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Real District Service.

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Some years back I served as a Cubmaster.

I was very fortunate in having some really outstanding Den Leaders and a wonderful Den Leader Coach.

The Pack was set up in keeping with the wise words found in the Cub Scout Leader Book.

We went through four Pack Committee Chairs. till one came along who understood what the job really was.

When I left the Assistant Cubmaster took over. The Pack had 66 Cub Scouts.

You might say it was doing everything right. The Den Leaders volunteered to help at District and Council events. The number of Cubs who attended resident camps, sold popcorn and families that supported FOS was high. In fact very high.

At the time I was Cubmaster, Commissioner Service was delivered by a very nice old lady, who had been a Den Mother when my Mother-in-law was also a Den Mother. She never really had a lot to do but we invited her to the Pack meetings and Committee meetings as well as the big pack functions.

I moved on to become Council Training Chair. OJ remained in the pack and Her That Must Be Obeyed remained on the Pack Committee serving as Treasurer. Nothing really changed, in fact the pack grew.

When the time came for the son of the new Cubmaster to cross over, they restarted the Troop that had not been operating for about ten years. The then Assistant Cubmaster took over.

The pack remained strong, but the Committee Meetings became fewer and fewer, the Commissioner wasn't invited.

When the time came for this Cub master's sons to cross he joined them in the Troop.

The new Cubmaster had 4 sons in the Troop, her husband was a Den Leader and her best friend became ACM. The pack numbers remained high, the involvement in District and Council activities was great. But Committee meeting faded away till they were no more. If someone needed a check they would call ahead and stop at our house and pick one up.

A new District Commissioner came along, he didn't like the Commissioner or her husband who was also a Commissioner, The District Commissioner blamed them for not attending meetings so he fired both of them!! (Yes I know!) The pack remained strong, in fact I was overjoyed when five leaders from "My old Pack" attended Wood Badge.

Soon after, the husband of the CM moved out of his home, the CM started dating and didn't have time for her best friend and they quit.

The Pack started to fall apart.

With no Committee and no Commissioner things didn't look good.

A parent with no knowledge of Scouting was found to become Cubmaster.

He cried for help. The District Commissioner visited him dropped off a few books and informed him that everything was going to be OK!!

Last year the Pack was down to five Cub Scouts and this year it didn't recharter.

We have lost:

Approx 60+ Cub Scouts.

People who volunteered to help out at District events.

Thousands of Dollars in popcorn sales and FOS donations.

Along with a lot of community support.

Sixty Scouts in a District of about 1,200 is a big hit!

While all this was going on efforts were put into starting Crews in High Schools with DE's as the Advisor's. Units with HUD as the CO paid Americore "Volunteers" -All of which have now gone bye-bye.

The Commissioner Service Team which once had 30 Commissioners is down to less than ten and they spend more time doing FOS presentations than delivering Commissioner Service.

We are seeing more and more of the weak units closing and the strong units becoming weak.

The Council Commissioner is a super nice guy but when I ask what plans he has to recruit more Commissioners I get that Deer caught in the headlights look.

The DE is about as useful as pockets in your underwear. This is his first real job and he'd much sooner be playing Boy Scout.

The District Chair was as a rule serves for a 3 year term gave up after one and was replaced by the District Commissioner who drops off books and thinks everything is going to be alright!!

The rechartering pack for the Ship which was due in on January 31 was left in my doorway on January 31!!

This year the number of units will go from last years 40 units down to 34 units. But when next year comes along and the number goes up to 35 everything will be on track for the District to make Quality. That is of course if a way can be found to make up all the income lost from the families that once supported the program.

Strong Councils need strong Districts and the District needs to do everything it can to support the Units which make up the District.

Sure the program lies with the Unit Leaders, but some help and advise on how the program should be managed and strong Commissioner Service will not go amiss.

Each and every District has a couple of units that are dieing a slow painful death. Maybe? These can't be saved? But turning our back on the units is one sure way of us losing everything.


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Sounds like you were in my district in 2003. I had not been too keen on the district since I wasn't terribly involved. I went to WB and needed to give service and such for my ticket items, but when it came to offering that help, there was nobody there. My then DE, like yours, was about as useful as utters on a bull (cleaned that up a bit).


