By Darryl Alder
Sep 20, 2019

Scout Ambassador Toolchest: The New-Unit Commissioner

“What is a New-Unit Commissioner?”

A New-Unit Commissioner is an experienced commissioner specializing in serving brand new units as they get established. As an advisor to the pack, troop, or crew (unit) they aid it during its first three years of operations.

The New-unit Commissioner and New-unit Organizer work together to help units along the path that establishes them as a strong Scouting unit.

A New-Unit Commissioner is assigned to help a new pack, troop, or crew, (or one that is reorganizing), early in its organization process. These commissioners work closely with New-unit Organizers in getting the unit started off right, but this commissioner holds a special place in the formation of a new unit, sticking with them as a mentor for up to 36 months.

While not a member of the unit, the New-Unit Commissioner guides and encourages the unit leadership through the Journey to Excellence and along the path that establishes them a strong independent Scouting unit. These commissioners are the go-to person to coach and consult with Crew Advisors, Scoutmasters, and Cubmasters. They work with unit committees to lay a strong foundation around which the new unit forms and continues successfully for many years. They work to become a familiar face to new-unit leaders and become a recognizable, consistent liaison between the chartered organization representative and the district.

“How is that different than a regular Unit Commissioner?”

While the roles of all unit commissioners are very similar in that they both work as mentoring coaches, but the New-Unit Commissioner is involved in the organization process with things like selecting leaders, training.

It is typical and acceptable for most unit commissioners to be assigned several units at a time. But the demands of and intensity of service needed from the New-Unit Commissioner means that they are assigned to just one unit; at least during the new unit’s first year and preferably for three.

The concept of commissioner service is focused on helping packs, troops, and crews operate at their best so they deliver a good program to a growing youth membership. Results-oriented, rather than procedures-oriented, they are successful in their mission when units continue to operate, find and recruit regularly new youth, and effectively deliver the ideals of Scouting to their members.

Commissioners are most concerned with good unit operation that delivers the promise of Scouting adventure. They encourage Roundtable attendance for resources and ideas to make that happen. In other words, the concept calls for commissioners to develop the program capability in a unit which is particularly vital to new units.

“Why do we need a New-Unit Commissioner?”

When a new unit is organized Scouting has made a promise to those families that their sons or daughters would have a top-quality Scouting experience that they cannot get anywhere else. It is a promise that must be kept!

Experienced unit commissioners often say it would be much more exciting to “raise a unit in the way it should go” than to monitor an existing one. So New-Unit commissioners derive even greater satisfaction from their special role than other unit commissioners simply because they can take pride in the creation process, watching the unit grow and be sustained over many years.

Comparison of Duties for the New-unit Organizer and the New Unit Commissioner

During unit formation, the New-Unit Organizer and the New-Unit Commissioner work closely together to ensure the unit’s success, but each has distinct duties.

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

Commissioner Training

Commissioners need training too

A trained leader is knowledgeable and more confident in the role being performed. Trained leaders exhibit knowledge and confidence that is picked up by people around them. Trained leaders impact the quality of programs, leader tenure, youth tenure, and a whole lot more.

A trained leader is better prepared to make the Scouting program all it can be! In few roles is that more important than it is for the New-Unit Commissioner!

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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