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About Commissioner Service

What Is Commissioner Service?

Youth experience Scouting in Packs, Troops, Crews, Teams, and Posts. The healthier the unit, the more wonderful things will happen for these youth involved in Scouting. To help make this occur, the Boys Scouts of America provides a program of unit service through adult Scouters specifically commissioned to help chartered organizations and unit leaders to achieve the aims of Scouting by using the methods of Scouting.
These commissioned Scouters wear a shoulder patch with a wreath surrounding the Scout symbol. Commissioner Service is the organization within Scouting that provides a program of unit service. Because of the importance of unit service to the successful delivery of the Scouting program, you will find Commissioners at every level of Scouting. And all of these Commissioners are there as a team to help assure that individual Scouts get the best possible program.
At the national level, BSA has a National Commissioner. Similarly, each Council has a Council Commissioner and Assistant Council Commissioners. However, it is at the District level that you will find more than 95% of BSA's Commissioners serving as District, Assistant District, Roundtable, and Unit Commissioners. 
In each District you will find three types of commissioners: 
  • Administrative/Management Commissioners: This includes the District Commissioner and the Assistant District Commissioners. Their primary responsibilities are recruiting, training, guiding, and evaluating the Commissioner staff. In larger Districts you may find that they are are line managers and specialty advisors within the Commissioner staff. For example you may have Assistant District Commissioners that manage several Unit Commissioners in a Service Area and others that specialize in rechartering, training, or the administration of Commissioner service.
  • Unit Commissioners: Unit Commissioners are assigned to one or more units, which they serve and counsel. In some Councils and Districts, Exploring units are served by Unit Commissioners known as Exploring Service Team Members (must be registered as a Service Team Member with the Explorier Program in the Learning for Life Program). 
  • Roundtable Commissioners: Roundtable Commissioners provide unit leaders with resources and training in program skills through regularly scheduled roundtable meetings. 

The Commissioner's Mission

The Commissioner's mission is to keep Units operating at maximum efficiency so they can deliver a quality program to a growing membership. The Commissioner's role is to develop strength within the Unit by providing program resources, and acting as the liaison between the Unit and the District and Council. This helps Units provide the best possible Scouting program, which ultimately helps assure that individual Scouts have the best opportunity to
  • develop good character traits 
  • participate and use good citizenship skills 
  • practice personal fitness. 
In general, the goals of Commissioner Service through the execution of a successful unit service plan are to: 
  1. Help see that the objectives of Scouting are being carried out. 
  2. Assure that each unit has strong, competent unit leadership. 
  3. Promote regular meetings of unit committees. 
  4. Encourage growth in youth membership 
  5. Help assure that Scouts and units take an active part in District and Council activities. 
  6. Foster a positive relationship between the chartered organization and its unit leaders. 
This unit service program is invaluable to both the chartered organizations and the local Council when it is thoroughly understood and wisely administered.


You Are Scouting's Front-Line Diplomat 
As a new unit commissioner, you are one of the most important influences to ensure quality Scouting in the Scout units assigned to you (usually only three). With your help, the units you serve will be prepared to provide an even better program to the boys and young adults they serve. Because of you, boys and young adults will stay in the Scouting program longer. 
  • What is a unit commissioner? A unit commissioner is the quality control officer who coaches unit adults toward success.
  • What is a commissioner staff? It is a team of unit specialists and roundtable specialists charged with ensuring a quality program for all the youth in its assigned units. 
Commissioners help keep units alive and healthy.
  • Unit commissioners conduct most of the direct contact with units. 
  • Assistant district commissioners help the district commissioner administer the entire commissioner staff. 
What Is a District? A Scout district is a geographical area of the BSA local council, determined by the council executive board. District leaders mobilize resources to ensure the growth and success of Scouting units within the district territory. All districts are responsible for carrying out the four standard functions: 
  • membership, 
  • finance, 
  • program, 
  • and unit service. 
The membership function strives for growth through the organization of new Scouting units and growth through new members joining existing units. The finance function sees that the district provides its share of funds to the total council operating budget. The program function concentrates on helping Scouting units with, camp promotion, special activities, including community service; training adult volunteers; and youth advancement and recognition. The unit service function provides direct coaching and consultation by district volunteers for unit adults to help ensure the success of every Scouting unit. The membership, finance, and program functions are carried out by members of the district committee. The unit service function is carried out by the district commissioner staff. The district chairman is a member of the council executive board. The district commissioner meets with the council commissioner and other district commissioners on a regular basis. The chairman of each district operating committee may be a member of the corresponding council committee.

