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fred8033

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Everything posted by fred8033

  1. BSA "Troop Leader Guidbook" has replaced the "Scoutmaster Handbook". The previous scoutmaster handbook talked of regular, new-scout and venture patrols. The new guidebook has changed tone with "mixed age" or "same age". I've always viewed "same age" as a slight and I prefer it to be called "same interest" or "same experience". The new guidebook says "historically patrols were made up of scouts of all ages and ranks". But I think that was not necessarily inferring "mixed age" in what mixed age patrols infers today. From what I read more and more ... my interpretation is current BSA doesn't suggest a best answer and doesn't have a best idea to use. Rather, BSA is suggesting rough ideas about how to justify organizing patrols. Beyond that, BSA just says it's important and wishes you luck figuring out their mess. So my questions .... What is the guiding reason to have patrols ? Make life easier for SM and SPL ? ... by dividing large group into smaller groups ? To train ? To distribute experience ? To be active together ? Obviously I'm strong on #3. If we fail, it's because we communicate "same age" patrols .... inferring they have to stick together or that same age has same interests. My thought is start them together as they will have strong similar interests when they join. (aka becoming a capable scout / first class) But let the scouts know they can switch at any time. My ideal is that scouts settle into their long term patrol fairly quickly and that's their patrol ideally for six plus years. But they switch patrols at any time at their choice. I choose #3 as I want to see that patrol going to the beach to compete against the camp counselors. I want to see that patrol organizing a unique special campout. Or see that patrol texting each other to go to the movies. Or .... IMHO, if you don't naturally socialize and hang with your patrol, it's not a workable structure. It's just their for training and then it's just a busy-work type of structure. So what do you think? Why patrols ? IMHO, BSA has lost sight of what they are trying to teach and no longer share a consistent idea beyond saying patrols are critical.
  2. fred8033

    BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

    I keep reading because I keep thinking I'm missing something. Especially as I see people say BSA has long done mixed age patrols. I just don't see that. Baden Powell ... "The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty." Bill Hillcourt ... One of the main driving influenced and respected BSA leaders Bill HillCourt wrote a series of essays ... in addition to writing much of hte BSA program ... http://www.inquiry.net/patrol/hillcourt/method.htm .... "This gang, this natural unit of boys for boy activities, is the all-important unit in Scouting. It changes it name, it is true, from gang to Patrol, but it is a "gang" just the same, a small, permanent group of boys allied by similar interests, working together under the responsible leadership of one of its number—the Patrol Leader." 1950s Boy Scout Handbook (page 88): "The Scout patrol is the finest boys' gang in all the world. The patrol is the unit that makes Scouting go. It is a group of boys, usually six to eight, who pal together because they like to do the same things." Scouting Magazine ... How Scout's friendships strength patrols. ... https://scoutingmagazine.org/2012/04/how-scouts-friendships-strengthen-patrols/ Woodbadge ... Meant to mimic a scout's experience in scouts. The new scouts (class attendees) are put into patrols where everyone is brand new. No existing leaders in the patrol. Patrol members have to figure it out. TGs regularly reach in and mentor the patrol. Lots of mentoring as the patrol gets started. Less later on. The patrol does not start with a certain percent of the patrol coming from a previous Wood badge course or part of the leaders of the course. Instead, everyone in the patrol starts the same. Though people argue about the past, it seemed fairly consistent. My issue is I just don't really know what BSA recommends anymore. BSA has lost it's vision of why patrols beyond the shallow statement they are important.
  3. fred8033

    BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

    I don't accept your premise and I believe mixed age requires similar mentoring from outside. Just now you are mentoring an older PL on being a leader ... because he's the older scout and he's usually the leader because older scouts can can intimidate younger scouts ... and the patrol that is designed to teach rank requirements internally still has scouts going to brown sea programs and splitting off to learn knots and first aid with scouts from other patrols. ... But now also add a power imbalance that naturally occurs when you put a 16/17 year old in the same social group as a 11/12 year old. Add that not every scout wants to mentor younger scouts but is now in that forced structure. It's why I do NOT like the new leader guide. Our debate here is also now represented briefly in the BSA troop leader guide with no offered solution or recommendation. BSA split from the long held recommendation into this misplaced argument and has wrongly started using the term "same age." I don't remember that in the old Scoutmaster Handbook. If a term should be used, it should be the "same interest patrol" or "friends patrol". Patrols should exist because they want to spend time together and want to do similar things. My frustration is with the new leader guidebook. The Scoutmaster Handbook seemed to promote a direction / concept. That concept seemed consistent with my experience and what I've read from Baden-Powell, Hillcourt and previous publications like the 1950s Boy Scout handbook. I ask the question because I think it's the real issue. We've lost vision on why we have patrols. Do patrols exist primarily to teach and the scouts get the side benefit of activities? Or do patrols exist to be active and do things and. thru the doing as a side benefit. the scouts learn and grow. I really think the later is what scouts is about. Focus on activities and through activities scouts learn many things. Do patrols exist to TEACH or to DO ? You say the first. I say the second. ... In my view this is the key issue. This is important because it shapes how we view and interact with our patrols. I read this Scouting magazine article many years ago and I still think it's very well written on the topic. How Scout's friendships strength patrols. https://scoutingmagazine.org/2012/04/how-scouts-friendships-strengthen-patrols/ I strongly recommend this reading.
  4. fred8033

    BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

    Maybe. My interpretation is they learn faster, they learn better and create more memories. Too many leaders jump on mixed age patrols as an excuse for not trusting the scouts after failed mentoring. You can embed the older scout expertise into the patrol, but it comes at horrible consequences. Leadership of peers is not earned or learned. Real patrol elections are subverted (will go to the oldest boy 16 years old versus 11 years old). Decisions often can be done by intimidation or bowling over the younger scouts. Patrol pride is subverted as patrols change over time. IMHO, my a scout can change patrols at any time but my "ideal" is a scout's patrol works well together, wanting to do similar things and stays together for 6/7+ years. Patrol identify is subverted as patrols are not doing similar things. Yes, they may cook together or plan together. But ... Few can share a tent together. IMHO, tent sharing across patrols is one of the biggest ways to subvert the patrol method. Individual scouts are constantly breaking off. To go hang with their buddies. To do basic learning at summer camp. To go on higher activities. Bad habits and bad behavior is past on. Conversational topics of 15/16/17 year olds is very different than 11/12 year olds. Pals can often call each other on bad behavior or know how to ignore it. 11/12 year olds will mimic to get on the good side of the older scout. I think we can easily and justifiably debate this back and forth. My issue is less the debate. My issue is BSA had a fairly consistent story over time. The latest leader guide reflects that BSA is giving up on teaching patrol method. Instead, BSA is saying patrol method is critical and we should go figure it out.
  5. fred8033

    BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

    I fear we read different things into the quotes of Baden Powell and Hillcourt and others. I fear BSA's definition of patrol has been mucked up by poor wording choices. I prefer the 1950s boy scout handbook (page 88): "The Scout patrol is the finest boys' gang in all the world. The patrol is the unit that makes Scouting go. It is a group of boys, usually six to eight, who pal together because they like to do the same things." ... I thought Hillcourt (or another author quoted with Hillcourt) wrote as a gang of friends who wanted to hang together and do things together. Where you say "new scout (same age patrol) experiment failed", I don't see it ... but I won't argue. Troops fail with it often, but it often seems a reflection of the unit vision than the idea. My issue is with troop positions such as troop guide and instructor and ASPLs there to help coach the PLs. It seems like BSA's documentation just does not line up. If suggesting mixed age, then troop guide and instructors have little work. If new scout patrol, then there is a strong need for troop guides, instructors and mentoring of new scout patrol PLs. I just don't see a vision promoted from BSA on how to make all of this work and I think it's to the detriment of the scouts.
  6. fred8033

    BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

    So I'm rephrasing yours to say it's more like #1. To make SM / SPL job easier. No bigger concept beyond that.
  7. fred8033

    troop meeting structure/rules

    I agree. I was attempting to say that scouts is not about teaching Robert's Rules. If anything, those rules can get in the way of our teaching our scouts to listen and be compassionate and thoughtful to each other. But if you can use those rules in a constructive way to teach listening and compassion and thoughtfulness, then great. The key is ... We are not there to teach our scouts to master bureaucracy. It's about the social dynamic and how to work with others. That's the leadership we're teaching.
  8. fred8033

    troop meeting structure/rules

    That's fine, but ya know this is not about Robert's Rules or creating the perfect mini-legislature. It's a gang of kids that should be doing things. It's probably going to look and smell like a gang of kids when planning. Pay attention to the social dynamics and mentor the scouts there. Being kind, helpful, loyal, etc. IMHO, Roberts Rules are applied when there is opposition and winners and losers. Now if you want to use Robert's Rules to get to trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, ... fine. It can be a tool. It's just not required.
  9. fred8033

