Commissioner’s Blog #10

“A Job for Every Family and Every Family has a Job”



John A. Hovanesian, M.D.

November 25, 2013

Around this time of year, many scouting units, freshly infused with new recruits from the fall season, are full in the swing of the program year.  Around this time, the unit’s leaders often also discover the tremendous burden of work upon them if they are running things without help.

Well-organized units spread the work among nearly every involved family.  Moreover, from the very beginning, they create an expectation among families who join Scouting that they will have some role in volunteering.  “It’s always better,” I like to say, “to choose a job you enjoy rather than be assigned one you don’t.”  Effective units begin the program year by listing all the vacant committee and leadership roles and handing out a page with a brief description of each.  This gives joining parents a concrete discussion guide.  At the beginning of each description is a check box and at the top a heading that says choose one.  This makes the expectation very clear — that each family will take a part in leadership.

What roles should you offer?  Here is a listing and brief description of a few important responsibilities.  Feel free to cut and paste the words below into job descriptions for your unit’s parents:

 – Scouting Coordinator:  This person is actually assigned by your chartered organization, not recruited by the unit.  He/she serves as a liaison between the sponsoring organization (church, school, civic club) and the committee chair as well as the unit leader (Cubmaster or Scoutmaster).  Together, they form the “Unit Key 3.”  This person reports to the head of the chartered organization (pastor, principal, president of the community organization).

– Committee Chair:  This person has overall responsibility for recruiting leadership and providing support to the leaders to run a quality scouting program.  Reports to the Scouting Coordinator.

– Unit Leader:  The Cubmaster or Scoutmaster is responsible for the overall program of the unit, organizing it into dens or patrols, and supervising the youth contact leaders.  He/she reports to the committee chair.

– Assistant Scoutmasters or Cubmasters.  Usually, you want a few of these.  They provide assistance to and report to the unit leader, helping carry out the program of the group and other assigned duties.

– Den Leader (Cub Scouts only):  Each of these leaders reports to the Cubmaster and carries out the den program for one group of about 8 same-grade boys in the Cub Scout program.

– Program Chair:  Some units have a volunteer who is responsible for arranging all the logistics involved in delivering the program, like ensuring that equipment and supplies are on hand.  While these duties can be delegated to others, this position is often very helpful to have, especially in a larger unit. Reports to the committee chair.

– Pack Trainer:  This role ensures all volunteers are aware of and participating in available training opportunities.  Keeps records of training.  Reports to the committee chair.

– Secretary:  It’s useful to have a volunteer who keeps records of committee meetings and maybe supervises history keeping of the unit’s activities.  This person would also liaise with the Web master.  Reports to the committee chair.

– Web Master:  A critical role is to keep everyone aware of what’s happening in the unit.  The Web master oversees the Website, making sure the information is current and correct.  This person also provides technical support to families having difficulty with this site.  Reports to the committee chair.

– Treasurer:  This is a perfect job for a bean counter-type who doesn’t mind the occasional work of handling checks and processing payments and reimbursement.  Oversees a bank account registered to the tax ID of the sponsoring organization and provides financial reports to the sponsor when required.  Obviously, choose someone totally trustworthy for this role.  Reports to the committee chair.

– Publicity Chair:  Often overlooked, I have written previously about the importance of this role, which is to keep the community aware of the unit’s activities.  Works closely with the Web master.  Reports to the committee chairman.

– Camping Coordinator:  It’s very helpful to have a person who makes reservations and coordinates details with overnight facilities.  It’s a perfect job for someone who has time for a few phone calls during the day and mostly emails whenever time is available.  Reports to the committee chair.

– Popcorn kernel:  This person, reporting to the committee chair, oversees the all the details of the unit’s popcorn sale, working with the district popcorn chair to ensure success.

– Equipment Chair:  Especially in the case of a Boy Scout troop, where more equipment is owned, this person oversees the maintenance and repair of all the unit’s wares.

– Membership Chair:  This important role is for a marketing type, who enjoys reaching out to schools and other community organizations from which new new members might come.  Reporting to the committee chair, he or she is highly responsible for the growth of the unit.

– Registrar:  Usually a different role from the membership chair, this committee member maintains the unit’s official roster and keeps records of dues.  Takes the lead on the rechartering process.  Reports to the committee chair

– Advancement Chair:  This person is responsible for keeping records of scout advancement, ordering awards from the council, and alerting unit leaders of scouts who are not advancing.

Hospitality Chair:  Leading an enthusiasti committee (of usually moms), this volunteer makes sure food and beverage are there for every court of honor, banquet, and reception where food is served.

It’s amazing how much fun and enjoyment you’ll get out of volunteering in Scouting when you work with a capable, energetic group of volunteers who each have a small job for which they receive recognition and appreciate the benefits of a well-organized unit.

If you’d like to see an org chart, here’s a decent one for Cub Scouts and one for Boy Scouts.

I welcome comments on other committee positions that successful units have found in our council.  You can email them to me at