Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Sentinel947

Becoming a Patrol Method Troop

Recommended Posts

Yes, it is a shame that we must fight for the patrol method when that's what we are supposed to do! And while I agree that the Scouts should be planning and coming up with the ideas for outings, one of my ASMs told me a story about exploring in the South Pole.

 

Paraphrasing: If you point sled dogs at a large expanse of white they won't move forward. However, if you send a guy out ahead on skis, the dogs will follow the tracks.

 

His point is if we show them what's possible they will likely go after it. If they don't know about Sea Base, Swamp Base, Northern Tier, etc it's not likely they'll figure it out and make that leap themselves. Stosh, you're right about the campfire, though. A perfect time to lay on the adventure stories--or send your skier out ahead in the snow field.

 

The issue I have in my Troop is that we're very small and on outings only one or two per patrol show up. The Scouts tend to lump themselves together and make one patrol when that happens. Currently we have an 8-person patrol of 11-13 year olds who are working togehter on T-1-2. Then, there's a Venture Patrol of 5 that wants that extra something out of Scouting. Slowly but surely over the past three years I've gotten the idea of distinct patrols going in the Troop. But the Scouts tend to lapse into the single patrol model, so for me it's no longer the adults intervening that is the problem...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of what goes on with the small troops/patrols is that they do like safety in numbers.

 

This past weekend I had 3 of the 6 boys attending. 2 had family commitments and the third missing boy was doing his black belt testing on Saturday. All legitimate excuses. So that left 3 boys.

 

After getting there, a SM from another troop with 1 boy showing up approached me and asked if his boy could hang out with my boys. I called over my PL and introduced him to the other SM and asked the SM to repeat the request. The boy said sure, just show up whenever he wanted. So I had three 11 year olds and a 16 year old. Not only was it a ad hoc patrol but it was an ad hoc patrol from two different troops.

 

Needless to say the younger boys thought it great to have an older scout and the older boy kinda took the younger boys under his wing. Needless to say they placed third in 2 events which thrilled my boys.

 

So, was this a lesson in how to build ad hoc patrols? Inter troop relationships? name your poison? I dunno. Boys made a decision, had a good time, it cost me nothing, I got a good night's sleep and everyone got home safe. Life is good.

 

There are times when strict rulings for the patrol method need to be set aside. Maybe only one boy in your troop has interest in Philmont and there's one opening on the Council contingent. It's not the end of the world to bend the rules. However, if it becomes routine it might be something one wishes to revisit.

 

LeCastor: Ever ask the boys why they do the ad hoc troop thingy? That might give you a clue as to where to steer the boys so that the trend is mitigated or resolved. The two PL's and SM sit down and hash it out over a pizza. That should take care of it. I'm thinking it's a lack of participation, lack of planning by one or both patrols. Laziness of one of the patrols. There could be a number of things. It might be well to know exactly which one it is. There's nothing in the patrol-method rule book that says adults can't ask questions.

 

Stosh

 

Oh, by the way, I've already been chastised by others because I have photo documented activities and then shown the boys the pictures. They seemed to think it might even fringe on the edge of bullying or hassling by making them feel bad for not wanting to go. This is probably why I wouldn't do well as a travel agent. One may not want to make the dogs feel bad by having a skier go out ahead and scout things out. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do you have such low attendance from the 11-13-y.o. Patrol?

 

We're just now to the point where we have a group that could be called a "venture" Patrol. We've empowered this group to plan "high adventure" activities around regular campouts (for instance, if our younger boys are going to Winter Lodge to inner tube, they should consider snow camping or snow caving) - same destination, different activities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why do you have such low attendance from the 11-13-y.o. Patrol?

 

We're just now to the point where we have a group that could be called a "venture" Patrol. We've empowered this group to plan "high adventure" activities around regular campouts (for instance, if our younger boys are going to Winter Lodge to inner tube, they should consider snow camping or snow caving) - same destination, different activities.

