linked the unit to district resources by introducing its leaders to district advancement opportunities. He also helped create a First Aid merit badge opportunity for the Scouts. The unit is now more engaged with its district and council, youth retention has improved, and charter renewals have been completed on a timely basis. Brian benefited by attending the Council Commissioner course at Philmont Training Center and then taught others at his council’s College of Commissioner Science and at the Northeast Region’s Area 1A conference.

That’s success!

Have a success story to share? Effective use of commissioner recognition strengthens unit service. Send your story to Larry Chase at