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Defining the Patrol Method.

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  • #16
    Originally posted by TAHAWK View Post
    One problem being that for every Scoutmaster who cuts free from BSA policy and ends up with youth-run patrols and troops, more Scoutmasters seem to end up with totally adult-run troops and no real patrols at all. After all, it's all "optional."
    .
    This is exactly right. When you make it all up, you can justify anything. I have seen more harm come from units with narcissistic adults using the program to prove a personal idealism. Those units don’t last long because while the idealism may develop a small passive following, the body dies when the head is separated. Still, districts are left cleaning up a mess.

    I admire Kudu because of his passion for a program that turns boys into men of character. We’ve known each other for a long time and I am convinced that while I don’t agree with his tactics of persuasion, he has a genuine love for helping boys. You don’t confuse his passion for egotistical idealism because he backs up all his comments with quotes from the master, Baden Powell. Much like TAHAWK does with many text of true traditional scouting.

    However, staying within the intended design of the different scouting programs, I disagree with Kudu that one program is more superior to another. A good leader of one program can achieve the same level of boy growth performance with another. Where most folks get lost is by not understanding the vision and being satisfied with just mediocre methods. Once we understand the vision, then we only need to use the processes of the program correctly to achieve performance.

    It is silly to automatically discount the SPL and SM from the start as negative contributors to boy growth and then say “UNLESS, you do it my way”. I have little patience for the advice of throwing out the book just to follow one’s egotistical aspiration. I agree with TAHAWK, these units tend to be even more adult run than normal programs because the scouts have to be directed to achieve the idealistic results. I have never met a Scoutmaster who didn’t think his troop was boy run.

    Barry

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
      ... You don’t confuse his passion for egotistical idealism because he backs up all his comments with quotes from the master, Baden Powell. Much like TAHAWK does with many text of true traditional scouting....
      I don't know. I've seen adults who pull out the book then do the opposite of what they just read. I've got E-mails from those same folks about the nerve of me letting the youth pick their own menu and make their own shopping list! The videos of K's boys wearing headphones while tromping out of the swamp is what makes me think he practices what he preaches.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by qwazse View Post

        I don't know. I've seen adults who pull out the book then do the opposite of what they just read. I've got E-mails from those same folks about the nerve of me letting the youth pick their own menu and make their own shopping list! The videos of K's boys wearing headphones while tromping out of the swamp is what makes me think he practices what he preaches.
        I'm talking about Kudu, not the average person. I think pure visionary leader’s who have passion for boy growth and only use the program as the means to an end are rare. We all have stories of hypocrites who make decisions only to get what they want in the moment. I know that good scouting is hard, but there is a clear difference between humility and pride.

        I gained a lot of respect for the professionals when I volunteered at the Council level because I had to work with adults that had no business working with our sons. But the problem with organizations that rely on volunteers to function is that they take what they can get to function, and only the very worst are sifted out. It’s very easy for those of little stature to fall prey to badges and recognition by piers. Incompetence of unit leaders is rampant in scouting organizations. That is why these organizations have to be somewhat simple to manage.

        Barry

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        • #19
          If you know where you are going, there probably are alternative ways to get there. If not . . . .

          I believe Bill's vision of the patrol as the school for citizenship and life is superior even to BP's, but I regularly encounter adults in Scouting who do not have a clue as to what a patrol is supposed to be doing and achieving, much less any useful way to get there. These are the adults who, contrary to Bill's vision and BSA's theoretical policy, cannot seem to trust boys to exercise any responsibility, especially when the adult is just positive that he -- or she -- would do such a superior job of exercising that responsibilty. As my Scoutmaster used to say of such folks, "They won't even let them warm a can of soup." They tell you that boys can't be trusted to "do it right" as if "doing it right" was the ultimate goal that rules out letting the boys even try. With amazing frequency, they are also the "leaders" who do little or nothing to help the boys be more capable, starting with denying them experience.

          __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________

          The patrol is the team. The troop is the league. How are your teams doing?
          Last edited by TAHAWK; 06-14-2014, 09:15 PM.

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          • #20
            My guess is a lot of adults are doing the best they can with what they have. The training doesn't cover 10% of what we talk about here. For some it may be an ego/pride thing but for the rest of us, we've never seen it done right. My solution is to get into arguments with people on this forum to squeeze out bits of wisdom. (BTW, Stosh, now I understand your aversion to the word mentoring.)

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            • #21
              Again, I want to share the good news that a new Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Training syllabus is about to be issued with a section actually discussing, in so many words, what constitutes the Patrol Method. It will not satisfy all here, given the position of some that each adult is his or her own arbiter of what is proper Scouting, but the gentleman in charge seems to be an advocate for youth leadership and Scouting in patrols (Eagle son of Eagle Scoutmaster; Scoutmaster; father of three Eagles).

