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Yes "the book" says no unit leaders as commissioners, but there's no hard check on that. Scoutnet won't kick out a UC registration if you're an SM. They don't put you in boy scout jail. We don't live in the Lake Wobegon District where all the units are above average, all troops have a UC, and the UC only has three units.


We're scouts and scouters in the real world. Now I am a UC exclusively (new to area, not an alumnus of a local troop) with two units. But in a district with 95 units and about 16 active commissioners, you do what you can. One UC is the father of the current SM and was the past SM. Another SM mentors his neighboring troop although he's stepping down to ASM.


In my college district the CM/ASM was named as the UC since he was at the meetings anyway and could be the DC's POC for the unit.



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It is not the "book." It is clear and non-ambiguous policy. If the Commissioner staff is not going to follow policy--who is?


There is a reason for this policy that is being lost. It is the Unit Leaders job to pay attention to the Unit. If he is busy helping other units, he cannot possibly pay enough attention to his own unit.


The BSA realizes that we are volunteers, and only can devote so much time and energy to Scouting. From what I have seen those that have multiple roles, in general, do none of those roles well. They can't, they just do not have enough time. Work, Unit Leader, Commissioner, Father, Husband (Wife), Troop Committee member etc. How can any one person do all of those jobs? They can't and when they try, they do none effectively. It is much better for the organization if we pick one role and do it well. At the minimum, stay within policy and do not be a Unit Leader and Commissioner at the same time. How can you in good conscience mention to a troop that what they might be doing does not fall within National guidelines if you choose to flaunt them yourself, and I will say again no Council Commissioner, DC or ADC should even allow a Unit Leader to perform UC duties.


Our District has a shortage of UCs. However, I would never sign up a Unit Leader to be a Commissioner even if they wanted to. Instead I tell them they have a choice, either step down as a Unit Leader (be a committee member if you like) or a Commissioner but not both. You can choose to do this the right way even in the "real world." I know this because my district does it and continues to chug along.


This is for the good of the volunteer, but more importantly of the Unit.


(This message has been edited by johnponz)

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Hmmm. You learn something every day. I wasn't aware of the restrictions on Commissioner service.


Well, I gave up being Cubmaster with the new year, so that leaves me as a Unit Commissioner and Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner. I'll be giving up the Roundtable position after the August Roundtable after a two year term.


So apparently I'm slowly coming into compliance with this policy, which I wasn't aware of.



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Ahh.. John.. now I know why I never heard a thing after being told by another UC that he nominated me to take over his UC role. I guess they decided the SM role was where I really needed to be.. *grins



Welcome back to ScOUTING.. *grins

I just came back too after a 3 years absence. There were a lot of new faces that pegged me as a newbie when in reality I'm just a newbie to the SM role. (I wore a new shirt as my old one didn't fit with the basic patches) I quickly added the knots and saw a change in some attitudes and how people talked once they realize I wasn't as newbie as they first thought. (I was asking questions because so many things from National to Council had change in the 3 years I was gone which probably added to the 'newbie' concept. Plus walking into a Troop that was trying to keep from folding with no experienced Scouters also added to my need for multiple questions...*grins)


So a food for thought for you on the knots wearing.. *winka

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Unit Leader refers to, essentially, uniformed, direct-contact adult volunteers: Scoutmasters, Cubmasters, and their assistants, obviously, but in keeping with the principle should probably include Den Leaders, too (for pretty obvious practical reasons, despite their not being specifically mentionedbut this part is my own personal thought, having been a DC; its not a stated BSA policy).


The above is from "Ask Andy." I know the advice is not official, but a lot of Scouters trust and liten to his advice.


If that quote is from "Ask Andy", then Andy is totally incorrect. "Unit Leader" has a specific definition in Scouting. From the official BSA site:unit leader: The adult leader of a unit is a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Coach, Advisor, or Skipper.See http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/LOS/All.aspx#def-head-u


I used to look at Andy's columns, but he is so frequently wrong on the facts, and so often represents his own opinion as fact, that I came to not trust his advice much, and stopped reading.


An assistant Scoutmaster is explicitly not a "unit leader". There is one "unit leader" for each unit.



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Oak Tree,


You make a good point. However, in this context we have to dig a little further than the definition page at Scouting.org. I direct you to the Commissioner Administration of Unit Service Publication http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Commissioners/Manuals/34128.aspx


Here on page 3 it states, "In Cub Scouting, the unit leader is the Cubmaster,

who shares the responsibility with den leaders; in

Boy Scouting, it is the Scoutmaster and assistants.

In Venturing, it is the Advisor and associates." So you can see in the Commissioner context the Unit Leader position really refers to the entire Unit Leadership team not the specific unit leader. This is further corroborated by the fact that the publications specifically state that a Commissioner can be a Committee Member. This implies that they cannot be in another direct leadership position such as ASM.


As I said without some digging, I almost agreed with you.

(This message has been edited by johnponz)

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Unkiewill - Welcome.

I wish you all the best in what you are about to take on.

While I should caution you not to take on too much. That at the end of the day will be your call. However remember that even the most understanding of wives have their limits.

I'm not in favor of people taking on too much and I'm not for people wearing more than one hat.

But if that's the way things are done in your neck of the woods? Then that's the way things are done.

The truth is that someone knows what the "Good Book" says. They know why they do things the way that they do and also know that no one is ever going to check and even if they did the penalty is no more than ten lashes with a wet Wood Badge.



