News for Commissioners

Recording Merit Badge Requirements_04.08.2020

Scout leaders are often asked whether a Scout is required to have a hard copy of a Blue Card when working on merit badges.  This question is currently being asked more frequently in today’s distanced environment.

While certainly the hard copy Blue Card is always an option, as the Guide to Advancement makes clear, leaders should remember that Scoutbook offers an electronic advancement record in which the completion of merit badge requirements can be recorded.  Scoutbook is a part of the BSA Internet Advancement system. As such, entering an advancement record in Scoutbook is the same as entering it in Internet Advancement.  Consequently, Scoutbook offers an officially approved alternative to a hard copy Blue Card for recording the completion of merit badge requirements. 

For Scouts whose unit has elected to use Scoutbook, access to this electronic advancement resource is easy.  However, if the Scout’s unit has not elected to use ScoutBook, anyone with a BSA member ID automatically has access to a Scoutbook account.  As a result, this alternative advancement record is available to any member of the BSA. 

In short, BSA offers Scouts working on merit badges from home or any other location access to two alternative forms of recordation of merit badge requirement completion:  The Blue Card and Scoutbook.  Both are authorized for use.  In either instance, the key is to ensure a record of the Scout’s merit badge work is maintained for future reference.

The National BSA teams are working hard to make all advancement materials, include the Guide to Advancement, consistent with the information outlined here.

 

BSA Scouting Forum for Commissioners_03.2020:

We are pleased to announce that we have added BSA Commissioners to the Scouting Forums.  Our goal is to provide another way for commissioners to discuss topics important to commissioners.  This is an especially useful channel for commissioners that do not use Facebook.  All scouting forums members can view the material, but you need to be a member in order to add a topic or comment.

Please see the attached document for details on how to join: How to join the BSA Commissioners group – 2020-03-18

Commissioners have a new communication tool: a place just for those interested in Unit Service is now available. The same site also provides access to dedicated areas for other topics, including:

  • BSA Announcements
  • Cub Scout Program
  • Scouts BSA Program
  • Venturing Program
  • Sea Scouts Program
  • Exploring Program
  • My Scouting Tools
  • Scoutbook
  • BSA Commissioners

See the link: https://discussions.scouting.org/

Stay connected. Join the conversation. Keep on Scouting!

 

Meet Rainbow Council –  Virtual Heroes_03.2020

As we deal with the new normal of social distancing, finding new ways to keep on Scouting is essential to continuing to serve youth. All Scouting is local; some of the best ideas of how to do that are coming from our local districts and councils as our volunteers apply available tools and creativity to their responsibilities. The Rainbow Council  in Rockport, IL wanted to deliver roundtable; social distancing was a barrier; Angelique Minett, Kevin Kantorski, Esmeralda Bonk, and Diane Kloepfer  knocked it down with a video version that delivered timely information local volunteers needed. Social distancing was maintained; great information was delivered; no gas was burned; no time was spent driving. A great group of Virtual Heroes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFk8YH8sPVQ

 

Scouting at Home and Virtual Meetings on Program Support Resources Web Page_03.2020

Did you know our commissioner website has a page devoted to providing you with program support resources? If not, check it out: https://www.scouting.org/commissioners/program-support-resources/.  It provides direct access to a host of other sites that will provide   commissioners need to be the first, best source of information to unit leaders.

And now that page has been expanded to include links to information about Scouting at Home and virtual meetings.

Check in regularly; updates will continue to be added.

 

Video Conferencing Options_03.2020

Virtual Scouting has been a hot topic; it also can be a daunting one when the names and capabilities of technology tools to support it start getting tossed around. Which one is best? Are any of them really free? Where do I find out more about them?

Check out Video Conferencing Options for a quick summary of the more popular tools, direct links to their web sites, and also to some helpful tips on video conferencing preparations and etiquette.

You’ll find a discussion thread on our Scouting Forum for Commissioners https://discussions.scouting.org/  It’s a great place to share your experience with this new way to keep on Scouting.

 

Tips for Virtual Scouting Meetings:

Carl Drew, District Commissioner for the Capital District in the Baltimore Area Council offers some tips that may be useful when planning virtual Scouting meetings:

  • Emphasize that the meeting is an official BSA meeting
  • Adhere to Youth Protection guidelines
  • Set expectations: normal unit uniforming/attire should be worn
  • Begin meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Include the Scout Oath and Law, as appropriate
  • Include an opening invocation, as appropriate
  • Where possible and appropriate, conduct the meeting in a manner similar to an in person meeting
  • Where possible, close the meeting in accordance with your normal manner

 

Commissioner Webinar: The Role of the Unit Commissioner in the New Normal_03.2020

The latest national commissioner webinar was a standing room only event. Maximum capacity was 300; the limit was reached well before the session began; once it was underway, a new participant joined as quickly as someone had to log off.

