2003 Keynote Remarks

Rick Cronk, National Commissioner


It's truly great to be here. I'm given a pretty busy schedule here at the national meeting. But I want you all to know that the opportunity to be part of this session is the single most important event I attend. Rubbing shoulders with those who give top leadership to commissioner service in our local councils both humbles me and gives me a great sense of hope for the future of Scouting. Like you, I have a passion for what we do.

You are important folk. Our new brochure on "selecting a council commissioner" says this: "the council commissioner is an extraordinary Scouter, a role model of exceptional Scouting service throughout the council. He or she guides the district.

Commissioners who recruit, train, and guide an adequate staff of commissioners in their respective districts. He or she sets a high standard and expects exceptional service by each district commissioner and each ADC in the council." That's an exceptional responsibility. Only more exceptional in the BSA is why we're really here: to see that America's youth are instilled with the finest values-based program in America today.


Many of you have heard me say how convinced I am that kids, when assessing their satisfaction with Scouting, simply vote with their feet. If a meeting or camping trip was fun and the scout was challenged and is proud, he will return. If he was bored, confused, or not particularly impressed, he will walk out of that event for the last time. And if we believe in the value of Scouting, we must consistently deliver an exciting, quality scouting program full of challenge, learning, adventure, and fun.

Commissioners across the country are our established way of being assured that we have a quality program in every pack, troop, and crew in America. Commissioners can increase the tenure of kids in scouting so they have a maximum exposure to the values we instill.

Today, I would like to challenge each of you in the year ahead to give some very special attention to cub scouting, our entry-level program. Some commissioners have had more experience with boy scouting, and we may need to concentrate on some of the fine points in serving cub packs. I am, therefore, delighted that in a moment, John Fooks will share some key ideas about "Cub Scouting and the commissioner." Your great corps of commissioners are the guardians of good unit program. Please have your commissioners focus on and become even more effective in serving cub packs.


This past February, I had the opportunity to take part in the nationally televised new-unit videoconference. Hundreds of potential chartered organizations took part from over 300 local sites. As a result, there were 5,966 local commitments to organize new packs, troops, and crews. As commissioners, we have a big role to play in the success of this effort.

We must be sure we have a unit commissioner assigned to help new unit leaders get their unit program off to a great start. In a few minutes, Steve Herman will help us look at commissioner service to new units.


We have many Scouting procedures, program details, and operational details to learn as commissioners. Perhaps even more important for commissioners, however, are the people skills we need

  • Unit diplomacy
  • Working effectively through other people
  • Creating teamwork and unity
  • Being a good listener
  • Recruiting the right kind of people as commissioners

Later in this elective, Ken Edgerton will present some important considerations in assigning unit commissioners to units. How do we get the best match? Do we pay enough attention to the people chemistry between unit people and the assigned commissioner?


During the past year we have been working nationally to increase the importance of commissioner service in the Boy Scouts of America. Our national staff adviser, Conrad Fruehan, will share what's new in commissioner service this year.


As you think about your commissioner team back home, I'd remind you that commissioners are not passive. They must be proactive to personally visit their assigned units regularly and help unit leaders develop the kind of unit we'd want our sons to join and our neighbors' sons to join. Then commissioners get their leaders to training, to continue the program through the summer, and to increase the advancement recognition for all scouts.

I am always struck by how Scouting's core values are connected to the everyday activities and advancements of a good scout unit. They learn values like honesty, courage, respect, and good citizenship.

The measure of what we do is dramatic—but, we must be sure that young people remain in the program long enough for the values and program of scouting to significantly touch their lives. That is why I urge you to continue to increase tenure of both youth and units in the Boy Scouts of America.