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  • SPL Invited Himself to Patrol Campout

    I learned tonight that our SPL managed to wrangle an 'invite' to a patrol campout this week-end. I was not present when it occurred and the PL in fact had a science fair tonight so he wasn't there. I believe what *might* have happened is he talked the APL into inviting him as the parents involved are friends.

    I learned of this when the SPL's dad informed me he was available to drive because his son had been invited to go. While I honestly could have used another vehicle to haul the gear I already had another adult meeting us at the camping site so that wasn't an issue. We would just have had to ask someone to make 2 60-mile round trips for the gear (30 miles each way).

    I would like the opinions of the more learned Patrol Method members here as to the appropriateness of this apparent self-invite. I have been striving to separate Patrol from Troop activities but the SPL has it in his head that his way is always the right way and he doesn't need to listen to adult leaders, etc.


  • #2
    Well if the SPL was invited I guess can go. I guess it depends on how the "invite" came about.
    Seems to me that before any patrol does an outing on it's own a detailed plan should be provided to the SM for approval including a roster of Scouts and adults attending. This "invite" should not have been a surprise to the SM

    Does he plan on taking over once he gets there?

    What's this with patrol camping anyway? It's so GreenBar Bill.


    • #3
      "the SPL has it in his head that his way is always the right way"

      And maybe the Patrol Campout needs a couple of ASPLs to make sure the "Positions Of Responsibility" are being managed correctly?


      • #4
        Well, that's this SPL's leadership style, and if the scouts in the troop object, someone else will be SPL soon enough. If they don't object, maybe they don't want patrol/troop seperation quite as much as you do.

        I suppose I would step back and see how having a senior youth leader tagging along on a patrol campout works. Is he there to take the opportunity to learn how adults supervise and mentor, is he there to provide mentorship to a PL and APL, is he there to supplant the PL and "run the patrol" or is he there to just be "one of the boys"?


        • #5
          Who was invited and how is just background noise. Ignore it.

          Your SPL needs some retraining on the patrol method. Remind him the purpose of a patrol campout is for the patrol to bond and work together as a team. It is an opportunity for the patrol leader to lead the patrol. When he's there, his obviously superior intellect and leadership skill take that role away from the PL and changes the dynamics of the patrol.

          In the future, if he is invited or even begged to go on patrol campouts, he may not do so. Such is the burden of leadership. Next term he can run for patrol leader.


          • #6
            Wow, wish I had your problem.

            You have your SPL captive for 48 hours at the adult camp site. Available to you for a long SM conf, a bit of leader ship training, a talk about the direction the troop is going and maybe a late night snack made in the dutch oven...

            Remind me again how this is a bad thing? Just keep him, your self and the other adult leaders away from the patrol.


            • #7
              We stink at patrol method so take this with a grain of salt:

              Our SPL is always a member of one of our patrols. (He may or may not be a past PL.)

              If our patrols actually planned their own outing, he would be expected to only participate in the excursion his patrol planned. That said, our patrols are so doggone amicable that they keep inviting each other to their campsites, etc...

              Forget about what "might" have happened. The kid is on the roster now. Teach him a little "come-along-side" leadership. Ask him to cover the SPL patch, put himself under the PL's leadership, follow orders, and just be a generally agreeable chap. Any "sage advice" can be saved to PLC meeting.

              If his domineering spirit does become an issue (hopefully just a small one), you can point it out to him and discuss the challenges facing a "helicopter parent."


              • #8
                I would think some of our Patrol guys would be flattered to have the SPL along--kinda of a mini-celeb. As long as he knows he is not acting as an SPL. I hope they put him to work.


                • #9
                  Ok, so I don't get the rub ...

                  If the SPL is the "leader" of all the Patrols (I mean, that's *is* the title), why *wouldn't* he be automatically invited to *all* "patrol" functions?

                  Perhaps his function there would be to evaluate the performance of the Patrol Leaders...or is the performance of patrol leaders not important, only the time served?


                  • #10
                    My understanding of the patrol method is that the PL is the leader for patrol events, and the SPL coordinates and directs the troop as a whole. I was told by one of the boys that the SPL already has plans to teach some skills at this event. The problem is the patrol had decided for themselves when they planned this what the focus was to be, and it wasn't what the SPL decided *he* was going to do.

                    I have no problem with the SPL teaching the PL's the methods of office, or evaluating them, etc. I *do* have a problem with an SPL who decides he doesn't have to listen to adults, or take direction from same, or fails for literally months now to organize a junior leader orientation/training day. After all that he decides he needs to attend a strictly patrol event and apparently (per what he told at least one patrol member) take over the activities during the event in contrast to what they have planned.

