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  • Ad hoc patrols

    We have four patrols which are (for good or bad) age based. At any one campout attendance is hit or miss but we usually end up with two to three ad hoc patrols that by process of combination do end up being mixed age. It does work ok, but because "camping patrols" aren't the same one outing to the next there isn't the identity building that would happen with more continuity. It feels a bit like we are an arbitrarily split up troop rather than a collection of true patrols. I suspect this is fairly common in today's age of over-scheduled youth. Any thoughts?

  • #2
    yup - you can run a drop in program with a subtle message of "come if you want, but if you're not here it doesn't really matter, we'll combine patrols so you wont be missed", or a program where a patrol feels the effect when patrol members opt out of participation, and apply peer pressure on those that don't come. Or somewhere in between. Youth will gravitate towards and feel loyalty to organizations where the expectations of their participation are high; where they feel they are needed.

    What are your attendance expectations? Have they been communicated to scouts and parents? Is a scouts meeting troop participation requirements a factor considered when signing off on scout spirit? Are scouts contribution to the troop (or lack thereof) a consideration when signing off on scout spirit? How does a scout feel that he is truly needed by his patrol, and will leave a hole if he doesn't show up if the message is "thats OK, come when you want, you're team (i.e. patrol) will do just as good without you"?

    The choice is really that of the key adults (SM, CC, AC). If you want the boys to develop greater character and citizenship, tighten up your standards. If you want a "drop in if you want, you dont need to contribute much effort to the success of the troop, we will still give you an award" type program, you can have that also. What is it that you want? Are you willing to put in the effort to move the program in that direction? Then go for it. You will likely meet a lot of resistance, and lose some members that dont want that type of program, but you will gain some other members from families that are looking for that type of program for their sons.

    You dont need to be the lowest common denominator if you dont want to. But if you do want to, that is OK too.

    Comment


    • #3
      That's a false dichotomy. Scouting is the only youth group that meets year round. Life happens. No troop has people with completely similar priorities and clear calendars to make every event every time.

      Comment


      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        We have a 75% attendance expectation......for youth and 85% for youth leadership. the penalty is the CC will refuse a BOR till you meet it and you won't be permitted to attend the most sought after events. So you can't skip the creek clean up, all the food pantry work, Busy beaver work weekend in our summer camp and expect to attend the Dave and Busters lock in. All fun and no work makes jack a dull boy.

        It has made a difference in attendance.


        I would try an experiment next outing.....No ad hoc patrols. Let a patrols spend a weekend with just a couple of guys cooking and cleaning the entire weekend should do the trick.

        The boys may even ask to jumble the patrols up... You may end up with a couple of camping active patrols and a couple of non camping patrols.....That is ok too

      • Twocubdad
        Twocubdad commented
        Editing a comment
        Been there done that. These guys aren't stupid and talk to each other. It is not uncommon for an entire patrol to sit out a campout if a few key players don't attend.

      • Venividi
        Venividi commented
        Editing a comment
        I would be OK with an entire patrol to choose not to go on an outing. It is their patrol.

    • #4
      It's not just thst life has a lot of options to deal with, but what message is given to the boy whose absense isn't noticed? You could not make it the last event? No problem, we got along just fine without you. Stosh

      Comment


      • #5
        However, scouting cannot be everything to a boy. Boys want to, and my son wants to, be involved in other things as well. I want my son to do those things, and I understand that other boys want to. It is unrealistic to expect 100% participation in scouts year-round for seven years of middle school and high school.
        Last edited by Brewmeister; 09-24-2013, 06:27 AM.

        Comment


        • #6
          First, I agree with V that if you are not key three, expect modest change. (Or in my case, extreme push-back from the boys.). There is nothing wrong with a "patrol of one." You may not want the little guy camping by himself 100 yards away in mountain lion country, but for challenges, troop duties and such, he should tackle them on his own. If he loses, he can talk to the patrol mates who bailed on him. If he wins, he represents his patrol with pride. I met one boy on a campout, who was cooking an outstanding batch of asparagus because he didn't have any of his patrol mates around to fuss about the menu. (He did have a lot of adults show up at his table with plates in hand!) Obviously, if you are doing climbing or whitewater, merge patrols as safety demands.

