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Commissioner Service, how do we make it more effective?

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"Then they are not entering the data into UVTS correctly!"


They're entering correctly, and getting credit for all 24, but when the gold standard is 6 visits to 50% of your units, the 18 additional don't "count". That's where the discrepancy lies, and where we hope a change is made. Not because the 6/50% is unreachable, but because those visits may fall by the wayside if a UC has a major issue in one unit. We're getting some UCs to retroactively enter the "other" contacts, so I doubt we'll not reach gold, but it seems that metric needs some adjustment. The tracking is fine, we just feel the goal isnt the best measure.




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Well, we know we will have the 6/50% standard this year, and next (since they said there would be no changes the first two years).


What I expect to see as the change, is "visits" as described in requirement 2 of the "Performance" section of the new "Commissioner Award for Excellence in Unit Service":


2. The commissioner shall make at least six physical visits to each assigned unit per year. All visits must be logged with UVTS 2.0. Examples: unit meetings, unit activities, leader meetings, and summer camp visitations


Which means "Other" contacts will not count (even though they are listed in requirement 3).


And while the other 18 'don't count' -- they count for the unit ... and that is what truly matters!


How many units does each UC in your district have? If you are working the 3:1 "ideal" then I'm sure that between the UC working the problem unit, his ADC, and the DC -- the assigned units should still be getting the proper attention - and visits recorded in UVTS.


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Im a little surprised that the District Commissioner and Council Commissioners havent been discussed. While there are some very good individual Unit Commissioners who have the passion to do a good job like SeattlePiondeer, the general quality of the Commissioner Corp. is a reflection of the leaders.


Sadly, I have watched hard working UCs promoted up to a manager leader level even though they lack the skills for the position.


Districts out there with a high level of quality UCs all have one thing in common, a DC with the skills of recruiting and accountability. Recruiting speaks for itself, but accountability is the skill of managing systematically the UCs to keep track and respond to a unit's performance. For example, its not really hard to identify a broken den in a pack, the signs are generally overwhelmed adults with over active unresponsive scouts. There are many red flags a UC can note and take back to the District for discussion. I know this because Ive seen it work well in other districts. Those districts attempt to nip problems in the bud.


Also, I dont buy into the idea there arent enough good scouters out there to do the job, I once asked a DC for some help with Webelos loses. He responded by telling me he couldnt get enough UCs to do the job. I handed him a list two days later of eight excited and qualified scouters wanting the job.


But the point of my response is to quit promoting scouters who are rewarded the the DC and Council level Commissioner position for their hard work in other areas of the program and instead search for and find that rare special person with the skills to recruit and manage the program properly.


I also like Twocubs idea of specialized RT commissioners. We tried this idea in our District with some success a few years ago only we didnt call the RT commissioners. It was an idea from the training committee, so we called them District Special Forces. Mainly they handled new and struggling units. But I must caution, just like in the Commission Corp, the RT commissioners are only as good as the volunteers who are recruited. A scouter who was a lousy Scoutmaster will also be a lousy Scoutmaster Advisor for a struggling troop.


Its all about recruiting.


Good discussion.




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E-Dad --


I agree, in more ways than one.


I have seen great UCs who make lousy DCs, and I have seen DCs who were never a UC do a great job!!


But, recruiting, is EVERY commissioner's job - not just the administrative commissioners. But a DC who is running a good commissioner program, with UCs that are not "overwhelmed" with too many units, has some of the best recruiters available -- and those UCs should want to have more commissioners in their corps. But numbers are not the answer -- numbers are quality commissioners is the key!


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"And while the other 18 'don't count' -- they count for the unit ... and that is what truly matters!"


That's why the concensus is that we the metric will be addressed. While unit visits are nice, helping units is the ultimate goal.


"How many units does each UC in your district have?"


My district is the odd one out in the council. It's me and an ADC, and that's after 13 months of me attempting to recruit everyone I can think of. I've gotten 3 to volunteer, but for the committee. So my loss, but the scout's gain. I'm one of those Eagledad hints at, really not the best fit for the job, but when I went to the DE to offer services as a UC, they had zero commissioner staff.


Council-wise, the other districts are at about a 5:1 ratio. Those districts are all well on the way to Gold standard.

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Here an interesting response to a question I sent to our DC. In our Council newsletter, sent electronically via email, there is a place for each district to have news and announcements. In my district's section, the was an announcment that if you did not pick up your planning packet at a large meeting in June, your UC has it. Considering we lost our last UC due to medical reasons, I haven't seen or heard from one in almost 2 years. The previous UC was good; he would come by almost every month, talking to the adlt leaders, and observing quietly in the back of the meeting hall. I can honestly say he was what I believe what a UC should be; a "friend to the unit."


Anyway, I sent an email to our DC, and actually received a quick response. Here it is:


Mr. SMEagle819,


Sorry to hear that you have not had contact with a Commissioner in 2 years. Mr. UC-4-YOUR-UNIT is your Commissioner at this time and his phone number is 555-1234. He picked up his assigned Units packets last week. Please give him a call and leave him your contact information to call you back to set up a time to get it to you. A phone call will be faster. He does not get a chance to look at e-mail every day. His e-mail address is UC-4-YOUR-UNIT@whatever.com. Let me know if you needed any additional help.


