Future Focus

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Future Focus

For over a year we’ve focused on delivering Scouting in the face of two challenges: the BSA’s restructuring (bankruptcy) and COVID -19. Both challenges remain, but more recently we’ve seen good reasons to be optimistic their grip is loosening. As a result, Scouting’s focus has started to shift to the future and to how we will continue its mission ‘to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.’

Our focus has both short and long term elements.

Immediately, we all must concentrate on three priorities: 

  1. Ensuring the safety of the young people we serve. 
  2. Growing Scouting
  3. Building firm financial foundations for our local and national councils. 

As commissioners, we need to consider what, specifically, we can do to support each of those. In this issue, members of your service team will provide insights into how you can help with Growing Scouting. Youth safety and financial foundations are essential; but if we’re unable to reverse the decades long erosion of our membership, other challenges become even greater.

As we focus on Growing Scouting, we need to remember that Unit Service is all about impact. 

Consider this: 

Scouting’s mission is focused solely on youth. As youth membership declines, so does Scouting’s impact. Our first responsibility in Growing Scouting is to attract – and retain – new youth members. But Scouting doesn’t serve young people in a vacuum; they are served in units, and those units can’t serve young people without unit leaders

Some ask what defines success for a commissioner. The answer isn’t frequency of contacts, or the number of entries in Commissioner Tools, or the number of unit service plans written, or attendance at roundtable, or Colleges of Commissioner Science, or commissioner meetings. Those are simply leading indicators – numbers of activities that hopefully indicate we’re doing the right things. Success is defined by the number of young people we attract to and retain in Scouting, the number of units formed and retained, and the number of unit leaders those units attract and retain. That’s Unit Service; that’s how commissioners have impact.

The new format of The Commissioner will help you find specific information to help you Grow Scouting. Check out the variety of topics ranging from Building Belonging to Growing Scouting through Roundtable.

Nearby you’ll find a bit more detail about the graphic here. Those details are important, but only because they support the impact we must have on Scouting; impact that must begin with Growing Scouting.

On the uptrail…

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Information Access Enables Growth

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Information Access Enables Growth

Commissioners should be our unit leaders’ best source of information. To achieve that goal, commissioners must keep current. Easy to say; sometimes it just seems hard to do. An array of tools is available to help:

  • The commissioner webpage 
  • The Commissioner (a quarterly, web-based newsletter) 
  • This newsletter, published at the end of the month and sent directly to all registered commissioners. 
  • News for Commissioners 
  • Council Commissioner Confabs (a monthly Zoom meeting designed specifically to for council commissioners to enable them to provide input and share best practices) 
  • Scouting Forums (the BSA’s web-based discussion site) 
  • Scouting Wire 
  • Social Media 

Check them out: 

Commissioner Webpage

The Commissioner

News for Commissioners

Scouting Forums

Scouting Wire

Roundtable News and Discussion

Commissioner Development – BSA

Commissioners of the Boy Scouts of America

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Retention Enables Growth

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Summer 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Retention Enables Growth

Growing Scouting isn’t limited to starting new units and attracting new members; retaining units, young people, and unit leaders provides a firm foundation for growth. Scouting’s impact is limited when new units and members serve just to replace losses.

A commissioner’s impact is greater when their work supports starting new units and attracting and retaining new youth members, and unit leaders. It defines their success. Everything commissioners do should be focused on young people, units, and unit leaders.

Consider a simple picture of Unite Service:

There are a few tools we use to enable success: 

  1. Our mission defines our purpose: ‘to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them values of the Scout Oath and Law.’
  2. Our vision shows us what success will look like: every member of the BSA has a great Scouting experience. That enables us to attract and retain both youth and adult volunteers.
  3. Culture is our way of life as a group: it includes our characteristics and skills and defines our approach to achieving our mission and fulfilling our vision. We’ll be talking more about that in the future.
  4. We have just five objectives:
    1. Supporting unit growth and retention
    2. Contacting units 
    3. Linking unit needs to resources 
    4. Supporting timely charter renewals 
    5. Supporting unit leaders 
  5. Our focus today is to support Scouting’s immediate focus:
    1. Ensuring the safety of the young people we serve 
    2. Growing Scouting
    3. Building firm financial foundations for our local and national councils 

There are other details that require our attention: recruiting and developing commissioners, communicating information, and certainly, adapting to change. But this picture helps keep it simple. And it helps us stay focused on Growing Scouting through both adding and retaining units, young people, and unit leaders. 

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Welcoming New Team Members

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Welcoming New Team Members

Five new members are joining your National Commissioner Service team. Three are replacing current chairs who are completing their terms of service (see a related article nearby); two are assuming new roles on the team as council support chair, opportunities created to enable support of our new national service team commissioners and commissioners elect.

