The culture of a troop with Mixed age patrols should encourage the patrols to recruit new scouts every year to keep ages balanced. Even scouts who start new patrols should recruit a balance of ages.
Keep in mind that mature patrols can only take 2 new scouts without risking the group dynamics. Same age patrols tend to have an environment of slower scout growth because there is less older scout role models, but the one time New Scout Patrols are recommended is when the new group of scouts out numbers the 2 per patrol maximum. Temperary NSPs in that situation give the new scouts about six months to get use to the troop routines before switching into existing mixed age patrols.
The PLC should be responsible for healthy patrol dynamics. But the SM shouldn't be afraid to advise until the PLC has the maturity to understand and carry that responsibility. It's also important to understand that the adults are learning and maturing as well. There goal is to put the adults out of business.
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I'm amazed how people assert things such as "Same age patrols tend to have an environment of slower scout growth..." or "Mixed age patrols should encourage the patrols to recruit new scouts every year to keep ages balanced".
Some very authoritative statements are made that are opposite of my experience. Perhaps it all comes down to Your milage may vary and do what works for you.
I'm comfortable with similar age patrols and letting scouts choose the patrol they want to be in if they want to change. It works well for us. I like the environment it creates. Scouts get to start practicing leadership immediately and see what works and what doesn't. Troop guides are around to help. PLC is around to help the new PL learn his role too. Training and mentorship is key is always key.
Beavah wrote: "In a mixed age patrol troop, boys naturally select that way,eh?"
Boy's naturally select? It depends on which side of the decision the boy is sitting on.
If you ask the SPL/PLC to "assign" boys to a patrol, they will do mixed age. Just like at work or military or most other areas, leaders want balanced teams. But patrols don't need to be balanced across each other. IMHO, patrols need to be balanced within so that they naturally are interested in the same topics, same activities, want to spend time together and do things together.
If you ask the boy select where he goes, 80%+ will choose to go with their same age or with their buddies. And ya know what, I'm perfectly fine with that because those are the people the scout would naturally spend time with. As such, I'd rather have them together responsible for each other than responsible for others and then ditching those people to be with each other.
I guess it really depends on the environment you want to create. I'm very comfortable with how BSA describes it. Other's don't like it or have had trouble with it. That's their unit though.
Scoutmaster Handbook, page 8 of the 2010 edition...
"Method 2The Patrol Method
"Within the larger community of the troop, the patrol is a Scouts family circle. Often made up of boys who are close in age and experience level, each patrol helps its members develop a sense of pride and identity. The boys themselves elect their patrol leader, divide up the jobs to be done, and share in the satisfaction of accepting and fulfilling group responsibilities."
>>I'm amazed how people assert things such as "Same age patrols tend to have an environment of slower scout growth..." or "Mixed age patrols should encourage the patrols to recruit new scouts every year to keep ages balanced".
- Sep 2008
our troop use to be a lot larger 5 years ago (almost too big) and at that time it was age based patrols. It worked well as most years we would get 8 boys join and they would form a patrol. From back then we still have 1 patrol and they are 16-17 year olds but only a few are still active, but they do not want to join a different patrol officially.
Our other 2 patrols are mixed aged. We get about 2-3 new boys a year and they will join into the same patrol and then the next year the boys will join the other patrol. It fills in with boys that have quit or are just not as active and it works very well. The only thing we do though is seperate siblings. Too often having brothers together has caused more problems than it's worth... plus we have a few brother sets and if you get brothers bunking together and then one extra they get a little left out - so brothers separated keeps that from happening and helps keep the peace.
- Jun 2002
Everytime we get into one of these discussions the opinions polarize toward either mixed-age or same-age. It's not an either/or.
When Scouts are given the opportunity to form their own patrols, my experience is they do a pretty good job of balancing things. Age wise we tend to wind up with younger patrols, middle-aged patrols and older patrols. It usually works out well without the drastic results in either direction -- the best of both extremes. Even among the lo-mid-hi groups, there aren't clear distinctions and considerable overlap. Usually there are a couple clear leaders in each patrol (especially this time when we ID'd the PLs first and then let them recruit their patrol.)