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I disagree with you whole heartedly; we are supposed to be building the character of the youth. This is what the program is all about. What you are suggesting is it is ok to ignore the rules if they are inconvenient, or do not fit in with the way that you want to do things. You are further saying that you do not have to obey the rules if no one is watching, or they are not being enforced. I must say that is not the way to build character by giving a good example. We need to do our best to work within the framework that National has developed. Is it easier to skirt the framework, and do things the way we want to (yes)? Is it harder to work to recruit people who meet the requirement outlined in the policies (yes)? Will our number of Unit Visits and Commissioner ratio numbers look better if we break the rules (yes)? Isn't it right to do what is harder to stay in the rules, and make the numbers mean what they are really supposed to mean (yes)? Let's not have Scouting be like the rest of society, and instead of doing what is expedient, do what we all know is really the right thing to do.


This is especially true for the Commissioner staff who has a role as a sort of "quality control." If this group does not follow the rules who will? Is it ok for Units to change the Eagle requirement and make them harder or easier than the guidelines? Some would say, that's the way we do it in these parts so it is ok, or the requirements are not hard enough so we modify them a little so as I have heard, "the boy has to earn it." It is not the troop's place to modify these requirements, nor is it the Council Commissioner, DC, or ADC's place to modify the rules of Commissioner recruitment.


Isn't it time someone stood up and did the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do, and not because you might get caught or punished?


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I think you are seeing a lot of stuff that just isn't there.

I posted:

"I'm not in favor of people taking on too much and I'm not for people wearing more than one hat.

But if that's the way things are done in your neck of the woods? Then that's the way things are done.

The truth is that someone knows what the "Good Book" says. They know why they do things the way that they do and also know that no one is ever going to check and even if they did the penalty is no more than ten lashes with a wet Wood Badge."


I don't think that I know Unkiewill.

He hasn't posted which Council he hails from, so I don't think that I know who asked him to serve as a U/C.

Here's what I think I know.

He is someone who at one time must have been active in Scouting.

My seeing " Eagle, Vigil, Summer Camp Staff and all of that good stuff." Kinda led me in that direction.

After a break of sometime away from Scouting he is returning to volunteer his time.

He is also new to the forum.

While of course I don't know his real intention of posting. I'm guessing that he just wanted to say "Hello' And introduce himself.

As sometimes happens in this forum someone seen something that wasn't by the book and the thread got a life of its own.

Unkiewill may or may not have known about the rule that states that youth leaders can't serve as commissioners. - My thinking (I'm not sure.) Is that he didn't.


By me posting "I'm not in favor of people taking on too much and I'm not for people wearing more than one hat." I think I let it be known that I'm not in favor of this and don't condone this.

I waffled on saying

:"The truth is that someone knows what the "Good Book" says. They know why they do things the way that they do and also know that no one is ever going to check and even if they did the penalty is no more than ten lashes with a wet Wood Badge."


So again me not knowing the Council where Unkie is from, I don't know what the situation there is.

The people who work, volunteer and do that stuff very well might have good reasons as to why they have chosen not to follow the rule.

I'm think of a Council that covers a remote, rural area with very few volunteers or maybe an inner city area where some volunteers are scared to go into some areas.

Then of course as always there is the what happens when we break the rules.

There are of course some things that should never be done, things that might end up with someone in jail, arrested.

Some things that might be cause to have our membership in the BSA to be revoked.

But for just about everything else the person we answer to is ourselves.

I face that man in the mirror.

I belong to an organization that hopes to help the young people we serve be able to make ethical decisions.

I do so by the example I set.

I can't and will not carry the weight of what others might do.

However at the same time it is very wrong of me to sit in judgment of others, especialy when I don't have all the facts.

We can debate if the rule is a good rule or a bad rule.

But when it comes to Unkiewill?

In my book as far as I know the guy is just doing something that was asked of him.

I don't know who asked him or why they asked.

Do you?









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All this from my post introducing myself. I have really enjoyed reading all of the comments on this thread and the other one that was spun off of it. It is nice to see that so many of you have strong feeling for the program.


I was asked to serve as a Commissioner and will continue to do so as long as I feel that I can be of service to the unit I was assigned and meet the obligations of the troop that I SM for.


My wife works for a nonprofit and has to work a lot of evenings and weekends training volunteers and working with the program. Plus we do not have any kids of our own. If I visit my troop once a month or so and go to the monthly commissioner meetings that is about 4 hours a month away from home. The rest is email and phone calls. It does not seem like that much of a burden at this point and working a little with another troop helps me with ideas for my troop. If anything it has helped keep me from burning out because there is something new and different to learn about Scouting.

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I hear you. I am just debating the philosophy of breaking the rules and it is not against anyone personally. I have seen too many people in Scouting who break the rules for their own reasons, and do not seem to mind. I really try to stop that kind of behavior because it set a bad example (in my opinion).


I welcome Unkiewill back to the fold, and hope that he can make a difference especially in his unit because SM is a very meaningful, diffucult, and rewarding position.


Welcome and good luck.

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Eamonn - When I was asked to be a UC I said that I did not think I could because I was a unit leader. However the DC, DE and a rep from the Area Commissioner staff said that I could as long as I was not a UC for my own unit. That is the way that they all interpreted the policy. So that is what I went with before accepting the new position.


John - I think you and I may disagree on a few things here but I appreciate your passion and look forward to learning from your posts.



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