Linda Baker, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 9-16)

A former council commissioner, regional commissioner, Northeast Region vice president — program, area vice president — membership, and current council executive committee member and Scouts BSA linked troops committee chair, Linda brings a wealth of Scouting experience to the team. Her recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to the broad perspective she brings to the

“You’ll watch kids become amazing leaders right before your eyes” and “You’ll work with wonderful people” were among the motivating messages Linda heard decades ago when she was recruited to be a Scouting volunteer, and they have stood the test of time. A focus on welcoming millennial parents has guided much of Linda’s work in the past 10 years, especially her leadership of the new member coordinator development team. She’s also served on a variety of national committees and task forces, as Wood Badge staff member and course director and course director conference staff member, and faculty for numerous Colleges of Commissioner Science and national commissioner conferences. Linda is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Linda’s participation in the design of our new national service territories provides her with a unique perspective that prepares her for this new role on your national service team.

Sean Byrne, Resources Chair

Sean brings a unique and valuable perspective to your national service team. Active in Scouting since joining as a Tiger, he has been continuously registered for nearly 22 years and is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. The National Capital Area Council has been his primary Scouting home. There he serves as a unit commissioner and deputy chair of marketing, as well as program director for Camp Catoctin BSA, one of the organization’s few all-volunteer, nationally accredited Scouts BSA resident camps. In 2019, he staffed the 24th World Jamboree with the Rover Brigade and later joined your national commissioner service team as a subject matter expert for young adult recruiting. In response to the pandemic, he produced NCAC’s Capital Camp-In and kept nearly 1,000 Scouts from across the globe Scouting On at home.

His personal, Scouting, and professional experience have well prepared him to help continue to strengthen resources available to all commissioners.

 

Karen Bengtson, Recruiting & Retention Chair

Karen fondly remembers the day her oldest son came home from 1st grade clutching a Cub Scout flyer. She signed him up because she thought it would be a great thing for him to do with his father. Seventeen years later, Karen is still volunteering. She currently serves as council commissioner for the Middle Tennessee Council.

Experience in a variety of Scouting unit, district, and council positions prepared her to be an excellent candidate for council commissioner, where she has continued to apply her passion for serving youth through Scouting. She continues to serve as a merit badge counselor, believing it enables her to maintain a direct connection with the youth we all serve that leaves her better equipped to provide leadership at the council and now the national level.

Karen understands the need for every commissioner to be engaged in recruiting more commissioners and will continue to provide new solutions to ensure our ability to serve every unit.

Jim Libbin, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 1-8)

A Cub Scout and Boy Scout as a youth, Jim returned to Scouting when his son joined Tiger Cubs. Since then, he has served unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. A former council commissioner, he served most recently as the Western Region’s regional commissioner. He has remained engaged at the unit level, volunteering to serve as committee chair for a new Cub Scout pack and also for a Scouts BSA girl troop.

Jim’s Scouting experience is truly diverse, including terms as a council executive board member, area president, area commissioner, regional training chair, and regional commissioner. A former Wood Badge course director, he has also served as chancellor of a tri-council College of Commissioner Science. Jim is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Jim was a member of the team that designed our new national service territories. That adds to his already broad experience and better prepares him for his next assignment, which is a new role on your national service team.

Mike Weber, Technology Chair

Mike has been active in Scouting for over 40 years, starting as a Wolf Scout, earning Eagle Scout, and continuing as an adult where he has served at the unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. In addition to experience in Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, he has also served as an Exploring post Advisor. A former Wood Badge course director, Mike is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. Most recently, he served as the Central Region’s regional commissioner, where he implemented a region-wide initiative to increase the recruiting of commissioners. He remains active at the unit level as a chartered organization representative for both a pack and a troop and as a merit badge counselor.

Mike’s personal and professional experience have well prepared him to continue our efforts to provide commissioners with technology applications that will enable them to support units more effectively and efficiently.

His recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to his broad perspective and will enable your national service team to better support our new national service territories.

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Adapting to Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
Service Chair lhc@chasehome.net

Adapting to Change

You may have noticed one constant in recent communications to commissioners: change. The reason is simple: There’s been a lot of it recently in Scouting and there will be more. Acknowledging change is one thing; adapting to it is something entirely different. It requires that we change — and that we help those we support do the same.

The units we serve have faced significant challenges over the past year and losses — in units, youth and adult membership, and professional staff — have resulted. There have also been successes: units that kept on Scouting and youth and adult volunteers who remained engaged. Where we saw success, we inevitably saw three characteristics:

  • Patience — a quiet confidence that Scouting will continue its mission
  • Persistence — a commitment that failure is not an option
  • Resilience — a capacity to recover quickly through collaboration to create and implement new solutions

Resilient organizations share certain traits:

  • Prepared — planning for short- and long-term outcomes
  • Adaptable — recognizing the importance of having members who can adjust and adapt
  • Collaborative — knowing that collaboration enables quick decisions, reduces risk, and builds trust
  • Communicative — communicating frequently and transparently
  • Responsible — taking responsibility for both their mission and their performance

As commissioners, we need to adopt and share these characteristics and traits.