Thanks you for Supporting Scouting,


District Commissioner



I wonder if this new person will respond as quickly as the DC....


I'll keep the group updated.

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Someone wrote: "In our district the UCs main job is recruiting."


It made me think about how often district committee vacancies or those that need to be re-staffed or filled by someone wearing two hats (district or unit). All new blood is quickly grabbed to help with higher priorities. Popcorn. FOS. FOS community / business. Membership. Recruitment. District camporees. UC never makes the cut.


Also, it made me think about the type of person, the wise, kindly, friend of the unit gentleman that has spare time to regularly visit units to just say hello and see how things are going. Thats the Fred MacMurray / Lem Siddons scouting era. Were all much busier than back then. Today is the Bear Grylls / Mike Rowe scouting era. The point is if you plan to keep a volunteer, you better have something definite for them to do or something else will take their time and attention.


Thinking about finding the right person reminded me that units have very different personalities. A commisioner that works well with one unit wont work well with another.


BSA needs to be realistic. A program designed around finding many people of the right type of a rare personality is asking for failure. They are out there, but they are already volunteering as scoutmasters or popcorn chairs or membership chairs.




What's Bob's number? I'll call him. I like the unit-to-unit mentorship idea. ;)

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"How many units are you and your solo ADC trying to take care of? "


Well, that all depends on how you cut the district up. We have 52 units, with 2 new ones coming on line. But, of those only 9 are "traditional", as in volunteer led. The other 45 are under program managers. So, basically, between the 2 of us, I'm working with 4, he's working with 5. I work with the 5 program managers, but they really don't get Commissioner Service in the traditional sense, because of their status as employees. The ultimate goal is to get them commissioners, but they're behind the other 9 priority-wise.


"Now I have to clean my keyboard and display."


Hey, its the mantra now :), but then again, look at my district's breakdown. Program managers aren't professionals, but they're still paid. Our FD is pushing HARD for those units to be on their own within 2 years, but we'll see.

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When I think about Commissioner Service.

I get a little lost.

Before we can make it more effective we need to do a better job of defining what it really is.

All this "Friend to the unit" sounds good but does little to clearly define what the job is.

This of course makes it really hard to recruit others.

The image of the Commissioner is not the greatest in part because Commissioners have been used as District dog bodies doing whatever needed doing.

Back when our District had what I'd call a real group of Commissioners. (27 Commissioners looking after 42 units.) The guys who were taking the time to visit units would attend the monthly meetings and report if the unit was Green: Doing well, Yellow: OK but could be in need of some help or Red: In real trouble.

More often than not these reports remained the same, the Red Units remained Red the Green remained Green the only change might be in the yellow units who moved one way or the other.

The U/C was the eyes and the ears of the District but other than reporting wasn't able to do much to change what was going on in the unit.

Sure every now and then a group of adults were unable to get along and the U/C might get to act as some kind of referee. But even with a fully functioning District Committee the problems that units had weren't changed just by having a visit from the U/C.

The units that were in the Red mainly had problems with not having active adult leadership or not having enough youth members. Many seemed ready to fold year after year, but somehow managed to recharter year after year.

The Key 3 knew what the situation was, but losing a charter made becoming Quality more difficult, the CO knew but either didn't care, want to get involved, seen it as not their problem or didn't want to upset the leadership that was in place. The District Committee knew and sent in people that could offer ideas that might work. Often this was seen as interferences.

Mean while the U/C is doing his visit trying to be a friend. The poor guy is walking on egg shells. More often than not to be a friend of the unit the thing that needs done is to replace all the adults in the unit, but if there were more active adults around the unit wouldn't be having the problems in the first place. So he becomes a friend of the leadership, which is not the same thing as friend to the unit.


Our District Chair is stepping down at the end of this year. I've been asked to consider replacing him.

Things are a real mess. The District has become so small that it can't support paying a DE.

The DE we have is a nice enough fellow but seems resigned to the fact that everything is failing.

The District Committee no longer meets! There just aren't enough people to make having a meeting worth while.

The monthly R/T has become a conference phone call.

The District Commissioner has a staff of two.

He is a super nice guy but is the busiest person doing nothing that I've ever met. Him and his gang of two meet every month to do what? I don't think they know. Nothing happens or comes out of their meeting. Other than doing the stuff that has to be done and more often than not the DE has done this stuff anyway.

All the high tech toys in the world aren't going to do much until such a time as there is a clear, well defined job description that Commissioners can try to work with.




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I think the unit-to-unit mentoring idea has merit. One of best nights I had in scouting took place at a cookout where we realized that there were leaders from 4 area packs who all happened to know the hosts from other activities. I've had similar experiences at birthday parties and at the YMCA pool. Pack leaders want help, they want to talk about their experiences and what works for them and what doesn't.


We have a district commissioner. I've met him a half-dozen times or more. I don't know if he has anything to offer us, because he always shows up without notice at pack or den meetings and we don't have time to talk to him. He tries. I understand the units that respond to DCs by brushing them off because that is what we end up doing as well. I would be much more receptive to having him attend a committee meeting or meeting one-on-one.

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