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Quick Start training for Patrol Leaders?

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  • Quick Start training for Patrol Leaders?

    I am a Webelos DL. In the past, our denners haven't really had a whole lot of responsibility. This year, in preparation for Boy Scouts, I want to try one or two meetings where the whole meeting is boy-led, so the denner will be running the meeting, kind of like a PL. My denner has not had any example to go by as far as running a den meeting and dealing with the other boys other than my own example, which differs greatly from when a peer is leading a meeting. Are there any short videos like the Quick Start training BSA offers leaders online that could give my denner a few quick tips on how to run a good meeting?

  • #2
    Training a PL isn't a 10 minute process. Our Troop Leadership training is an entire day. then weekly critiques and on going mentoring. Even so I would not expect a brand new patrol leader to run an entire meeting, that is the Job for the Senior Patrol leader.

    So following that thought, you adult den leader are the SPL, your denner is the PL. running the meeting is the responsibility of the SPL. you can ask PL's to do portions of the meeting, I would not ask or expect a 10 year old to be able to put together more than one activity a week if that.


    • #3
      What an interesting idea! BD is right in that your boys are unlikely to be asked to do much meeting planning for at least a couple of years once they reach Boy Scouts. But once they actually become Patrol Leaders or APL's in their Troop, they will need to be able to put together an agenda for a Patrol Meeting and then lead that meeting. Gaining more understanding of their responsibilities once they reach the Troop would think would also be very helpful. These boys are used to just showing up and doing what they're told with no real input to the process. Getting some sense of how things work (that all this activity doesn't just happen like "magic") would help them next spring. We encourage all our Scouts to develop good communications skills so that they can be fully functioning Patrol Members.

      Start small! Divide up the activities for your Den meetings and then assign out one activity to each Webelos to plan and lead. You or another Adult will need to help a lot, I should think, until they get the hang of it.


      • #4
        No big thing really, you don't need to boy run the whole meeting, just opening and closing. Give them a short list of what needs to be said: Scouts attention! Color guard attention! Color guard present colors! CG PostColors! Scouts oath! Scout Law! Prayer! CG dismissed! .., then you take over the meeting. Don't correct anything at first, these are confidence building exercises. Let them use cheat sheets. Once they start to show some confidence, add a little more. They will catch on faster than you think. If they have never seen opening and closings, check out You Tube. Most are basically the same. But keep yours very basic. It will be fun. Barry


        • #5
          For the really new guys, I would make it very, very simple.

          Opening flag?

          Attention! (Everyone stands for the flag ceremony)
          Post (or Retire) the colors! (Scout(s) with the flag(s) take them up front and put in stands or goes and gets them from the stand)
          Return to post! (Scouts who had flags go back with the rest of the boys or take the flags back to where they started)
          Pledge (opening)
          Oath (opening)
          Law (opening)
          Comments by the adults (closing)

          All of that will fit on a 3X5 notecard the "PL" can hold discretely in his hand.

          Compliment the leader for a job well done.

          If it gets too much more complicated than that, the boys will get confused.

          The second list of words is the Agenda for the meeting, that was put together at the last meeting, taking no more than 5 minutes to put together.

          7:00 Flags
          7:05 Readyman pin (Activity) PL introduces the boy who will lead the activity (with adult help if necessary)
          7:30 Game PL introduces the boy who will lead the activity (with adult help if necessary)
          7:55 Flags

          If there are 6-12 boys in the den, rotate the assignments. First you lead the game (stand in front explain the rules), then you lead the activity (need some preparation, but again stand in front and demonstrate the activity, Then the third time around you are the MC leader pulling it all together and helping the other two be successful with tasks like you had done in the previous two weeks.

          At the end of the meeting, the current PL hands the cards to the next PL and he and an adult take 5 minutes to put together next activities agenda and recruits a new boy for the game of his choice for next meeting. Remind the boy doing the game he will need to come ready with an activity next meeting.

          (any notes the boy wants to put on the card he can do that too.)

          No, the boys are not functioning as a PL in any sense of the word, but they are developing a standard routine that offers them the security of no surprises and a confidence in knowing what to do next. Each meeting becomes a familiar cycle of things that the boys can come to rely on (confidence builder).

          90% of what I would want my Webelos cross-over to know/do when he comes into the group is a minimum level of confidence that comes with such routine. He can add to the process as he develops his own style of leadership in the Boy Scout years.

          The DL needs to only do one thing for the boy... tell him over and over again, "Go for it, I've got your back!"



          • #6
            Hillcourt's test of a "Real" Patrol was physical distance. The success of both Hillcourt's and Baden-Powell's Patrols was a result of putting the best leader in charge.

            So I'd think in terms of an outdoor meeting about something that one of the boys is already good at.


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              I am sorry I can't hear you your 300 feet awaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy.

