Transition from a New-Unit Commissioner to a Unit Commissioner
After about 36 months—at the time of the third charter renewal—the unit Key 3 and the new-unit commissioner determine whether the unit is ready for a unit commissioner specializing in tenured units. Unit commissioners meet less often with their units and bring different perspectives based on their experience serving one type of unit or several types of units at the same time. When this change is made, the new-unit commissioner is free and ready to take on another new unit.
As during a unit’s building phase, the partnership between the unit organizer and the unit commissioner in the growing phase covers all aspects of the Asses-Plan-Act cycle, leading to the goal of sustaining relationships throughout the Scouting movement as they partner for success.
In many cases, the new-unit commissioner will be the face of consistency and the strong foundation around which the new unit can form. It takes a district to serve a unit, though, and not just a commissioner.
That’s why commissioners consistently hone relationships and networks among unit leaders and other Scouting volunteers, including the district operating committee. This leads to strong, sustainable units that can operate with the support of a regular unit commissioner.
The unit new member coordinator (NMC) is a fun and engaging position that fits every type of unit, every age level, and every program. The role’s two goals are key to sustaining strong membership in a unit:
- Reaching new audiences to invite them to join the unit
- Engaging new members and their families so they feel welcomed and want to stay
Assess: Key unit leadership should recruit and support their unit’s NMC. Have units take a team approach by encouraging more than one unit NMC. This allows them to consider their unit’s particular needs and tailor their work to individual interests and areas of expertise.
Plan: Ensure that unit NMCs receive training both online and face to face. Connect NMCs with their mentor, the district membership chair, who will include them on the district membership team.
Act: Unit NMCs will form relationships with new members and their families. They should be visible and easily identifiable at unit gatherings by their welcoming smiles and the BSA “Welcome” logo that they display and wear on an activity shirt, hat or vest, or in some cases, a pin on a field uniform.
Council and District New Member Coordinators
New member coordinators serve council and district teams to strengthen membership through focused collaboration. To best fit council and district needs and opportunities, use position description templates as a basis for developing and tailoring local implementation.
Recruiting Youth Members
Assess: To organize a new unit, BSA recommends at least 10 youth and at least five adults as a best practice. To avoid the pitfall of shrinking membership, units should add new Scouts every year.
Plan: The unit membership chair should develop and implement a year-round growth plan that incorporates all methods of recruitment, working closely with the chartered organization, local schools, and feeder units in the community (if applicable); the district membership committee; and the unit commissioner.
Act: Whether building a new unit or growing an established one, units will want to follow the steps to recruiting youth members outlined in the Unit Performance Guide. A year-round growth plan addresses all methods listed there to help attract new Scouts.
A New Unit’s First Meeting
Assess and Plan: The unit committee, with the new-unit commissioner serving as a mentor, helps plan the first month of meetings using age-appropriate meeting planning materials. The plan should make clear the responsibilities of each member of the team and include setup of the meeting room, necessary supplies or equipment, and starting times for each activity.
Encourage unit leaders to assign someone to meet with those who did not attend the recruitment event to distribute applications, forms, calendars, and other documents.
Act: The unit commissioner should attend the unit’s first meeting to support the new leadership and help the unit get off to a good start. Afterward, conduct a debriefing session with unit leaders to review what they learned and celebrate their success. Ensure that the next meeting is scheduled and planned.
Regular Unit Meetings
Act: Commissioners can remind unit leaders that their leader guide books provide many useful materials to help them plan fun, successful meetings. Attending roundtables, networking with members of the district operating committee and other Scouting volunteers, and accessing online leader resources all provide additional, ongoing opportunities to leverage the wealth of experience and enthusiasm for Scouting that will help unit leaders grow strong, sustainable units.
Annual Program Planning Meeting
Assess & Plan: New-unit commissioners should assign a member of the organizing team or district operating committee who is trained and has expertise in the annual program planning process. Have them facilitate the unit’s first annual program planning conference. Established units may or may not require unit commissioner support for their annual program planning conferences.
Act: Encourage units to use online program planning conference guides for each type of unit. When complete, ensure the unit committee prints and shares the annual plan with all of the unit’s families. The plan should include a budget and calendar of events. Having an annual program plan and budget is a common element of high-quality units.
Unit Performance (Journey to Excellence)
Assess: Journey to Excellence (JTE), the current performance recognition program, changes the basic way success is measured and recognized in the BSA by moving away from measuring process and moving to measuring performance. Visit the Journey to Excellence page to understand the criteria and data used to determine the three levels of performance that measure the success of a unit.
Plan & Act: In planning your unit performance strategy, once a unit has renewed its charter, use its JTE numbers to guide performance-improvement goal planning through the Unit Service Plan. In each area, the unit may qualify by meeting a specific standard or by showing measured improvement.
Assess, Plan, & Act: The unit Key 3 and the new-unit commissioner will work together through the first charter renewal process and conduct a collaborative unit assessment. The unit Key 3, with the new-unit commissioner as their advisor, should use the Journey to Excellence scores, the Voice of the Scout feedback, and the detailed assessment to set new goals for the coming year. The new-unit commissioner will present the charter at a meeting of the chartered organization.
At the second charter renewal, the new-unit commissioner will guide the unit Key 3 through the charter renewal process, assisting where needed. By the third charter renewal, the new-unit commissioner will serve as an advisor to the unit Key 3 and is on call to help if required.
At the time of the third charter renewal, during the collaborative unit assessment, the unit Key 3 and the new-unit commissioner will determine whether the unit is ready to transition to a unit commissioner who specializes in tenured units. Unit commissioners meet less often with their units and bring different perspectives based on their experience.
Celebrate: Leader Recognition
Act: Recognition has been a fundamental part of Scouting from its beginning and is most effective when done publicly. Done well, it is a powerful tool that can help leaders set goals, define accomplishments, encourage skill development, celebrate commitment and achievement, and inspire others to strive for similar success. Recognition is also a way to say “thank you.”
Effective recognition is essential to effective unit service:
- It provides a clear definition of success: the attitude, skills, training, and behaviors needed to perform effectively.
- It helps retain volunteers.
- It helps identify and recruit volunteers to serve as commissioners.