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What should Boy Scout Meetings look like?

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  • #16
    I'll have to say I don't think "total chaos" is necessarily a positive measure of merit.

    In the troop I serve, the older boys demand discipline. Within a few weeks of crossover, we have a silent, still formation with each scout in line looking toward the front. If someone starts to twitch, he'll have several surrounding boys give him the eye of disapproval. It's amazing how quickly they catch on.

    When it's time to play, they are loud and boisterous. When it's time to work, they're pretty much down to business.

    This isn't 100%, but very close. It didn't come easy, either. Older boys complained at a Troop JLT a few years ago that discipline was slipping. I challenged them to fix it and we brainstormed an initial course of action. When problems arise, PL and older boys in patrol handle it. If need help, SPL rolls in. They've never had to bring me in to fix a problem.

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    • #17
      Engineer61,

      I have seen a lot of troops that are being run in the Patrol Method where the Patrol Leader sticks around for a year or so in the job. There isn't a lot of turn over. Yea, the SPL and ASPL and other officers might change every 6 months, but the Patrol Leader doesn't. *If* your running your program through, not around, the Patrol Leaders, then you should see less chaos and more organization.

      That is one difference between the Patrol Method and the so called "Troop Method" and on reason why we should be teaching the Patrol Method to new Scoutmasters, not the "Troop Method."

      my 2-cents

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      • #18
        bnelon44,

        You bring up another important point which impacts "chaos theory." In the troop I serve, we always encourage the boys to elect/select the best available leaders for each position. As a result, it's not uncommon for PLs to serve 2 or more terms, although not necessarily consecutively. Most SPLs only serve one term, but we've had several who served for a full year. Same is true for other PORs. The more seasoned leaders are more comfortable and effective. They have all commented on how much more they enjoyed the second term because they were finally getting the hang of this leadership stuff.

        In other troops I have served where rapid advancement was the priority, the adults managed all of the leadership opportunities so scouts could meet POR requirements on schedule. As a result, youth leadership was weak and the adults had to burn a ton of energy yelling for quiet. No thanks.

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        • #19
          TwoCubDad.

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          • #20
            Some of my proudest moments as a Scoutmaster are watching our Scouts prepare for a camping trip.

            It's not chaos when they are focused on figuring out food and equipment. The older Scouts have learned the hard way how important planning is to have a good camping trip. And they are also very focused at the Troop meeting after the camping trip when discussing what went right and wrong and what to do differently next time.

            Back in January, they were especially serious and focused when preparing for winter camping, carefully reviewing equipment and advising the younger Scouts what to bring. They all knew how serious cold weather was, and there was no chatter or side conversations. Their planning paid off and everyone had a great time in nearly a foot of snow and temperatures in the low teens.

            Yes, things can be chaos, but without any adult intervention, the Scouts themselves can really pull things together and plan and implement at least 10 camping trips a year.

            However, this culture does not occur spontaneously. It takes a number years of adult help, training, and controlled failures to get a Troop to the point where Scout Leaders have the experience and knowledge to conduct an outing, and the rest of the Troop understands what it means to be a good follower.

            I think either A or B in the original post has the potential to become a great Troop, but it sounds like a number of changes would have to be make to get it to the point of being an active Scout run Troop.

            But hey, it's only an hour a week... and it only took me 10 years to change a very adult run Troop into a Scout run Troop that I can stand back and watch with pride.

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            • #21
              Well in my experience, the troops that are youth run tend to be more chaotic than an adult run troop. grant you you do have really tight troops out there that are youth run, but in my experience they are older troops, with a good mix of younger and older scouts, lots of tradition, as well as lots of mentoring done by the older scouts to the younger scouts, and of course SM to older scouts. My troop growing up was like that, as well as another troop locally. One troop has the potential to get there, they just need seasoning.

