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Marcheck

What good are commissioners (really)

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I know what commissioners are supposed to do. But how many of them actually do it.

 

It seems to me that most commissioner staffs are packed with folks who are either:

 

a) Old, and treat it as an honorific title to which they are entitled after many years of service

 

b) Bored, and view it as another social outlet, another meeting to gab away at

 

c) Petty, and see it as an opportunity to lord over other volunteers as an "important" person

 

And most District Commissioners are too friendly with their staffs to get "tough" on them. How does one create a genuine, by the book commissioner staff?

 

I would be willing to wager that most units don't know who their commissioner is, and if they do, they don't know what he or she is really there for.

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Good question.

 

I know my troop certainly hasn't recieved any benefit from the commissioner staff in at least 3 years. Chances are we don't even have a UC, though it wouldn't be anything new to have one on paper that does so little of the job that they haven't even bothered to contact us to let us know they are the UC.

 

The only involvement with the commissioners I remember lately was a bad incident of the District Commissioner yelling at the troop's adult leaders at a troop meeting for not submitting the charter early, something that no one had even asked them to do.

 

Then there was a "paper" Unit Commissioner that decided he should get in touch with someone in the troop since no one from the troop had bothered to contact him about picking up our charter from him. This was about half way through the period that charter covered, I should note. It should also be mentioned that no one had bothered to mention that we had a new UC, or that he had our charter, to the unit leaders.

 

I understand developing a good commissioner corps is a difficult thing. It is hard enough to recruit volunteers when you can use the angle that it is for their kids, or for their church, or whatever. It is much harder to convince people to volunteer when they don't understand why they should, or what the benefit of it is. Add to that the need to have commissioners that know and understand the program relatively well, and it pretty soon starts looking like a near impossible task. I certainly wouldn't want to be a District Commissioner.

 

Actually, now that I think of it, I would probably be a good commissioner if I didn't have unit level responsibilities.

 

Now, on the other hand, I have heard wonderful things about commissioners in other districts and councils. I have talked with unit leaders that have said they wouldn't know which way to go without the things they get out of their unit commissioner and the round table commissioners. So, obviously, commissioners serve some useful purpose in many places, otherwise they would have been done away with long ago.

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How about d)reluctantly signed-on "for the good of the district" as long as they don't really have to do much.

 

I met our new DC last week. First time I ever met the guy. He's only been our unit commissioner for three years.

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Our troop is fortunate in having a very good unit commissioner. He attends most of our committee meetings and COH's. He acts as a liaison between our Committee and the District and council, relaying news, training opportunities, and activities to us. He has also given us some excellent program ideas from his experience, and has helped mediate some problems between Committee members.

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Some unit commissioners are more effective than others. Some Scoutmasters are more effective than others. Some committee members are more effective than others. Some Den Chiefs are more effective than others.

 

So what's your point?

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I thought that I did a good job as a unit commissioner. I have been chastised in this forum for being too tough when I was a District Commissioner.

I spent a lot of my hard earned money to attend training's and conferences.

I suppose I could post about the great commissioners that I have worked with, seen work wonders with failing units.

Could it be that Marcheck sees Commissioners and other parts of Scouting, like I see peanut butter. People tell me how great peanut butter is. They eat it on celery, make cookies with it. Have it on toast for breakfast, make sandwiches with it for lunch. Yet I can't stand the stuff. However knowing that I don't like it I don't buy it, order it or have anything to do with it. Can't help wondering if there is a lesson in there some where?

Eamonn.

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Commissioners can be very good, given the opportunity. But that doesnt go for all them. Like in any other job, some are good and some are not.

 

You seem to be screaming for some help and your UC isnt giving it to you. If thats the case, than SPEAK UP! Contact your council office, go to Roundtable, get your DC & Council Commission phone numbers. Ask for help until you get it.

 

But be advised, no one will do the work for you. They will make suggestions, point you in the right direction, and tell you where you can look for other assistance. But they wont do the work for you. It is never a Commissioners job to do the actual work of the unit leaders.

 

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A good UC is worth their weight in donuts. A bad one's just a pain in the neck if they show up, a non-factor if they don't. I've had two good ones. I think I have one now (on paper) but I've never met him. As long as our recharter package doesn't disappear, it's not an issue for me.

 

KS

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What good indeed?

 

As Unit Commissioner, I encouraged Pack leaders to attend BALOO training to help them plan a Pack Overnight June 4th and 5th. Yesterday, two of them did attend, as did I.

 

The Pack leadership, and I, used that training tonight to put together much of the Pack Overnight plan.

 

That includes co-ordinating camping by the Scout Troop for which I'm both UC and TC member. The Troop will be helping with setting up the Pack campsite, and the Troop campsite to Camporee standards. The Troop will also be helping the Cub Scouts do their foil dinners, and cooking breakfast for the Pack.

