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Rationale behind the rules?

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"or if some of todays rules were brought about by reactions to isolated problems when common sense and decency didnt prevail."


I think you answered your own question -


problem is, nowadays, common sense ain't so common - and neither is decency.


All the more reason why we NEED BSA for our boys.


As for some of the non-safety related changes - like the attendance requirement for POR's - alot of troops still put requirements in - mostly regarding rank - because there are only so many POR's and the boys above first class need them to advance. Our troop does NOT put limits on who can run for a POR - but we do tell the boys who needs a POR and that their patrol will be better off if they choose a PL that attends most activities and has ability to manage the patrol.


and the attendance requirement? Well, again - using "common sense and decency" - I would say that there are boys who have no control over their attendance - because of illness, disabilities or split homes - Even confirmation and homework would be acceptable excuses to miss meetings and events. But soccer, choir, band, karate, etc are choices that the boy AND his parents have to make. A boy doesn't learn an instrument or play a sport without practicing - neither does he become an Eagle without participating - right?

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Red Feather and all,


Again -- no dispute about Youth Protection and Safety -- they are there for obvious reasons -- let's agree to leave those out of the discussion.


But I am concerned about some of the other trends because I believe they affect our ability to grow strong leaders. In my mind, those are an impediment to me doing the best I can for the Scouts.


Let's get specific. Boys need leadership position for advancement so we encourage them to rotate positions every 6 months (the minimum term which meets requirement for Star/Life/Eagle). But leadership is best when it's consistent and the leader has seniority and experience that the others respect. He has skills to share. Take a group of 8 scouts -- the natural leader is usually (not always) the oldest, most experienced. Without other influences, the other boys would usually elect to keep him as the PL until it was time for him to move up to another position in the troop (SPL, ASPL, etc.). Over time and with guidance, the PL grows into a very effective leader. At the same time, the PL begins grooming his APL and other older boys in Patrol to eventually take over. Boys learn from his example and are better prepared to step up when it's their time.


When we externally force them to turn over the leadership every 6 months by not allowing the PL to be re-elected (because somebody else 'needs' the position for advancement), and the now-former PL -- the oldest, most experienced boy in Patrol -- is back down as a Patrol Member, we create leadership chaos. The books talk about this being a valuable life lesson for the boys, but where else do we systematically demote a Group Leader of any type back into the ranks as a regular member? Can you name one effective company in the country that demotes all of its trained leaders twice a year?


Some might argue that boys also need to learn how to be followers. I believe the boys learn plenty about followership during their first few years as a regular patrol member, then more later as PLs when they follow the leadership of the SPL, then maybe more later as ASPLs, etc.


Back to the original discussion. If I can definitely determine this idea about churning leadership every 6 months was brought about by BSA primarily to accelerate rank advancement opportunities, I have information I can use to make some changes as I work with Troop Committee, PLC, parents, etc.. In my mind, as I think is obvious from above, I believe there are some definite pros/cons to this approach, but from the leadership point of view, it's mostly negative.


Options I might consider if I can confirm the source of this guideline:

- Consider lengthening terms to a more effective 1 year.

- Encourage 1st Class Scouts in position of needing leadership for Star to be a Den Chief (local packs are crying out for help) if theres not another position available for them.

- As part of training and working with PLs, stress the importance of their job and how much the Troop really depends on their consistent, level-headed leadership. (You cant force them to volunteer to be re-elected, but you can praise, honor, and reward their dedication when they do.)

- Have same talk with whole Troop.

- Look for ways to avoid moving former leaders back into depths of patrols maybe have them as part of a Staff Patrol with SPL, ASPL(s), QM, etc., as JASMs.


But all of these are going to be a hard sell unless I can confirm source of the initial 6-month turnover recommendation. Im also open to the possibility that theres something else out there which makes this a better idea than I can see.


As always, thanks for your input.


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"I may have missed something. Where in the patrol method of scouting does it say that a PL cannot be re-elected?"


"Bob", it may not say that but I think that's the way that many troops run things. "Jimmy's has his experience, now it is someone elese's turn." I'd guess that most of these troop also have parents running things instead of the boys becuase the boys never have a chance to learn anything about leading.



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BSA doesn't say the PL cannot be re-elected, but in the two Troops I'm active with in Houston and others in the District, this is their stated policy.


