My son crossed over a year ago. I’m on the Committee and attend meetings and outings. It’s a real nice troop, 80 years old, solid reputation in the district. The Scoutmaster is a fine fellow with deep experience. He has forgotten more than I will ever know. The ASM’s are great and I like them personally. 20-some Scouts, we have a meeting once a week and an outing every month. Good retention, advancement is slow perhaps. Everything is fine. But…
I do not see Patrol method. Now, I have no prior Scouting experience so I wouldn’t know any different except I’ve been reading books and this forum. Apparently B-P said patrol method is not a thing, it’s the thing. I read Working the Patrol Method by Four Eagle Scouts, makes it sound like Patrol method is really significant. I’ve listened to podcasts and read the Troop Leader Guide and the Patrol Leader Guide. It’s one of the eight methods. So I think it’s supposed to be, you know, important.
But I just don’t see it in action. When the troops goes camping the Scouts are all mixed together. Until recently they didn’t know the names of their own patrols. They have to refer to a list at the back of the room to see who is in what patrol. I see young guys pursuing Scout rank get stuck on the Patrol requirement because they don’t know a yell or flag or even the name of their patrol. My sons patrol leader rarely attends meetings, never outings. He is never at the PLC. The SPL is a really impressive kid and certainly the Scouts look up to him. But you could hardly call what he is doing leading in any substantive way.
I brought up my concerns in winter and there was a little progress. At a couple campouts the guys cooked and ate and did KP by patrol. But there are no Patrol activities, no Patrol corner in troop meetings, no Patrol spirit.
I’ve observed that they self-select effortlessly into informal groups. It’s not that I’m that an oracle or something, one merely has to look to see it. It’s easy. My son and his friends hang out together (inside Scouting and outside Scouting). The other fellows - older guys - hang out together. No problem. Like at a Court of Honor, my son and his gang all sat at one table, the other guys at another table. At a recent camping event, my son and his gang all camped together, the other guys all camped together. But those gangs are not our Patrols.
I recently brought up concerns again and was told Yes it’s time for elections. The patrols will be reformed. The system is working. Oh. Okay.
So at the most recent PLC, the Scoutmaster says We should talk about xxxx and so we all started talking about that. The ASM goes to the whiteboard and starts sketching out what needs to happen for the next outing. The SPL has barely said a word. As the meeting is winding down I realize nothing is going to happen. So I whisper to the SPL, “what about elections?” He sits up straight and says out loud, “Oh, what about elections?” The ASM, who is still standing at the whiteboard, looks at us, looks at his notes on the whiteboard, then turns back to us and says, “Well it’s not going to happen right now”. And that was that.
I thought with summer camp coming up now is the time. Reformulate the patrols, have elections, create flags and yells and skits and songs, get patches. Start creating those patrol identities, all that forming and storming and norming stuff. Just in time for camp, yeah let’s do this.
But apparently not. Shoot.