          Comment


          • #7
            Thoughts! I can't really add more than what's already been said; but Scouts, like adults, have to set priorities and make choices. If our troop consistantly suffered the losses on campouts that you describe, we would be asking ourselves what we are doing wrong. We also don't encourage ad hoc patrols. Barry

            Comment


            • #8
              Brew,

              Not a dichotomy, false or otherwise. It is a continuum. I didn't say that 100% attendance should be required (I made no mention of any specific attendance requirements, so I can see why you might have assumed that, sorry for the confusion). There is nothing wrong with a scout taking soccer season off, for example. If you are running 50% participation at campouts, (which would appear based on 4 patrols combining into 2), they never gel as patrols because it is constantly a different mix of boys. In my opinion, you are right to question it. You can create an environment where you use peer pressure to increase attendance percentage. You can use the carrot of advancement to increase attendance. To create an environment that fosters each patrol to gel as a group of boys that are close and will make every effort to be with their patrol.

              Any time that a new "patrol" forms, which you are doing every campout, the group starts anew at the "forming" stage. The group never reaches the norming or performing stage. They are not getting the citizenship experiences; the being part of a group that they make every effort to help and support. The analogy is a pickup game of basketball compared with a team on a basketball league. In a league, not every player will be able to make it to every game and practice due to conflicts, but each individual will make every effort to be there because they know they will be missed. They want to support their team. With pickup games, even if regularly scheduled, individuals will not feel the same level of commitment. It still comes down to what the key leaders want the youth to get out of their membership.

              Hope that this better explains my points.

              regards,

              Comment


              • #9
                I understand what you're saying. Unfortunately, society being what it is today, sports and school extracurriculars can require attendance in order to participate. So To tell a boy that he must choose between an outing or an evening concert that is required for his grade is not a decision we are going to ask him to make. The consensus seems to be that ad hoc patrols are not a good idea because of the lack of continuity, and I understand. However, the patrol of one seems equally a bad idea and certainly doesn't promote any intra-patrol development and interaction either.

                Comment


                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  If it's always the same kid, maybe you have a problem. Maybe the boy actually does fit in with a different patrol. Or, maybe you have a real PL in the making. It's hard to tell this side of the internet. If it's a really young scout, maybe the SPL can keep one eye on him to figure out what the true situation is.

                  I can't remember if I was in a patrol of one situation as a scout. I do remember a morning when the SPL taught me how to restart a fire from the previous night's embers. Just him and me ... none of my patrol were there (to the best of my memory). For the rest of my tenure in the troop I became the guy who was up before sunrise lighting the fire.

                • Brewmeister
                  Brewmeister commented
                  Editing a comment
                  By "patrol of one" I meant the "one-boy patrol" mentioned earlier; not one bad patrol.

              • #10
                Regarding advancement, since the bulk of advancement happens on campouts, boys who cannot attend do not advance as fast and that is visible to the other boys. Regarding the Quality of program, if capping out at a 75% participation rate is not good, I'm not quite sure what we would do. The boys are the ones choosing and planning the outings. I guess we can ask the patrol leaders Council to think about why they don't get higher participation, but I also suspect that they believe the participation is fairly good as it is.

                Comment


                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'm not concerned about advancement as I am about accountability. Son #2 has been ASPL, SPL started evening classes on meeting night, and let us know in advance to let Son #2 prepare. He had soccer events on the first couple of nights (one event was optional IMO), I strongly suggested he call SM and his buddies to arrange coverage. (And keep calling until he was sure everything was arranged.) He didn't. Last meeting was SPL elections. Two other boys got the post until January.

                  That's kind of what I expect from members at every level.

              • #11
                One more clarification. The patrols are not put together randomly. The senior patrol leader usually works with the camping group to combine existing controls. So each ad hoc patrol usually consists of members of two regular patrols

                Comment


                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  In this case, I would always give credit to the patrol that provides the largest contribution of members. E.g. They are not the Fox/Bear patrol on the campout.If there are 4 Foxes or 3 Bears they are the Foxes for the weekend. The Bears only get credit for participation if they represent as a distinct patrol. (If numbers are even they can decide among themselves or the SPL can call whose patrol they represent.)

                  I'm not saying you have to build a whole system of awards or whatever to make this work. You just recognize the patrols by the flags the boys choose to fly under.

              • #12
                There is a myth a lot of adults hold to that Boy Scouts is the boys program; it is not. Boy Scouts is an adult program designed to develop boys into men who make ethical decisions. What are the expectations of your adults for your troop? That being said, I know how hard it is to change a culture, but the adults have to decide if they are satisfied with the status quo. My son and his wife are both high school teachers in to different high risk schools, but with basically the same student demographic. Ninety Seven percent of last years graduating class of one school went on to college. The other school had far less than 50 percent. When I asked him what was different between the two schools, he said "expectation". Your troop can do better if the adults want it. Barry

                Comment


                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Sure it's the boys program.......