This past patrol shuffle was a bit of an anomoly with the patrol of all second-year guy coming together. Even that, I think, is a problem specific to this group of boys. They are very immature for their age and have a strange competition, love/hate relationship amongst them that I haven't quite put my finger on. Usually, even among boys all of the same age, there are those who are more mature, have better skills and are the clear leader of the group. Not this bunch.
I'm gonna come bat for Freds team here.
When I was a Scout, I joined in 2005 and aged out in 2011, My troop had the first year Scouts in patrols led by the Troop Guides. Not sure how close to the BSA guidelines that is.
After our first year we were free to join whatever patrol we wanted to. I had a buddy who was year older, and instantly jumped into a patrol that was with mostly older guys. I was 12, they were 13-14.
From there I made more friends, most of whom were younger than I was. After my second year, the patrol I was in always had kids ranging from 12-17. It just kinda happened, It varied. Sometimes the patrol had younger Scouts 12-14, sometimes it looked more like a Venture Patrol. Sometimes my buddies and I invited in people who needed a friend, and sometimes we didn't have to.
I think mixed age patrols are wonderful. I think patrols were the Scouts are roughly the same age is equally as wonderful. I think Scouts should be free to experience both if they so desire. I don't think Adult intervention or manipulation should be done in anyway at all with patrols. There are lessons to be learned in each type. What's important is the Scouts get to choose how their troop and patrols operate. That's part of the beauty of Scouting.
If a Troop elects to use a NSP, all the power to them, and if they don't great. If it works, it works.
As to the OP: Patrols dieing is normal and natural. It should not be feared. If you do patrol reorganization with each election, the boys in "dieing" patrols will simply jump to a new one.
As for New Scouts, that could really warrant it's own topic. It's a classic argument between New Scouts only patrols or bringing the New Lads into fully cohesive mixed age patrols right away. Both have their merits. My troop uses a New Scout Patrol. We like the results. There isn't a right answer or a wrong answer.
Yours in Scouting,
- Aug 2008
As someone mentioned, milage may vary. Troop culture has a part to play.
Again my experiences with NSPs and same age patrols have not been positive at all and I do not recommend them.
A good friend of mine, one I trained too, uses the NSP until they get their Tenderfoot or Second Class.
One solution we to the " be with their buddies" is that not all activities were inter-patrol. Some were teams created for the activity, usually game time, on the camp out or during the meeting. Kinda like a pick up game.
As to incorporating new scouts into an established patrol, start when the potential scouts visit the troop. Ask for volunteers to be their buddy for thei visit at the meeting, and then when they visit on the camp out.
Some very authoritative statements are made that are opposite of my experience.
Yah, fred8033, here's a question for yeh. I'm just curious.
Have yeh ever had any real experience with a mixed-age patrol troop? Nuthin' in anything you've ever written has suggested that. I think what's happening is you're comparin' your experience with what you're currently doin' with your imagination of what a mixed-age structure must look like.
Both Eagledad and I and a number of other commenters have worked in and with units that run mixed-age and same-age and open-signup patrols in a number of different permutations. We've been around when da BSA program was mixed-age patrols and when it became same-age for larger troops. For some of us, that also has involved helpin' people set up a structure that would help 'em achieve da particular goals they want for kids, and choosin' da structure that would work best for that goal.
Mileage does vary in three ways in my experience.
First, people have different visions and goals, so da structure has to change dependin' on what they want to accomplish. Each structure has strengths and weaknesses; things it does well and not as well.
Second, some people don't have da personal skills or vision to pull off some kinds of structure. They either need a lot of very gradual learning and change to develop their skills or they need a structure that will fit their skills even though it's not da best one for their goals.
