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Should a Commissioner be a SM?

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I would like to thank everyone for your input. I am not a SM. I am a former TCC, Treasurer and as one of the founding members of our Troop I remain a committee member. Our current SM is holding district position, positions in OA, FOS and now I believe they said Unit Commissioner. I really appreciate all the input and I will share this thread with our current TCC and ASM's. We need to get the focus back on the boys, after all that is what we are here for, not adult egos.


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My opinion is the same as SP's.


I am an active SM and ACC. Previously District Commissioner same time as SM. Never had any conflicts, but if I did/do, I would bring in someone from outside to help resolve the issue. Amazingly, we seem to know and follow the rules.


You can keep the two separate and still do both well.


I'm not aware of a single commissioner in our council that does not wear numerous hats including every District Commissioner and even the Council Commissioner.


For those that continue to quote the Fieldbook of Commissioner Service like it's the Bible, I'm glad you have a council that can get volunteers like that.



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Sorry John, but you need a better argument than that.



Personally I'm not aware that the Field Book of Commissioner Science is authoritative on this issue. Perhaps it's a nice goal for districts to have.


If I hadn't stepped in to be Cubmaster of a pack down to a single boy, the pack would have failed years ago now. Instead, it's reasonably healthy.


If I hadn't stepped in to be Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, that program would have failed since there was no one else to do it. After two years I found a capable person to take over from me.


If my council and district doesn't want me to fill multiple positions ---- fine. But a comment in the Field Book of Commissioner Science isn't going to do it --- nosiree.


And frankly, I'm not too impressed by those using such quotations for frivolous purposes, either.


If you want to file a complaint with my Council Scout Executive over this issue you can PM me and I'll provide you with my name and council.

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I think there is one thing that we all need to remember is that each of our councils and districts are probably different. I come from a small district within our council both the district and troops have problems getting adult support.


As our troop has grown we have gained many adult who support our troop but it's always the same people. Changing slightly year after year, but generally the core group is still there.


In some areas I think our district grabs the first volunteer willing to do the work because they don't have it and the paid executives are stretched so far any volunteer help is better than none. Some are in it for the glory, some truly dedicated it doesn't matter. If they passed the background check and are willing to help they won't get turned away. That's what I believe we have going on with the source of my thread in the first place.


Even the most glowing glory hounds at one time were truly dedicated people that just got carried away and lost their vision to see it.


Thanks everyone for your input!

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I am not going to file a complaint nor do I want to. I really do not operatew like that. However, I do believe National puts these rules into place for a reason, and I encourage my Units to follow the rules so I do so as well. We have problems recruiting Commissioners just like everyone else but still choose to follow the rules. We want to make a good example for our Units and Youth. When I am talking to Unit leaders about getting their Charters in on time because that is what we need them to do, they know that I am coming from the high ground.


I am probably going to be the DC next year, and the District will continue to operate in this manner.

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Hello Johnponz,



You really don't know why such a rule has been adopted, or the extent to which it is intended to be construed as advice or whatever.


Every Scouting position has a lengthy list of responsibilities, more than anyone can do. For myself I've decided that I will pick and choose from among that list the things I am either good at doing, that particularly need to be done or that I would like to do.


In short I think such rules need judgment in how and when they are applied. I noticed than in our recent thread on applying Youth Protection rules, there were a number of people earnestly supporting the idea of not reporting YPT rule violations by reporting them to police, despite the clearest intentions that such reporting be done.


It's easy as pie for some BSA committee to write stringent rules that may make no sense when you are confronted with a real situation. Keep in mind that those committees aren't God and they aren't writing the Bible.


Of course you are entitled to follow such rules rigorously if they make sense to you. I hope you will discuss in more detail how that works for you and your district.


One thing you didn't mention is the hardship on family life that can occur from placing unreasonable burdens on Scouters. At the extreme, it results in the divorces caused by Scouting being discussed on another thread.


I have a Cubmaster who is being unreasonably burdened right now because of demands by his job, and my intention is to find an ACM to help him so that he's not driven nuts by demands on his time.


Personally I think looking at the reality that confronts different people is a better way to deal with this issue than a one size fits all rule.


Scouting literature also emphasizes that people picked for any position should be the best person to fill the job --- a person well qualified and able to carry out every aspect of that lengthy list of position responsibilities.


If I ever encountered such a person, perhaps they WOULD be able to do every aspect of those position responsibilities, and that would probably be plenty for one person to do.


But that's not the way positions are filled in my experience. When my DE proposed I be district membership chair in 2004, my response was "ABSOLUTELY NOT! You would be RUINING MY LIFE" if I took that position! Yet I found my name listed as the district membership chair a few months later at the district recognition banquet. I've tried to do my best ever since, despite my limitations.