I finally ended up calling on the DE for the district my company was in. She had visited me in the past asking how I can give to scouting. When I explained that I was in another district, it didn't phase her, she just said that's great, but how will you give to this district...ha!


She got back to me within a couple days with all the info I needed. Somehow, she became the DE of my district. At the time she recruited a new Dist Chair, she had me for FOS, she had another WB'er for Popcorn Kernel, and that was about it. She started building the Dist committee back up and although it took almost 2 years, we had the best Committee in the Council. We're very strong now and getting bigger every month. There's always a new face at our meetings and Roundtables are full, morale is at a high point.


I would say if it wasn't for her and our Dist Chair, we'd still be languishing in our own depressed state. Sounds like you need some fresh blood at the helm, but from reading your other threads it doesn't sound like you want to get into the Dist. Operations as deeply as you would have to in order to be successful. You're kind of in a pickle.


Good luck

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I may well be incorrect, but I never understood regular committee meeting attendance as part of the unit commish' duties. In fact, with most unit commissioners being responsible for multiple units, it would rarely be possible.


I'm curious why such a strong unit died because one person found a boyfriend and lost interest. It sounds like it wasn't very strong afterall. Where was the charter organization during all of this?


There are at least a few lessons here, in my opinion. First, numbers don't make a "strong" unit. They only make a larger unit. Second, if you count on a district-level volunteer to keep your unit intact, it probably won't happen. Third, and most important, an inactive committee is often a major downfall.

(This message has been edited by SR751Fox)

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Hi SR751Fox

Welcome to the forum.

The UC is a friend to the unit.

The unit is more than just the weekly or monthly meetings.

To tell the truth his or her attendance at a regular meeting other than to get a feel for the strength of the unit, doesn't really make a real difference.

When we asked the units in our District what they expected from the UC, most seemed happy with one visit per month at either the Committee meeting or the regular Troop/Pack meeting.

The recommended number of units any one UC should serve is 3. I don't think that attending 3 or 4 meetings a month is out of line.

A unit that has a "Paper Committee" and becomes a one man or one woman show really is in the hands of that one person.

As we know it is the job of the committee to take over the meetings if the leader isn't there until a new leader can be selected.

A unit with no committee or a committee that doesn't meet should be a red flag for the District.

Who tells the District that there is no committee? The UC.

Rechartering should be done with the UC and the CC working closely together.


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Eamonn --


I work with two Quality Units within a Quality District (several consecutive years) within a Quality Council (also several consecutive years) and it is not our practice to expect any Unit Commish to be at monthly unit committee meetings. Considering that most unit commissioners are part of their own unit, it would be impossible if not very inconvenient.


One of our den leaders, for example, is also a unit commish. How reasonable would it be to expect her to conduct three den meetings, attend our pack committee meeting, pack meeting, monthly roundtable, monthly unit commissioners meeting -- and then three more pack committee meetings?


All of that said, did no one at this pack let anyone know what was going on? Did people just disappear? I find it very difficult to place any responsiblity with a unit commish when 60 members (and conceivably 120 adults) were there to report trouble. Of all those people. . . no one called your council to complain? Where was the DE? The DE gets PAID for keeping those numbers. If I were the DE in that district, I can assure you I would show my face around the bigger packs once in a while (like all of our successful DEs have done). Is your DE just. . . AWOL?


It's always sad to hear about a pack folding. I hope at least some of the boys went elsewhere. I also hope that when your district resurrects this pack (and they will), they do not count on a district commish to keep it together in between showing up at two other packs' meetings all the time.


Good luck to ya'll.

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Having a UC who is a member of the unit is not a good idea.

In fact Unit Commissioners are not supposed to be unit leaders. (It's a BSA rule)

What would happen if the CM and the Den Leader had a big disagreement? The role of a unit Commissioner should be that of an impartial friendly outsider.

While there are in the forum some who do serve as Commissioners and from what I have read they do a good job of delivering Commissioner Service.

I served as a District Commissioner for about four years. The District had about 40 units. With about 18 Chartering Organizations.

When I attended the PTC conference, I found that with a staff of 21 commissioners, we were way ahead of most of the other Districts.