Third, da population matters. Scout troops go up and down in terms of recruiting, and different troops serve different populations. Yeh have to adjust any structure to da circumstances. Eagledad talks about what happens when yeh get an unusually big recruiting group, for example (I actually disagree with him here, as I've never seen a real issue with admitting more than 2 new lads to a patrol. There are other, better ways to address such things than messin' with da patrol method).
Da point, though, is that makin' those decisions about methods and mileage relies on experience with those structures, eh?
Beavah - How quick you are to infer ignorance or lack of experience by someone else! That's pretty small. You may have more years of experience, but more years doesn't make it right. It just makes it entrenched and one-dimensional.
Yes, I've been involved in both stlyes of troops. My oldest joined in a troop that had scouts start in a new scout patrol. From there, the scouts could change to other patrols if and when they wanted. Most stayed together their entire scouting career. My son and his patrol buddies did not know each other before boy scouts, but they have been best buddies ever since. And their non-scouting buddies have become friends with their scouting buddies. Heck, my son drives his truck to another patrol members house now to change the oil. A neat thing to see happen especially as the spilage is over there and not at my house.
My second son joined a troop that temporarily started new scouts together but they "assigned" older scouts to their patrol because, as they asserted, new scouts don't have enough leadership to lead themselves. Hogwash. Later, the scouts got split apart into mixed age patrols. With all the bouncing around the scouts never built the close bonds that is one of the main attractions of scouting. From what I saw, scouts never formed bonds to their patrol because it was at least their 2nd or 3rd patrol. At that point, it takes more years then left in boy scouts to build the same patrol pride. From what I saw, the patrol was more the-work-unit than anything meaningful to the scout.
Maybe other troops can make it work but I saw alot of power trips by older scouts and scout leaders. Leadership "because I said so" or "I'm the senior scout" and the assumption that the junior scouts didn't know enough. That was their concept of leadership and their way of teaching it. I just don't care for it though.
Anytime people are arrogant enough to say "Have yeh ever had any real experience", watch out. You might want to think whether you want their advice guiding your scouts.
BEAVAH ... I accept some troops do mixed age patrols. Said it repeatedly. I seen one troop in-depth and others from the perifery. I haven't seen it work in a way where I'd want my sons part of it.
QUESTION ... Where in the BSA documentation do you find the mixed-age patrol concept documented and/or recommended? Where do you find the recommendation for assigning scouts?
I'm doing my best to interpret and implement what BSA has written ... and guess what ... I find it works pretty darn well.
Page 8 - Method 2 - The Patrol Method
Page 20 - 24 - The Boy Led Patrol
The rest is just blowing hot air.
Beavah - How quick you are to infer ignorance or lack of experience by someone else!
Yah, but apparently da inference was right, based on what yeh report above. Yeh have zero experience with troops that don't run NSP, and zero experience with troops that run mixed age, stable patrols. That's what I expected, given your comments.
No need to take that observation personally or to start with da ad hominem stuff. Lack of experience is nuthin' to be ashamed of. It also isn't made up for by quotin' isolated guidebook sentences, separated from da hundred years of scouting literature and experience which supports 'em. Especially if yeh have ever been involved in writing any of that literature, and realize that after Green Bar Bill BSA literature has been written by committee (well, really by multiple and at time contradictory committees )
Read some of da older literature. Read a greater breadth of da modern literature. Your notions, for example, contradict some of what da current BSA literature and training says in terms of Ages and Stages. Go visit some other troops that run differently from yours, at camp and other places. Look for their good points, since it's always too easy to see da bad stuff in others and only da good stuff in your own program. Invite others to visit your troop and offer critique. Build up your experience with kids and programs, not just book quotes. Yeh might not change how your troop runs (nor should yeh), but da effort will still make yeh a better scouter.
Patrols dieing is normal and natural. It should not be feared. If you do patrol reorganization with each election, the boys in "dieing" patrols will simply jump to a new one.