In my experience, Scouting is full of compromises. We have high ideals, and then we try to make them work in the real world. We inevitably fall short of the ideal --- at least that's my experience.


But, perhaps your district doesn't fall short, and perhaps you wont fall short as District Commissioner.


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Seattle..............Your full of it......


How many times have we read of Commissioners Who are also registered troop leaders Doing some very unethical things????? Way to often. Hurting the program of the units they are supposed to be helping.



I think/know it is impossible to do both jobs adequately.....



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Should a Commissioner be a Scoutmaster? No. Can a Commissioner be a Scoutmaster? Yes.


Again, as stated previously, being a commissioner should be one's primary position. However, I've know quite a few Commissioner's who have done both. Heck, I was a unit commissioner, Scoutmaster and Webelos Den Leader all at the same time for about six months. I was recruited to be a unit commissioner by the district and I told them I would but that I would put the most emphasis on my Scoutmaster position. Now, I wouldn't dream of being the unit commissioner for a unit that I was a member never mind a leader. When I was a unit commissioner I told the district that I only wanted to be a commissioner for Packs (I had experience with all four den leader positions as well as committee chair). Anyway, it worked out okay but it did take up a lot of time.

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If National really wanted to enforce the rule, there are some very simple things they could do to enforce it and prevent it from happening.


1) Have SCOUTNET block the registration from even occurring. I know that in the five positions I am registered in, TC parent, CSDL (should be TCDL but the council hasn't changed it yet), district committee member, MBC, and RT Commish, all have the same membership ID number. I'm willing that a programmer could fix SCOUTNET easily.


And if they couldn't the registrar could, eventually ;)


2) Inform the DEs when they go to PDL-1 and cover staffing the district. I know the age limit is discussed, UCs and District Committee members, except de facto ones i.e. OA Chapter Chief and District Venturing President, must be 21+. So instead of "Using your resources and using folks who can do the job," they need to inform that Commissioners must only have 1 job.


3) Put that fact in all the commissioner specific trainings. I know that it wasn't covered in the CSRT training I went through, and read the syllabus for.


4) Put that fact in the online Staffing the District training.


I admit I would love to step away from being a CSRT commish, and focus on my TC den. But after 3+ years without a CSRT commissioner, and know that the person wanting the job is A) really doing too much (UC, Dist. CS Program chair,Day Camp Director, and ACM) and B) already had the job once and drove people away, I couldn't say no a 3rd. time.

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We all know of the two-hat syndrome. Well meaning people think they gotta do something cause nobody else is stepping up. Then they get comfortable with that additional hat and just keep wearing it. Folks who should be stepping into that position see them wearing that hat, and because they are wearing five others it doesn't look exactly right, so nobody else will want to wear it themselves.


I think that when it happens, you should consider your district in a crisis.

When you are in a crisis, keep looking for ways to get out of it.

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It is in the training for Commissioners. I checked the Scouting.org web site and there is definitely a PowerPoint presentation with this information in it. I can provide the link, but I am kind of tired of pointing out where all of this non-conflicting information is. Why do individual Executives allow this breach (their bonuses depend on reaching Gold JTE, and they want to do it the easiest way possible to guarantee their salaries)?


2nd Q your approach is reactive instead of pro-active, and by the time you notice this situation, it may be too dire to fix. The best way to handle this is to be pro-active and follow the rule that Commissioners cannot be Unit Leaders. Is it hard to recruit commissioners? (for sure it is). Would it be easier to let people wear multiple hats (it would)? People do it the wrong way because it is EASIER not because it is the best way of doing it. This is a recipe for mediocrity.


Sometimes doing what is right is hard, but in the end it is worth it.


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With no dispect intended, I know when I reviewed CSRT RT fast start at




no mention of not having any other jobs was mentioned. Also the training syllabus doesn't include the prohibition either.



Also on this website




again no mention of one job for commissioners in the position summaries.


One more thing I just realized using your links, are you using the Feb. 2012 version of the Commissioner Fieldbook or an older version? I ask b/c when I did a quick review of it just now, I couldn't fin the prohibition. If you are , could you give me a page number?


And yes BSA does have a problem, IMHO a MAJOR (emphasis)problem with contradictory information in its literature.

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I am really less concerned about commissioners doing 2 commissioner jobs that I am about Unit Leaders serving as commissioners.


Took my family to the boardwalk, but I will look up the fieldbook reference when I get the chance

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Hello qwazse,






Ummm. I am even more familiar with the program collapse syndrome. Well meaning people figure someone else will step forward to do a needed task, but no one does.


Usually I am taking action to FIND someone to do a needed task and only step in if no one else will do it and the alternative is program collapse.


When I do step in, I'm usually looking to find new leadership to take my place as soon as practical.



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