What’s a Commissioner to do About Membership?
The great challenge of all Scouters across the fall of 2021 and into 2022 is growing membership across our great movement. We all must internalize the vision that to have a real impact and to ‘prepare every eligible youth in America to become a participating citizen and leader,’ we must reach out to every eligible youth in America. Should commissioners be recruiters? Yes! Like every other Scouter, commissioners should take every opportunity to share the vision (and the fun!) with parents, neighbors, the community, and every youth possible. Commissioners, again like every other Scouter, can help spread the word that Scouting offers a tremendous outdoor program, leadership development, fun, fellowship, and confidence building activities and methods.
There are at least three main ways to impact membership: recruit (or invite) new Scouts, retain existing Scouts, and help create new Scouting units. Membership growth is not just recruiting new members. Commissioners do not make up the Membership Committee of a district or council; they support the Membership Committee. Membership Committees create plans for and implement strategies to help councils, districts and units recruit new members. Commissioners support. So, how can commissioners help without dominating the recruitment role? We are the ties to units that every Membership Committee should have in its midst.
When recruited, every new Scout needs a unit. Commissioners can help units participate in district and council membership activities, apply the Unit Roadmap, and then support the process by encouraging units to have an active new member coordinator and deliver an active, well-executed, exciting program. This builds on the real strength of the commissioner concept – Unit Service. Commissioners, more than any other position within Scouting, can directly help units deliver a program that attracts new Scouts and retains existing Scouts. Don’t think of this as a numbers game (as in every Scout retained is a Scout we don’t have to recruit), but think of this as an impact on the future of our community and nation (every Scout retained is a Scout who learns and develops more and is more likely to ‘make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes’ because of their continued participation in Scouting).
District Executives are often charged with seeking new chartered partners to create new units. Every time a new unit is considered a real possibility, a unit commissioner should be selected to participate in the process to help guide that new unit along the path of developing a strong and sustainable program. As well as a set of trained adult leaders who have a positive attitude and assurance that they can do the job.
Don’t ever miss the opportunity to recruit a new youth member, but also never miss the opportunity to strengthen an existing unit or help a new unit get started on the right path.