There will always be greater need than can be met by a single webinar, either because of participant limitations or scheduling conflicts. Recordings are shared and copies of content are shared to enable everyone interested to have access. Providing the PowerPoint used – complete with speaker notes – allows wider use of the content.

See the links below to watch the webinar or access the Powerpoint.

Watch the webinar

Download the presentation

 

Foundations for Virtual Scouting_03.2020

As we work together to keep on Scouting while dealing with the new normal of social distancing, it’s important to remember some things will remain constant even as we use new tools and techniques.

Remember the foundations of virtual Scouting:

  • BSA Youth Protection policies and procedures
  • Guide to Safe Scouting
  • BSA Social Media Guidelines
  • Cyber Chip

Links to these and other valuable resources can all be found in one place:

https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/

 

Do You Know a Virtual Hero?_03.2020

All Scouting is local. As we implement social distancing to protect one another from COVID-19, more Scouting is becoming virtual. Commissioners are finding new ways to support unit leaders: to make contacts, provide information and answer questions that enable our units to keep on Scouting. Many of our commissioners are becoming “Virtual Heroes.” Our national commissioner, Ellie Morrison, wants to recognize them.

 Ellie calls commissioners Scouting’s “Glue & Grease.” Their work helps hold our units together during difficult times and enables change that strengthens them. This is Scouting; there’s a patch for that.

Do you know a Virtual Hero? Are you Virtual Hero?

  • If you are a unit commissioner, did you make a contact with a unit leader through which you learned of a new, creative way to keep on Scouting while social distancing? Or, were you able through that contact to help a unit that had stopped meeting to keep on Scouting? If so, tell us what you did and what you learned so we can help other unit commissioners be a “Virtual Hero.”
  • If you are a roundtable commissioner and have delivered a virtual roundtable, tell us about that and send a video so we can help other roundtable commissioners be a “Virtual Hero.”
  • If you are an assistant district commissioner and enabled at least 60% of your units to be contacted in April to encourage them to keep on Scouting, tell us how you accomplished and documented that, and what you learned about new ways to keep on Scouting.
  • If you are a district commissioner and enabled at least 50% of your units to be contacted in April to encourage them to keep on Scouting, tell us how you accomplished and documented that, and what you learned about new ways to keep on Scouting.
  • If you are a council commissioner and enabled at least 40% of your units to be contacted in April to encourage them to keep on Scouting, tell us how you accomplished and documented that, and what you learned about new ways to keep on Scouting.

Send your story to nationalcommissionerserviceteam@scouting.org. Be sure to include both your email and home addresses in the body of your email.

Be a Virtual Hero; help our youth keep on Scouting!

 

Virtual Scouting Resources_03.2020 

There have been challenging times throughout Scouting’s history, including war, economic depression, and natural disasters. Each time, Scouts have met those challenges by focusing on helping others – and have grown strong in the process. As our nation responds to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to find ways for its youth to keep on Scouting.

The social distancing practices needed to slow the spread of the virus limit our ability for traditional meetings of all types. Resources and tools are available to help implement virtual meetings that enable Scouting to continue. Many resources have already come online; more are being added daily.

Here’s a list of resources available today. We’ll continue to provide more as they become available.

 

Google Search for Virtual Scouting Resources_03.2020

A Google search is a quick and easy way to identify virtual Scouting resources.

Simply enter “BSA Virtual Scouting.” Some discretion will be needed in identifying the best resources, but thousands – literally thousands – of options will be displayed.

 

Calling All Virtual Scouting Best Practices_03.2020 – REVISED

  • The Scouting spirit is alive and well: a long list of resources to enable virtual Scouting is already available. A new national council webpage, which will continue to expand, is up and running with key information and resources: https://www.scouting.org/scoutingathome/
  • Bryan on Scouting is an official BSA Scouting Magazine resource; subscribe if you haven’t done so already; it will be a great, ongoing resource on a variety of topics: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/

If you know a great virtual Scouting best practice, share it so others can use it to keep on Scouting. Send your best practices to: commissionerserviceteam@Scouting.org.

 

How To Scout – Virtually_03.2020

Want to keep on Scouting with virtual meetings, but don’t know how?

