Unit Key 3: A Critical Element of Unit Retention
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By Ellie Morrison, New-Unit Retention Task Force chair
This is a busy time for commissioners in the BSA. There are
lots of moving parts to keep up with. But at the end of the day,
our main task is still providing quality unit service to units.
Three years ago, the Unit Performance Guide methodology
was developed. It was then piloted and later adopted as the
BSA’s approved best method strategy for starting and retaining
new units. It also focused on strengthening the unit in its early
development so the unit could become a sustainable “highperforming
unit.” This successful concept was introduced
and continues to be taught at all of our first-time professional
Scouter PDL-1 and volunteer training courses (held at Philmont
and the Florida Sea Base) with a focus on being “volunteer
driven, professionally guided.” Based on feedback from the field
during the pilot program stages where the procedures outlined
in the Unit Performance Guide were utilized, it became obvious
that these best practices can be used for any unit, regardless of
tenure or Journey to Excellence recognitions.
One of the main drivers for retaining a unit is the concept
of the “unit Key 3.” The unit Key 3 comprises the unit
committee chair, the unit leader, and the chartered organization
representative. The unit commissioner serves as an advisor to
that group. With a new unit, the unit commissioner will meet
with the unit Key 3 each month and provide guidance and
district resources when needed. In a tenured unit, the unit
commissioner might join the Key 3 less often. The unit Key 3
meeting makes an excellent unit visit and can be counted in
UVTS and JTE.
The unit Key 3 concept has several advantages:
- The unit Key 3 is designed to meet monthly in between
the monthly unit committee meetings. It functions much
like the other Key 3s in Scouting, i.e., district Key 3,
council Key 3, etc. In today’s fast-paced world, waiting a
month to make a decision can be too long.
- In addition, it is obvious that a smaller group is easier to
schedule and work with when doing research, problem
solving, or reviewing JTE progress or Voice of the
- The regular committee meetings are still needed, but
the unit Key 3 can take some of the burden off those
committee meetings so that more can be accomplished
in a shorter time. And today, time is a precious element
and a factor in volunteer participation.
- Efficiency is important, but probably the biggest
advantage to using a unit Key 3 is the strengthening of
the relationship between the chartered organization and
the unit. With the chartered organization representative a
part of the Key 3, the awareness of the unit’s challenges
and successes creates an atmosphere of mutual help
If you haven’t encouraged all of the units you serve to adopt
the unit Key 3 and become high-performing units, now is the time.