Ok, so in reviewing the roster, some things became clear. When you discount boys who will probably fall off the roster this year because they have not been around, we have 24 active boys. So thinking back, our typical campout attendance is usually between 15-18. So we are actually pushing 75% which seems pretty typical--the problem is that we have 6 patrols as follows:
6 6th grade
6 7th grade
5 8th grade
3 9th grade
4 11th grade
Therefore, the reason we usually end up with 3 ad hoc patrols is that it reflects the natural breakdown of what the troop should be; i.e., 3 patrols.
I had a discussion with the SM and he agreed that having 3 patrols would be optimal and that we should let the boys self-organize into those patrols. Now this is a huge step for us--normally the troop plunks boys into a NSP and they stay together until the end.
Ideally we'd see 3 patrols of 8, but...who knows what will happen.
Reading the threads here, there seems to be as many ways of having boys organize their patrols as there are troops. I can't remember how we did it when I was a scout and if it was covered in leader training I either missed it or have forgotten it. I do believe that giving the scouts a parameter for the number of patrols desired (3) is the way to go. Yes, I've read the discussions in other threads about letting boys make as many as they want and learn from their mistakes but that's not what we're going to do.
So with that backdrop, what are the ideas for having the boys reorganize into 3 patrols?
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09-25-2013, 10:44 AMEditing a commentGood advice all and some good thoughts to ponder.
Can we drill down one more level to the pragmatic? So, you are at the next troop meeting and it is time to reorganize the patrols. You do...what? This is where I am stuck.
qwazse commented09-25-2013, 12:43 PMEditing a commentWhen I was thinking of recognition, I was thinking of things less formal ... things like:
"I really liked how your Foxes handled formations Saturday, would you provide the color guard for tonight's opening?"
"Bears, since you nailed the knot requirements for everyone in your patrol (including the Turtles you adopted) last weekend, how about picking what our next challenge will be?"
"Crows, that was a side-splitting skit! Will you be our program patrol for the month?"
Sure you could have little totems for success in this, that, or the other thing. And the boys can hang them on their patrol flag with pride. But, I think the best recognition is appropriate responsibilities. And yes, it might be "Apes, you turned in a messy cook kit, so tonight I need you to report to the QM and help him polish a few pans!" But, I'm pretty sure most of the time the SM will have nothing but good words for his boys!
Venividi commented09-25-2013, 03:04 PMEditing a commentIf it was me, I wouldn't reorganize patrols at the next patrol meeting, because the groundwork hasn't yet been laid.
One possible way:
Have meeting with SM, CC, AC, key ASM's to dicsuss what you are trying to do. Discuss their ideas and concerns so that all are on same page.
Talk to SPL about observations that the troop really isnt using the patrol method, there are no inter-patrol competitions, etc. and that you would like to add this to the agenda at his next PLC meeting.
At next PLC meeting, pose the problem to the boys. I would use the inter-patrol competition as the hook, because boys love games and love to compete. Point out that the BSA program includes interpatrol competitions. That the agenda planner that they use to plan meetings has a spot for inter-patrol competition, that the council's Jr Leader Training taught interpatrol competition, and that you want their ideas on how to implement it. Give some guidelines: patrols need to be structured so that teams (i.e. patrols) are fair. That each person should have one or two buddies in the patrol that he is in. Let the PLC sell it to the rest of the troop. boys work it out with the guidelines provided. If things look lopsided, ask if they really think it is fair.
You may need to write off the high-school age folks. They may not be willing to change, though they may surprise you.
I agree with qwazse's suggestion for informal recognitions; as an addition to rather than a substitute for a) bragging rights after winning that night's inter-patrol competition and b) keeping score between COH's and recognizing the patrol with something that the boys value. I think that competitions are one of the most effective, yet least used ways to engage the boys; for motivation to continue to practice skills that were signed off long ago, for working together as a team, etc.
I've see patrols organized a lot of time, since our old SM used to have the boys try to reorg patrols every 6 mos talk about no patrol unity....
The boys actually got together and outvoted the adults that they wanted patrols to stay together for at least a year, and then only fix patrols that were broken. So that's been better, lots and lots better. retention is up, but not so sure about attendance on outings, as they still tend toward ad hoc patrols.
What we recommended the last couple times was for each scout to go sit by someone he wants to tent with, someone who goes camping on the same kinds of activities they usually do. and often they ended up in clumps of 4. Then to have those 4 make sure they were with people they'd want to hang out at mtgs with and then grabbed a few others. some of the social butterflies had difficulties deciding which group to go with. some of hte struggling non-social scouts grabbed onto to their best buddy for life and then the two of them went looking for kindred spirits. Most of the patrols are primarily aged based, where the scouts are the same age, enjoy the same sports, movies, games, songs, and are at the same maturity level. some scouts are up a year or two and some scouts are down a year or two based on who they've made friends with. that is one advantage of ad hoc patrols occassionally, the scouts get out of their comfort zone, meet someone new that's older or younger and may find a lifelong friend.
