You are an Assistant District Commissioner in a medium sized District. For the last year everything has been working just the way your trainer told you it would, if you followed all the steps in recruiting and managing your Unit Commissioners. In fact you have been quite proud that your Service Area has just about been tops in everything that can be measured. You’ve had so many people ready to help that when you wanted to recruit new Commissioners, you were able to pick extra people right out the units and pick up leaders that were leaving. It was a cinch getting good experienced people. But you’ve always had a nagging fear that something was always about to bite you in the backside, but couldn’t quite put your finger on the problem. It is Saturday and that is the day you usually make a few calls to check on things and do a few e-mails. Today is your lucky day.
About two in the afternoon you get the first of several phone calls that shatters your image. As soon as you pick up the phone you can hear a burst of angry words rattling off the caller’s lips. You ask them to slow down and explain from the beginning. The story goes like this:
My son Tommy just came home and told me he was going to quit Scouts forever. I’m steamed. Did you happen to know that he was almost ready to be an Eagle? All he has is a service project!!! But now its all over and its because of that stupid idiot you appointed Unit Commissioner. He just couldn’t keep his nose out. And you know why? Its because he wanted to take care of his own brat. That’s right he didn’t care about the Troop at all. He proved that. He was at the committee meeting that killed my son’s service project and then let his son do one that was almost the same thing. I know he pulled rank and pushed it through and it just isn’t fair. You can also forget my FOS pledge, cause I’m not about to send money to support this kind of thing. I just thought you should know. Have a real nice day buster.
A few minutes later you are awakened from your daze when the phone rings again. With anxiety you pick up the phone and listen. This time its another irate parent. This one is really upset that the Troop has been up to some things that just don’t sound right and that the Unit Commissioner was there and didn’t do a thing. From what you can make out of the excited bursts of chatter, your Unit Commissioner was the old Cubmaster and went to the Pinewood Derby earlier in the day. There apparently was a dispute about whether a few of the cars met the weight and size requirements. Your UC allegedly spoke quietly to everyone concerned about making this fun for the boys and urged all of them to be allowed to participate. Well as luck would have it one of the disputed cars won. Now this parent thinks that its the good old boy stuff and that the UC should have been impartial and not have favored old friends.
Again the phone breaks your growing miserable afternoon with its plaintiff bleeps. You’d like to let the answering machine take over, but answer anyway on the slim hope that things will be better in this call. Wrong. This one is even worse than the others. Your good friend and a great Scouter who has been a Scoutmaster for the last two years tells you he is resigning and leaving Scouting. You ask why. He says its all the Unit Commissioner’s fault. He’s also really ticked at you. Dumbfounded you listen further. He goes on to point out that you really never trusted him to be Scoutmaster. This is of course news to you. He explains that he knew this because you appointed the old Scoutmaster to be Unit Commissioner to keep an eye on him. He then goes on to tell you that for the last two years it has been sheer misery. Every time he wanted to do something the old Scoutmaster turned Unit Commissioner stepped in and corrected him changing things all the time. The final straw came when last night the Unit Commissioner was at the school parking lot as people were showing up for a campout. He canceled the activity because he didn’t think the Scouts were prepared with the right gear and didn’t think there were enough leaders going. He didn’t even consult. Instead he just told the parents to take their boys home. In a final fit of rage he tells you that if that old stinker still wants to play Scoutmaster then let him have the job. He slams his phone down in your ear.
Before you can collect your thoughts you get a fourth phone call. Almost instinctively, you begin to apologize when you realize the caller wants to talk to you about another of your Unit Commissioners. Then you wake up and realize the caller is telling you there’s nothing to apologize about and please listen. So you do. This caller explains that for years nobody was ever there to help the Pack and Troop at their church. But when you appointed Charlie, an old Cubmaster with grandkids in both the Pack and Troop to be the Unit Commissioner, everything began to change for the better. The caller credits Charlie with making all the difference explaining that now the units are growing, that they have wonderful activities, and that the boys are advancing for the first time. He then tells you a story about how Charlie took the time to help one Scout who was in trouble and worked with the School guidance counselor too. This boy has just passed his Eagle Board of Review. Your caller wants to know where to get a nomination form for the Silver Beaver and is asking whether the Church has an adult award that can be given to Charlie. Tears begin to flow down your cheeks as you listen to the wonder work he has done.
Finally the phone is quiet. You have to figure out what went wrong and what to do to repair the damage. You also have to reward a great performer.
1. What did go wrong?
2. What are the dangers of having a Unit Commissioner that is “too close” to a unit?
3. What can be done to repair the damage?
4. In which situation(s), if any, should the Unit Commissioner be replaced?
5. What would you do differently, if you could do things over again?
6. All of these Unit Commissioners were close to their units. In one case this worked out very nicely. In the other cases, things appear to have gone differently. Does this mean that you should never have a Unit Commissioner that has been related to the Unit?