I think we both agree this is a misapplication of the idea. They've taken another recommendation (usually applied to the First Year Patrol) that everybody should have a chance to be the PL and taken it to its logical conclusion in absurdity. In one sons mixed-age patrol containing a Life, a Star, two 1st Class Scout, one 2nd Class, and three first-year Tenderfoot Scouts one of the brand new 11-yr olds with less than 5 months in the Troop was elected PL last week because all of the older boys had already held the position.


More training (like Woodbadge) for the SM isn't going to happen -- he's had the position for 7-8 years and will be leaving within the next two. I'm hoping that something from National which more clearly explains the concept, applications, limitations, and rationale will help me turn this one around. Again, it's not isolated to one troop -- it's the prevalent model used around here.


In my not-always-so-humble opinion, they've taken an idea which was shaky to begin with (churning leadership so everybody can advance quicker) and misapplied it with damaging consequences. And the damage really shows up when the senior leadership (SPL) doesn't have a firm grasp of leadership -- not just by training, but by modeling and experience.


We muddle along, but we could be doing so much better. And National could help by giving us more insight and removing some of the ambiguity.


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Remember Mike we are not talking rules and regs here. we are talking about the methods of the scouting program. The two units you are discussing are not using the methods of scouting. The reasons the program recommends 6 months as the term of office are multiple. It gives more scouts leadership opportunity, it keeps a patrol or troop from suffering a year under absentee leadership (scouts tend to be involved in other activities as well. Many have seasons where the scout is very busy outside the troop by limiting terms to 6 months scouts can accept offices during the times that are going to be around the most). six months allows the scout to develop and then move forward or recycle. The reason for everyone to actively participate is to develop team identity and responsibility not to rush advancement(remember the advancement require does not say HOLD an office it says to ACTIVELY SERVE in an office).


Also the patrol method does not say that you mix ages in a patrol. The recommended method is three distinct categories of New Scout, Regular, and Venture Patrols (some troops also have a fourth level of Varsity). by using this method you recognize the differ needs and characteristics of scouts at differing developmental stages.


So as I pointed out your problem is not with the national program, its policies and procedures or its methods. Your problem is that the units you refered to don't follow the scouting program methods.


Bob White




(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Maybe we're getting to the crux of the problem here.


When Baden-Powell set up the scouting program, he had a wide range of boys in one patrol and it was rightly assumed that one of the older boys would provide the leadership. As a result, for most of BSA's history, we have been very successful at turning out developed, capable leaders with a strong sense of responsibility, confidence, self-reliance, and citizenship. As we have evolved the methods of Scouting over the last 20 or so years in particular, we have seen the percentage of Eagle Scouts climb from 1% to 4%, but I believe we have eroded the foundations of leadership.

As for giving all Scouts leadership opportunity theyll get it when its their time, starting with their jobs as a Patrol Member and growing as they are next an APL.

As for absentee leadership there are more effective ways of dealing with this on a case-by-case basis rather than recommending all of us across the country revolve every 6 months.

As for active participation, team identity, and responsibility there are plenty of effective ways to do this without playing musical chairs with the leadership positions. In fact, I believe these are all hurt by the frequent rotations.

Since none of the current trends make sense from the leadership point of view, I can only conclude they were really done to expedite advancement opportunities.


As for the recommended Patrol Method involving distinct categories of patrols weve been through that one before in these forums. Baden-Powell didnt describe it this way and for most of our history weve successfully used his original model of mixed ages. I can see where some might decide to go this way because it better supports their application of the program (such as LDS-sponsored Troops meshing with their youth program), but I fail to see what merits that method being the recommended one nationwide. Mixed age troops have found very successful ways to train new scouts and provide challenges for the older ones without tampering with the original method for many years.


What has changed and why? Does National document this so we can really understand all of the considerations and details that went into the changes? (For instance, by understanding the background behind the move to recommend categories of Patrols, we might be more aware of the pitfalls if we decide to buck the latest trend and stay with traditional mixed-age patrols.)


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What you are leaving out of the equation is that Baden-Powell's program started at 12 years old. We now have 10 1/2 year olds with totally different needs and characteristics. Also the US program is not the same as Baden-Powells and hasn't been since 1910. But Japan's is not like BP's nor is Mexico's or Russia's etc. etc. Even the UK is not like BP's program. Why? because the kids aren't the same.


You cannot look at the program used by the units you use as an example of how the program doesn't work because they don't use the program.


Much of the philosophy of how we do what we do and why we do it is in the basic training of scouting. Have you been to New Leader Essentials?