 

:) This past weekend I suggested it to my 11 year olds. I have a couple of them interested in doing the ice igloo overnight. They have the equipment, and some of them have the hutzpa to pull it off. Might not be the winter survival weekend most of us think of being 20' from the lodge, but for an 11 year old, it might still be quite the adventure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm afraid my problem is the committee treasurer used to make the patrols combine (ad hoc) when distributing funds for buying food for outings. There have been many, many things I've tried to change within the Troop but the older Scouts were adamant to keep them the way they were because that was "Troop tradition". Those older boys are all over 18 now and don't have the influence over the new, younger Scouts. It's a transition period now and I believe it's going to get better. The younger boys like to invite their JASM to eat with them on campouts and he gives that older boy guidance. The other older Scouts aren't necessarily into Scouting any more so the Venture Patrol is hopefully going to help them find what they're looking for.

 

As for the lackluster attendance from the younger patrol, it's typically due to sporting conflicts or family issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a boy-led, patrol-method program, the adults are there to assist the boys become what they want to be, not hinder them because it is inconvenient for them. Solution? Have the patrol Scribes collect up the money for food prior to shopping and then don't worry about the committee treasurer who has territory issues. The JASM's can be invited prior to the event and planned into the menu amounts. After all who's to say that with a Scribe, there can't be a modest amount of money squirreled away by the patrol to handle situations like this.

 

Also the older boys in one patrol have no say so over what happens in any patrol other than their own. Every PL runs his own patrol and develops his own traditions. Older boys dictating what the younger patrols can and cannot do is not the patrol method. It's the SPL that needs to step in and clarify patrol boundaries, that's what he's there for. Take care of your boys, make sure each PL's autonomy is preserved.

 

Let your 18 year olds know that traditions are for them, not those who follow, they're going to have traditions of their own. The 18 year olds need to be reprogramed into the adult position in the troop where they guide as necessary but only when asked.

 

Seriously? I hope my troop will be far different tomorrow than it is today. It's called growth and development, not tradition that makes that happen.

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for the lackluster attendance from the younger patrol' date=' it's typically due to sporting conflicts or family issues. [/quote']

 

Yeah, not much you can do about that, especially the sports stuff (but at least that's scheduled ahead of time). I have a couple of two-sport athletes, but the important thing is what they do when they're on campouts or at Troop Meetings. One is more of a shy, retiring type who acts like a stranger during and when soccer season is over. The other one jumps right in when he's there, like he's never been gone.

 

The solution (easier said than done) is to get big enough that having a few boys miss doesn't impact the Patrol Method program.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... especially the sports stuff (but at least that's scheduled ahead of time).

 

Unless the geniuses are true champions, then playoffs ... :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not have a patrol of all the athletes and that way it doesn't mess with every patrol in the troop, just one. This is the beauty of the program. If a patrol has 4 steady attenders and 4 others that are hit and miss, and there's another patrol having the same problem, why not allow the boys to have the 8 steady attenders get together and the 8 hit and miss, just hit and miss on their own time. Why should half the boys suffer because of the other half. That way if an entire patrol disappears for football season, who cares, it disrupts no one.

 

Patrol mandates only create problems for everyone down the road. Let the boys have at it and figure it out. They do a remarkable job of making it work.

 

It's also a beneficial skill for the leader to have problem solving skills. If the adults are going to make problems for the boys, at least give them a chance to solve them.

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's cool Sentinel. Good luck. I wish you were in my troop.

 

I'm in the middle of this transition and there seems to be a lot of issues that a user's manual would help with. Let's share notes. There are some parents that are angry with me and some confused scouts. There are also some scouts that are really jumping into this. I'm not sure about whether any parents are happy with me but I think I'm getting there.

 

 

Do the angry adults understand Boy Scouting? Can you get an "expert" (someone from at least 25 miles away who has a grand title, carries a briefcase, and wears a tie) to explain it to them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do the angry adults understand Boy Scouting? Can you get an "expert" (someone from at least 25 miles away who has a grand title, carries a briefcase, and wears a tie) to explain it to them?