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              • #22
                I think you are on the right path TAHAWK. I don't think most adults are capable of trusting young men to do the right things at the right time. In other cultures, boys of Scout age would be considered adults, but we don't follow that norm. We wail and gnash our teeth when we hear of child labor in certain countries, where these "children" are actually adults working for a living long before we determine them to be old enough to do so. Child soldiers are operating in certain places in the world and we abhor such practices. Yet the Taliban is recruiting "children" as we speak because they can pass under our tainted radar.

                These young men are children only because we say so, not because that is the reality of the situation. Adolescence in America exists only by definition.

                I allow my boys my full trust until they prove differently which is pretty much the opposite of most people in our culture. As a result, I have very little disciple problems to contend with, my job is a whole lot easier, and I find the progress of their maturity is accelerated overall. I actually enjoy the boys more as peers than child/adult relationships. The vast majority of boys figure this out rather quickly and will do just about anything to protect that bond of trust and respect I afford to them.

                Only when this kind of trust develops first can the patrol-method have a chance to succeed on a broad scale.

                No, I don't have to be there looking over their shoulder every minute to make sure they don't decide something stupid.

                No, I don't have to second guess their decisions because they sound silly to me.

                No, I don't have to make sure they have MY vision of the program for them to be a successful scout.

                No, they don't have to fit into my mold of what a leader style works the best for everyone.

                No, they can and do very well when I'm not even anywhere close to them because they have had a chance to learn what is good and bad for them.

                In North Dakota, I think it's still possible for a 12 year old to get a farm drivers' license. He can't drive around with his friends, but he can drive a 2 1/2 ton grain truck to town. And yet, these same aged boys in my troop can't be trusted with a pocket knife. Go figure.

                Stosh

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by TAHAWK View Post
                  If you know where you are going, there probably are alternative ways to get there. If not . . . .

                  I believe Bill's vision of the patrol as the school for citizenship and life is superior even to BP's, but I regularly encounter adults in Scouting who do not have a clue as to what a patrol is supposed to be doing and achieving, much less any useful way to get there.

                  I hope you are right about the new Scoutmasters training syllabus because I have to agree with MattR that National just isn’t doing a good job explaining adult responsibilities.

                  In reference to your quote above, I am convinced that if the scouts were given the BSA Patrol Leaders Handbook and SPL Handbook and told to go off and make a troop without the adults help, they would have a 50/50 shot at coming up with a better patrol method program than the adults. Imagine what the old PL Handbooks could do?

                  In fact, I am so confident in those books that I purchased and gave them to all the Scoutmasters who came through my Scoutmaster Specific class with my instructions to start here. Not that the SM Handbook doesn’t have enough information, but I used to poll all the adults that went through Wood Badge and found that probably 3 in 100 adults had actually read the whole thing. Maybe 25 in 100 had read a 3rd. The SPL Handbook and PL Handbook give enough information to start a true boy run program in the right direction and they require less than an hour to read.

                  From my experience, I would say 75 percent of Scoutmasters are in the program for the boys. The rest had no choice and are apathetic or they are trying to prove something to themselves. In both cases, the troop usually suffers. You will always have the extremes, but once in a while you get a gem. A unit that excels sometime shows what the district or council is lacking. Because of local training, general overall performance by all the units usually follows a pattern of expectations set by district, which generally follows council. So units that stick out get noticed, good and bad. Usually it’s because they are so bad, but sometimes the rare natural leader who gets it and knows what the program is all about can be the source of making big changes. I have witnessed these kinds of changes from just such people. But it is kind of like the Bible warning of false prophets, beware.

                  Barry

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
                    ... National just isn’t doing a good job explaining adult responsibilities. ...
                    What national is not doing, is envisioning the pinnacle scouting experience as hiking and camping independently with your friends. If that is not the vision, then the patrol method is just a hypothetical method, one that may be abandoned if it doesn't meet the SM's ends of developing character and leadership in post-modern society. For example, if one envisions the pinnacle going to Jambo or some HA base (which likely only will draw a portion of youth enrolled and necessarily require 2 adults for every 10 youth), then patrol is a helpful, but non-essential method for the average scout! They'll pick up everything they need to know on day 1 of the adventure, and if not, there's an adult within earshod to redirect them.

                    On the other hand, if the best and truest scouting experiences are when the gang is out on a routine haunt without any adult, that gang had better develop skills, accountability, and integrity to be a welcome element in their "'hood."

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                    • #25
                      Well said quasze. I think you nailed it.

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                      • #26
                        One of the interesting things about this whole cycle of BSA administration was the fact that Baden-Powell chose the military terms Scout and Patrol to reflect what the ultimate goal of the program encompassed. A patrol was an independent small group of men who were sent out on reconnaissance scouting missions. They were self sufficient and able to meet any and all diverse situations they encountered all without the assistance of the main supply of the army.