At the start we were asked to list our biggest concern? The guy who sat next to me was from California, his big concern was "Scouting in a hostile political climate" Mine was the age of the Commissioner Staff!!

Over the years when someone no longer seemed to be of use to a unit or the unit had failed promoting these people to the Commissioner team seemed like a good idea.

I had a very large group of very well meaning, very nice old folks who loved to tell war stories, but sadly were out of touch with the real world.

Still they were doing their best.

We held a monthly commissioners meeting and they reported what was going on in the units they served.

When I knew of a problem I could try and involve the right people to go in and give them a hand. That's what the people who serve on the District Committee are there for. Units that needed help with budgeting were offered help from the District Finance Committee, if the problem seemed to be a need for training the Training committee and so on.

No DE is ever going to have time to watch 40 units and it really isn't his job.

Over the years I have seen the Commissioner Team in our District get smaller and smaller, much as I hate to admit it even with me as District Chairman. Many of these old timers just became too old.

What we have now is a group of nice people who seem to do everything but deliver Commissioner Service.

Sadly when I look at the people in the District I don't see too many people who are attracted to commissioner service.

Maybe they think they aren't old enough?

At some stage we as an organization need to take a long hard look at what works and what doesn't.

I happen to think that Commissioner Service is a wonderful thing when it works, but right now it needs a little fixing.

We the unit volunteers and the CO are led to expect that the service should be there.

Right now as a unit leader, I have my work cut out for me delivering the program to the Scouts in the Ship. That is my job!!

While I am a member of the BSA, I really serve at the pleasure of our CO. They can at any time thank me for my past services and tell me to hit the bricks. They decided that the Ship was going to be part of their organization and selected me to lead their Ship.

As long as we are supposed to have certain services, I have every right to expect that the services will be there and be available.

When they are not? That's not my problem. I'm busy doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I do not report to anyone other than the Ship's Committee (the COR is a member and he reports to the CO) If the District /Council wants to know what we are doing and maybe see if I'm playing this game by the rules. They have in place a way of finding out. If this doesn't or isn't working they need to find a way of making it work.

It seems far too many Councils and Professional Scouter's are throwing the stuff we find in the books that the BSA publishes out the window.

If they are not willing to make things work, I can't help but feel expecting us to make things work is not only unfair, but just plain wrong.


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Ea --


I'm with you on everything except a BSA rule regarding Unit Commissioners not being unit leaders. Perhaps such a rule prevents unit leaders serving as commissioners in the same unit. But I've checked with the powers that be and no rule applies to unit leaders serving as commissioners in a different unit. Every unit commish in my district is a pack, troop or crew leader elsewhere -- including the district commish.


Either way, it appears that pack's troubles was way beyond anything a unit commish could have solved.


Take care.

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Much as I hate to disagree with the powers that be.

I think if you check:



Scroll down to the end of the page, it states under "How are commissioners selected?":


"Commissioners must not be registered simultaneously as unit leaders. Some commissioners may be registered on a unit committee because they have a son in the unit or because of previous personal history in the unit, but their principle Scouting obligation should be with commissioner responsibilities. Commissioners may be currently registered in only one commissioner position."


While I was trying to find that, I came across the Unit Commissioner Box Score.

Here the NE-Region it states that we have 18,577 units and 3,601 Unit Commissioners.

Looking at the numbers it seems that we only have about half the number of Unit Commissioners that we need.

As far as I know other than doing what we have been doing (Preach, moan and complain?) There doesn't seem to be any real plan in the works to improve on this number.

The report can be found at:


I have to wonder what the number would be if they took out the people who are also serving as Unit Leaders?

I also kinda think that the "Big Powers" that be in the Council you serve were aware of this ruling and have choose to ignore it. Heck if a dummy like me knows?? I of course am in no way saying that the people who are wearing all these hats should have them knocked off! - In fact my feelings are God Bless them and we should be thanking them.

But again if we are going to set rules and standards, we need to play by them. If we or if they choose not to? Why bother having them in the first place?

Right now something isn't working and from where I sit I just don't see any real move to fix it.

When I look back at the Pack that failed,I can't help think that one visit from a UC who reported that the Pack Committee wasn't meeting could have or might have made a big difference.

