How to Successfully Recruit Scouting Alumni to Become Commissioners: Commissioner Joe’s Story
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Submitted by Ryan Larson, associate director, Alumni Relations/NESA
This is a story about Commissioner Joe.
Joe was frustrated.
He was constantly hearing from district commissioners that
they had too many open unit commissioner spots and no one to
fill them. He needed some ideas. So he shared his predicament
at the next council Key 3 meeting.
The Scout executive told him that every quarter the council
received a list of Scouting alumni who had registered with the
Scouting Alumni Association and were living in the council’s
borders. In fact, the list was available upon request! The Scout
executive shared a copy with Joe.
The Scout executive had also brought a list of adult Eagle
Scouts to the Key 3 meeting. It contained contact information for
Eagle Scouts—both those who received their Eagle Scout Award
in the council and still lived there and those who had moved into
the area after receiving their Eagle Scout Award elsewhere—as
well as those who were members of the National Eagle Scout
Association (NESA).The Scout executive happily shared that list
with Joe as well.
Joe left the meeting feeling like he was closer to finding an
answer that would help his district commissioners. He at least
now had some prospects who might be interested in helping
Scouting. Yet he feared that simply sending an appeal asking
them to serve as unit commissioners would scare them off.
So he gathered his district commissioners for a meeting
to discuss how they could engage these new prospects, and
they developed a plan. They decided to use an incremental
approach that would grow the prospects’ commitment to
Scouting over the coming year. They created a list of levels of
involvement, titled “Tenderfoot,” “First Class,” and “Eagle,” and
their hope was to create small but deliberate steps to increase
the prospects’ participation in Scouting and thus lead them to
consider serving as a unit commissioner.
They then brainstormed some activities that would fall under
each level and invited the prospects to participate. Below are
some of the results of their brainstorming.
- Participate in a social mixer with other former adult
Scouts at a local pizza parlor.
- Attend a “Do a Good Turn Daily” service project at the
local food bank or other community organization.
- Attend a “call-a-thon” at the Scout office thanking major
donors for their gift to Scouting.
- Serve on an Eagle Scout board of review.
- Share a story of a favorite Scouting memory for
publication in the next council newsletter.
- Take a guided trip to the council camp during the summer.
First Class Level
- Participate as a guest instructor at a merit badge fair.
- Serve on a work party at the council camp.
- Judge a pinewood derby.
- Give a demonstration at a troop meeting.
- Assist with camporee.
- Write a letter to a Life Scout encouraging him to achieve
the rank of Eagle Scout.
- Attend a council fundraiser.
- Attend a unit meeting.
- Attend a training course.
- Have lunch with a board member.
- Take Youth Protection training.
Once a prospect had completed
one activity from each level, the district
commissioner and/or the council
commissioner would approach the
prospect and ask him or her to consider
serving as a unit commissioner.
They then worked their plan.
Some activities were more successful than others, but they
methodically began adding more and more prospects and
worked them through the respective levels.
By the end of the year, they had 20 individuals at the “Eagle”
level who were primed and ready to be asked to serve as a unit
commissioner. They set meetings with all of them and found
that many were happy to serve.
Joe was happy!
Steps to Engaging Scouting Alumni
- Secure a list of registered BSA alumni and Eagle Scouts
from the Alumni Relations Department at the National
Council by calling 972-580-2032.
- Brainstorm a plan with district commissioners that
includes levels for prospect engagement.
- Deliberately work each prospect through each level
of the plan. Once a prospect has participated in an
activity at each level, ask him or her to serve as a
- Repeat steps 1-3.