Yah, hmmm... Missed this in Sentinel947's post, but it's a good comment to get us back on topic until chaoman45 comes back.
In Patrol Method scouting, it is NOT normal and natural for patrols to die, and a patrol reorganization with each election would be considered a complete and utter failure.
Da point of patrols is to be a home within scouting, a gang, a team, a family. All that stuff about flags and yells and patrol pride and spirit takes time to develop and grow. It's strongest when it becomes tradition, a long-term sense of pride and structure. Da successful urban gangs don't "reorganize" every 6 months, nor do successful homes and families.
If yeh have set up a situation where patrols dying and reorganizing is normal, then yeh should rethink that. That's a patrol in name only, eh? An administrative unit, rather than a central program feature for youth development. Go take WoodBadge, send your youth to NYLT, and consider doin' something different to make patrols stronger and more permanent in your troop.
It's been a few decades, but I used to be a Beaver and a good 'ol Beavah too. . There's a reason why WB has permanent patrols to which folks stay loyal for decades, eh? That's the model for Scouting. An alumnus should say "Yeah, I was in scouting. I was in Troop 123. I was a Flaming Bobcat, and we were the best!"
I've been considering WB, it's kind of out of my financial ability this year. I went to NYLT 5 years ago.
I don't know what your troop is like Beavah.
I think my post was written for brevity, and you don't understand my whole position on it.
My Troop, (the one I grew up in, and the one I currently volunteer with) has had between 45-60 kids for as long as I can remember. We have plenty of patrols that stay together for years. My patrol was called the "Cavalry" patrol. I was in it from my second year till I aged out, except for when I was Senior Patrol Leader. However, in a troop so large, we sometimes have patrols that lose members and simply don't have the numbers to function properly. This is maybe one or two patrols out of 7 or 8. Therefore we do reorganization with every election cycle. Some patrols have more spirit and comradery than others. Some stick together. Sometimes the Scouts realize that they didn't really like the patrol they were in the last election, and jump patrols. I can't exactly say how many Scouts that is.
The comment of mine that you quoted I'll attempt to explain again
"Patrols dieing is normal and natural. It should not be feared. If you do patrol reorganization with each election, the boys in "dieing" patrols will simply jump to a new one. "
What I mean by that is simple. It doesn't mean that EVERY patrol will be reorganized. It does accept the reality of a large troop such as mine. Scouts leave, new boys join. Since we have NSP they have to be integrated into the troop every year. Sometimes they stay in their NSP after their first year, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes patrols don't change after a election. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they are same age patrols, sometimes they mix ages. In our troop that's a choice the Boys themselves make, without adult's telling them what's up. I think that's the best.
Therefore, Patrols dieing is normal and natural, and it's not scary nor the end of the world. It's not optimal, and if all the patrols are constantly forming and collapsing over and over, it's not a good sign. But if a patrol or two comes apart at the seams, the boys making new patrols or joining exsisting ones isn't a bad thing. Maybe I'll go to Woodbadge and have a relevation sometime. In the meantime, I'll stick with what I know, even if that isn't much.
Sentinel947(This message has been edited by Sentinel947)
Beavah wrote: "Yah, but apparently da inference was right, based on what yeh report above. Yeh have zero experience with troops that don't run NSP, and zero experience with troops that run mixed age, stable patrols"
Are you confused or just wanting to confuse. You did not ask about new scout patrols and it was not mentioned once in your post. You asked "Have yeh ever had any real experience with a mixed-age patrol troop?" I did list my experience with mixed-age patrols as an ASM. I did not itemize my outside experience as it didn't seem necessary but I've done the WB bit (bobwhite), been on district leadership for 5+ years now and been involved helping teaching classes and coaching units.
Beavah wrote: "In Patrol Method scouting, it is NOT normal and natural for patrols to die"
Say's who!!! Prove it!!
Your comment replies to a deformed caricature of jblake47's original comments. Neither he or I infer that patrols should regularly reorganize. Patrols are best when they exist for the scout's whole career with mostly the same scouts and it's a set of friends who want to do things together.