I find myself remembering

The horseshoe nail

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a horse the rider was lost,

For the want of a rider the battle was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


One visit from an active Unit Commissioner might have saved the pack.



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Eamonn, I've seen that same rule and while actually I agree with your interpretation of it, what I've been told by others is that it means you shouldn't be a UC for your own unit, nor should you be the CM or SM of a pack/troop while serving as a UC. But I suppose that leaves the door wide open to being a den leader, committee member, or (in a troop) ASM while also serving as a UC for other units. Not that I'd want to do that (speaking of too many hats!) - but again, that's one interpretation that I've heard and I imagine it's a pretty commonly used interpretation (because it is easier and more convenient than finding high quality leaders who aren't consumed with their own unit).

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While not trying to a royal pain!!

"Some commissioners may be registered on a unit committee because they have a son in the unit or because of previous personal history in the unit, but their principle Scouting obligation should be with commissioner responsibilities."

Doesn't seem open to a lot of interpretation.


While it is a little unclear about if Commissioner can or should be a Committee member and the Commissioner for the same unit?

I kinda think we all know that someone that close to the unit and involved in the running of the unit will have a very hard time being impartial.

Commissioners receive their Commission from the Council Executive Board.

Unit Leaders and Committee members serve at the will of the CO - Serving two "Bosses" is not a good idea.

Imagine the mess if the CO removed the Committee Member, but he or she was still the UC!


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Sometimes rules are interpreted (bent?) to fit our actual practice, or to fit what we want to do. Sometimes they are ignored altogether. Powers that be can be as guilty as anyone.


The rule Eammon quoted says commissioners may not be unit leaders, but goes on to suggest that simultaneously serving as a committee member is OK. Surely though it is clear a commissioner should not have any involvement in his assigned unit except for the role of friendly impartial commissioner.


I wonder how impartial a commissioner can be if he also serves as a Scoutmaster for another troop? Would there not certainly be a tendency to advise the troop to follow the practice of his own troop, best practice or not? A truly impartial commissioner would advise practices found in the publications.

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"Don't we all? "


I'm happy to wear one hat!!

As a member of the District Key 3 I had no unit affiliations.

Some people less good looking than myself and not as kind as myself might also question "our quality district"

If the number of Commissioners was "Iffy" -Maybe the District ought not be a Quality District.

Of course I'd never mention that.



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I long for the day when I'm only wearing one hat.


As far as the Quality District. . . All I can say is, we continue to achieve it and the return address still says Irving, Texas. And, we haven't had any 60-boy packs fall apart overnight, so apparently our system works in that regard, and the national office approves.


I agree that it would be better if everyone wore only one hat, but people aren't exactly beating down the doors to volunteer.


In the case of your now-defunct pack, a unit commish wearing another hat (such as the ones in my district) could have helped. Apparently, the BSA's ideal system of commissioners, as ya'll operate under, did not work for them. Meanwhile, I still contend that others held some responsibility for that unit. It's tough to hang all of it on one AWOL unit commish.



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Commisioner contact with the unit is the key.

When a commisioner actually visits a unit, he can observe what is really going on and can relay that information back to the key 3. As a commisioner for 2 packs, I can visit either at a committee meeting or a unit meeting. Some months I can only visit the committee meeting, others I can only visit the pack meeting. Sometimes, I am able to make both

Once in a hwile, when everything is going well, it is just a simple phone call to see if they need anything or to see how things are going,if they need anything or to let them know about something going on in the district. Commisioners need to visit regulary so they can see if their are any red flags. Is that every month? Not necessarily. Some units are providing a strong program and it is not necessary for a commisioner to hold their hands constantly. No committee meetings, that is a red flag and the commisioner should be there to help. No sucession plan... another red flag..

As a unit leader, my first priority is to my own unit, but I will tell you that the units I am a commisioner for are happy to see me when I visit. Over the past couple of years, I have built a relationship with them.

Right or wrong, We have several Unit leaders who serve as commisioners. They have one or two units that they serve so it is not an overbearing request of time and actually fosters communication between the units. Does our DC serve as a unit leader, no. Does our district chair, no.. Would it be ideal to have everyone to wear one hat, yes, but I don't see that happening anytime soon

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