 

At the end of the Crossover Bridge, five Webelos will find Boy Scouts from the Troop, and will leave behinf the Cub Scouts as they join the Troop to camp overnight.

 

AS UC, I'm co-ordinatin this joint activity.

 

At Camporee this Saturday, I plan to take the TC training that's offered there and invite the Troop Committee Chair to take it as well. He doesn't know it, but once he completes that training, he will be eligible to receive the Scout Leader's Training Award and knot. I've arranged with the Training staff for him to be aarded that knot at the completion of the training, as a means of inspiring other newly trained people to do the same. (I'll have copies of the folding award record to hand out to all the newly trained people).

 

Our District Awards dinner is May 20th. I'm planning to invite the Chartered Organization Rep to the dinner (at my expense) as Unit Commissioner so I can get to know him better and involve him more deeply with unit leaders and other Scouters.

 

I'm sending out notices/invitations to attend the District Recognition dinner to parents in both the Pack and Troop. I've selected two adult leaders in the Troop and two in the Pack to receive district Extra Mile awards (a practice encouraged by the DE), so perhaps people will turn out to honor these fine people. In addition, I got to names from the Kiwanis Club that maintains a campt widely used by Scout Units to recognize with Extra Mile awards, and have invited those people and Kiwanis Club members to attend the dinner (at their own expense).

 

I'm also assisting the DE in recruting Cub Pack leaders for training in conducting an effective recruiting campaign that will be held in August.

 

Anyway, I figure Unit Commissioners are good for something.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

 

 

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"How does one create a genuine, by the book commissioner staff?"

 

One doesn't, it takes a few people to make it happen. IT relies heavily on finding the right people and training them corectly. But it takes a lot of people to operate a successful commissioner service under its present structure. In fact it takes one commisioner for every two to three scout units in the district. Take this district I live in. We have 118 units, we need 40 unit commissioners. How long wold it take you to find recruit and train and maintain 40 good comissioner candidates.

 

So how does one do it? Most don't, it is simply to big a task. So they make do the best they can with too small a staff. Which is why most units do not know their commissioner, there simply are not enough to go around. But if more units selected their leaders more carefully, and got them to training, there would not be the need for so many commissioners.

 

 

 

 

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I'm a UC. I've attended committee meetings, Pack meetings, offered suggestions when asked, helped with join scouting nights, conducted FOS presentations, charter presentations, helped with rechartering, helped with communications, picked up stuff at the trading post, roundtable and acted as a delivery service, etc. Some units welcome the help some see it as interference. My communication is primarily through the unit leader or primary contact. I am a "friend to the unit" and make myself available for consultation. Some take advantage of it, some do not. I'm sure that in the the ones where the unit leader or primary contact does not see a need for my involvement the other leaders will get the perception that they have a commissioner on paper only.

 

Many myths exist about commissioners. I see my task as trying to help out the unit as my primary goal and reporting back to the council on the unit health as a secondary goal. As BW stated, a good unit doesn't need a UC as much as a struggling unit.

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Truth is stranger than Fiction (to be told at Roundtables on a stormy night)

 

"Once upon a time, deep in the woods and in the dark of night, I actually saw a Unit Commissioner with my own two eyes."

 

SM's move in closer with eyes wide and looks of outright fear on their faces.

 

"Yes, it was, he wore a red jacket and round hat. He had a coffee mug attached permanently to his hand. It was an awful sight to behold!"

 

SM's move closer to the edge of their seats and grip them ever so tightly.

 

"He had big boots and came right into our camp. I whispered to the boys to stay down and inside their tents. We had no idea what to expect."

 

SM's begin to tremble and shake.

 

"The first thing he did was head straight for the coffee pot and fill his cup clear to the brim. He drank the scalding brew without a breath. It appeared he had lots of experience with such things so we didn't want to disturb him."

 

"He looked around and since he didn't see anybody, he poured another cup and stumbled off into the woods."

 

SM's give a sigh of relief.

 

"We haven't seen him since that fateful night but we took plaster casts of those big prints to prove his existence and here they are."

 

Light applause.

 

"We will now take questions."

 

"What was the round hat for?"

 

"We don't know but we have a theory that it keeps the rain out of his mug."

 

FB, UC

 

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FB,

I love it! Just sent it off to the rest of the round table team. Thanks for the smile... Wwell, more of a grin but thanks just the same.

 

Since the current system doesn't attract enough UC's that are quilified, what would folks think of three troops forming a team of one MC from each that would work togeather. Visiting each troop as a team, discovering what works best and bringing it back to their own units. Providing guidance where they can. No formal power, just promoting the best the troops have to offer.

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Thanks Wingnut.

 

I forgot to add that it is a true story. We still have the plaster casts up on the wall in the Scouthut. The Scouts talk about that visitation late at night on campouts. We also tell it at Halloween. It sends shivers down my spine each time I hear it retold.

 

FB

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