Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Strengthen patrol identity?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Strengthen patrol identity?

    I want the patrols, which pretty much are just names on paper right now, to start forming into more cohesive units. Our attendance, to put it nicely, has sucked this last year, so we're lucky to have half our Scouts attend a single campout. Resultantly, we combine patrols so the numbers are bigger and they can purchase more food (patrol standard is x amount of dollars per Scout in a patrol). This inhibits the patrol method, so basically calling it a patrol method troop is a joke and the SPL is like one super PL, having to deal with Scouts and never delegating.

    I have suggested reworking the patrols so that they can choose their own patrols, which has its ups and downs. How can we strengthen a barely existent patrol method?

  • #2
    If only half the Scouts are active, reform the patrols around them. The paper Scouts shouldn't count. They can be added if they return.

    What are your numbers?

    Comment


    • #3
      Numbers man, numbers.

      At camp one troop told me they shake up the patrols every 6 months. Any 1st Class or higher can start one if he can get 5 guys to commit. At their special meeting a guy sits in a corner and the boys go where they want--vote with their feet. So the wanna be Patrol leaders have to have a plan, charisma, and some politicking going on.

      We don't do that but it might work.

      Comment


      • #4
        In my former troop, the process Tampa mentioned, is what we did. The only "rule" was a patrol had to be at least 6 and no more than 8.... Have at it boys!

        Once we were formed, there was no time limit/restrictions applied. If 8 boys wanted to join together in their first year and stay that way through to Eagle + they could.
        If someone had a falling out with their patrol, they either worked it out or they moved to another patrol that had room. Everyone had a spot, knew where it was and had the option of moving or staying if they wished.

        Patrol identity was very strong. They maintained distance as Kudu suggests and hung out together as a patrol. Whenever there was a lack of participation, it was up to the PL to call his boys and get them to an event. No matter how many boys were absent the patrols never combined for an event.

        The two boys at a time issue was addressed in a 100%, all the time, buddy system. They hung out together, took MB's together, tented together, etc. They were responsible for their buddy to make it to all events. If there was absenteeism, the buddies for the event may pair up differently, but it was always within a patrol. If there was an odd number of boys for an event, the PL was on his own. The Buddy System was used all the time, not just the waterfront.

        PL's were 100% responsible for their patrol. They made the final decisions of who is in their patrol and who isn't.

        The only exception to this was the "troop" patrol which consisted of SPL, ASPL, TG, QM, etc. These boys knew that if they accepted these positions they would need to drop out of their patrol and focus their attention on what's best for the whole troop and not "play favorites" with their own patrol. Once their POR was over, they could rejoin any patrol that had openings.

        One boy wanted to be a PL and it was acceptable to go out and recruit a patrol of their own to lead. One boy did this and tried to "steal" members out of other patrols, found it too difficult and took on the NSP of new cross-overs. Patrol identity was so strong only one boy (is patrol buddy from his former patrol) was the only boy to jump ship and go with him in his new patrol.

        I was surprised how fast this patrol identity formed once the boys realized the adults wouldn't step in and mess with what they had put together.

        As long as things were going well, as SM, I didn't have any reason to mess with it. Basically the only "rule" I ever stuck to was 6-8 members per patrol. Occasionally we had one small patrol that had to wait until the Webelos cross-overs came around. They worked hard on recruiting these new boys because patrols with 6 or 7 members could also try and pick them up when they came into the troop. The small patrol generally had better success because they could take on a group of the new boys rather than just one or two. The new Webelos boys always had the option, if they had the numbers to form a patrol of their own, so the competition for these boys tended to be quite "intense".

        Stosh

        Comment


        • #5
          Team, Group, or Patrol identity has to be forged among the member through the struggle of working together. Its not as simple as saying, here is your patrol, now act like a patrol, type thing. Group identity comes at the cost of members putting out individual selfless effort to accomplish a team goal. Do a search on Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Patrol identity can take hours or years, it depends on the intensity of effort to reach the goal. I have watched Patrol identities forum in one night of Lazor Tag because the intensity required for the group to come together to win a match. I have seen it happen in just a few days on just about every High Adventure Crew of which I was a member. If your patrols dont have goals that require some group intensity to reach the goal, then group identity will take a long time.

          I disagree with most here that you should break up the Patrols and reform them to create bigger and more functional patrols. Most experienced SMs will tell you that even if only one member of a patrol attends a campout, keep him a separate patrol. You will find more pride and identity in that one scout than most of the other patrols. The one scout can ignite the other members at the next meeting.

