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At no time did I suggest that commissioners were superior or that they were uniform police. Each office in scouting has specific responsibilities and purposes. There are some that are charged by the BSA to help support the standards of the BSA. These p[articular volunteres and professionals are identified by a "wreath of serice" that appears on the their position emblem.


Not police not superior, just one position of many positions each with their own responsibilities helping to support the standards of the BSA happens to be a specific an unique responsibility given to commissioners.



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There is a lot going on in this thread.

Here is my take on some of it.

I'm not all together sure what is meant by the word Police?


At work part of my job is be aware of what the inmates are up to.

If someone is doing something that they ought not be doing and I observe what ever this might be? My job is to report this. After I have reported this it is out of my hands.

Depending on what they were doing what happens while they wait for a hearing is another kettle of fish.

Sometimes people are removed from the general population and are kept away from the other inmates and sometimes nothing happens until the hearing has taken place.

In "Boy Scout Land" It might be said that the eyes and ears are the Commissioner Staff.

Mr. or Mrs. Becomes aware of something that isn't right and reports this to the District Commissioner, who reports this to the Key 3, who come up with a plan of action.

Youth Protection violations are dealt with differently.


One problem I have at work is that many of the Staff seem to want "Their pound of flesh". They are not happy to just do their job; which is observe and report, they want to see some kind of result and when the Hearing Examiner doesn't do what they think is right they become upset.

I have seen this sort of thing in Scouting, someone is unhappy with someone and wants to see some sort of result.

When in their mind the "Time doesn't fit he crime"!! They become upset.

In most cases when it is found that something isn't going as it should and has been reported someone will be asked to offer some kind of advise and point out what wasn't been done right. Very often this will lead up to another step or result in some sort of plan.

Most times this is done in kind and in a friendly way. With no threats, no big stick and no intimidation of any kind.

Sometimes the Unit Committee will be involved, with maybe someone from the District (Member of the District Committee or a Commissioner) Explaining what isn't been done right and offering to help correct the thing that is wrong.

All of this depends on there being a relationship between the District and the Unit.

There are times when the Unit Leaders and the Unit Committee (If there is one?) Will tell the members of the District team (District Committee Members and Commissioner Staff) that they are not welcome and to go take a hike!

When Volunteer to volunteer is not working it then becomes a job for the professionals.

The people who are paid, the DE and the Unit Executive Officer should meet and discuss the problem and again come up with a plan of action.

Back when I was serving as a District Commissioner the easy way to remove a Commissioner was to wait them out and not recharter them. I have after counseling a commissioner asked them to step down. As a rule they are so upset with me that they don't want to work with me any way.

The same sort of thing has happened when I was District Chairman.

The Council Commissioner has asked a District Commissioner to step down and our Council President has replaced a District Chairman.

I don't know the real reasons why this was done. But the truth is that it really wasn't /isn't any of my business.

Some years back the Council Executive Board did remove a SE.

We have seen the SE fire some people who work for him, both as office workers and professional Scouter's.


A number of years back while I was serving as District Commissioner I was asked by the Executive Officer to remove a Cubmaster. I explained that I wasn't the person to make this decision. I did meet with the Church Council and somehow got stuck with he job of telling the guy that his services were no longer required.

I did this in a nice kind way. He was OK with it and understood why they wanted him gone. When we parted we parted as friends.

But the word got out that I had fired this guy.

People who didn't know all the facts thought that I had over stepped my authority and was on some type of a power trip.

It took a little time to re-establish the Commissioner Staff as being seen as the group that are the Friends of the units.

Which brings me back to the word police.

A long time ago back in England there was a saying "If you want to know what time it is? Ask a policeman"

Policemen were seen as the friendly person who was there to help. If you were in a strange area and needed directions finding a place, asking the local policeman on his beat was a God send. If your child wandered off the local policeman was there to help.

If this is what we mean by "Police"? Someone or some group charged with helping than I would hope that even though we all have made an oath to help other people at all times, that when we need what might be termed as expert advise we should have if not knowledgeable at least helpful Commissioners who can be trusted to get the answer that is needed and correct.

