Be a Unit Commissioner

Unit Commissioners are on a mission, the mission of the Boy Scouts of America!
Read on to learn about it.

Do you have a Servant's Heart?

Yes, then you should be a unit commissioner

I am Steve Myers, one of the Assistant Council Commissioners on the Great Trail Council Commissioner Service Team. If you want to skip my story, scroll down to the bottom where I tell you how to become a Unit Commissioner. My story however is about a great troop and experience with a stellar lesson learned right in the middle. Someone with a servant's heart changed my scouting life!

I ended 25 years as Scoutmaster

In 2017 I attended my last Troop Leader Training (TLT) as a Scoutmaster, completing 25 years with my wonderful troop, Troop One in Akron OH. TLT as the scouts abbreviate it, happens twice a year with the same material led by the newly elected Senior Patrol Leader who is the youth leader of the troop. The scouts, all with new troop officer positions do not attend only because of the training material, they attend because the process of the new Senior Patrol Leader teaching that material is the first critical step in building the team that will plan and run the troop for the next six months.

Are the youth in charge?

Stop a minute, did you think that the Scoutmaster is the teacher, forming his team?

The Scoutmaster trains his or her youth leaders to lead. In particular, he or she prepares the new youth-elected Senior Patrol Leader to build their team. Say you visit a troop and ask a random scout from the troop who is the leader of the troop, if they say the SPL then you are visiting a great troop in formation. If that random scout points to the adult, something is not yet there in this troop’s development.

What if you had a chance to visit with the Scoutmaster of a troop or Cubmaster of a cub scout pack?

Could you find ways of helping them see what Scouting is all about? I don’t mean they don’t know that, but being a unit leader means spending much time on the tactics of a scouting unit and often not enough time thinking strategically about the direction of the unit. You as a unit commissioner can through careful listening find ways of helping unit leaders and that helps the youth of our Scouting movement.

What is the most strategic thought you can impart to a unit leader?

I think it is this:

“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is 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.”

Will you help remove burdens from our unit leader's shoulders?

As Scoutmaster I had lots of thorns among the roses and with one particular thorny issue I had no idea how to deal with it. I sought advice from long time Scouter, Jack Mahaney. He agreed to meet me for breakfast. After catching up and putting down the fork, I started to say “The reason I wanted to talk to you is about this thorny issue…” However I never got past the second word when he said “before you begin, let me say this…” He then looked me in the eye and repeated the mission statement to me. He then followed it up with a stunning question “Now what is your problem?”

My equally stunning answer (to me anyway) was “I guess I don’t have one.” In just 34 words, Jack had re-centered me, and focused my thoughts on what is most important.

Help Unit Leaders to not sweat the small stuff

I never forgot that meeting with Jack, and yes we did talk about the thorn, but it was no longer the central focus of my scouting life. It turned out to be in the grand scheme rather small.

I was then around a 10-year fully trained scouter and had never recalled having heard the mission statement much less thinking someone would memorize it. I learned it, memorized it and took it to heart. In every adult training course I teach and nearly every Scouting Presentation I have done since, I typically include the mission statement from memory. Indeed I often suggest to unit leaders my three rules.

Three rules

  1. Know and follow the mission

  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff

  3. Everything but rule 1 is the small stuff.

Small stuff is important too

The adult Scoutmaster and Cubmaster have to still deal with the small stuff, but the unit commissioner can really help here. Listen, build relationships, give from your heart, and help change lives.

This Scoutmaster became a Commissioner how about you?

I do not miss being Scoutmaster as much as I treasure the memories of many hundreds of young men who through Troop One grew to become great leaders and great citizens. I am proud of every one of them. I am honored and blessed that 76 of those youth became Eagles while I was Scoutmaster. I am also happy and pleased with my current role in scouting as an Assistant Council Commissioner. But you do not need to be an Eagle Scout or even in Scouting before becoming be a Unit Commissioner.

You need a servant's heart.

We have training for everything else.

Unit Commissioners are Critical to the Scouting Movement

Commissioners are critical to the success of scout troops and cub packs. I encourage anyone who wants a role in shaping the future for young men and women, and who do not have the time or calling to be at meetings every week and campouts every month, to become a commissioner. Contact me or any commissioner on the Great Trail Council Service Team and start a conversation.

What are the duties of the Unit Commissioner?

click to reveal

What is a Unit Commissioner?

The unit commissioner is a Scouting generalist whose passionate overriding mission in Scouting is to help units better serve more youth through scouting.

What are your responsibilities ?

  1. Supporting unit growth and retention through the journey to excellence.

  2. Contacting units and capturing in commissioner tools their strengths, needs, and a unit service plan that enables continuing improvement.

  3. Linking unit needs to district operating committee and other resources.

  4. Supporting timely unit, district, and council charter renewals.

  5. Supporting unit leaders by collecting and distributing information, enabling program training, and providing networking opportunities.

Where will you serve?

Many unit commissioners serve more than one type of unit. One might serve a Cub Scout pack, a Scouts BSA troop, Venturing crew, Sea Scout ship or an Explorer post in the same chartered organization. Other unit commissioners may serve only packs, only troops, only crews, only ships or only posts or clubs. The choice is yours with your District Commissioner.

Be a Unit Commissioner

Stepping up will assure that our adult unit leaders will have the support they need. Scouting is at a critical time, recovering from COVID and returning to regular programming, and units need your help. Compared to unit participation, the time commitment is much lower and the rewards are great. Training is offered online and in-person, the next being April 23, 2022 at University of Scouting.

Contact our training commissioner: David Rice.

How do I take the next step

  1. Talk to a member of the service team or your District Commissioner or one of the paid District Executives about your interest to get the green light. (contact commissioners here and executives here).

  2. Express your interest and ask your questions. If encouraged you will then

    1. Complete an Adult App (use position code UC) with fees.

    2. Approve of a criminal background check.

    3. Take Youth Protection Training at my.scouting.org.

  3. Take the Unit Commissioner online training offered in my.scouting.org or contact our training commissioner to get started.

    1. If you complete your training online contact our training commissioner to start the on boarding process.

  4. Talk to your District Commissioner to be assigned to the units you will serve.

  5. Attend the one-day continuous training at the College of Commissioner Science each November to be the best you can be.