          Developing Patrol identity is direct function of the team work intensity, dont breakup work in progress. Be patient and encourage the work. Create goals for the patrols. Make the members work together for one task. Create patrol competitions. Make everything a competition. First to assembly, first to finish a meal and KP, best skit, best song, best inspection. Whatever it is, just get your members to work together for a common group purpose.

          You need the common goals so the members can see their specific talent or skill to help the team (Forming). Getting ready for the next campout, who is developing the menu and assigning scouts to shop for food, who is creating the skits and cheers and assigning scouts to those positions. Who is making sure of transportation? Make each member see their specific task for the group goal, and do those task or fail.

          You need the team to humble themselves into contributing to the team for the good of the team and not themselves (Storming). The team needs to experience how working together results in success. Who didnt make the menu or create the skits. Who didnt get the food. Why did they not do it and do they see how one member pulls the whole team down. This is where the adults get the member to see themselves now and what they can be in the future. Failure is good, it is an indicator, it shows a wrong direction. Use the power of failure to point the patrol in the right direction. The team will stress during storming, but the calm of the mentor or adult will show them that they are doing OK and to keep going.

          You need the team to see their personal efforts contributing to the team success (Norming). The best score on patrol inspection. First patrol to assembly. Any success in a patrol competition. Recognize their successes, be the patrols best cheer leader. Give them the gift of goals to strive for.

          Patrol Identity (Performing). The members work together like a well oiled machine. They almost seem to read each others minds on with their task. They take pride in eating good food, being on time to most activities and the younger scouts look up to them. They go out of their way to help the troop succeed as well. They latch to their identity and take pride in being the member of that patrol. Go visit a crew that just came off the trail and see their identity in their faces. Watch the members of that crew in future troop activities. They aren't group anymore, but they have an identity that doesn't go away.

          I dont know how your troop is working, but Im guessing that the patrols are not stressing enough as a team or failing as individuals enough to change. Dont break them up or combine them on campouts. Make a patrol of one succeed.

          Its been said many times, learning how to be a good adult leader of a boy run troop takes twice as much work as the scouts. But the rewards are great.

          I wish you luck, but I also envy the pride you are going to feel.

          I love this scouting stuff.

          Barry

          Comment


          • #6
            JBlake, I'm really curious because I've wondered about doing something similar. A couple of questions:

            What did the PL do if, say, a couple of members stopped participating? With a limit of 6-8 and a few only go on 2 campouts a year that PL might want a different mix. It sounds like if a PL takes on a scout the PL has him for the duration. What's that duration?

            What happens to scouts that don't or rarely participate?

            What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they never help out? Some kids get a reputation. Hopefully this is a way to teach them something so I'd like to do this.

            What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they're socially awkward? If a scout doesn't have friends then it may be hard for him to get into a patrol.

            Does the PL need to come up with some sort of plan or goal for his patrol before he goes recruiting?

            Comment


            • #7
              "What did the PL do if, say, a couple of members stopped participating? With a limit of 6-8 and a few only go on 2 campouts a year that PL might want a different mix. It sounds like if a PL takes on a scout the PL has him for the duration. What's that duration?"

              >> The PL's in the troop were the "highest" ranking officers in the troop. No one could step in and over-rule a PL unless it was counter to BSA policy. If a PL was having difficulty keeping his boys active and it was becoming a pinch to keep the minimum of 6, he could declare the position open. This usually occurred only after the PL had long talks with the inactive scout. Usually the scout would give reasons for his absence. If the absence was only temporary (i.e. sports season) they usually held the position open and put up with the short numbers. But if the boy was no longer interested in scouts and didn't plan to return any time soon, the PL declared the position open and took on new members. The boys always know first if someone has lost interest in Scouting. The adults are usually the last to find out. If the inactive boy returned he could always hook back up with any patrol that had open slots, including his old patrol if it had a slot.

              "What happens to scouts that don't or rarely participate?"

              >> As I mentioned, the PL and other patrol members usually pressed the boy's attendance especially if it was causing problems for the patrol. The responsibility for attendance stayed with the patrol. It was never the job of the leadership (youth and/or adult) to press this issue. More often than not, peer pressure was always more effective than anything anyone else could do.

              "What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they never help out? Some kids get a reputation. Hopefully this is a way to teach them something so I'd like to do this."