              THE biggest advantage of a youth run troop vs an adult run is that the youth runtroop can survive SM transitions. Even in the absence of a SM, the SPL and PLC can manage, with a little difficulty grant you, until a dedicated SM can be found. happended in my old troop when the SM of 25 years stepped down, and happened to another troop locally. The "best run troop in the district" growing up was a dult lead, and fell apart when the SM left.

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              • #22
                Thanks fish, I'll let you know where to send the royalty checks for the poster.

                But MikeF makes a good point, too. Chaos is not the objective. An well-organized, orderly, Scout-run meeting would be ideal. Much of it is perception. From an adult view, and compared to a staff meeting at work, a troop meeting is going to appear to be chaotic.

                And I'm probably overly de-sensitized to the chaos. We've got a big troop and a small facility. Even when everyone is working as they should meetings are pretty crazy.

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                • #23
                  I will clarify what I said about Troop meetings being total chaos! To us unseasoned new crossover parents it LOOKED like chaos but only because we didn't know what was going on. The SPL had it together...my husband was very impressed with how well he got the boys working together, doing elections, etc. I am very excited to see the boys in action at future meetings. All I know is that the Scouts in our sons new troop were very welcoming to all the Webelos and were sincerely glad to have them on board...from the very first campout they went on to the moment they crossed over!

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                  • #24
                    I guess I'll clarify what I said about our Troop meetings being total chaos....

                    They are total chaos.

                    There is always someone different leading the meeting, never more than 14 years old (usually younger). The older boys are almost never there. The last time I saw them was at CoH. So the issue in this troop is that the older Scouts are not around to mentor the younger Scouts. That results in perpetual chaos.

                    Since August, my Scout's Patrol has had 3 PL's and 2 APLs'. My son is now an ASPL.

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                    • #25
                      CPAMom,

                      Greetings again!

                      I commented earlier about the Troop meeting plan, and they should somewhat resemble a planned event, segueing from meeting activity to the next meeting activity.

                      Now.. If I can comment about "Chaos". Within my troop, we use a similar term.
                      When newly arrive families visit our troop and annually during our "Hug-A-Webe" meeting, we refer to our meetings as "Organized Chaos". From the outside view, it may appear to be total chaos, but underlying all the fun "spinning plates" and quick rotation of meeting agenda events we have some organization to it.

                      A Scoutmaster buddy of mine says his troop is continuous Semper Gumby or always flexible. He says, We got a plan, but we can always change it!

                      From the visitors eyes, it may appear to be a circus. So we invite them to visit our troop 2-3 times, and then equally go visit other troops, and then decide on a troop they will be happy with. We believe they will find a "three ring circus" and "chaos" at each troop. But somewhere they will eventually they will see the underlying organization.

                      At all the troops in my local district, I expect there is a meeting plan and the Scouts are somewhat adhering to some meeting plan. Theirs (and our) meetings should vary from a lot of Organized Chaos to a little bit of Organized Chaos.

                      My bottom line. There should be some troop meeting plan with a troop. Maybe a great plan, maybe a poor plan, but better than no plan at all.

                      Scouting Forever and Venture On!
                      Crew21 Adv

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                      • #26
                        For years I tried to get the SPL and troop scribe to produce the troop meeting plan with sufficient copies for the leadership folks who needed it. Never happened.

                        What is working is a 30x40 white board on which we've reproduced a blank troop meeting plan worksheet right out of the handbook. While no one seems to want to produce a document (I think kids equate anything on paper with homework) they are much more inclined to take five minutes to fill out the white board. Not only is that good discipline for the leaders, but with everyone knowing the agenda, it keeps the meetings much more on track. With the newbies just crossed over, it's a handy prop to explain the meeting format the them.

                        You can buy 4x8 sheets of white board material for about $20 at either of the big box hardware stores. We did the lettering with vinyl stick-on and drew the lines in with permanent markers. It's an exact repro of the form in the SPL and SM handbooks.