Bob White

(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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After observing my troop that has "single age" patrols I can say that in our case it doesn't work. I also don't think that the "new scout patrol" idea works well either.


In the case of the New Scout patrol, you have a bunch of 11 year old boys that really don't have the skills to camp or lead. Sure, there's supposed to be a troop guide but 11 year olds are still 11 and most don't have a clue about how to organize anything.


With the other patrols, they act more like Cub Scout dens than anything else. The parents are insistent that they advance together and there is no mentoring from the older boys because they are involved in their own patrols.


I have the feeling that the New Scout patrol idea came about with the push for 1st Class in one year. Let's keep the boys together and railroad them through the program. "Okay guys, today we're doing requirements 4,5, and 6!" Instead of advancement being the natural outcome of the program, with the boys fulfilling requirements as they do scouting activities, advancement is being driven by the leaders who create events to complete requirements.



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The New Scout Patrol is designed to meet the developmental needs of 10 1/2 to 11 year olds who need time to gain socialization skills and time to learn the fundementals of scouting. Such as basic camp skills, troop and patrol leadership structure and youth leadership skills.


For those reasons the New scout Patrol is given a Troop Guide (age is less important than skill and ability to work with younger scouts) and an adult leader (the Assistant Scoutmaster for New Scout Patrols). By the end of the first year the scouts should have achieved or be close to achieving First Class Rank so they have the basic skills to care for themselves outdoors. The have each attended a PLC so that they can see how a troop is lead and makes plans. They have functioned as a Patrol Leader so that they can make a more informative decision when they elect their first patrol leader.


The New Scout Patrol allows troops to present skills at various levels without splitting up patrols, and without having to present skills at a level that is over the new scout's capability or below the level of the more experienced scouts.


"Okay guys, today we're doing requirements 4,5, and 6!" If that is what is happening in your unit then that is poor execution of the program, not a problem with the program itself. Nowhere does scouting teach or promote such a teaching method. The BSA provides training and resources to help leaders avoid such erroneous behavior. The leader has to be willing to attend the training and use the methods. No rule or regulation can make them do it. The specific problems being brought up in this string are not scouting methods. They are problems caused by individuals choosing to reject or frefuse to practice scouting methods. You can't mix mud and manure and get a pound cake. Don't use the wrong methods and then blame the program for not working.


Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Yes - I'm trained and then some. The platitudes they give as rationale don't hold water.


You dodged a lot of other items for comment -- probably evidenced by the Edited By notes.


I don't think the difference in 10.5 yr olds and 12 yr olds explains the huge change in the methods we're encouraged to employ today.

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Can you guys help me out here? What rules have changed? The new scout patrol was started in 1980 if memory serves me correctly, that was 22 years ago!?

The 1st class swimming requirment changed so that the scouts do not have to blow up wet clothes, is that really such a big issue?

Cant use PADBALLS?


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Actually the edits were typos.


What huge changes. Things like the New Scout Patrol, First Class Emphasis, and the other methods I mentioned have been part of the program for several years. There have been some name changes but the methods themselves have altered only My question was specific to New Leader Essentials. In it the philosophy behind the difference in methods from Cubbing through Venturing are explained including an explaination of the physical, emotional, and social changes that a boy goes through from ages 7 to 20 and how scouting addresses those differences. Those were the kinds of rationale you were looking for were they not?


i am not trying to dodge anything. But it seems you are painting with a very wide brush.

Perhaps you could give another specific example of what you mean. It's possible that as in your previous example the underlying problem is that the actual scouting method is not being used.


Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I cannot comment on your existing rules. Who makes them? I think eisely has it worked out. Society and culture give rise to popular concepts - legal and medical lunacy is backed by precident and multipleid by personal gain. And somewhere the BSA rules have 'come into line' with popular thinking - regardless of how idiotic that may be.


BSA rules may be brilliant - I don't know them. I do know that our PL's normally progress to that responsibilty after years of learning . They arrive at PL rank in their final stages and mostly do quite well. Young PL's are battling uphill. PL's younger than their Scouts are faced with an almost impossible task.


IMHO leading your peers is a most difficult thing - not a good learning environemnt. Leading those younger and less experienced is fairly natural, easier and likely to build confidence.


I'm not saying that your system will not work. But who made the rules and why? - I suspect that the answer is in your newspapers rather than in your national BSA leadership


PS - you are not Robinson Crusoe. Scouts Australia is about to radically change the uniform based on a poll of non-Scouts. How can such a decision happen without the consent of existing members???(This message has been edited by ozemu)

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