              >> Yes, this happened a lot and eventually the boys learned that unless they carry their load, they would be asked to move. As I mentioned in my previous post, if there was a problem, either the boys worked it out amongst themselves or they moved to another patrol. It was unfortunate that the offender didn't realize that the only place they would be welcomed would be the smaller struggling patrols who were short members and that meant carrying a bigger load than staying with their original larger patrol and stepping up to the challenge.

              "What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they're socially awkward? If a scout doesn't have friends then it may be hard for him to get into a patrol."

              >> Never had this problem for the three years we ran under the system. That doesn't mean we didn't have "problem" boys, it just meant that the smaller patrols, needing members usually stepped up and gave the awkward boy a chance to belong. Kind of a mutual agreement, You need members and I need a group, let's work it out.

              "Does the PL need to come up with some sort of plan or goal for his patrol before he goes recruiting?"

              >> Generally there was a consensus in the patrol for new members. We have 5, we need one more, we need to beat the bushes for another. Who from your friends might be interested, etc. Except for the boy that wanted to be a PL did I ever see a PL trying to recruit on his own. Everyone in the patrol knew the scoop and worked on the problem together.

              >> These boys knew that they needed to work together to not only get members, but also to keep them. No one wanted to drop below the 6 member threshold. They worked hard at keeping everyone in the game because their patrol's survival depended on it. Either we work together or we will need to split up. Not many were fired up to face that without trying their best to keep their numbers up.

              >> The stronger patrols always drew in the more dedicated scouts, which would naturally occur anyway. However, if a boy needed a POR, he might drop out of that patrol for a while to take on NSP or a group of disenfranchised scouts. That meant that the best scouts ended up with the others, even if only for a short time. The first year we tried this, it was a building year, but the second year, a boy (and even his buddy) would drop out of their patrol and take on the NSP. More often than not, the patrol they left had 8 members and so it dropped that patrol to 6 which they held their spots opened for a while or plugged them with new boy overflow from Webelos cross-over. At the end of a certain period of time that felt comfortable, the older scouts would go back to his original patrol and the two overflows would go to the now more mature NSP. The third year there were two boys needing POR and so the patrol split in two having 4 older boys and 4 new scouts in each. At the end of a mutually agreed on period of time the 8 older boys regrouped and the newer boys all formed up their own patrol. I did notice that even though the patrols were separated at events, the older and younger boys did a lot of inter-patrol activities with each other. The older boys still wanted to spend at least some time with their friends. To a lesser extent that interaction seemed to continue between the two patrols even after they went back to older/younger patrols. (They had made new friends with the new guys.)

              >> It was quite remarkable of all the different options the boys selected to handle their specific problems. To a varying degree all the options they chose seemed to work out in the long run. As the SM I really didn't worry about the patrol structures. It was never my problem, it was the PL's. It was up to him to find a solution.

              Stosh

              Comment


              • #8
                "It was quite remarkable of all the different options the boys selected to handle their specific problems."

                That's nice. I told my troop, after a meeting completely fell through, that my definition of boy led was when the boys solved their own problems, which they hadn't done.

                Speaking of solving problems, did you create any intentionally? I was thinking of the NSP. It could easily be the case that nobody needs or wants a POR and the NSP has no PL. I could see telling all the PLs that every new scout has an older patrol leader for the first year and let them figure out the details.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Our troop is about 30. Problem is the older generation is going into high school, hence they are not as active. Others have family, church or other commitments, so they cannot attend campouts. Our four patrols, including the new Scouts, had a tally of 4/9, 4/4, 1/9, 3/10 this last campout. Yes, I know the ideal size is 6-8, but that's a lesser issue now. And yes, we had to combine patrols.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Create problems? Who me? All the time.

                    My boys knew to expect the unexpected.

                    Once we were hosting the Webelos boys for a winter campout. We were touring the scout camp which was one of their pin requirements. I had one boy at the back stop with his parent and told him the boys will be back to help him with his "broken ankle". The boy smiled and dropped out of the hike. When the boys got back to the cabin about 10 minutes later they did a buddy check and realized one of the Webelos boys had "lost" his buddy. Of course they came to the SM and asked what they should do. I simply said, "It's not my problem." Search and rescue followed by splinting, and extrication followed. They weren't happy, but they figured it out.