I don't really rate DE's. To my mind they are only conduits. While of course there are some very knowledgeable DE's all they are able to do is carry information to and from the people who have it to the people who need it.

They have no real authority or power.

SE's can for good reason revoke the membership of a member. But this isn't policing, is it?

Some chartering organizations do take a more active role in overseeing what is a program that they offer to their youth members than others. They (The CO) can remove a member from serving their youth without any real reason. (I'm not saying that they do, only that they could.)

The Chartering Organization can if it chooses ensure that the people who they select to work for the youth they serve do meet standards that are in line with the standards of that organization. This might be seen as policing.


The person I charge with ensuring that the rules and standards of the BSA are followed is myself.

I know that at the end of the day the only person who can make any real changes to me is myself.

Others can make me aware of things that I'm not doing right or point me in the direction to where the information I might need is. They can offer me advise.

If I'm doing something wrong, they can report my wrong doings to the DE or the District Chairman.

The District Chairman was the person who asked me to take on what I'm now doing. He can ask me to step down. The DE could report to the SE who can revoke my membership in the BSA.

If we had a Council Membership Chair or a Vice President in charge of membership (At this time that position is not filled) I would take direction from him or her and I suppose if I went against this direction they could ask for me to be replaced.

I'm very much an ordinary little fellow.

I have many faults.

I have many faces.

Some of these faults and faces are not suitable around young people, so I don't show them.

I can at times be very stubborn and even narrow minded, if I were to allow this to get in the way of me doing the job that I have been asked to do I would expect to be asked to step down.

I enjoy the odd adult beverage. If I were to enjoy this at Scout functions where youth are present or on Scout owned property I would expect to be informed about it and maybe let go.

If I were to be charged with a crime, I might expect to be asked to remain inactive until such a time as I was found guilty or innocent. If I were found guilty I would expect my membership to be revoked. (Depending on the crime.)

Still the penalty for most small infractions of the rules in the BSA is that someone will raise the odd eyebrow or maybe offer a kindly word of advise.


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Eamonn, I certainly enjoyed the way you explained your view and I think I can agree with most of it. I am left with a question though. What kind of beverage is it that you think is odd? I'd be willing to give it a try, perhaps merely for the sake of oddness. Or maybe that would raise an odd eyebrow, whatever that is. ;)

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Eamonn says, "I know that at the end of the day the only person who can make any real changes to me is myself. Others can make me aware of things that I'm not doing right or point me in the direction to where the information I might need is. They can offer me advise. If I'm doing something wrong, they can report my wrong doings to the DE or the District Chairman. The District Chairman was the person who asked me to take on what I'm now doing. He can ask me to step down. The DE could report to the SE who can revoke my membership in the BSA."


Eamonn implies that someone could report his wrong doings to the DE or District Chairman who recruited him to the position he is in. But who does the reporting? The person doing the reporting is who Id look at as the police. Then the DE or District Chairman acts as judge & jury as to the consequences of the behavior.


But lets talk closer to home for most of us. I really want to know who is responsible for pointing out to someone that they are not following the rules, for example on a weekend campout. We may be on Council property or at a State Park. If I see some adult Scouter violating the rules (smoking, drinking, drugs, sleeping with girlfriend, sleeping in same shelter with Scout who is not his son, ) is it my place to say something to this adult about the rules and the fact that he is not following them? Or do I wait till I get home and call the DE? Or do I simply say nothing at all to anyone??? I think Ive read all three of these options in all of your answers in this thread.


In my book it is better to simply have a man to man conversation and explain the rules and why they are there. Eamonn also hints at this approach in his answer. I'd even go further that I expect that the rules will be followed on an outing that Im a part of. Is this an unreasonable approach??? Certainly I have no authority to force change and I dont want that authority. But if we simply overlook rules violations, what good are the rules? Yes, hopefully the others who have volunteered will abide by the rules of their own accord, but who will be there to point out the rules to the new members if they havent had training? If we all adopt the attitude that we cannot say anything to other adults about rules infractions, then they will never learn the rules that they may be OK with following.


To answer a couple of your questions, this is what I mean by "police". People who will make sure that the rules are being followed, by simply coming along side of someone and explaining the rules. Not to force our own morality, but to make sure that the program is delivered as intended and safely. And as I mentioned to simply let others know what the rules are who may not already know. I think this is totally within the bounds of the Scout Law.