Two of the most popular tools are FreeConferenceCall and Zoom – both because they work and because they offer free options along with more advanced options for a fee. Basic information about those services and their options are available on their websites. YouTube provides a variety of training videos. To get started, check out the following links:

 

Jeff Bostwick Joins National Commissioner Service Team_02.2020

Jeff Bostwick joined your National Commissioner Service Team as Recruiting & Retention Chair effective February 1, 2020.

Jeff brings a wealth of Scouting experience and a passion for serving youth, unit service, and growing and strengthening volunteer teams that will help address our greatest single challenge: recruiting an adequate number of trained, engaged commissioners.

Jeff is an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor member in the Order of the Arrow. A veteran Scouter who has served at local, area, region, and national levels of the Boy Scouts of America, he chairs the National Merit Badge Subcommittee and is a member the National Scouts BSA Subcommittee.  Jeff will  complete his service as the Area 6 Commissioner for the Western Region in May. From 2015-2019, he served as a member of the National Wood Badge Update Task Force.  Jeff was a Wood Badge Course Director in 1994 and has staffed numerous Wood Badge courses, including the recent and first National Linked Troop Pilot Course at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.  He has received numerous awards and recognition for his service to the BSA, including the Silver Buffalo Award, the Silver Antelope Award, the Silver Beaver Award, the District Award of Merit, the OA Founders Award, and the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award. A  Judge of the California Superior Court, Jeff is married to Mary, an active Scouter. He and Mary have four daughters, an Eagle Scout son, and 13 grandchildren.

Please join in welcoming Jeff to your service team!

 

Curriculum Review Team Formed_02.2020

To enable ongoing updates to the Commissioner Development Curriculum, which includes basic training for all commissioners (both online and faculty led) and the courses for the College of Commissioner Science, a curriculum review team has been established as part of the National Commissioner Service Team’s Development Group.

Key leadership for the team includes:

Anna Tuohy – Team Leader. Anna serves as the Council Commissioner for the Three Fires Council in the Central Region. She has extensive experience in curriculum development and project management.

Kresha Alvarado – College of Commissioner Science Curriculum. Kresha serves as an Assistant Council Commissioner and Council Training Chair for the Circle Ten Council in the Southern Region. She has been actively involved in the development of the Current CCS curriculum and has served on national faculty at Florida Sea Base and Philmont Training Center

Dave Fornadel – Commissioner Basic Training. Dave serves as an Assistant Area Commissioner in Area 2 of the Southern Region. He had been actively involved in the development and update of Commissioner Basic Training.

Roberta Hudson – Quality Assurance. Roberta is a Unit Commissioner in the William D. Boyce Council in the Central Region. She has experience in training development and delivery, including service on Wood Badge Update Task Force.

 

Background Check Forms Revised_12.2019

Several questions have been asked about new background check authorization forms that were implemented earlier this year. Our national council staff has been reviewing those questions and feedback received. Revisions have been made that are intended to address as many of those questions and issues as possible while still complying with various applicable regulations.

As communicated previously through other channels, the authorizations will be used only to complete criminal and driving record checks; no credit checks will be done. Information received will be shared only with local councils and our Learning for Life organization; it will not be shared outside our organization.

Our volunteers are understandably concerned with the privacy of personal information. Our national council remains committed to protecting our youth members from abuse; criminal record checks are an important part of that effort. As it has done in the past, information received will continue to protect the information received via volunteer authorizations and ensure that our barriers to abuse are meaningful and effective.

The revised background check authorizations will be available to adult volunteers from their local volunteers through the normal application process.

 

Commissioner Website Updates Completed_12.2019

New web pages on Recruiting and Exploring now provide a consolidated information sources on those topics. The recruiting page provides the latest information available as well as materials that can be used to support the development of local recruiting plans and train commissioners on how to identify prospects and make a compelling ask to serve units. The Exploring page provides access to an array of information resources to enable commissioners and Exploring service team members serve posts and clubs effectively.

 

Successful Impact Session in Philadelphia_11.2019

Recruiting commissioners is a critical need. Commissioners from throughout the Northeast, Southern, and Central regions gathered in November and engaged in active discussion of how to develop and implement plans to meet that need. They told us that developing an understanding of millennials, their preference for working in teams and their approach to that from discussion with participants from that demographic, overall discussion among participants and presenters, and all the experience in the room were among the best things that happened during the session. Their composite evaluation was 4.7 (on a scale of 5) and 9 out of 10 participants would recommend Commissioner Impact Sessions to other commissioners.