                    NSP with no older leadership? Again, not my problem, but it was suggested to the SPL unless he wished to train up someone in the NSP as PL, he had better consider getting a TG to step up. With something as critical as this situation, suggestions from adults are always an option. Just because the boys are the functional leaders doesn't mean they are expected to do it in a vacuum. Options, suggestions, recommendations are always in order. It's called coaching, assisting, supporting, but never doing.

                    Chao: from the breakdown you have in your troop, it appears you barely make the 2 patrol requirement I would have in place. 12 active boys means 2 patrol of minimum numbers. A patrol of 1 active boy doesn't leave much room for leadership development if there is no one there to lead.

                    To say one has boy-led, patrol-method means the patrols need to be functional. I would suggest tossing out the current structure and let the boys have at it to set up patrols with the 6-8 membership. Yes, you could possibly have 3 patrols, 4 with 2 place holders for a boy who's coming back as soon as the sport season is over, etc. The goal of boy-led is to maximize boy participation. If they're not there, that's pretty difficult to do. The 1/9 and 3/10 sounds like the older boys. And at the last campout you needed to combine. Well, why not let the boys figure out this problem and take ownership of the attendance issue? Why do ad hoc patrols when it would be better in the long run to keep them combined all the time, not just for campouts? If one is striving for patrol identity, that would facilitate that process to quite a degree.

                    Ownership goes a long way to strengthen patrol identity. If the adults pick and the scouts have no ownership in the process, they will tolerate, not bond. If they pick and control the process, they will make it happen.

                    Stosh

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree with EagleDad. Baden-Powell didn't intend for the Patrols to be split up every so often. Developing Patrol Spirit takes time, especially when some of the Scouts in a Patrol seem to be disagreeing a lot. While I was Senior Patrol Leader of my Troop, one Patrol in particular was having a lot of difficulty in getting along. This led to a handful of the adult leaders strongly suggesting that the Patrols be reorganized. However, it is my belief that part of the opportunity to grow in Scouting is through the difficulties faced. If the difficulties are simply avoided, then no progress will be made. Scouts shouldn't try to avoid difficulties, we should face them!

                      By then end of the year of my being S.P.L., I could see definite, albeit slow, improvement in the Patrol Spirit of all of the Patrols. They were starting to learn that they needed to depend upon each other. Like EagleDad said, it takes time to move the stages of group development, but only by going through the stages can the Scouts become members of Patrols which are the kind of Patrols that are crucial in true Scouting: strong, permanent teams which work together as one unit and strive to encourage each other in Scouting.

                      Unfortunately, at the end of my year as S.P.L., the Scoutmaster went ahead and rearranged all of the Patrols and appointed a few of the 'older' Scouts as Patrol Leaders. Naturally, the older Scouts weren't Patrol Leaders already because they didn't show up very much. Combined with this lack of strong leaders, the mixing up of the Patrols virtually destroyed Patrol Spirit, and I had the unpleasent experience of watching attendance and Scout Spirit decline in the Troop, and not being able to do anything about it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yah, read and re-read Eagledad's post, eh? Patrol spirit comes from facin' challenges together and bonding as a group. A strong patrol spirit troop never, ever re-arranges or re-combines patrols. That's a problem I have with NSP's and age-based patrols, because they set up a need to recombine.

                        Now, chaoman45, yeh haven't really shared numbers of boys and numbers of patrols and ages, eh? That might help us. I think in da modern world of youth schedule conflicts, yeh sometimes have to go with a bit bigger patrols than were recommended in da BSA's historical documents. The goal should be given average attendance yeh will never have a patrol below 4 in the field (minimum number for independent hiking), and you'll average 6-8. That might mean patrol sizes of 10 or so, dependin' on the kids and your area.

                        Then yeh need to find some good, relatively high-attendance PLs and take 'em out on some special trips to train 'em and steadily improve their skills and leadership over a period of time. Make it real, make it special, make it fun.

                        Then yeh need to introduce a bit of patrol competition and other challenge. As patrols succeed, yeh need to offer da chance at more challengin' patrol-only outings here or there.

                        This takes a bit of time, but da thing to understand is that patrol identity and spirit are natural things, eh? As long as yeh set up the environment properly, the boys will naturally build those things on their own without bein' told to.

                        What did the PL do if, say, a couple of members stopped participating?

                        Call 'em up and bug 'em!

                        With a limit of 6-8 and a few only go on 2 campouts a year that PL might want a different mix. It sounds like if a PL takes on a scout the PL has him for the duration. What's that duration?