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Yah, ASM59, I think you're lookin' at the organization all wrong, eh? I reckon you need to take 3 months off of readin' online forums and get out in da woods with real kids and real volunteers. You'll find they're good people, and good colleagues, and good friends.


I'm actually a bit more serious than I am tongue-in-cheek, mate. ;) Listen too long to this online palaver and yeh really can get a warped sense of da world.


Scoutin' is a voluntary association of Chartering Orgs and folks who enjoy working with kids in the outdoors and other informal settings. Yeh have to view it like that, because that's what it is. Like meetin' fellow sailors, if you're into that. Or fellow reinactors, if dat's your pleasure. Or bein' with other folks in your profession at informal gatherings. No cops, no judges. Just good folks associatin'. Sharin' ideas. Sharin' guidelines to help with safety. Sharin' best practices.


Stop thinkin' of the BSA as though it's the government, and it's publications as though they were statutes, with police and a judicial branch and legislature and all that, eh? It's not what we are.


I'm a part of a good many associations and clubs and hobby organizations and the like, eh? National organizations with local chapters, much like da BSA. Each one has all kinds of folks. Most of 'em are good friends or at least solid, friendly acquaintances. Some are just odd ducks, eh? A few I find boors, or just folks I don't much care for. Especially in my profession, eh? ;)


What do yeh do if you don't care for someone's approach to your hobby or profession of choice? Why, show 'em cordial respect as a fellow hobbyist or professional and then avoid 'em. ;) Now, if someone is a friend, or if I have a relationship with him for some reason (like a commish is supposed to be a real friend to unit folks, though I reckon many fail at that), and an opportunity presents itself where help is needed or a suggestion will be well received, then dat's great, eh? But if it's a fellow hobbyist or professional I don't have a relationship with, I just shake my head. Buttin' in is the sort of thing we call "rude" and "inappropriate."


Of course, things eventually change when we hit da real world of laws and such, eh? Or genuine, life-threatenin' safety. Then it becomes a matter of personal ethics. When is it appropriate to call da Coast Guard to report a fellow sailor, or the FAA to report a fellow pilot? Each of us makes that call if we ever get there, eh? By and large, that kind of decision we only have to face once a lifetime or so. In Scoutin', that's the decision about when we call the cops.


For the rest, a fellow reinactor is a fellow reinactor, even if he's a bit of an uncommitted hack, eh? A fellow pilot is a fellow pilot, even if I wouldn't fly with him because he tends to bounce his landings all da time. And a fellow scouter is a fellow scouter.




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Eamonn, sounds like good basic food to me. Except I recently gave up all alcoholic beverages (stomach problems). Don't tempt me. ;)


Beavah I like your approach. The only time I ever called the real cops on a friend was when I couldn't stop him from driving drunk. He's dead now, liver failure. I've called the police a few times on people I didn't know...thieves mostly.

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Re: Who reports what?

I think each of us needs to follow our heart along with a good dose of common sense.

Some years back the Council I serve hired a fellow who had done a great job as a District Commissioner. He had been the head of security for a mall that closed.

He was a nice enough fellow. I don't know but I think the SE hired him out of some sort of pity.

The guy didn't have any sort of a degree and was never a professional.

I was on the Council Executive Board when a job description for this fellow was discussed. He was hired to be a man of all trades, filling in where needed, a kind of person Friday /Dogs body.

He somehow ended up being the Camp Director.

He didn't do a very good job.

He was divorced and living with a woman who was waiting for her divorce to come through. She was an outstanding Cub Scouter, in fact she served as the Den Leader Coach to the pack I served as Cubmaster.

The Pack was chartered by the RC Church of which I'm an active member. I had informed the Parish Priest and he along with all the Committee members were aware of their living arrangements. The Priest and the Committee while maybe not overjoyed were OK with having this Lady as a leader.

Somehow, someway the SE changed the job description of what this fellow was supposed to be doing and it seems he forgot to tell anyone.

A lot of volunteers got upset because they thought this fellow wasn't doing what they thought was his job.

