Magnetic or True North?

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Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Recruiting and Retention Chair
The Scoutmaster of any troop we serve expects a Second Class Scout to know the difference. With training and forethought, either one will get you to your destination; but without it, magnetic north is a rough reference that will, at best, get you somewhere in the general area of your destination. Progress can be made using only magnetic north, but reaching a goal requires greater accuracy.

The same is true when recruiting unit commissioners: a 3–1 ratio of units to commissioners is our magnetic north. Any council that achieves that ratio will likely be providing unit service that will help those units serve youth. But a 3–1 ratio may not be good enough to provide “second-century service” in your council. When recruiting commissioners, true north requires a more detailed assessment of local needs.

True north is the number of unit commissioners needed to engage and effectively serve every unit in your council. There are a number of factors to consider when recruiting commissioners:

  1. Individual skills (unit commissioners with stronger organizational and communications skills may have greater capacity).
  2. Experience (experienced unit commissioners may be able to handle more units).
  3. Schedule (some individuals have personal or professional commitments that limit the time they have available to serve as a unit commissioner).
  4. Turnover, an ongoing process, will require ongoing recruitment of unit commissioners simply to hold your current ratio.
  5. Geography (unit commissioners in councils with large territories will likely spend more time traveling).
  6. New units—and our commitment to assign a dedicated, experienced unit commissioner to each one—will require a lower ratio to provide “second-century service.”

A characteristic of “second-century service” must be engaged commissioners: commissioners who are supporting unit growth in the Journey to Excellence, linking district committee resources to the unit, visiting units and logging their visits into the Unit Visit Tracking System, and supporting on-time charter renewal.

Identify true north for your council and use it to chart your course for recruiting engaged unit commissioners. Your units will serve more youth better as a result.