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Aims & Methods: Bad Idea or Worst Idea Ever?

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Beavah writes:


"I'm not like Kudu, I think Patrol Method is just a method, but one of da most important ones. It's perfectly possible, though, to have a fine troop without a full-throated patrol method, just as yeh can have a fine troop without any high adventure programming on da Outdoor Method."


It was Bill Hillcourt who first proposed that Scouting could be explained in terms of the "Methods" that we would recognize today. See "Handbook for Scoutmasters, 4th Edition (1947)":




Green Bar Bill did not realize that he had handed John Larson (the father of modern Wood Badge) the tool Larson needed to destroy Hillcourt's life-work (the "Real" Patrol Method), and replace it with "leadership" theory. See "1966":




To take the outing out of Scouting, Larson's Wood Badge did three things exactly right:


1) Added business theory as a "Method of Scouting."


By itself, "Leadership Development" would have been as harmless as their other fake method, "Personal Growth," except for what I consider to be the most curious development in the history of Scouting:


2) Position of Responsibility requirements for advancement.


Thanks to Tim Jeal, no objective historian will ever be allowed to examine the BSA's archives to see if Bill Hillcourt realized that PoR requirements would transform Patrol Leader from a position of what B-P called "real responsibility" (comparable to BSA Lifeguard), to the joke it is today: a six month backyard internship that hovering Wood Badgers like to call "controlled failure."


3) Took Green Bar Bill's Patrol Leader Training away from Patrol Leaders


Those who learn about "The Patrol Method" from official BSA publications and training will not know that "Intensive Training in the Green Bar Patrol" taught Patrol Leaders how to plan and lead Patrol Hikes and Overnights.


That's what the Patrol Method is: Physical Distance.


Presumably by "full-throated," Beavah means Physical Distance, Baden-Powell's minimum standards for the Patrol System: Monthly Patrol Hikes without adult supervision (Hillcourt's "Real" Patrols). And, when camping as a Troop, Barry's 100 yards between Patrols.


Wood Badge replaced Physical Distance (how to lead your Patrol into the backwoods) with office theory (how TROOP Librarians, and TROOP Historians, and TROOP Guides, can be "great leaders," just like their office cubical dads).


Aims & Methods theory can only work where the government forbids a free market, where the government picks and chooses corporate winners and loosers. Absent a free market in baseball, a good socialist Beavah would tell red-blooded American boys: "It's perfectly possible to have a fine baseball team without bases" because the "Base Method" is "just a method."


So using Aims & Methods theory, why should there be any Physical Distance between bases in baseball?


Simply do to baseball what Wood Badge did to the Patrol Method: define "base" to mean leadership position. How does a leader get to first base? First he Forms, then he Storms, then he Norms, and finally he Performs! So take position-specific training away from Little League and we bring baseball into the 21st century, where the batter, pitcher, and catcher get the same useful "leadership" training as the Team Librarian, Team Historian, and Team Waterboy.


What baseball needs most is the "Aims" of Aims & Methods theory: Bases in baseball are useful only so far as they teach boys "Citizenship" (the three branches of government), or how to make "ethical choices" (taking the outing out of Scouting).


After all, bases in baseball are "just a method" and we still have seven other "Methods of Baseball" to achieve our "Aims," including the Uniform, Adult Association, Ideals, Personal Growth, Outdoor T-Ball, Team Captain, and baseball's equivalent to Eagle: Advancement to the World Series Without Ever Walking onto a Baseball Field with a Bat & Glove.


Yours at 300 feet,





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Kidu, an interesting post. I'm trying something this next term, and am not filling any POR's unless a scout comes to me personally and requests it. We'll work out performance metrics then. (like it or not, this is where we are-we being US Scouting).


I have been encouraging our patrols to make physical separation between each other and the adults. This is pretty difficult given available land and campsites. But we are trying. Moving to backpacking gear, and away from the trailer, is helping do this.


I think the aims and methods are good. But without camping every month (which we do) the paperwork becomes more pressing than prepping for an overnight. I try to encourage attendance at our camping trips, as this is where real advancement takes place. Building a fire, but not lighting it, is, in most cases, laughable. (I know the drought exception-we had it here a few years ago).


I've been in a one patrol troop and now have a four patrol troop (should be 5), and can see in hindsight that using Bill Hillcourt's method would work just as well for both.


Keep scouting!


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