                    Where is the dividing line between the patrol and the troop? I thought one was a sub-unit with its own leaders, who meshed with the larger unit (troop) for common activities and gain while retaining its own identity and agenda as befit the needs/wants of its members.



                    • #11

                      I think I know what you're talking about because I am guilty of making part of the mistake that your SPL is making now. One of the patrols in my troop was disruptive at meetings, so as the JASM then, I was assigned by the SPL to help them back on track. My mistake was taking the leadership away from the PL until I overheard the SPL talking of forcing the boy out of his position. I immediately realized how blind I had been and took a few steps back so that the young PL could do all the leading. The next time I got involved was to whisper some suggestions into the PLs ear and let him decide. Suitably, this PL had his patrol under the best leadership after I backed off. I know I was a different position than your SPL, but I think the same problem arose and was thankfully solved.

                      I think the advice you are reading about having your SPL be a guest in the patrol for the weekend is great because he shouldn't have any leadership responsibility on a patrol outing. You should be very careful with allowing your SPL to think that he can walk in and replace the PL in this case. Inviting himself on the trip was bad enough, but taking the leadership role away from him is horrible. Wingnut is completely right about how you should spend your time with him. Your best bet is trying to make him realize that he's hurting that patrol, belittling the PL, and actually missing out on the good time he can have watching the PL lead. I realized right before I corrected my mistake that my SM had told me only days before this event "Let PL do the talking." Those words were all that I needed to hear to realize my mistake. I'm hoping you have as much luck as my SM had with me a while ago. (I also hope that you have as easy a time). The biggest mistake you can make with this is letting the SPL lead the trip. If he argues that he's a higher position than the PL, let him know who's above him. If you don't feel comfortable letting him know who's boss, then make the advice come from someone below him (in the form of an unhappy little TF, an angry PL, or whoever else can get the message across).

                      I hope this helps, good luck with whatever route you decide to take.


                      • #12
                        Yep, that last bit of information is a game changer. You do need to discuss with the boy what the boundaries of his invite are, that you will call him out if he crosses them, and if he is uncomfortable with that then he should tell you now and consider staying home.

                        Remind him that you make an effort to keep a number of adults including yourself off his back, you now need him to pay it foward.

                        Now be sure to listen because maybe you didn't get the whole story. Maybe Mr. PL did give him a call and wasn't entirely pleased with the plan and asked for some help at the last minute. Every now and then kids surprise us that way.


                        • #13
                          The key, I believe, is in what capacity is the SPL attending? The outing should be led by the Patrol Leader (either the PL or APL in the PLs absence). The SPL should not be acting as the leader.

                          Also, on a Patrol outing, it works best if adults are not present or at a minimum, far, far away from the action.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the advice guys. ES2010 yours was particularly helpful. I am back from the campout now and the matter is done,

                            Here is what happened:

                            The PL flaked the campout, as well as the last 2 week's meetings. Sick one week and school science fair the next.

                            The APL was told he was in charge, a position he is not familiar with yet.

                            The SPL brought his own food (MREs) and made a minor production of them. Needless to say they automatically outshine whatever the patrol is cooking because they are "awesome."

                            Besides cooking (new, untried menu items) the boys worked on Firem'n Chit for the newest kid and his older brother (who is pretty new as far as camping himself).

                            The SPL decided he was going to teach Toten Chip and proceeded to call the boys over to his demo area and away from the other activities. The disruption was actually minimal and didn't upset the overall schedule so I let it slide and just observed. On the other hand we have an Instructor whose skill areas are Toten Chip and knots, but he was asked for this campout, only the Cooking Instructor. See following....

                            All in all it went better than I expected but it still rankles me a bit that he essentially invited himself. He is big on being seen as the 'expert' on skills, when in truth he could use some review and practice himself.

                            I have been trying for the better part of a year now to differentiate between troop and patrol events, with the differences in leadership, planning, etc. The SPL's father ended up staying home because we had another dad along after all - one of those 'I'll let you know tomorrow' kind of things that left us hanging until literally a couple of hours before departure.

                            The boys did have a good time, but Scoutmaster discovered that a brand-new tent (2 nights use by the SM for Wood Badge back in Oct. and only 1 night of use by the troop in Dec.) had been put away wet the last time it was used and as a result had mildewed badly. The SPL was told it would be brought up at the next meeting. So far he has shrugged it off.



                            • #15
                              Review "patrol outing" in The Scoutmaster Handbook. What you had was not a patrol outing.