I'd say if you were going to always do ad hoc patrols, to try to make the best of it, have the scouts combine the same two patrols on each campout. so the eagles are always with the mountain men to be the mountain eagles, and the dragons are always with the badgers to be the badger riders. As a matter of fact those patrols were ad hoc recombined patrols on several outings last year, and they are now recombined patrols due to loss/moving scouts/aging out, and the scouts are doing well in those 2 patrols that used to be 4 weak patrols.
- Aug 2013
A patrol is a gang of boys who do scouting things together. Too often we focus on numbers or ages instead of who the boys want to be with and what they want to do. If a troop has many instances of little participation, perhaps it is the activities being planned that is the problem? I have no problem with a patrol in which 2 boys show up for the campout. However, I would start with encouraging the patrols to plan activities, camping trips etc... that they want to do instead of what the adults have planned as a troop. I am not suggesting that ones troop isn't boy led, but it may not be patrol based if all the activities are done at the troop level.
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Originally posted by DuctTape View PostA patrol is a gang of boys who do scouting things together. Too often we focus on numbers or ages instead of who the boys want to be with and what they want to do. If a troop has many instances of little participation, perhaps it is the activities being planned that is the problem? I have no problem with a patrol in which 2 boys show up for the campout. However, I would start with encouraging the patrols to plan activities, camping trips etc... that they want to do instead of what the adults have planned as a troop. I am not suggesting that ones troop isn't boy led, but it may not be patrol based if all the activities are done at the troop level.
and a patrol is a gang of boys who do scouting/outings together.
That means the boys that go on campouts the most should be in patrols together, doesn't it?
so maybe that's the problem, the patrols are based on who likes to hang together in the regular meetings, but the meat and potatoes of scouting occurs on the outings, so the patrols should really be formed on a campout, with those boys.
The ones who ONLY go to meetinngs, well maybe they should be in a patrol together, or reevaluate why they are actually in scouting if they don't like outings.
DuctTape commented09-29-2013, 07:36 AMEditing a commentOutings are not exclusively camping. If possible I would like to see meetings be held out of doors too. Here in NY, the climate isn't really conducive for it. I don't think a patrol that likes to camp should necessarily exclude those who do not. If the boys like to hang with others who don't camp when at meetings, that is fine. The patrol is doing scouting things together, just not ALL things. I am assuming they are doing scouting things at the meetings. Perhaps the non-campers will eventually want to attend a campout if there buds are going. This increases in likelihood as the patrols do other outings together besides just camping.Last edited by DuctTape; 09-29-2013, 07:38 AM.
- Apr 2009
Seems to me the problem is that, more than ever before, we have boys with extremely diverse interests and extremely diverse family situations. That's not changing anytime soon. So padding a patrol with 10 boys so as to get 6-8 for a given event might not be a bad idea. The down side is the more boys on the patrol roster, the more likely a boy will think he's not essential to he program.
MattR commented09-30-2013, 04:04 PMEditing a commentOne patrol this past weekend only had 2 scouts show up out of 6 and they had a blast. They recruited a few other scouts from other patrols to run the relay and they got first place at the camporee. Sure they picked all the fast kids but they had a problem and they solved it. I tried making larger patrols once before and it didn't really help, especially if everyone showed up at a campout. It's hard to cook for 10 - 13 people on one of those little stoves.
I talked to the boys about this at our campout this past weekend. I explained the reason we thought the patrols should be reformed and they agreed. I asked them how they thought we should do that, and after coming up with a few different ideas they unanimously agreed "at random." I tried to play devil's advocate and asked them, well, what happens if you randomly get separated from your better friends in the troop or put with boys you don't like as much? They said well, that's just the way it works--you have to learn to work with people you don't get along with. So....random it may be. Although I believe we should "randomly" draw by ages so that ages are at least somewhat distributed among the patrols for competitions that involve physical skill and so on.
I'm sure there will be many differences of opinion....
09-30-2013, 02:38 PMEditing a commentWell if you consider where this thread started it was that I felt there was a lack of continuity and teamwork because of the need to combine patrols--the disconnect between troop meetings and outings.
Based on the suggestions made and questions asked, it became clear that the problem wasn't necessarily low attendance, but too many small patrols so that any drop off would necessitate recombination (or a bunch of very small patrols).
