2002 Keynote Remarks

Rick Cronk, National Commissioner

I.

It's great to be with you today. During the past three years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you here at the National Annual Meeting. I have also visited and spoken to numerous council commissioner conferences across the country. I've enjoyed hundreds of conversations with you as you have "grabbed me by the sleeve" and shared with me ways we might be more effective in our role of serving the Scouting movement.

I want to personally thank each of you for all you do for Scouting. You are impressive folk and your role in Scouting is important for our nation's youth.

Today, you have selected an important elective.

 
II.

In recent months some of us have been thinking about how to increase the importance of commissioner service in the BSA. There are things that the national office can do to help. Ultimately however, the importance with which commissioner service is viewed in a local council is a function of the top commissioner and professional leadership of the council: each district commissioner/district executive team—and—the council commissioner/Scout executive/staff adviser team.

In a moment, Bob Johnston will share some key ideas to help you increase the importance of commissioner service in your council.

 
III.

One of the exciting opportunities we have as commissioners is the relatively new Venturing program. Venturing is the fastest growing program in the Boy Scouts of America. As commissioners we must provide adequate service to Venturing crews. I would contend that most of the tasks performed by unit commissioners for Venturing crews are the same tasks performed to help Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops succeed:

  • We handle the annual charter renewal and help the unit earn the Quality Unit Award.
  • We help the unit replace its leadership.
  • We work to assure active unit committees.
  • We work to strengthen the relationship between the unit and its chartered organization. We do many other things common to all units.

However, we must also become more familiar with the Venturing program, because there are some commissioner tasks which are unique to Venturing. There are also a few tasks which may be unique to the individual post and its special interest. I'm delighted that Brad Harris, our Associate Director of Venturing, is with us today to share some important thoughts about Venturing.

 
IV.

John Inman is going to give us a report on Scouting's response to the tragic events of September 11. I had the opportunity to give a brief summary of this response at the last meeting of the National Executive Board. John will share an expanded report with you today.

I don't mind telling you how moved I have been by what our Scouts, our units, and our councils have done during the past eight months. But it only illustrates what we have always done in Scouting to help America's youth learn good citizenship. It represents the values of Scouting which you and I pass onto our youth.

 
V.

Those in this room must always be enthused about recruiting commissioners. People sometimes say that "Recruiting doesn't last." Well, neither does bathing—that's why we recommend it daily! So recruit we must. And our standard is high—our 3 to 1 ratio of units to unit commissioner. We know that many councils will not meet the 3 to 1, and that's ok. But we need to set a challenging goal.

I commend all of you because our national record is improving. We ended 2001 with a higher ratio than the year before. We grew by more than 1200 commissioners nationwide. Congratulations on all your efforts to "field a complete team." Later in this elective, Janice Druez will present a variety of recruiting ideas including some real fundamental methods.

 
VI.

As commissioner leaders, each of you plays an important role in the quality recognition program of the Boy Scouts of America. Every one of your unit commissioners carries the responsibility for helping his or her units become quality units. Each of your district commissioners plays a key role in helping their district become a quality district. And you and your whole team can move your council toward quality council status. Please take some time at a council commissioner cabinet meeting to review the quality awards in your council.

 
VII.

Finally, let me challenge you to respond to the challenge of no dropped units.

The chronology of dropped units is simple and well known to all commissioners:

  • Poor unit leadership leads to uninspired program.
  • Uninspired program leads to Scouts "voting with their feet" and walking out of their last Scouting activity.
  • Scouts walking out of Scouting leads to troops, packs, crews, and teams closing their doors.
  • Units closing their doors—dropped units—leads to our inability to empower kids with the self-confidence and self-esteem that comes from understanding and living by the principles of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.
 

So, if you and I understand our role in Scouting, if we pride ourselves in bringing value to commissioner service, then a fundamental measurement of our success is striving for no dropped units!

I quote from page 10 of the Commissioner Fieldbook: "The only reason for having commissioners is to help units succeed."

It's wonderful that we may be asked to do many things in Scouting. But if we are not attending unit meeting; if we are not providing the quality control focused on stimulating, effective unit program; if we are not giving a priority to responding to problems which may threaten the life of a unit, then we are not doing our commissioner job.

There is an enormous library of material available to assist commissioners in helping units succeed. But it all boils down to your leadership of this important team of people in your council. You provide the vision of what good commissioner service really means.

I want to ask you to inspire capable commissioners to support quality unit program and coach great unit leaders. Let's band together and sing the praises of no dropped units!

Again thank you for all you do to bring the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law to the youth of America.