                  While adults designed the program.....But I expect the boys to plan and execute to the best of their ability. Really struggling with the current SPL.

                  Visiting yosemite, Glacier national park, alaska, outer banks is all well and good.......But generally isn't the boys plannng those trips.

                • Venividi
                  Venividi commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "But we must work with the cards we're given."
                  if you are not getting the results that you want, (or if you find that some method isn't implemented correctly), it is possible to re-deal the cards.

                  I am a bit confused over the intent of your original post. In it you expressed that you felt things weren't quite right. Once several people validated that your feelings were correct and offered suggestions, it appears that instead you were looking for validation that what your troop is doing is the best that can be expected. If you have the program that you want and are happy with your results, that is fine. No one is insistent that you must do it differently; hopefully just explaining some alternatives for consideration.

                • Brewmeister
                  Brewmeister commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The intent of my post was to ask troops that use ad hoc patrols--which I know are there--how it is done successfully, because of the problems I see with our troop as stated in the original post. I do not see the team building that we should have from regular patrols. So far from looking for validation that we are doing the best that can be expected, I am assuming that there must be a better way to do things.

                  The cards that we are given--because I'm not a member of the key 3--is that ad hoc patrols are most likely a fact in this troop because of its history and culture.

                  It may well be that the best answer is to re-deal the cards--to change the culture--but that is another discussion. Right now I am looking for insight into how to improve the situation with the stated constraints based on the experience of troops that run a similar program.
                  Last edited by Brewmeister; 09-24-2013, 08:34 PM. Reason: [edited for grammar]

              • #13
                BP had the right idea when he said patrols needed to be 6-8 boys. Even if half don't show up for an event, one never has less than 3 to 4 boys in a patrol. If 7 boys bail on an event so as to have only one boy attending, I would reconsider the activity in the first place. If only one boy wants to go, is it enough to even call it a patrol outing let alone a troop outing? Having activities for the sake of having activities isn't enough justification, especially if the vast majority of boys are taking a pass on it.

                Stosh

                Comment


                • Brewmeister
                  Brewmeister commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You and I are on the same page because that is exactly what I was thinking about this afternoon. I think part of the reason we have ad hoc patrols is our patrols have become too small due to attrition, particularly at the older levels (because they are age based). So...stay tuned.

                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Another reason not to have age based patrols....

                  What I envision is the older guys joining the green bar or leadership patrol of SPL aspl and quartermaster, then the JASM. Allowing a constant flow thru the Patrols.....never ending up with a patrol of 2 15 year olds.

                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I guess I don't adhere much to either the age-based or the mixed patrol concerns. As long as the boys are buddies, they are more apt to hang out together than patrols that are designed by adults. If the patrol happens to end up mixed, great, if age-based, great. Not a problem either way in my book.

                  For me the patrol structure of who's in and who's not is based solely on friendships. If boys are looking for an excuse to hang out together, why not at a Scout activity of their choice? If all my buddies are going on an outing and I have a choice of hanging out with my pards or doing something else, I'm thinking the draw to hang out with friends holds a slight edge. It also resolves the issues of choosing between hanging out with friends who are not scouts vs. hanging out with some of the guys at Scouts that I hardly know and never come into contact with except at scouts.

                  6-8 boys, pick your own leadership however you want and let me know what your patrol name and yell is. We're done, move on to more important issues.

                  Stosh

              • #14
                I tried the Leadership patrol thing for several years. It never really worked until we got to a point where the leaders were all buddies and would have been in a patrol together regardless. That group is aging out this year with about half already 18. The current group of leaders are scattered over a couple patrols with their buddies and I don't really see the leadership patrol idea working. My experience is that friendship trumps job titles every time.

                Comment


                • #15
                  I don't have aged based patrols. I require either the PL or APL at every patrol activity (camping is one of them). For non leadership positions I require scouts to go on half the campouts and half the service projects if they want to be in a patrol. Exceptions are only made for acts of God. Homework is not an act of God. Band practice is not. Divorced parents are. Scouts have time to be in sports and other activities, they just need to think ahead a bit. We've had these expectations for about a year now and attendance is up and attrition is no different. More kids are having fun. Teamwork is much better. The problem scouts left or are no longer a problem. I will only allow combined patrols if there is only one in a patrol going.

                  Comment


                  • King Ding Dong
                    King Ding Dong commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I appreciate the goal, but as a parent if my son was forced to stay behind I would be out of that troop immediately.

                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You can't punish one kid because of the actions of another. I'm with BDD on this one.

                    Stosh

                  • MattR
                    MattR commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'd still let the scouts camp, and one of them just might be a new patrol leader.
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