          • #7
            Thanks for the dose of reality everyone. I wasn't planning on turning everything over to the boys. I was still going to prepare the agenda myself, assign each boy ahead of time a Readyman lesson to teach the other boys, then leave it up to the denner and the boys to get through the agenda and lessons on their own and play a game of their choice after. Baby steps for sure, but makes them feel important. I like the recommendations about confidence building. I certainly don't want to set them up to fail.

            My biggest concern is behavior control and strategies my denner can use to keep the boys in line. The boys listen to me because I am an adult. New strategies need to be implemented to get them to listen to their peers.


            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              There's nothing that says you can't sit in the audience when the boys are making their presentation/game instructions. "I got your back." sometimes means I'm there to make sure you are successful. If you aren't there, how are you going to do an AAR for the boy to help him improve next time?


          • #8
            In regards to behavior control, one of the best tools my SPL had was the Scout Sign and Game Time. Our meetings were 1:30 long with about usually 30 minutes of that spent doing games or interpatrol competitions, basically having FUN. The Game Time was just before the SM's minute and closing. BUT, we had to get everything else needed to get done before we could have game time. So if we misbehaved, the SPL would stop everything, raise his handle in the Scout Sign, and say 'Gentlemen, we are now wasting your Game Time." That usually settle things down.


            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              This is why I don't use Scout Sign. I simply enforcing discipline over and over again without consequences is not as effective as the consequences. Scout Sign offers no consequences for rude and disruptive behavior. I always use their rude and disruptive behavior as a teaching moment. It only takes once or twice. At the end of the meeting, it is announced that there is no time left over for games and we need to move on to closing flags is far more effective than repeatedly throwing up Scout Sign. The boys will put two and two together and do whatever it takes to make the meeting move on so that they can have more game time.

              Robert's Rules of Order used to be the norm for meetings no matter where you were, government, business, church, civic groups, etc. We have replaced them with free-for-all approach which basically wastes a ton of time. The scout meetings that take an hour can be cut to 15 minutes if Rules of Order were applied. Courtesy and respect are "yesterday's" words in today's society.

              I really don't care how much time my boys waste in meetings and activities, but if they don't want to waste the time, there are tools to help them correct the problem. It was a long time ago that I realize if they don't mind missing out on games, why should I?


          • #9


            • Eagledad
              Eagledad commented
              Editing a comment
              I was talking to a friend some years ago who was telling me about a business conference he attended some years earlier. He said there were several hundred people in attendance with most of them talking while waiting for the first speaker. The first speaker approached the podium and was a bit perplexed to how he was going to get everyone’s attention. After a few moments of pause, he raised the scout sign. Immediately a few signs rose up with more and more gradually following eventually bringing the room to quiet calm. My friend said it was obvious the speaker’s sign was more reactionary than planned and he was as surprised by the immediate response as was the rest of the room. He said there were as many women in the room as men, but surprisingly to everyone, the speaker’s action worked.

              I agree with Stosh that the Scout Sign gets over used and abused, but we shouldn’t ignore the power that it provides as a tool. When the sign is raised, it simply says “Respect for the floor Please”. The problem comes when it is used as a tool for punishment instead of calling for respect. I see it over and over, the person of authority holding the sign until well beyond the given respect until the blood has completely left everyone’s arms. At the point, the person holding the sign is really saying “When I say shut up, I mean SHUT UP”.

              I respect Stosh for teaching his scouts not to use the sign for the purpose of bringing respect to the floor, but using the sign for that purpose is universally accepted with all Boy Scouts in North America, maybe even universally. To say that it shouldn’t be learned and used for the purpose would be like saying we should never drink tap water. Instead what scouters should do is as stosh suggest, teach how to use the sign for the intended use of respect, not as a tool to punish. If a scout cannot bring respect to the floor within a reasonable time with the sign, there are bigger problems that need attention. And those bigger problems are typical with younger scouts. Like anything with ignorance, proper behavior has to be taught and developed. That is what scouting is all about. Teach the skills of the Oath and Law and how to apply them in all the scouts actions.

              This is a good subject in how to develop boys totally ignorant of a boy run structure. The question is a little difficult in that the OP suggest getting from A to Z in just a few weeks. I know that isn’t what was meant, but without experience, the OP didn’t know how to ask. The real objective for this age group isn’t teaching Patrol Leading, but self confidence and independence. And while the overall big goal is good, we have to remember that big goals generally require many small steps. As I said before, start with just a few activities and work from there. Don’t expect perfection, just a little growth. When the scouts seem to have the confidence of that independence, raise the bar a little and keep them challenged. Once they seem to get more confidence, add more structure. Anytime the scouts aren’t having fun, change the structure a little. It works well for the Webelos age group. Confidence and Independence is all boys need at this age and experience. With that, they will do fine in most any troop program.