My fellow commissioners,
We end 2013 and start another year of Scouting in 2014 with bookends that remind us of both our heritage and our future. 2013 culminated with a celebration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 100-year affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America at an event called “A Century of Honor.” The program featured Scout choirs, historical vignettes, and videos highlighting important events, service, and achievements from the past century. Thousands of local Scouts of all ages performed during the show. Those in attendance and those who watched by simulcast across the nation experienced a rekindling of the special story of Scouting and the special relationship that the BSA enjoys with the Church. The Church became the first sponsor of Scouting in the United States in 1913 and is now the largest chartered organization of the BSA with more than 430,000 boys and young men enrolled. “A Century of Honor” can still be viewed at Scouts100.lds.org. I encourage you to take an hour to experience this special moment in the history of Scouting.
It is my privilege to travel the country almost every weekend and meet with Scouters throughout America. As with the message from “A Century of Honor,” I always arrive home with a renewed sense of dedication and purpose in serving the nation’s youth with the Scouting program. The thousands of commissioners I meet every year fuel my passion for delivering this great program to an ever-increasing number of youth. Thank you for making a difference every day.
2014 brings us a fresh opportunity to visit our units and do whatever it takes to make sure that the unit program is rewarding for your youth. Our best means of ensuring Scouting success is to retain our youth and units. Retention is where we must invest our energies and vision. As I have said so many times, the commissioners own retention.
2014 will see the initial release of the Commissioner Tools, a set of intuitive and interactive Web-based tools designed to make your role in serving units both easier and more rewarding. Yes, at some point, there will be an app for that, as the technology will support the use of mobile smart devices. Other hallmarks of the effort include the integration of unit program planning and assessment forms into a platform that helps you identify the needs of the unit and, even more important, helps you link to the resources of the council and district to help a unit succeed. The tools will have a lot of bells and whistles even in the first version. We should continue to support our commissioners who may not have ready access
to various forms of technology, and we will do so, but we must deliver a support technology platform for our commissioners that is reliable and intuitive.
By the time you read this, we will have held a new commissioner training opportunity at the Florida Sea Base, with record attendance, and our preregistration is already eclipsing last year’s record performance for the Philmont Training Center. Yet another new course, Commissioner Service for Non-Traditional or Faith-Based Units, is being added to the outstanding PTC curriculum. Make plans now to join us at Philmont for Commissioner Week during Week Two. As we move into 2014, our volunteer task forces continue to revise, update, consolidate, and simplify all of our publications, training materials, and college materials, and you will continue to see new resources that provide a “simple and unified” approach to supporting your role as a commissioner.
I encourage you to find an opportunity to visit a unit or stop by a camporee, and take some time to simply connect with some of the stories of the youth we are serving in this great program. I am confident you will find those special Scouting stories that explain why we do what we do, and you will return to your commissioner role with a renewed sense of dedication and purpose.
Thanks and God bless.