Retention Heroes

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One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
—John F. Kennedy

Our Unit Performance Guide [[link to:]]provides a better way to start and sustain new units. While it may take longer than the traditional approach to forming a new unit, we know that having all the elements of success in place first significantly increases the probability that new units will grow and prosper. A “new-unit commissioner” is a key element of the Unit Performance Guide process. We know from experience that a unit commissioner dedicated to serving a new unit until it completes its second charter renewal helps ensure its success.

We’ve all said it: “New-unit commissioner” is an awkward term. It’s a bit clearer in writing, but when spoken, does it refer to someone new to the unit commissioner role or to someone assigned to serve new units? Regardless, since we know that dedicating commissioners to serving a single new unit helps it grow and prosper, perhaps the concept has broader application.

Commissioner Tools enables us to readily identify new units as well as those facing challenges that may threaten their existence. The assessment function classifies units using a scale that ranges from 5—“nearly an ideal situation” —to 2—“weak situation; needs immediate attention.” Also, the Detailed Assessment function enables identifying specific priority needs. It’s important to remember that our goal is for unit commissioners to complete collaborative Detailed Assessments—assessments of a unit’s strengths and needs that are done jointly with unit leaders—at least twice each year. It’s likely an assessment at or below 2.5—“needs improvement; watch carefully”—identifies a unit at risk.

If dedicating commissioners to serving a single new unit helps that unit grow and prosper, it’s equally likely that dedicating commissioners to serving single units at risk will better help them address the challenges that threaten their existence. Dedicating commissioners to serving single new units and units at risk can help us increase unit retention, and that’s our primary goal as commissioners; we own unit retention.

Our vision for unit service is to enable units to better serve more youth by providing an adequate number of trained commissioners who provide a link to district committees in support of a quality unit program. Fulfilling that vision demands that we continually recruit and train new members of our corps, and assigning dedicated commissioners to new units and units at risk increases the number of unit commissioners needed. As a practical matter, there may be times when a district simply doesn’t have enough commissioners to assign to every unit. At those times, we’ll do our best at increasing unit retention by assigning dedicated commissioners to new units and units at risk first while continuing to recruit so that we’ll have new members of the corps who can serve stronger units.

It’s right that we recognize and celebrate those who help organize new units. It’s time that we recognize and celebrate our retention heroes—our commissioners who commit themselves to serving a single new unit or unit at risk. Retention heroes will help ensure we meet our unit retention goal and fulfill our mission to better serve more youth through Scouting.