    Merit badge sash

    "simply wear as many ... as possible" (that fit) ... I've many times seen adult leaders do uniforming checks but then be wearing four or five rows of square knot awards ... even though the adult leader uniform inspection checklist says the world crest needs to be centered between left shoulder seam and the top of the pocket. Depending on shirt size, many leaders should only be wearing two rows of square knots and not four or five. Shouldn't we correct our most experienced scouters first? Our scouts were recently doing a ceremony picture. I watched and kept my mouth shut. It was their picture and they were driving it. Yes, they were wearing both MB and OA sashes concurrently and one over each shoulder. I would have preferred just the MB sash or with the OA sash folded over their belt. But to be honest, as long as they were clean cut and looking sharp, I'm going to let it be their picture. Anything beyond that is nit picking and taking away from their experience.
  10. fred8033

    Merit badge sash

    Rules and procedures never can address all cases though back of the sash is a reasonable solution and explicitly stated. From all the uniforming violations I've seen, I think the best answer is make it look sharp and clean. Sashes have been sewed double wide and lengthened. Or use the back. As long as it looks sharp and respectable, no one should complain.
  11. fred8033

    How to increase usage of Patrol Method

    Rough idea ... stop troop camping. Maybe troop summer camp and a troop district camporee. Beyond that, patrols should function as patrols. Choose their activities and schedule. Find their own camps. If you really want patrols to function as patrols, minimize the troop focus. I say this as a rough idea because every troop calendar I've seen has a monthly troop focus with some sporadic higher adventure activity. I never see an annual calendar for the patrols. Maybe asking the patrols to have one or two months each year where they focus on creating the coolest patrol campout or activity. One patrol goes caving. Another does a canoe trip. Another does a state park. Maybe another does a bike trip.
  12. I think SM signing son's rank requirements is absolutely directly analogous to MBC singing MB requirements, both per situation and per GTA. The key point I may have missed saying ... I'm very glad I got to had the honor to work with my sons on a few MBs. It was a very special and memorable time. If I had done many MBs, then I think my son would have missed out on growth opportunities. IMHO, the best advancement is varied. Some through troop. Some elsewhere. Some with parent. Some with other adults. Some with external MB fairs. Some where the scout picks up the phone and calls the adult.
  13. Don't 100% avoid working with your son. It can be a very meaningful and grow your bond with him. As it applies to my sons ... I think MBC is an analogous role. For each of my sons, I've only mentored one Eagle MB. For the non-Eagle MBs, I've done one or two further. But then again, those extra MBs are more unique opportunities I don't think would be offered other ways. Motor boating for example.
  14. As people said above ... You absolutely have the right to do it. You should not be embarrassed to sign off for them. They should not be penalized because you are the scoutmaster. The main reasons to NOT do it ... Perception. Avoid perception of favoritism or your son had it easier. Growth. Your son will grow more by working with people other than their parent. So ... if you can have someone else work with your son, great. BUT, don't penalize him. If there is no one else and your son would be penalized, I'd sign off
  15. fred8033

    As an adult, what about my ideas?

    Random comments Fresh energy and new ideas can re-invigorate a program. They should always be welcome. Bull in a china shop. You run the risk of alienating other adults. Watch your relationships with the other adults and other scouts. Sometimes you need to build your investment in the troop before others are open to your ideas. I'm not saying that's your situation. I'm just saying many a parent has been ostracized for not getting building solid relationships with other adult leaders. Scouting is a subtle program. You might want to observe to see if there is method in the madness. Often it's not about the number of MBs that a scout earns. It's about the growth of the scout. There are other ways to promote your ideas. Example is my last son took many years to get even tenderfoot. His personality and how the troop leaders worked did not lend itself to him advancing or even accomplishing anything at all. So, we found MB fairs and district activities and other. He would participate and be on his own. I just looked for other opportunities to keep him involved. Maybe have your son offer to his PL leader / PL that you could coordinate a flower learning hike. Or a MB. Or .... Just be careful to not step on the program other adults are running. Have fun. Scouting is a great program. My personal view is worry less about the perfect program or the perfect troop and focus more on getting the scouts out doing things.
  16. fred8033

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    Fully agree. It's not gender specific. People want to spend their time in a meaningful way. Advancement for advancement sake is not meaningful. Hiking. Camping. Fishing. ... "ing" is meaningful especially when it's a new experience. I agree. Parents invest and drive their kids to things. They want to see a measure that the investment is worthwhile. They see it in the rank. I see it every time there is a slight bit more maturity in my kid after a scouting activity or event.
  17. I'm betting 90% are paired with a pre-existing troop for equipment, committee and probably also a scheduled of activities and events.
  18. fred8033