 

Successful Impact Session in Houston_10.2019

A group of dedicated Commissioner College staffers gathered in October to develop plans to deliver great colleges in their councils. After active discussion throughout the weekend, they told us interaction with the national commissioner and staff and meeting and interacting with other participants were among the best things that happened during the session. Their composite evaluation was 4.8 (on a scale of 5) and 9 out of 10 participants would recommend Commissioner Impact Sessions to other commissioners.

 

Successful Impact Session in Indianapolis_09.2019

Another successful Commissioner Impact Session was held in Indianapolis in September. Over 35 participants learned about all the capabilities of the most commonly used applications in the My.Scouting suite, increased their knowledge of BSA mobile technology, and learned about plans through a review of the BSA’s Information Technology Roadmap. They told us the best things that happened during the session were getting a clear picture of the status of BSA’s technology and plans, gaining exposure to many tools they had heard about through online training, and networking with other Scouters. Their composite evaluation was 4.6 (on a scale of 5) and nearly 9 out of 10 participants would recommend Commissioner Impact Sessions to other commissioners.

 

Philmont 2020 Commissioner Week Schedule Set_09.2019

Week #1 at PTC will be Commissioner Week once again. All conferences will be designed specifically for commissioners. Several familiar conferences will be offered; all will include new content. A new conference, Serving All Units – Working With Venturing Crews, Sea Scout Ships and Exploring Posts, has been added. Registration will open shortly. Check the details at: https://www.philmontscoutranch.org/ptc/2020-conferences/

 

BEST Study Confirms Commissioner Value_09.2019

The BEST (Building Evidence in Scouting Together) Study, supported by the Bechtel Foundation, has been underway since 2016. While the study continues, initial findings are becoming available. It’s first phase offered three key take aways: (1) Scouting is a positive youth development program; (2) Scouting provides the critical conditions to help youth mature in a healthy, functional manner, and, (3) Those units that execute the program using Scouting BSA’s eight methods are likely to deliver positive youth development.

The BEST study also provides confirmation of the role of commissioners: strengthening units to enable them to deliver the best possible program that will ensure every member of the BSA has a great Scouting experience. It also confirms that commissioners investment of time and talent in Scouting is a direct investment in youth.

 

A New Commissioner Conference At Florida Sea Base_09.2019

Regional commissioner impact sessions on technology were offered in 2018 in the northeast region and 2019 in the central region. Both were well-attended and received excellent reviews from participants. It’s clear the topic is of interest. A new national conference, Applying Technology in Unit Service, will be offered for the first time at the Florida Sea Base Conference Center during the week of January 12 – 18, 2020. National conferences enable a deeper dive into the subject matter with more time devoted to hands-on, practical application of content. Registration is open.

For more information: https://www.scouting.org/commissioners/training/national/

 

A New Approach to Commissioner Training Curriculum_09.2019

Change is constant. No longer is it possible to deliver current training to commissioners through periodic, major revisions to segments of our online and instructor-led courses by temporary volunteer task forces. Ongoing teams of SME’s (subject matter experts) are being formed to focus on Commissioner Basic Training and College of Commissioner Science courses. Those teams will enable more current content in individual courses and more rapid updates to all courses affected by program or policy changes. National faculty members will continue to be charged with reviewing and updating content before presentation of any national conference or impact session.

 

Unit Service Plan Patch Available

The Unit Service Plan patch has been around for some time. If you’ve attended Commissioner Week at PTC recently, you may already have one. In response to requests from commissioners, it’s now available for purchase.

https://www.scoutshop.org/nsearch/?q=commissioner+unit+service

 

National Commissioner Service Team Meets at BSA National Annual Meeting_05.2019

Your National Commissioner Service Team held an open meeting the day before the official opening of the BSA National Annual Meeting. This has been an open meeting – commissioners attending NAM are welcome to attend. The team reviewed achievements during the past year and solicited feedback from guests on needs to be addressed in the future.

Interested in the report provided? Download the presentation powerpoint icon

 

National Commissioner Service Team Strategic Review at BSA National Annual Meeting_05.2019

Over 250 commissioners attended a strategic review provided by your National Commissioner Service Team at the BSA National Annual Meeting. An overview of potential goals in five key areas (Development, Exploring, Marketing & Communications, Recruitment & Retention, and Starting & Sustaining Units) was provided. Participants provided feedback and engaged in discussion of those and other topics of interested.

Want more details about the overview? Download the presentation powerpoint icon

 

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, & SUGGESTIONS