*** EVERYONE *** Read what jblake47 wrote earlier. Read what BSA says.
Now if you're talking the Queen's scouting program or a scouting program from antiquity or the military, fine. Not everyone on this forum is with BSA scouting. Or the 21st century.
Beavah wrote: "There's a reason why WB has permanent patrols "
What? Dude, your pulling this stuff out of your Canadian back side or did you just inhale too much on a trip thru Denver.
Woodbadge does NOT have permanent patrols. W.B. patrols are created and die off with each class. If not a single person continues in the patrol from the previous time the patrol existed ... it's not the same patrol. If it's not the same troop or W.B. class, it's not the same patrol. If ya don't have the same patrol flag ... or patrol yell ... or patrol equipment ... except a name, it's not the same patrol. If ya don't have a single continuous patrol member to teach the new members, it's not the same patrol.
Instead, WB teaches the new scout patrol method! W.B. patrols don't have four members from the previous class and four members from the new class. Everyone in the patrol is new to the troop / class. The patrol gets a troop guide immediately to help orient you. And the members elect their own patrol leader immediately from their own neophyte group. The troop guide helps mentor the patrol and the patrol leader. And when the class is done, the patrol dies off. WB teaches same-age patrols!!!
I think WB is a great example too. I've got good close friends from my time in the Bobwhite patrol. We still chat, visit and give each other hugs. Guess what though. We only passingly know others from the WB class ... because we were a patrol from the start, tented and stuck together thru the whole thing and functioned as a patrol of equals (similiar experience trying to learn the same things and do the same things). That's a patrol.
Beavah wrote: "It also isn't made up for by quotin' isolated guidebook sentences"
Issolated? Criticizing for quoting the official materials? Like that's a bad thing! It's the scoutmaster handbook. It's the root source that says how BSA has the program designed.
Yeah, you can find dated materials that say otherwise, but I can also find medical text that talk about bleeding the patient to let out the bad blood and that talk about the benefits of all male skinny dipping. There's a reason the materials are dated and old. Ya use what's official and current. Anything else is just wanton negligence.
You can also use the Patrol Leader Handbook. It says the same stuff as the Scoutmaster handbook. The only difference I see is that the Scoutmaster Handbook uses the newer term Venture patrol and the patrol leaders handbook says older / senior scout patrol. But the description and intention are the same.
I love how it says the Venture / senior / older scout patrol may not got to a regional summer camp and instead choose to do high adventure or something new fresh and challenging. Huh. It's hard to follow that suggestion in a mixed age patrol. But I guess you can just mash together an impromptu patrol that just exists for the adventure and then dies out. Which patrol then takes pride in their adventure and accomplishments?
You did say that my views contradict what some of the current BSA literature and training says. Fine. Prove it.
I'll agree with this. Patrol is the home of scouting. A gang. A team. A family.
BUT ... it's not strongest when it's the tradition. And it's definitely not the strongest when you go elsewhere for friendship and activities. It IS the strongest when it's with those that share friendship, similar experiences and a purpose. Heck, I remember my whole son's patrol going as a unit winter camping. The older scout patrols didn't go as they'd already done that program three times.
If yeh feel up to it, why don't yeh start a new thread (or continue on this one) about your troop and share your perspective and let folks comment a bit about da patrol stuff. Maybe you or others will get some new ideas. Concrete examples are better than these theoretical discussions.
Up to you. If you're up for it, try to be concrete. How many patrols, what are they like member-wise, what's da structure during campouts and meetings, how much patrol competition is there, any patrol outings, etc.?
I'm not like Kudu, I think Patrol Method is just a method, but one of da most important ones. It's perfectly possible, though, to have a fine troop without a full-throated patrol method, just as yeh can have a fine troop without any high adventure programming on da Outdoor Method.
But lets go ahead and get this new discussion going. I'm snowed in the house for the evening.