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alexiv

Competition Patrol Makeup

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How do your troops work patrols for competitions i.e. klondike, camporee, etc.? Our rules state natural patrols, but I have one adult leader int he troop that always wants to mix boys so that the younger scouts can taste some competition. (Im the SPL by the way) I hold a great deal of pride in my camporee patrol and how well we do, I really enjoy competing against my friends in the OA lodge. I paid my dues as a younger scout somewhat struggling with my young and underpowered patrol, thats called scouting, and its called patrol bonding, overcoming obstacles together.

basicly my question is, how do i present this feeling without causing a major ruckus in the troop. All the other older guys are with me, we want to compete on our own and have a chance to win, not mix up ages and doom both patrols to mediocrity. Just looking for opinions,

 

thanks Alex

 

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Alex, The solution you want, which is to compete in your regular patrols, would appear to be the only solution that is proper. I am assuming, from your discription, that your troop has 2 patrols, one with the older scouts and one with younger scouts. You said that your rules require natural patrols, and to do otherwise would result in your troop breaking the rules. I would take the position that the two regular patrols must compete as they regularly exist. Remind everyone that a scout is trustworthy, and that this requires that you obey the rules.

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I wish it were that clear cut. The troop has 4 patrols. A leadership patrol of anyone over life. Then all the 1st/Star scouts who are over 13. Then a 2nd year patrol, and the just bridged Weblos. none of these patrols are big enough to compete with a full ticket on their own (except mayeb the 2nd year...but oh well) And so the arguement I get from the leadership is, well, we have to combine them in order to compete anyway, so why not mix up the ages? So this throws yet another twist into the argument.

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alexiv,

 

In your particular situation, I would think that equity for the older scouts would mean to let them compete as they are presently constituted.

 

Your thread raises a very deep question or patrol composition generally. There is no perfect answer, particularly when it comes to competitive situations such as camporee.

 

A very high powered troop in our area does not allow its first year scouts to go to camporee at all. As far as I know, their patrols are not organized by age cohorts or by tenure in scouting. Nevertheless the policy of not allowing first year scouts to attend competitive events has the effect of stacking the patrols somewhat with respect to other troops. This troop dominates at camporee. It has gotten to the point where our boys don't even want to go to camporee any more.

 

So there are various aspects to this question for which there are no clean answers.

 

 

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I can identify with my son's frustration of being "gung-ho" about a Klondike derby only to be derailed by a few apathetic or inexperienced scouts in his patrol. But there is a solution.

 

When I was a scout, we had the same problem. The Older, more gung-ho guys didnt like getting held back by non-competitive scouts, so our Scoutmaster had an answer. The troop developed a "gung-ho" patrol. This patrol was for competition and membership required a primary scouting skill. Knots, Cooking, Fire Building, Map/Compass/Orientering, Plant identification, ETC. Before any competition, interested scouts would try out for the gung-ho patrol in one of the skill areas. The best were placed on the patrol. Normally the older scouts were on the patrol, but every once in a awhile a younger scout who really wanted it, could break into the patrol by being better than the older guys. Since we all wanted to win, the younger scout was welcomed. It was the 70's and the only members of the troop who could wear the red beret were the gung ho's, this became a coveted privilege. If you want to have a competition patrol, have one, but be sure all troop members who want to join have a chance, pick the best applicants and have fun.

 

Then there was the one time where the guys who didnt make the gung-ho patrol placed second, ahead of the gung-ho's.... Lots of red berets ate crow that night I can tell you

(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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I intensely dislike the idea of "competition" patrols as defined as a patrol that never exists as a patrol outside of competition. It smacks of stacking the deck. If the rules state natural patrols and troops are creating patrols strictly to win in this one event then they are cheating.

 

The patrol method was not designed to win contests. Rather than stack your patrols you should instead concentrate on bettering everyones skills and make ALL of your patrols better.

 

When scouts join our troop they are placed in patrols. They get to spend a few months with their patrols and get to know each other. If there is a problem with a boy and his patrol it is rectified. Otherwise they are members of that patrol until they hold a leadership position such as SPL, ASPL, JASM or become a Life scout. When they hit that category they become part of the Leadership Corps (in affect a patrol). Our patrols function well with a mix of ages and abilities.

