By Darryl Alder
Sep 18, 2019

Scout Ambassador Toolchest: Selecting Leaders

Use this pamphlet to help in selecting quality Scout leaders

As an ambassador and new unit organizer, before we start meeting with youth, we have vital tasks to carry out in building a new pack, troop or crew (unit). This begins with an organizing team, who are likely other Scout Ambassadors like you.

Together you will need to recruit and train at least five primary adults who will be registered with BSA and then be selected as the unit leader and assistants or organized into the unit committee.

The Process

The first priority of the organizing team is selecting quality unit leaders: Cubmasters and Den Leaders, Scoutmasters, and Crew Advisors, and their assistants. This begins by making a prospect list of qualified adults who would make good leaders and match the
profile of the position to be filled.

However, don’t choose just anyone to fill a slot; be selective. Choose prospects who exemplify the values of the Boy Scouts of America. Don’t make assumptions about whether a prospect will accept the position; it is important to give prospects a chance to make their own decision. You may be surprised how many times busy people will commit to volunteering for organizations that serve youth.

Once the list is made it is presented to the head of the chartered organization for approval. At that time ask for additional suggestions. Also, have the organization appoint someone—perhaps a member of the organizing team—to be the chartered organization representative (COR); see pages 6–12 of The Chartered Organization Representative Guidebook. The COR represents the organization at the district and council levels as a voting member, however, the COR is not one of the five primary adults mentioned above.

These primary adults in the case of a troop, are the Scoutmaster, the Assistant Scoutmaster, the Committee Chairperson and at least two committee members. For existing units that have a Scout committee in place to assist with this process, the job is theirs, but in our case, Scout Ambassadors and others should be identified to form an organizing team with the chartered organization representative (COR).

This organizing team is a kind of steering committee to identify leader prospects, which includes unit committee members, unit leaders, and assistants. It would, of course, be ideal if many initial prospects came from your neighborhood Scouting ambassadors.

To begin the process, give everyone a copy of Selecting Quality Leaders for Cub Scouts, Selecting Quality Leaders for Scouts BSA; or the Crew Advisor section of the Venturing Advisor Guidebook, depending on the kinds of units you are organizing.

For the purposes of this post and because it is urgent that we establish troops for boys who wish to continue Scouting before the end of 2019 (see “Gather the Low Hanging Fruit—Scouts on the Eagle Trail“), this article will explain how to move forward on getting Scoutmasters, their assistants, and a troop committee. The process is very similar for other unit types.

1. Chartered Organization Briefing

New-Unit Organizer and New-Unit Commissioner

Someone has to own the organizing process for new units. The new-unit commissioner and new-unit organizer working outside the unit should shepherd the steering committee. Both of these positions, working with the district executive will be the primary guides for the new-unit organization process for the first ninety days.
The new-unit organizer works closely with the leader of the chartered organization to put together an organizing team. The new-unit commissioner supports that effort while striving to become familiar to the group, but taking the lead in helping the unit on its Journey to Excellence.

Normally the chief officer of the chartered organization (or their appointed chartered organization representative) meets with the Scouting professional, New-Unit Organizer, and New-Unit Commissioner to discuss the process of selecting and recruiting quality leaders. Together they would discuss recruiting techniques, share videos, and other support materials. But with the urgency, for Utah National Parks Council Scout Ambassadors to act now to provide troops for boys on the trail to Eagle, this briefing might just be a meeting of neighborhood Ambassadors to get things going.

However, once a charter partner is identified, it is important for them to understand their responsibility for selecting and recruiting new leaders both now and going forward. The action needed is for the chartered partner to appoint their own steering committee of influential people to select the very best individual to serve as Scoutmaster. This steering committee, of course, could be comprised of you and other Ambassadors in the area, along with interested Scouters and parents. But in the end, the chartered organization approves the list and may help with the asks.

2. Steering Committee Meeting

After a chairperson is selected to head the steering committee, they select a date and time for the first meeting and notifies committee members. At the meeting, the following things should be on the agenda for action:

  • Review part one of the videotape Selecting Quality Leaders or review the list in green to the right.
  • Make a list of prospects including Ambassadors, chartered organization members, and parents.
    Prospects should live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
    Don’t make assumptions about whether or not they have time to serve or will accept; give them an opportunity to make their own decision.
  • Rank the prospects. The steering committee should agree on and rank the top three prospects, in preferential order.
  • Before making any contact, clear the list with the head of the chartered organization.
  • If available, review part two of the videotape Selecting Quality Leaders. It explains the vision of Scouting to the prospective Scoutmaster.
    Become familiar with the points made in the video or the list in grey to the right.