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    Agreed. ... IMHO, the scout should find pride in their journey, not just a rank. ... In my mind, I'd even argue "rank" is not a great measure of skill of a scout. I think other measures are much more telling. Number of nights in a tent. Number of nights in a tent below zero F. Number of miles on a river. Number of miles hiked. Number of high adventures. I disagree. Even fifty years ago, Eagle scout was prestigious and magazine cover art was around earning Eagle. IMHO, the higher percent of Eagles is because the bottom has fallen out. Fifty year years ago, youth asking to be in scouts because it was a great way to spend their time. To be with their friends. To camp. To do fun things. Now, scouts don't like the idea of an outhouse or "roughing it". Their idea of roughing it is sleeping in a friends basement. So the current pool of scouts has a much higher number of scouts chasing rank or being pushed by their parents. I don't think this is a BSA promotion thing. It's market dynamics. If you are in scouts, you expect a reasonable path to earning Eagle.
  19. fred8033

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    Thank you. I always think I know everything. I'm corrected and appreciate the information. It was once explained to me as a measurement of the whole scouting journey Tiger to Eagle. How many join and how many finish. The number seems much more reasonable then. I trust the number of Eagle is fairly steady (maybe growing), but the expectations are better defined and youth have many more resources. Then add that the number of members has drastically dropped resulting in those that are in the program are probably from families that really value scouting. And, thus want their kid to earn Eagle.
  20. fred8033

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    Your metric isn't probably that bad as I think national's number is based on scouts joining as Lion and Tigers and all the losses that happen during Cub Scouts and before switching to the old scout programs.
  21. fred8033

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    @thrifty I don't like labels either. "Eagle factor" is a shallow snide label not worthy of a scout leader. Be specific in what is wrong wrong or what should change or don't say anything at all. ... Nothing against the original poster. It's just a term that has been thrown around too loosely for way too long. One statement in the article hit me. "“I think it’s a credit to several things but mainly the boys themselves have made the troop a fun activity within their curriculum, " ... Magical mixtures of scouts and scout leaders happen that make the program shine. In my 15+ years in troops, the most recent was the best. Scouts became best friends. Built close friendships. Kept busy with many activities. The SPL really owned his leadership and kept getting re-elected. He worked to make the troop a fellowship of fun and they did things. More than once they'd ask us when they could camp next or do specific activities. The scouts built connections that us adults had a hard time knowing when and how they were communicating and coordinating. But they were doing it. These scouts did a lot, earned MBs, helped each other and almost all earned Eagle. Plus, I'll proudly boast what they learned about leadership, responsibility, boy-led, etc against anything any adult leader tries to shove at the scouts. Some might look from the outside and call it an Eagle factory, but they'd be wrong. It's the natural result of these guys having a great time. The Eagle rank is just not that hard if you enjoy the path to get there and your friends value it too. I truly believe so many earned Eagle because they had fun ... enjoyed the fellowship ... wanted to be like their troop mates who also earned Eagle.
  22. I fully agree. And a 17 year old scout can knock off lots of requirements quickly because of maturity and the ability to focus.
  23. fred8033

    ASMs at PLCs

    Your mileage may vary ... but I've seen this done many times. My experience is this. ASMs are often not as experienced as SMs. It takes years to learn a more relaxed attitude and learn to sit on your hand to let the scouts really take charge. ASMs don't provide a consistent message from the SM. ASM attendance is far less consistent than the SM. You might have one or two dedicated ASMs, but then the rest will be hit and miss. ASMs often work agendas thru their patrol at the expense of the patrol members. ASMs look for voids to fill instead of letting the scouts work it out. I really hate the term boy-led, but I'd really ask who's program is it? My experience is kids live up to your expectations. If you expect they will need an adult present, than they will need an adult. If you let them work through it, they will blow it now and then, but they will learn.
  24. fred8033

    ASMs at PLCs

    ... some ... it can be noticed fairly quickly. SM should adjust as things are noticed. My point is this should be treated as a situation to address, teach and grow. The possibility of this happening should not be used as an excuse to insert adults into the youth program.
  25. fred8033

    ASMs at PLCs

    I've found some very good comments here. My sadness is the ideal is hard to achieve and hard to maintain. Leaders change. Life happens. Adults don't always agree. More importantly, I truly believe the scouting program that I want my son to be part of rarely looks like the ideal troop.
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