The Model Roundtable

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Daniel B. Maxfield
National Commissioner Service Roundtable Chair

A unique opportunity occurred as part of this summer’s Commissioners Week at Philmont. In previous years there had been a conferencewide Commissioner College planned for all participants. This summer brought a change in plans that created a new challenge!

Effective Roundtables course participants, who had varying levels of Scouting knowledge and commissioner experience, were informed on Monday that their task was to deliver a model roundtable to all the conference attendees on Thursday evening. After about 20 seconds of dead silence, the class enthusiastically accepted the challenge and the week was underway. The course instructors covered components of an effective roundtable, and then time was set aside to work the material into the plans for Thursday night.

Participants created displays, complete with informational fliers, for the Model Roundtable midway. They created mailboxes containing all the handout information for attendees that model how to set up roundtables in their home districts. They broke up coverage of the four roundtables, drafting faculty and Philmont Training Center staff to help deliver Boy Scout, Cub Scout, and Venturing roundtables and a Varsity huddle. The students recruited Scouts and Venturers to conduct the opening ceremony. Materials were gathered from the National Park Service about Living History programs and the Junior Ranger program, and this became the Big Rock topic for the event. Class members invited everyone they met to be part of history—the first Model Roundtable offered at Philmont.

In addition, as part of the overall Commissioners Week, the Effective Roundtables class generated data on sample units regarding roundtable attendance for entry in Commissioner Tools. That sample data was then acted on by students in the other commissioner classes.

While participants passed out numerous wooden nickels to PTC staff and students as a reminder of the time and location, there was no firm idea about who would actually attend on Thursday night. Like so many events in our normal lives, meetings often conflict with other events. That was also the case at PTC, with three other events on the schedule demanding attention.

Thursday evening more than 80 people chose to attend and find out what the model roundtable was all about. They included not only PTC conference attendees but also some folks from the Great Southwest Council who drove in for the program and some Philmont staff members.

The evaluations that were filled out were overwhelmingly positive! Participants were thrilled to see that you can run a roundtable that isn’t a 90-minute infomercial of announcements. People were impressed not only with the information provided by the National Park Service but also with the demonstration of how the Big Rock topic actually works. Attendees loved having the opportunity to see how the different program groups split up and covered their program-specific material and were eager to take back what they saw to their home districts and councils.

If your district or council is having problems getting people to attend roundtables, you may want to encourage your roundtable commissioners to attend the Effective Roundtables course at Philmont Training Center during Week 2: June 12–18, 2016. Registration is open now at For more information about Philmont opportunities, please look for materials at your local council service center.