I know that VeniVidi recommended against reorganizing the patrols because "the groundwork hasn't been laid." However, right now the patrols are neither well-functioning nor cohesive, so what's the risk? Additionally, we took the opportunity to lay the groundwork and the reasons for it with the boys at the campout.
As to the life lesson the boys will learn from this? We simply haven't flown up to the 30,000 foot mark to figure out how this fits into the grand scheme of their lives. At this point it really is a tactical solution targeted at a specific objective/problem. It will either work, or it won't, and we'll either be better off or right where we are now.
So, that's the thinking.
Eagledad commented09-30-2013, 03:12 PMEditing a commentYes, I like that. Nothing worse that seeing a problem and doing nothing. Some kinid of change will give a new perspetive. And it might be fun for the boys as well. Barry
qwazse commented09-30-2013, 03:22 PMEditing a commentIt could be entirely possible you got a bunch of guys who mesh well together, and they truly cannot envision one combination better than the other. It's more likely there is a little oil-and-water, but because they haven't made much effort to work as tight patrols, they've avoided the adversity of having to deal with a bad mix. (Kinda the difference between shacking up and tying the knot, only less dramatic -- although with some of my boys, I wondered.)
If you get no other input, sort them by age to the day (then alphabetically) and count off. Show the older boys the results. If neither they or the direct-contact adults see any "ticking bombs, " run with it for 6 months. That should give you and the boys a chance to switch up before summer camp, maybe even before taking on any cross-overs.
- Mar 2009
We have 3 patrols.
Every year we'll split the new boys and add them to the two patrols with the lowest numbers. That way the new guys have some of their friends with them, and we spread the ages. And if the WeebII leader tells us that X doesn't get along with Y, we'll slip them into separate patrols.
It's working okay so far, but I don't have a lot of history to report yet. We try to keep the patrols together in every activity that we can, to strengthen their identity. But there are times that we still mix ad hoc to make a game or a low attendance trip work.
- Jun 2006
I don't think that ad hoc patrols is the real reason for the problem of attendance. As a matter of fact they are simply a work around for a bigger problem that is basically ignored because it's easier to make up the rules along the way than it is to solve the problem.
A) We have low attendance at our events.
B) So we combine patrols to keep from dealing with A above.
C) Boys that show up have fun, the rest miss out. But that's okay, those that showed up had fun.
What's wrong with attacking the problem at the A level? Why is there low attendance in the first place. If one can solve that problem, then the issue of ad hoc patrols becomes moot... AND ALL the boys have fun.
10-09-2013, 10:28 AMEditing a commentjblake, you're using an extreme example again. We don't have 6% attendance, we have 60%, and often more. So the problem was going from a 4-boy patrol to a 2-boy, not from a 100 to a 6 in your example.
We reorganized from 6 patrols to 3 patrols of 8. History has shown that we'll get 5 to 6 boys per patrol at any particular event and that is a very functional amount in my opinion. At least it's a place to start.
jblake47 commented10-09-2013, 11:08 AMEditing a commentOf course I used an extreme example to point out that numbers are not always the issue. If one has only 6 boys showing up out of 100 the issue might not be attendance, but maybe there's some valid reason why 94 boys chose not to attend... MAYBE it could be the activity/program choice.
BP suggests that patrols are 6-8 boys, that means on average with 60% attendance you should minimally have 4-5 boys for the event, enough not to have to ad hoc the patrols. He doesn't suggest going over 8 because the average PL can't handle bigger groups of boys in the patrol. BGG goes for the 6-8 as well. Sometimes tradition has some underlying validity to it that isn't always evident to the casual observer.
I keep my patrols 6-8 and I never have had to consolidate patrols, unless the activity was something the boys really didn't want to attend in the first place and that has nothing to do with patrols, but the program itself.
10-09-2013, 02:49 PMEditing a commentWell, then I guess we have brought our patrols in line with BP's suggestion. Now to see if it works....
- Feb 2008
jblake47 commented10-06-2013, 09:12 AMEditing a commentMy POR's were never locked into any time limit/term. If a boy gets selected to be PL, if he doesn't do his job, the patrol does not need to suffer for 6 months while the PL garners enough time for advancement. He's out and someone who wants to work is in. If a boy chooses to advance, he has to have 6 months experience in any POR position to get credit for it. It might mean one month as PL, one as TG, one as Instructor, one as Scribe, etc. They all need to add up to 6 months experience. He can sort out is inability to hold POR in any one job when he gets to his BOR. This 6 month election cycle is not on my radar, nor is it required for advancement. If I have a FC scout that is a dynamite PL, he can hold that job until he's 18 years old if his patrol buddies want that. I don't interfere in the operations of the Patrols. Micromanaging is not why I'm there.