They were out to get in and went after him. This led to him becoming more and more disliked which led to him having an attitude and soon it was just not very nice.

Some people reported the fact that him and this Lady were living together and had shared the same room in one of the cabins at camp.

They choose to ignore the fact that this pair had been living together for a fair amount of time, had bought a house together and that they had been together while he was serving as a District Commissioner.

Many of these reports had more to do with people who wanted to get back at this fellow than any sort of out-rage or moral dilemma. They were using a rule to harm this fellow and what he seen as his family.

Once her divorce became final they did get married.

I question the reason why these people were reporting something that was common knowledge?


Our Council Summer Camp site is in a state park.

For a number of years I served as Wagon Master for our Council Cub Scout Parent Son weekends (Wagon Master is kinda like a weekend camp director.)

The little fellows arrived Saturday morning, had a full day of activities a camp fire and returned to the sites with their Packs. Many had some type of snack and then went to bed.

I would do a tour of the entire camp at around 2300.

Occasionally I would come across a group of parents who were drinking a six pack of beer.

In the paper work that had been sent out it was pointed out that drinking wasn't allowed, not only because of the BSA rule, but also because of the State Law. I had also made an announcement informing everyone.

The Council Camping Committee had said that anyone caught drinking was to be asked to leave.

When I came across people drinking, I did point out what the rules were, I asked them to get rid of all the beer and give me the empty cans. I explained that I was supposed to ask them to go home and if it hadn't been for the fact that their son was sleeping I would have done so.

No one ever gave me a hard time about getting rid of the beer and I never ever caught the same group twice.

Of course I was aware that I wasn't following the wishes of the Camping Committee. I was fully aware that these people had broken a BSA rule and a State Law.

But I wasn't going to get a little fellow out of bed to be driven down the mountain at night by a parent who while not drunk, had been drinking.

The call was mine and I'm happy with it.


Each of us should look into our heart and see what we think is best before we do anything. We need to be sure that what we are doing is really for the best.

If someone is doing something that we truly believe is going to harm or hurt a child, we don't need to think twice about reporting it.

If on the other hand we are only using the rules as a way of getting back or hurting someone and no one is being harmed or hurt because of the broken rule? Then the shame is on us.




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The constant use of the term "police" is very inappropriate to the role of a commissioner or a DE or any who has the responsibility to support the standards of the BSA.


It would be nice if every Scout leader monitiored themselves and made good decisions based on the values of Scouting, but they don't. You do not need to read many threads on this forum to see that there are scouters both new and experienced who through choice or lack of training misuse many aspects of the BSA programs and its rules.


Someone has to be trained and responsible to help resolve those issues or to at least protect others from that behavior.


The most common methods, as I believe I posted earlier, is friendly persuasion, counseling, mentoring, and training. And it would be wonderful if everyone responded to that in the friendly and helpful mannner in which it is offered. But they do not always. And so the determiniation has to made as to how it is handled and by whom. These issues will usually not go to the outdoor activities committee, or the publicity committee, or the advancement committee, because none of those district or council functions are designed to be responsible for supporting the standards of the BSA.


These issues come to volunteers and professionals who wear the wreath of service. Even in this forum think of how often problems have been addressed by posters with the call to "contact you unit commissioner".


The Commissioners staff are not the police, they are the volunteers trained in what the program methods, rules, and resources are and in how to approach the situations when they occur.


Do all commissioners understand this, no, just as all Scoutmasters do not know their job. But it is the structure that has been developed by the BSA. And when properly selected and trained commissioners meet with properly selected scout leaders most issues are easily resolved.


Let's also remember what police realy do. Their primary purpose is not to seek out and punish lawbreakers. Their primary purpose is to make sure that others are safe and able to do what they want without being endangered by the law breakers. In that sense only are commissioners similar to police.


The unltimate goal of commissioning is to insure that every eligible youth has the opportunity to belong to a quality scouting program.