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                        • #27
                          I'd say chaos is a matter of perception. A troop meeting might be complete in line, ruuning as it should and be very productive, but in my adult eyes, appear to be chaotic.

                          I think of meetings where a group of ( usually adults in the later 30's to early 50's) get together and sit at tables while one person at a time lectures onabout blah blah blah .

                          Thuink buisness meeting or even college training.

                          In that sense, the boy'smneeting are total and utter chaos - in comparison.
                          WEll, You ever tell your 9 year old son to act his age? Did you really meanact 9 years old or were you thinking "Act MY age" ?

                          Chaos might be in the eye of the beholder. And honestly, if a bunch of Boy Scouts age boys hold meeting in the same order as I am used to.... I might start getting worried as they are having "Children of the Corn" tendencies!

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                          • #28
                            I'd say chaos is a matter of perception. A troop meeting might be completely in line, ruuning as it should and be very productive, but in my adult eyes, appear to be chaotic.

                            I think of meetings where a group of ( usually adults in the later 30's to early 50's) get together and sit at tables while one person at a time lectures on about blah blah blah .

                            Think buisness meeting or even college training.

                            In that sense, the boy's meetings are total and utter chaos - in comparison.

                            WEll, You ever tell your 9 year old son to act his age? Did you really mean act 9 years old or were you thinking "Act MY( 39 ) age" ?

                            Chaos might be in the eye of the beholder. And honestly, if a bunch of Boy Scouts age boys hold meeting in the same order as I am used to.... I might start getting worried as they are having "Children of the Corn" tendencies!

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                            • #29
                              Here is what Boy Scout meetings should look like:

                              The SPL leads the troop in an opening. This typically involves flags, perhaps a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance with something relating to the Scout Oath or law (a recitation of the Scout Oath, for example).

                              Then there could be a very short period where the SPL discusses the theme for the meeting, usually a breakdown of what will happen during the meeting as it relates to the monthly theme or this month's outing. Normally these are aligned (the monthly theme and the outing, that is).

                              This very short period launches directly into the skills instruction, which again directly ties to the monthly theme or to the upcoming outing. The troop typically breaks down into smaller groups by experience level. Newer Scouts will typically work on the basic skills that are present in the T-2-1 requirements, while more experiences Scouts will work on advanced material that may or may not be tied directly to an associated merit badge. An adult might be doing the advanced instruction, but it has been set up in advance by the patrol leaders' council.

                              Next come the patrol meetings. These typically setup the interpatrol activity and give the patrol an opportunity to coordinate for the upcoming monthly activity. For example, if the upcoming activity is a campout (and I certainly hope it is!), then they'll discuss menus and such.

                              Then comes the interpatrol activity. This is often colloquially referred to as "game time," although it should be a game with a purpose, and it should fit in with the overall theme of the meeting. The SPL should be overseeing this.

                              Finally comes the closing. It is at this point in the meeting when the troop at large first hears from the Scoutmaster. First, announcements are shared with the troop, either from the SPL or the Scoutmaster (or perhaps both). Then comes the Scoutmaster's minute, where the Scoutmaster briefly shares some gem of wisdom. Then the troop closes the meeting in a short ceremony that captures the positive tone of the meeting and sends the troop home with a Scoutlike feeling.

                              Sure, there will be variances here and there, but this is typically how it looks when everyone involved is doing things right.(This message has been edited by sherminator505)

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                              • #30
                                We welcome visitors to any meeting. We don't plan "special" events to woo prospective scouts. I followed up with a parent that visited to see if they had found a troop home. They had chosen to join another troop. His comment to me was "Your meeting was too chaotic. There were no adults in charge". He didn't know about a boy lead troop or any of the business of how it runs, and it's a big bill to explain that to a visitor or parent in one meeting. I try to keep the operation of the troop in the boys hands, and I do the SM minute. That's about it. Occasionally, the advancement CM will make a presentation of awards.
                                So, yes, sometimes it looks chaotic, and I love it. It's boy leadership in action.

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