 

Of course they don't understand. If they did they would have pushed me into doing this a long time ago. :) But to get to the real point, no, I haven't done a good job explaining it. It's been a slow process figuring this out. I finally have the adults not making decisions, which is good, but now we're seeing how poorly the problem solving skills are of the scouts. They don't talk, they stew. I spend a lot of time talking to the scouts to get them to identify their own problems. Now we have to scale that up without having the adults gum up the works.

 

I talked today with my CC and we think the next phase is being the guy in the tie and having a scouting 201 class. For motivation I'm going to bring up their work experience. How many people have had problems with their boss before? This is why it's good to let the scouts solve these issues so they learn a useful skill. Another idea is that problems should be solved at the lowest point possible. Manufacturing, the military, and many other organizations push this. And the lowest point is ... letting the scouts solve their own problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When one is starting out with the Boy-led process, one has to assist in focusing the boys on the situations around them almost constantly. Then one has to do After Activity Reviews (AAR) so that the boys get a chance to learn from the decisions they did nor did not make. GrubMaster review of the meals and recipes, QM enough equipment, get it all back, any damage? Boys of this age do little or no review and never anticipate problems until they occur. You put away a tent without checking the poles and stakes? Next outing? Yep, you have a problem.

 

Just this past weekend, the boys were all set to go off to the activities and I simply asked if they were going to leave the glowing charcoal from the breakfast dutch ovens. Fall leaves on the ground everywhere. They looked at me like I grew a third eye. They were going to pour water on them, but they were on a dutch oven table that could crack if they did that. They struggled for 5-10 minutes trying to come up with a solution to their dilemma. Finally I walked over to the table, opened up a dutch oven and swept the coals into it and put the cover on. I then suggested the next time they come they bring a metal #10 can to do the same thing without getting a dutch oven dirty.

 

Sometimes the solution isn't so obvious to the boys and they have no way of processing the problem. While they pondered how to put out the charcoal, I simply contained them, an option I doubt they would have even considered. Teaching boys to think outside the box is difficult, but not impossible. The more they practice it, the better they get at it.

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Finally I walked over to the table, opened up a dutch oven and swept the coals into it and put the cover on.

Stosh

 

So here's a great example where an Adult can step in to a situation to solve a problem "for" the Scouts because it's safety-related. Other possible safe solutions weren't immediately obvious to the Scouts, and that's when unsafe solutions can easily come to the fore. Probably a demonstration they'll remember.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

So here's a great example where an Adult can step in to a situation to solve a problem "for" the Scouts because it's safety-related. Other possible safe solutions weren't immediately obvious to the Scouts, and that's when unsafe solutions can easily come to the fore. Probably a demonstration they'll remember.

 

LOL, heck no, I didn't want to sit there and stare at a pile of charcoal go dead! Let's put it this way, what I do for the boys is so they can learn and have fun. If one were to really evaluate this, I would support my boys by tending the fire while they go off to the program. So that leaves me watching charcoal die. Nope, take care of it in a heartbeat and yet use it as a teaching moment. I got to then go off with the boys to have some fun too. :)

 

There was no safety issue here. The coals were safe just where they were, but they couldn't be left unattended. That mean 2 boys would need to stay behind and miss programming. I first asked for a solution from them and with three boys, they would have all had to stay and miss the program. It's important that they get first chance at solving the problem. When they basically resolved themselves to carrying the briquettes over to the fire pit and then dousing them, I kinda overruled them with the dutch oven trick. I didn't want to create a safety hazard with them walking around in the leaves with live coals. :)

 

I didn't step in to solve a problem, I kinda stepped in and created a problem for them to solve to see if they could figure something out.

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just talked to the Committee. There was some healthy skepticism but with the Scoutmaster and CC on board, it was already a done deal. Now the difficult and truly messy part begins. Getting off the forums, off the blogs, out of the books, and into the real world to put this sucker in action!

 

Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited?

 

Sentinel947

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×