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The bottom line for our Troop is the Scout Law. At Troop meetings, and at any Troop activity, all of us are bound by that Law. As Scoutmaster, I am the Rules Police, as are the other adult leaders, SPL, PL and their assistants. Both the Scouts and adult leaders understand that a Troop activity is different than life out on the streets. Not that we all don't try to follow the Scout Spirt in our everyday life, but at meeting or on a camp-out, we all work to enforce the Scout Law. I know (from experience) that Scouts are disappointed if I do not call them out when they push too far doing something that is clearly outside the Law. I learned early on that being a "nice guy" really isn't. Over the years, the more clearly we define and enforce the Law, the better they like it. It provides a safe harbor in this chaotic world. The same goes for adults - any adult on a camp-out or other Troop activity is completely bound by the Scout Law. This includes parents and any visiting district or council Scouters. Once they walk into our camp, no one is exempt. To me this simplifies this discussion as to who follows what rules - everyone follows the Scout Law in everything!

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Lets see, Ive posted about 280 times since November of 2003 and youve posted 2820 times since June of 2005. So who spends the time on forums? Most of my time is spent at meetings and in the field with the Troop. As I said in the other thread, I'm OK with disagreeing on something like this. But I am a firm believer in being able to disagree and have a respectful dialogue about the reasons that we disagree. It doesnt mean that I think youre horrible so please dont think I am saying that. But you have to understand that there are probably just as many who agree with my side of this.


All I want to do is calmly and gently inform people who might be breaking a rule that they are in fact breaking that rule. I recognize that I dont have any authority to do anything about it if they dont agree or understand. Based on my experience, a gentle reminder is all that is necessary and there is compliance with the rule. There is no resentment, no hurt feelings, no anger. I have the experience in the field to say that this approach works. You are welcome to think that I am wrong, but I have the backing of many more on this one


Its is better to quietly and gently explain a rules violation to someone rather than to allow the boys to see that adults dont have to follow the rules, or rather than allowing a rules violation that could cause a dangerous or compromising situation.




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I'm not takin' anything personally, ASM59. Just continuin' the conversation with a friend. Please don't worry about offendin' me, I don't offend very easily at all.


I think about things this way. "What am I trying to accomplish?" and "Will my actions actually accomplish that?"


I think if what I'm really tryin' to accomplish is "to [not]allow the boys to see that adults dont have to follow the rules" then I've got a problem, eh? Because as an outsider, those boys don't know me from Adam. If I come over and make some comment to them and/or their Scoutmaster, da only likely response from the boys, parents, and adult leaders is "Who is this jerk?" and rightly so. The boys don't know me, but they know and trust their scout leaders. Da parents of the boys don't know me, but they know and trust the unit leaders. Da unit leaders don't know me, and aren't likely to pay me much heed because all I've demonstrated is that I'm an officious busy-body.


And to make matters worse, I could be wrong. We've all certainly seen that aplenty, eh? I might be wrong on da issue, or I might be wrong on the values of the Chartering Organization that sponsors the unit. Not every CO shares the same view of obedience and rules, eh? Nor of sexual morality. Scoutin' is a big organization. And da BSA guidelines and such aren't the same thing as laws, eh? I'd be lyin' to people if I pretended they were.


At best, all I will have accomplished is to cause folks to think I'm a nitwit. At worst, what I've accomplished is to get boys or parents to doubt their unit leaders a bit, or demonstrated to 'em it's OK to argue with the Scoutmaster. Or if I'm a commish, maybe I've made myself unwelcome. Or if I'm a district scouter, maybe I've ensured they stop coming to camporees or round tables to avoid people like me. None of those things is good for da unit, eh? Or I've demonstrated that folks who care about da rules are kinda petty, so I've actually harmed my original goal, eh?


I think what I would accomplish successfully by goin' to tell folks off about breakin' the rules or fuddlin' up da guidelines or whatever is that I would make myself feel better, and perhaps even feel more important. That may be important for some people, some times. Da BSA can be a spot where they feel important and knowledgeable. In terms of my own personal ethics, while at times I yield to that temptation just as we all do, I'm almost always sorry for it. Scoutin' isn't about me.


So I have to be better than bein' right, eh? I have to choose an approach that is likely to lead to a positive outcome. And I've got to do it in a way dat's Friendly, Courteous, Obedient to my role and relationships, truly Loyal to a fellow Scouter and especially Kind. Ain't enough to be right.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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