What it Really Takes to Sustain Units

By: Sue Simmons, National Commissioner Service, Starting and Sustaining Units Chair 

“What is really needed to sustain units?” That question has many answers: great program; active adults and parents; active youth; a recruitment plan; a succession plan; use of the Journey to Excellence; good communication within the unit, district, and council; a clear understanding of advancement; guidance in how to fund the Scouting program through fundraising; and passionate, inspired, trained leaders—just to name a few. Let’s not forget a unit commissioner and a district commissioner, as well as a district committee and council that have all the resources needed. I have listed only a few of the answers, and as commissioners we help our units determine what is really needed for them to sustain their unit.  

Commissioners support units by assisting them in assessing their strengths and needs. We help them develop a Unit Service Plan and connect to district committee resources they need to implement the plan. That sounds so easy, but we know it takes time and the right relationship to make it work.  

This is the perfect time of the year for district commissioners to assess the needs of the units in their districts. Are all the units assigned to a commissioner in Commissioner Tools? Did all the units have a detailed assessment and at least five additional contacts? Which units did not renew their charter on time? How many new unit commissioners will be needed? What training needs will commissioners have this year? How can district roundtable better serve the units? District commissioners need to assess, plan, and implement to sustain units.  

Having a collaborative detailed assessment in the first quarter will help unit commissioners assist their unit in planning for the remainder of the year. We are welcoming girls into packs and troops; are these units ready? What do they need? Helping our units understand and implement the many new and exciting opportunities in the Boy Scouts of America is our role as commissioners. How can we help our units?   

Another way to help our units is by creating a culture of trained leadership as a key component to sustaining a unit.  We have all heard “Every youth deserves a trained leader,” and they do. I encourage all commissioners to review the training needs for your units. Work with the district commissioner and district committee training chair to schedule needed face-to-face training or support online training at my.scouting.org.  

“What is really needed to sustain units?” All of the above and more. Commissioners, remember our objectives:  

• Supporting unit growth and retention through the Journey to Excellence

• Contacting units and capturing in Commissioner Tools their strengths, needs, and a Unit Service Plan that enables continuing improvement  

• Linking unit needs to district operating committee and other resources  

• Supporting timely unit, district, and council charter renewals  

• Supporting unit leaders by delivering effective roundtables that provide program ideas, relationship development, and timely communication And our methods:  

• The Unit Performance Guide methodology  

• New member coordinators  

• Unit Key 3  

• The Unit Service Plan  

• Journey to Excellence  

• my.Scouting Tools (including Commissioner Tools)  

• Continuous recruiting  

• Assigning resources to greatest needs With these tools in our commissioner backpacks, we are ready to help our units become strong, sustaining units.