                        Like I said, I'd tend to go with a higher limit. But I think if yeh really have some boys that only go on 2 campouts per year that your Patrol Leaders are goin' to tell yeh that they don't really think those boys are scouts or patrol members. That's the point the PL and the SM sit down with a lad and help him to make a choice about whether he's goin' to commit to Scoutin' or go do somethin' else. If a lad showed up for only 2 games a season he wouldn't be on any team that I know of, eh?

                        What happens to scouts that don't or rarely participate?

                        Yeh drop 'em from your roster and yeh go recruit more boys who really want to be in Scouting. See above.

                        What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they never help out? Some kids get a reputation. Hopefully this is a way to teach them something so I'd like to do this.

                        Yeh develop a culture of "Roses & Thorns" sessions, where it's a safe place for boys to raise issues with each other. Then yeh see the PL and the boy's peers tell him frankly that his laziness really ticks them off, and they expect better. Da patrol is the ideal place for positive peer pressure.


                        What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they're socially awkward? If a scout doesn't have friends then it may be hard for him to get into a patrol.

                        Yah, that's a potential downside to jblake's free-for-all. There are other ways to handle patrol choices, though, where da PLs work through some of those issues. Da biggest thing is to develop a sense of service leadership in your Patrol Leaders, and do a bit of SM nudging here and there. "George, you're our best PL, and I think you're up to the challenge of really helping Billy come out of his shell. Billy really looks up to you, too..."

                        Does the PL need to come up with some sort of plan or goal for his patrol before he goes recruiting?

                        If yeh do the PL-recruitin' thing, don't muck it up with adult stuff like that. The kids will work it out.

                        Beavah
                        (This message has been edited by Beavah)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          "Patrol spirit comes from facin' challenges together and bonding as a group."

                          No doubt. Competition, things that go awry, and SM created challenges are the things I can think of. I'd like to hear more examples of SM created challenges. Broken ankles and lost scouts are good. What about organizing events? Troop meeting, teaching younger scouts a skill, that sort of thing?

                          "Like I said, I'd tend to go with a higher limit. But I think if yeh really have some boys that only go on 2 campouts per year that your Patrol Leaders are goin' to tell yeh that they don't really think those boys are scouts or patrol members. That's the point the PL and the SM sit down with a lad and help him to make a choice about whether he's goin' to commit to Scoutin' or go do somethin' else. If a lad showed up for only 2 games a season he wouldn't be on any team that I know of, eh? "

                          Exactly. And that's the rub I'm up against right now. I don't want to run those scouts out of the troop but I want them out of the way of those that want to be active. It's just setting expectations. I like the pick your own patrol approach because peers telling a scout he's not participating/helping out will be a much stronger message than anything I can say. And as long as that picking is done from a servant leadership view it would be good.

                          Off to a campout....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            >>What about organizing events? Troop meeting, teaching younger scouts a skill, that sort of thing?>I'd like to hear more examples of SM created challenges.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We've gotten to a point where a couple of our patrols are out of wack. One of which was a patrol in which we had a discipline problem with a couple guys and the rest of the patrol basically mutinied on a campout this summer. One kid just packed up and changed patrols. Two others at least did me the courtesy of stopping by my campsite and letting me know they were changing patrols.

                              Regardless, my new SPL and I have been discussing the idea of going using this system. I'm a bit concerned about how to implement it initially. I fear that if we just say, on the count of three, everyone go stand with your new patrol, there will be a number of kids lost in the chaos.

                              My idea -- and I'd like feedback from you guys who have used this system -- is for the first step be to recruit the new PLs, and perhaps require them to confer briefly with me. The next week, the approved PLs then set up in their respective corners and rest of the troop goes from to the PL whose patrol he wants to join and puts his name on the list. The last step will be for the PLs to get together and trade around for the guys they want and to get the patrols to within the 6-to-10 member limits.

                              One big problem this solves is by setting some standards for being a PL, I avoid the pitfall of having a group of new Scouts being led by one of their own. (Been there, got the patch and scars.) If an older, qualified PL wants to take on leadership of a bunch of newbies, maybe with the help of one of his same-aged friends, that's fine and is really just a traditional NSP with a PL instead of a troop guide.

                              The issue I've not resolved is what happens when one of the cool guys announces he wants to be PL and makes it known that his couple other cool friends will also be in the patrol. We end up with 25 cool guy wannabes lined up for that patrol while the others go begging. That puts that PL in the position of cherry picking the patrol he wants while leaving the other guys out.

                              Thoughts from your experience?

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X