By Annaleis Smith
Sep 12, 2016

Commissioner Awards Updated

Commissioners, like all Scout leaders, deserve to be recognized for all they do. The awards and recognition available to commissioners in the BSA were updated May 1, 2016. Odds are, you may not have heard of some of these awards or maybe you are just not aware of the new requirements for earning them.  Whether you are “Knot Motivated” or not, after reading this article you will be “in the know” on the basics of commissioner awards and recognition.

  • First, a word about Roundtable Commissioners – A few years ago the BSA created a few new commissioner positions (Winter 2013 Commissioner Newsletter). The biggest change was that those with the title of “Roundtable Staff” became assistant roundtable commissioners.  It was stated at the time that “it allows the assistants to pursue the normal roundtable training and awards structure.”  However, the awards structure was not set up for assistant roundtable commissioners to easily earn.  The requirements for the old awards were worded in such a way that when reading them most assistant roundtable commissioners thought “Huh?” And still were not sure how to earn them. Not so anymore.

In the Spring 2016 Commissioner Newsletter, the newly updated commissioner award requirements were finally announced and they were posted to the BSA’s Commissioner Website.

What is available to commissioners?

According to the Commissioner Awards and Recognition web page, there are three categories of commissioner awards and recognition:

  • Recognition of an individual’s commitment to serve.
  • Recognition of an individual’s development.
  • Recognition of an individual’s impact.

There are also three classifications of commissioner awards and recognition:

  • Recognition from an individual’s selection to serve.
  • Recognition from an individual’s application for an award.
  • Recognition from an individual’s nomination for an award.

Badge of Office

Unit Commissioner Patch Assist_Rndtable_Commissioner_4k

There are currently 15 different badges of office that include the word commissioner. The commissioner’s badge of office can be (should?) used as recognition. In fact, there is even a list of specific requirements for receiving your badge of office as a commissioner. It’s not just about accepting the position; it’s also about the official approval of your application and completion of your orientation.

* A note about “Orientation” – Orientation is listed as one of the requirements for the badge of office, trained leader emblem, Commission and the Arrowhead award, but what exactly does that mean? Commissioner training starts with an overview for those who are new to Scouting and for those who are new to commissioner service. Commissioner orientation includes the following training which can all be found at

  • Youth Protection  — required to register as an adult volunteer
  • This Is Scouting — for a basic understanding of the Scouting movement (if new to scouting)
  • Unit Commissioner Fast Start — for a basic understanding of the commissioner role (as far as I know there is not a fast start for other commissioner positions)
  • UVTS – Commissioner Tools Training — for an understanding of how to report unit visits, roundtable attendance etc.

Trained Leader Emblem

trained patchJust like all the unit leaders, we want commissioners to be trained for their position.  In the Utah National Parks Council, we firmly believe that every boy deserves a well-trained leader and every leader deserves a well-trained commissioner. Commissioners should be recognized and awarded with the above patch when they have completed their training. A list of the required training for each position can be found here.


Commissioning CertificateIndividuals selected/appointed to be commissioners who have completed the basic training and orientation requirements for their positions shall be Commissioned by the Boy Scouts of America by their local council. The issuance of the Commission represents the formal empowerment by the Boy Scouts of America of the commissioner to perform the duties and undertake the responsibilities for the designated commissioner position and the acceptance of this obligation by the commissioner. The commissioning of the commissioner should be conducted in an appropriate setting in the presence of fellow Scouters within 60 days of initial appointment. Find more specific information (including sample ceremony scripts) here.

Arrowhead Recognition

ArrowheadHonorYou may have seen the white arrowhead patch on the sleeve of some commissioners. The Arrowhead Honor recognizes proficiency in the contemporary tools and techniques commissioners use to provide effective unit service.  The arrowhead has prerequisites of current Youth Protection Training, Orientation (see above), and position-specific training completion.  Then, depending on your position, the additional requirements change slightly.

You can find links to the requirements for earning this patch for 11 different commissioner positions on the commissioner web page.

The Commissioner’s Key

ScoutersKey_4k_thumbThe Commissioner’s Key, much like other leader awards, encourages and recognizes continuing training, performance, and tenure by commissioners.

You can find links to the specific requirements for nine different commissioner positions here.

Doctorate of Commissioner Science Knot

DocComSci_thumbI recently wrote about the different degrees that are possible by attending a Commissioner College. Don’t confuse this with earning the Doctorate of Commissioner Science. That is one of the requirements, of course, but in addition, you must be registered as a commissioner for at least 5 years (tied for longest tenure requirement of any leader knot) and recruit 3 additional commissioners.  Find more detailed info here.

Commissioner Award of Excellence in Unit Service

CommAwardService_4kThis is awarded to a commissioner who provides exemplary unit service, focusing on unit performance as measured in Journey to Excellence and through the use of the current Boy Scouts of America Unit Service Plan and Commissioner Tools.  This award is only available for those assigned as a Unit Commissioner. More detailed information is available here.

Certificate of Commendation

Certificate of CommendationThe Commissioner Certificate of Commendation is for use by the local council to recognize a commissioner who has performed in a commendable manner, but such performance in itself does not rise to the level expected for the Distinguished Commissioner Service Award.  This award does not have specific requirements but is awarded by nomination. Any registered commissioner who has contributed to the improvement of service to their unit, district, or council may be nominated.  A commissioner may receive this multiple times. More info and nomination forms are available here.

Distinguished Commissioner Service Award

DistCommServ_4k_thumbThis is the highest recognition that can be given to a commissioner. It recognizes an individual who has consistently engaged in distinguished and exceptional commissioner service resulting in significant, positive impact on youth, units, and a district and/or council.  This is another award received by nomination rather than fulfilling a list of requirements but does have the prerequisites of 5 years of tenure and the Commissioner Key. You can find more information as well as the nomination form here.

GeneralCommiss_4k_thumbSo, how many of the above recognitions have you earned?  What do you need to do to earn more? Do you know anyone who deserves to be nominated for any of the nomination awards? I personally would like to see a commissioning ceremony. Does anyone actually do that?

Annaleis SmithAnnaleis Smith is a stay-at-home mom of 5 children who has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003 and on roundtable staff or a roundtable commissioner since 2007.  She currently serves a cubmaster, unit commissioner, and a few other unit, district and council positions.  Her Scouting passions are Cub Scouting and Roundtable.

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