3. Make an Appointment with the Prospect

What are the personal characteristics of a successful Scoutmaster?
• Commitment to Scouting’s ideals
• High moral standards
• Ability to relate to boys
• Ability to keep a “cool head” under pressure
• Good organizational skills
• Ability to relate to and interact with adults
• Flexibility and the ability to compromise
• Good planning ability
• High energy level
• Good attention to detail

A Scoutmaster must BE …
• A good role model for the leadership skills expected of the boys
• A coach and a guide as the boys grow through Scouting
• An example for the aims of Scouting
—Exemplary character
—Model citizen
—Physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight
• Approachable
• Respectful
• Trusted
A Scoutmaster must KNOW …
• That Boy Scouting works best when the boys are the leaders
• That the patrol method is the best way to run a troop
• The basic skills that are expected from the boys
• How to use the Guide to Safe Scouting in developing the troop’s program
• The tools and resources available from the district and council
—Unit commissioners
—Training opportunities for youth and adults
—Roundtables and supplemental training opportunities
—High-adventure opportunities to keep older boys enthusiastic

The steering committee member who knows and has the greatest influence on the top prospect should make an appointment to meet. Usually, this can be done by phone, but do not try to recruit the prospect over the phone.

At this point, just set a time and date to meet, preferably at the prospect’s home. You will want to involve this person’s spouse since it will affect their time at home. If the prospect questions the purpose of the meeting, just state that it is to discuss a matter of importance regarding the youth of the community.

Confirm the date and time with the other steering committee members who will be making the visit with you.

4. Call On the Prospect

The committee members making the call should gather at a convenient place but arrive at the prospect’s home as a group. Once there, ask the prospect to serve in the desired position, subject to approval of the membership application and background check. If for some reason the prospect is unable to accept the position, you should repeat the process with the number two prospect (who now becomes number one).

You may find the prospect has some concerns. Here is a list to help you overcome those objections:

4. Have the Prospect Complete an Adult Membership Application

The new leader must complete a BSA adult application. It is the responsibility of the committee to review and screen the application. Individuals who have lived in the community for three or more years and are known to members of the committee well enough for
them to serve as a reference should require little additional screening.

Conduct a reference check on those who are new to the community as well as those who may be new to volunteer Scouting. References should be checked in a discrete, non-threatening manner, and previous Scouting experience should be confirmed.

Upon approval, the application is signed by the chartered organization head or chartered organization representative and is submitted to the local council. All leaders registered with the Boy Scouts of America must meet its standards for leadership.

6. Welcome the New Leader

Every step should be taken to ensure that the new leader is recognized for accepting this important position. Once the prospect has accepted the position and has been approved as a leader, the head of the chartered organization should personally welcome the new leader.

An announcement could be placed in the local newspaper, on social media and the chartered organization’s publication, if applicable. A formal induction ceremony should take place as soon as possible at a meeting of the chartered organization.

7. Fast Start Training

A representative from the BSA local council or district will contact the new leaders and schedule initial training and attendance at the next roundtable is encouraged as well as participation in Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster
Leader Specific Training, and BSA Youth
Protection training

8. Meet with the New-Unit Organizer and New-Unit Commissioner

Their responsibilities are as follows:

New-unit OrganizerNew-unit Commissioner
• Organizes and runs recruitment efforts. • Supports recruitment to get at least 10 youth and five adults for the unit.
• Coordinates with the district training chair to provide Youth Protection and initial training.• Encourages leaders to take training both during this organization phase and into the future.
• Supports a leadership succession plan before the first charter renewal.
• Introduces the organizing team to the Journey to Excellence and the Voice of the Scout.• Helps unit leader write a vision statement and set goals for the uIntroduces the organizing team to the Journey to Excellence.
• Helps leaders plan the details for their first meeting and introduces them to the national first month meeting plan.• Schedules an annual program planning meeting led by an
experienced district representative.
• Attend the first meeting. • Attend the first meeting. From
this point on, the new-unit commissioner takes the leading role in mentoring the unit for the next 36 months.
• Familiarizes the leaders with the district/council calendar and
encourages roundtable attendance.
• Ensures that unit leaders and parents are added to council and district email lists so that they receive current event and training information.• Ensures that unit leaders and parents are added to council and district email lists so that they receive current event and training information.
• Present the charter at a full meeting of the chartered organization with the commissioner• Present the charter at a full meeting of the chartered organization with the new-unit organizer

9. Establish a Unit Key 3

Among the leaders selected, the best prospects should be reserved for the unit leader (Scoutmaster in this example), the committee chair, and the chartered organization representative (COR). This unit Key 3 should meet monthly. Note: Unlike in The Church’s units, the chartered organization representative position should be a separate position and not a multiple position. The COR will be a voting member of the local District and Council.

The key 3 will then need to select additional leaders to serve as Assistant Scoutmasters and Committee members. Unlike units in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these leaders will not survive long without a working Scout committee. So nearly just as important in this intial selection process, will be the building of a strong committee of parents and other interested adults.

The new-unit commissioner serves as an advisor to the Key 3 and should be assigned by the district at the very start of the organization process. There should be a 1:1 ratio—one new-unit commissioner for one new unit. The unit commissioner commits to serve this new unit for three years helping them get started and become a high-quality unit.

Properly selected quality leaders are vital to successful operations and the continuation of new units. Find them, train them and watch Scouting work.



Darryl Alder, blogger for "The Boy Scout"

Author: Darryl Alder is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Exploring Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner. He currently serves on the Utah National Parks Council Executive Board and is a Scouting Ambassador.

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