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Strengthen patrol identity?

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  • #16

    I haven't had experience as a Scoutmaster, just as a Senior Patrol Leader, but I thought I'd throw this out there. I know from reading and from personal experience that it is better when the Patrols consist of Boys roughly the same age. That way, the Patrol can grow together, and they are at the same general skill level so they can keep togther much better during activities rather than diverse ages wanting to do different levels of activities. It will be a little tougher at first as the younger Patrols go through the storming phase, but it will be better in the long run.

    Like I said, I don't really have any adult leader experince, but this is what I would consider based upon my exerience as S.P.L. and what I've read.


    • #17
      Yah, welcome back ScoutingRediscovered.

      If yeh search through old threads, you'll find long treatises on same-aged vs. mixed age patrols. Da BSA used mixed-age patrols for most of its history, and many of da most successful troops out there still do. So don't trust everything yeh read. Same age patrols are a bit more like school or like cub scouts, so they are familiar to kids and parents. Mixed age patrols put da older, more experienced boys in leadership roles and some of da middle kids in guiding roles and give da newest kids the sort of independent adventures that can only come when yeh have some more experienced support. There are successful troops that run under either system, of course, and that use an in-between system where they use a New Scout Patrol for a bit and then those boys join mixed-age "permanent" patrols.

      I think da amount of structure or guidance da adults provide in patrol formation depends a lot on where the boys are at, eh? The less experience with service leadership they have, and the less experience with patrol method they have, the more yeh need to work with the senior youth leaders to build some structure for the group. Unlike jblake and some others, I think patrols should be pretty "permanent", and should not be reforming, switching, shifting or any of that stuff except in very unusual circumstances. The boys learn the most when they have to work through their difficulties with each other and learn how to work with each other, eh? They won't get that if they get to shift whenever they want or cherry-pick in different ways. So I generally see shifting patrols as a sign of troop weakness. For a patrol to be a real home, a real "gang", yeh join it for the duration, eh? Once a Killer Beaver, always a Killer Beaver!



      • #18

        I'm guessing everyone has been on vacation. We're discussing this at PLC Tuesday and I'd like to fill in some of the blanks.

        Do you guys who use this system have procedures for forming patrols, or is it jungle rules?


        • #19
          Jungle rules, kids make patrols, elect PL.

          Friends and similiar people will congregate together. Those patrols that want to work together and have patrol outings and such will do so, those who barely come to meetings or participate will do that as well. Some patrols will be great, some not as great, it's the natural order of things.


          • #20
            So what do you do with the kids who aren't asked to be in a patrol? They only show up once in a blue moon, are known for being P.I.T.A.s or even the special needs Scouts who require a lot of extra effort? We could create our own Island of Misfit Toys patrol.
            (This message has been edited by Twocubdad)


            • #21
              Yah, unless or until da servant leader ethic takes hold, I'm not a proponent of Jungle Rules.

              I think yeh get da PLC together and have them work things out.

              Yeh can ask boys for their preferences on paper to help guide things.

              This avoids accidentally steppin' into some of da issues and traps yeh mention, TwoCubDad.

              Down the road, after yeh have a patrol structure and ethic set up, then the kids will self-manage. At the beginnin', though, it's a shared endeavor, with guidance.



              • #22
                And that's where I'm headed, with a sorta modified version. I'm thinking about giving them a meeting to do their thing, but then pull the PLs together and do the horse trading necessary to fill all the potholes.

                But I'm trying to think through the details. Example, we may limit patrols initially to 8 members so they have the possibility to go to 10 members to accommodate some of the guys who were left out.

                (And actually, I have no doubt that before my special needs kid got left out, my oldest guys would have him in their patrol. There's a high correlation between maturity and self sacrifice or servant leadership. The 13-y.o.? not so much.)


                • #23
                  Yah, I'd think in terms of just a couple guidelines for the boys to help ensure patrol viability or whatever else yeh care about. That helps 'em structure their discussion and not miss da things yeh think are important.

                  Could be things like

                  Every patrol has to have at least 4 boys on every campout (or average 6 boys per campout)... helps set 'em up to think about participation levels, not just size.

                  Every patrol has to have a mix of experience. We can't leave young fellows on their own. (if yeh do mixed age patrols and patrol competitions).

                  Every boy has to have at least two boys that they are friends with / look up to.

                  Not very many, eh? Just a few to offer a foundation or some sign posts for 'em.



                  • #24
                    I like what you guys are coming up with. Here's my 2 cents. Reqs for PL are 1st class, active in the troop, and trained. Jungle sign up where every scout chooses the PL they want. If PL doesn't get at least 5 members he's not a PL. The PLs have a PLC meeting with their lists of who wants to be in their patrol. First they talk about what is best for the troop. Then they hash out patrols. It's the servant leadership that will pick the patrols and the SPL should ensure it's done right. I like Beavah's guidelines. I don't know that it has to be mixed age so much as for the first two years a scout should be in a patrol with older kids. I pick 2 years because that's where scouts typically mature. After the hash session they should be able to explain why they're making patrols the way they are. If the reason is "Johny's a dork" then it should be sent back to the PLC. They talk to all scouts that don't get their pick and let them know why. Servant leadership based peer pressure would do more good than anything the adults could say.

                    I'm also wondering about expectations for PLs and members. The PLC should set expectations and there should be consequences for not meeting them. It could be participation, or helping out, or whatever the PLC thinks is reasonable (within boundaries set by the SM). I just know right now I'm the judge and jury when it comes to expectations, that makes me responsible for a big part of the problems, and that doesn't say much about boy led. I sure would like the scouts to take more ownership. At the same time, the expectations should be based on the right thing.

                    Maybe what this is all getting down to is with the right attitude the boys should make the decisions. Our job is to ensure they have the right attitude when they make those decisions. It's servant leadership vs lord of the flies.