What Does a Unit Commissioner Do?
To help units succeed, a Unit Commissioner:

  • Helps each unit earn the Journey to Excellence Performance Award. 
  • Uses the annual commissioner service plan, with its scheduled opportunities for commissioner contact with units. 
  • Knows each phase of the Scouting program and is able to describe what each is and how each phase works. 
  • Attends unit meetings to observe the unit in action, assesses its special needs, and determines ways to help each unit succeed. 
  • Regularly visits the unit leader to listen and offer encouragement, and provides appropriate support. 
  • Works to ensure effective unit committees by attending meetings. Helps in developing a good relationship between unit leaders and chartered organization leaders. 
  • Knows the communities where his or her units are located. 
  • Knows the district and council resources that can help his or her units. 
  • Sets a good example in Scouting ideals by demonstrating helpfulness, proper uniforming, and good people skills. 
  • Continues growth as a commissioner through training, experience, and consultation with others in the district. 
  • Involves unit personnel in Cub Scout and Boy Scout roundtables, Varsity Scout huddles, and Explorer officers' association meetings. 
  • Assures that proper techniques are used to select and recruit unit leaders. 
  • Facilitates on-time annual charter renewal of all assigned units. 
  • Helps the unit conduct membership inventory of youth and adults. 
  • Helps the unit committee chairman conduct the charter renewal meeting. Sees that a completed charter renewal application is returned to the council service center. 
  • Presents the new charter at an appropriate meeting of the chartered organization. 
  • Sees that unit leadership receives adequate training


Unit commissioners are appointed by the District Commissioner with the approval of the Council Executive Board. You might ask, "What do I do first?" When accepting this important responsibility, a new unit commissioner usually takes these steps: 
  1. Meets and becomes acquainted with district commissioner and/or assistant district commissioner. Discusses ways to learn the job.
  2. Studies Highlights for Unit Commissioners ... an Overview and other materials suggested by your assistant district commissioner.
  3. Views the video, The Unit Commissioner. Helping Units Succeed, No. AV-04VO01. 
  4. Arranges for an early orientation session with the district commissioner or assistant district commissioner and ask that he or she accompany you to visit assigned units.
  5. Puts important Scouting dates on calendar, including monthly meetings of the district commissioner staff, and the next commissioner basic training course. If you have done these five things, you are off to a great start. 

Congratulations on the contribution you will make to today's youth. 

You and Your Commissioner Leaders 

The District Commissioner reports to the Council Commissioner, supervises the commissioner staff, and is responsible for the unit service function of the district. Assistant District Commissioners report to the district commissioner and are responsible for an assigned share of units in the district and supervise the commissioners who serve those units. Together these leaders recruit, train, supervise, and motivate the commissioner staff so that Scouting units in the district receive regular helpful service. As a unit commissioner, you should stay in close touch with your assistant district commissioner and district commissioner to discuss how the district can help to strengthen each unit's programming and leadership. 

Your District Executive 

The district executive is your special Scouting friend and counselor-the full-time Scouting professional in the district. He or she is employed by the council and reports to the council Scout executive. The district executive is the only Scouter in the district other than commissioners who wears the wreath of service in their badge of office. You can expect your district executive to
  • Provide professional coaching
  • Propose unit service plans for your consideration
  • Give inspiration and encouragement
  • Maintain regular contact with the heads of your chartered organizations
  • Provide vital behind-the-scenes administrative skills
  • Work with and support volunteers

How Will I Know I Did a Good Job? 

You are successful when the units you serve are successful. Commissioners are successful when their assigned units' membership grows and when their units succeed in providing a quality program for youth. Commissioners measure progress by units that recharter on time and meet the requirements for the national Quality Unit Award. Self-Evaluation for Unit Commissioners, No. 4421B, is a more detailed look at the success of a commissioner. These are measurable results for a good unit commissioner.

What about the less measurable qualities of a good commissioner? 

  • The outstanding commissioner Is an enthusiastic leader of adults 
  • Inspires confidence and builds morale in unit adults 
  • Has practical knowledge of Scouting or, more importantly, is a fast track learner 
  • Is diplomatic and can handle difficult unit situations while maintaining good relations with unit adults 
  • Strongly believes in Scouting and its ideals 
  • Respects cultural and socioeconomic differences 
  • Respects personality differences 
  • Adapts well to changing unit circumstances 
  • Is persistent, yet patient, with unit staff 
  • Stays focused on specific unit needs, and helps each assigned unit become more effective with its program and operation 
A commissioner is a person who sets high goals and standards. America's youth deserve no less!

Where to Get More Help 

Other Scouters 
There are many people in the district who can help you succeed: your assistant district commissioner, the district commissioner, members of the district operating committees, and the district executive. Scouting gatherings provide great opportunities for learning, sharing ideas, and problem solving. These include 
  • conferences and training events for commissioners, 
  • Philmont Scout Ranch 
  • unit commissioner conferences, 
  • and monthly district commissioner staff meetings. 
  •  Commissioner Service and District Operations Support, No. AV-06DVD08
  •  Commissioner Annual Orientation, No. AV-04DVD03
  •  The Unit Commissioner.- Helping Units Succeed, AV-04VO01


251 Commerce Circle
Sacramento, CA 95815

phone: (916) 929-1417

Hours of Operation:
8:30am - 5:00pm (M-F)
Closed Saturday & Sunday

River City Scout Shop

251 Commerce Circle
Sacramento, CA 95815

phone: (916) 649-1800

Hours of Operation:
9:00am - 5:00pm (Monday - Friday)

10:30am - 3:00pm (Saturday)
Closed Sunday

NorCal Scout Shop - Chico

3881 Benatar Way, Suite D
Chico, CA 95928

phone: (530) 809-0400

Hours of Operation:
11:00am - 6:00pm (W-F)
10:00am - 2:00pm (Saturday)
Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday

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