 

I can not see any legitimate reason why ANY scouts should be excluded from camporees, it's not like many if any of them are high adventure. (although a high adventure camporee would be cool.) "They are new" So stinking what. Let them experience all that scouting has to offer.

 

When I was a PL I worked my butt off to make my patrol the best it could be. When we went to camporees and had to compete against "competition" patrols composed of 16-18 year old Eagles I felt cheated.

 

Alexiv in your situation there is no easy answer. There have been times when we had to mix patrols to get enough guys to even compete. The boys should choose who is in their patrol not adults. The only fair way for it to work in my mind would be to let those going re-form patrols of their own choosing. As a Scoutmaster I would let this decision fall to you the SPL and your PLC.

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I looked on the Gung-Ho Patrol as a soluton to a problem. Some scouts, whether older or younger just dont care about doing their best during competitions. These scouts really irritate the scouts who want to do their best. I see nothing wrong with separating the competitive from the non-competitive. All Scouts attending the camporee/klondike were required to compete, but this way the non-competitive kids were with kids as relaxed as they were and the scouts who wanted to excell werent held back. The best solution is to motivate the non-competitive ones do do their best I agree, but when you have over 70 in a troop, its not going to work 100%

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I share Mike's distaste for "competition patrols," although I can't quite condemn the idea put forward by OGE. My sense is that at most camporees I have seen, most of the patrols are in fact patrols created to attend camporee because there may not be enough boys from the established patrols attending. One does need a minimum critical mass to compete.

 

In the situation described by alexiv, the older scout patrol already exists, and it is a matter of accommodating the younger scouts. Not really knowing all the facts of alexiv's troop, it is hard to judge. In my mind existing patrol structures should not be disturbed, unless there is a clear reason to do so.

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I was going to post a clarification to what I meant but Eisely said it quite well and I am in agreement.

 

One point though, just like OGE had a very bad experience with a Snipe hunt I had a series of bad experiences with camporees. We had (when I was a scout) a few units in our district that would dismatle thier patrols and place all of their oldest and most experienced scouts into patrols strictly so they could win at camporees and then went back to normal afterwards. That specificly I have a problem with.

 

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I ran a thread much like this about a year ago. Here's my take. I understand that most troops have like age patrols, but I don't like it. I would rather see patrols with various ages and leadership that works it's way up and graduates. There is hardly a boy that would not benefit from being in a leadership position and in like age patrols some boys get that position too much of the time. My boy is in a second year patrol and has had opportunity to be PL so this is not just sour grapes. Now to competition. I understand our friend's problem... he is gung-ho and I love OGE's idea with the caveat that all troops provide a gung-ho patrol to only compete against others of the same. Otherwise all the other "competing" patrols should be mixed and include first years. The mixed patrols might also get a kick out of watching the gung-hos go at it.

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The problem of stacked patrols for competitions is probably as old as competitions in scouting. In other words this problem is probably older than all the participants in this forum.

 

The problem of patrol structure is an ongoing but related issue. In my perception this first became a problem about ten years ago when national introduced the idea that new scouts should be segregated in a separate patrol during their first year in scouting. This idea was heavily promoted at the time and there are some units that still do this. Personally, after ten years as an adult in scouting, I think it is a bad idea. There are a lot of ways a unit can accommodate the needs of new scouts without buying into this solution that creates more problems. I would rather see patrols of mixed ages with new boys integrated immediately into the existing patrol structure.

 

At the other end of the age spectrum, many units struggle with creating satisfactory programs and structures for their older scouts. My sense is that few units successfully operate fully integrated patrols spanning the full age spectrum.

 

Coming back to the issue originally raised, one solution at the district level is to have patrols compete in the same events, but only against patrols similarly structured. One could have new boy patrols compete against new boy patrols, gung ho patrols of older scouts compete against other gung ho patrols, and so forth. But this gets terribly complicated.

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