And we must change our focus. Today, there are six things that must be the center of our attention:

  • Supporting units to ensure their leaders are inspired, engaged, committed, and optimistic
  • Recruiting commissioners to enable us to serve every unit
  • Communicating information to increase awareness of resources and access to them
  • Developing commissioners to enable them to serve units effectively
  • Growing Scouting by helping create, retain, and grow units for all programs
  • Adapting to change to ensure Scouting can be delivered effectively and sustainably

It’s more important than ever to remember our role as Scouting’s morale officers: There is good news to share today, and there will be more to share in the future. Scouting will survive its challenges; it will be a different organization in the future (implementation of our new national service territories alone is ample evidence of that), but it also will be a stronger one better prepared to fulfill its mission.

Throughout this issue, you’ll find articles about how your service team is adapting to change while helping you prepare to do the same and be better prepared to help the unit leaders you serve.

On the uptrail…

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Celebrating Service

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
Service Chair lhc@chasehome.net

 

Celebrating Service

Eight dedicated volunteers are completing terms of service in which they’ve dedicated themselves to helping ensure that every member of the BSA has a great Scouting experience.

Jeff Bostwick, National Commissioner Service Team Recruiting & Recognition Chair
Jeff’s term of service (approx. 18 months) has been comparatively short, but his contributions have been significant. He’s created and delivered both in-person and virtual training on new approaches to recruiting commissioners, revised our Commissioner Recruiting web page, and built a diverse team of subject matter experts who are working hard to develop resources to enable us to build a unit service team that reflects the communities and unit leaders we serve. Jeff has been called to serve as chair of the national Scouts BSA committee, and your service team will look forward to working closely in that role. His experience on the team strengthens both unit service and the Scouts BSA program.

Rick Hillenbrand, National Commissioner Service Team Technology Chair
Rick has worked tirelessly in a variety of unit, council, area, and regional roles. His contributions are broad, but none are greater than those resulting from his efforts to provide volunteers with applications that make it possible to work more effectively and efficiently. It wasn’t always a smooth road — developing and implementing technology (in any setting) never is. But since joining your National Commissioner Service team in 2014, he never stopped asking what commissioners and unit volunteers needed to help deliver Scouting, and he never stopped trying to meet those needs. He has always been there to support us, whether by responding to an email, developing and delivering training, or traveling anywhere in the United States in support of our local councils. All of us, and especially commissioners, are better off as a result.

Sue Simmons, National Commissioner Service Team Starting, Sustaining, and Growing Units Chair
Sue Simmons has also had a comparatively short (~2.5 years) but impactful term of service. During this time, she helped shape a new role on your national service team, created our Starting, Sustaining, and Growing Units web page, developed and delivered both in-person and virtual training, and built a diverse team of subject matter experts. Sue has been called to serve as a commissioner for one of our new national service territories. Her experience on the team strengthens both unit service and a national service territory.

Darlene Sprague, National Commissioner Service Team Resources Chair
Like many, Dar’s Scouting career started when her son joined Cub Scouts. Little did she know that would lead to council, area, regional, and national opportunities to serve, including joining your National Commissioner Service team in 2011. Much that we take for granted — our quarterly newsletter, our website, our manuals, even our ability to order a hat, jacket, or shirt that identifies us as commissioners — is the result of her efforts. Many of the communications you receive as commissioners are the result of her efforts to facilitate their publication through a variety of channels. Her support never faltered, nor have her contributions to the development and delivery of commissioner training and her willingness to travel where needed to support our local councils. Once again, all of us, and especially commissioners, are better off as a result of her service.

Linda Baker, Northeast Region Commissioner
Jim Libbin, Western Region Commissioner
Gail Plucker, Southern Region Commissioner
Mike Weber, Central Region Commissioner

Our regional organization is being dissolved with the implementation of our national service territories. Regional commissioners have been a vital link in the support of unit service in our local councils. The direct engagement of regional commissioners with your national service team has increased significantly over the last few years and, as a result, so has the quality of support we’ve been able to provide to local councils. Linda, Jim, Gail, and Mike have taken on what was always a challenging assignment during a time that was even more demanding. And its complexity only increased with their engagement in helping design and implement our national service territories. Organizational change is often bittersweet: We regret the loss of good friends who have been an important part of our team, but we also celebrate their service. And there is good news: None of these dedicated volunteers are leaving Scouting; we’ll still be working with them, just in different roles. And the youth we all serve will continue to benefit from their commitment.

Please join in thanking them for — and celebrating — their incredible service to Scouting!

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