                        I'm thinking the basic BSA scout in today's society would find it difficult to exist in such an environment if it were more than a short walk to the mess hall.

                        Today's patrols of 6-8 boys think they have leadership in their PL, but the 2-deep adult presence guarantees that will NEVER HAPPEN as it once did. Everything is now oriented to adult-led no matter how one wishes to define it to give the appearance that the boys are running anything.

                        Yes, I remember as a scout camping as a patrol of my buddies on a regular basis without adults present. That all changed soon after I left scouting in the late '60's early '70's.

                        Maybe we have a program today that produces paper patrols to go along with the paper scouts who eventually if they get enough check marks get to be paper eagles.

                        From my experience over the past 30 years of adult scouter activity, one has to break every G2SS rules in order to do it the way scouting was originally set up by BP.

                        Stosh

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                        • #27
                          As I have related, the presence of adults in my actual experience in Troop 43 had minimal impact on the patrol. Adults drove us to where we would hike or camp. They did their own thing, physically separated. We did ours. On Sunday afternoon, one of them would wander over and ask when we would be ready to drive home. We had been warned not to allow them to interfere. They had been warned not to interfere. Any adult defaulters were eliminated.

                          I cannot say that there was no effect. I am sure some Scouts were constantly aware that Dad was within scream.

                          When I became a Scouter in that troop, I got "The Speeech" about keeping my mitts off the Scouts "Unless they are going to march off a cliff." I literally watched meals go up in flames. Watched. As had others in my personal experience.

                          That most ignore Boy Scouting in favor of that other thing does not make adults inevitably impossibly intrusive - given the right measures to impose, to use a word, discipline on the adults. B.S.A. has not been advocating or supporting such discipline.

                          And two-deep is not going away. So I focus on doing the best I can in the situation I have. The alternative is not helpful, IMO.

                          The search for the perfect ought not to defeat acheving the good.
                          Last edited by TAHAWK; 06-14-2014, 09:28 PM.

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                          • #28
                            It'll be interesting this weekend. My six Webelos cross-over scouts are going on their first camping outing this weekend. They're calling it the summer camp shakedown. My ASM can't make it so the Mrs. is doing the 2-deep thingy. It should be interesting. Rain won't roll in until Saturday afternoon.

                            I was told the boys didn't menu plan any hotdog dinners, but kept the cooking to a minimum.

                            I have a few Plan B suggestions for the boys, but they're pretty much on their own for 48 hours.

                            Everything in my "Dad Bag" says, "I dunno, this ain't gonna be pretty."

                            Everything in my "Boy-led SM Bag" says, "Ya gotta give 'em a chance!"

                            By the way, the State Park wouldn't allow 300' between campsites. We'll have to make do the best we can.

                            Stosh

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                            • #29
                              I refuse to believe that scouts can’t get the same level of growth with the todays program as with the program 30, 40 and 50 years ago. As I said, a good scout leader can achieve the growth with any program when they understand the objective.

                              The problem today is that the average troop struggles to run a program as intended because they don’t understand how the program works. They see advancement, leadership, camping, character development and so on and so forth and try to make sense of it, but it is hard to put together into a single program. What I understand qwazse is saying is that adults don’t need to really know the fine details of the program if they would just take the kids out and let them camp and hike in patrols because those activities intuitively develop growth whether that was intended or not.

                              In other words, the adults don’t really need to know the BSA vision and mission or even recognize boy growth if they would just let the boys do their scouting stuff as intended. Kind of goes along with the just give the boys the SPL and PL handbooks and let them figure it out. Then the average troop leader might have a better chance of managing a performing program.

                              Barry

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                My personal Scouting experience is as Stosh describes - my Patrol camped independently of any Adults. Now, the home of the Patrol Leader and his younger brother was probably 500 yards away through the woods (in one instance), so emergency evac was close if required, but for 36 hours or so, we were really "on our own." Never had a problem.

                                I tell this story to Adults frequently (probably too frequently) as an example of how Scouting has changed. The Scouts schedule official "Patrol Campouts" and we dutifully send along two Adults, but they have firm instructions about how much time to spend in the Scout campsite (zero) and how far away they should camp (at least 300'). I have explained to the Patrol Leaders that if their Patrol wants to go out and camp together some time as friends (and not "officially" as Scouts), I'm all for it.

                                What this boils down to for me is this: I had a very interesting conversation with my DE a while ago during which he complained a bit about another SM who has been with his Troop in that position for probably 25 years. The DE didn't care much for this, but his complaint was based solely on the number of years and "giving someone else a chance" than whether the guy is doing a good job or not.

                                Scouting is not an Adult program. It is not intended to "give a chance" to Adults (this is why I am skeptical about changing the leadership standards - this program is not about giving opportunities to Adults and changing those standards is not going to give the Scouts anything they don't get from society at large every day of the week). Any Adult in the program who thinks "It's all about me!" is in the wrong program.

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