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TAHAWK

Scouting (magazine) article on "The Scout-Led Troop"

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Tahawk.

 

My comment was in regards to how some folks think you have to do everything the exact way BSA states in the current literature. But sometimes, in some situations, the current BSA program materials will not work, and that you do need to use ideas from older BSA materials. Mixed aged patrols, which is not discussed in the current literature but is in older literature, was the example I've given. Having youth sign off on advancement requirements is another example I can give.

 

My only worry is is units that do not use the patrol method.

 

As for clear communications form national, only time will tell.

 

 

I would argue that mixed-age patrols are allowed, if not suggested. As I noted, the examples of "Types of Patrols" given provides no place for Scouts who are beyond first year and not First Class. Must be somewhere for them. The examples, therefore, are only examples. I support mixed-age patrols in my unit and in training if they are, to the greatest extent possible, small groups of friends.

 

In practice within my experience since the NSP idea came in, newly crossed-over Scouts tend to want to stay with the boys with whom they cross-over. After they have been in for awhile, some decide that they want to move. In the troop I was with longest, the patrol then decided if they wanted to take the Scout in. As uncomfortable as that could be (but rarely was), it was better than forcing the team to take a player they didn't want. The PL's were counseled to remember the Law.

 

Youth can sign off on advancement if the SM OK's it. That's an application of judgment with a range of results depending on the youth and the SM.

 

Clear communication would first require clear thinking about what the message should be. Hopefully building a program that attracts kids while meeting the goals would be central to the thinking.

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Patrol competition is inherent in just about everything BP wrote. The only way to have a "fair" competition between Patrols is if the Patrols are mixed age and experience. The Troop of my yoooth was thus. I remember joining the Eagle Patrol and being welcomed (and hassled in a friendly way) by the older boys, who immediately sought to get me up to speed in knots and first aid bandaging. I learned to cook by watching Bill and Jeff burn the bacon consistently. I learned about how the dead American Chestnut (burns blue flame) in the back woods was worthwhile making the trek aaaalllll the waaaaaay there and back for them. I had school friends in all the other Patrols, and in the Eagle (mine), no problem, we hiked and camped together, but the Patrols competed for ribbons, extra watermelon, time on a paid trip, even free movie tickets.

In my Scout Leader Training, I was taught to "teach them, test them, trust them". THAT is the Patrol Method. ALLOWING the boys to get dirty and get clean together. When I was a Scout, didn't have a name for what I was doing, I just did it. The Name came when I grew up.

As a Scout, I learned what a "goldbrick" was. I learned that not everyone wants to pull their fair share. I learned who to ask to help that would help and who to expect nothing from. We learned how to get that person to help and then feel good about helping. Teamwork? Doesn't happen if the adults are directing/telling what to do. That is not a team. That is a "job".

In my career in the County gov't, I came across a lot of different types of managers. Some were "Patrol" Methoders, discussing what was needed and letting folks accomplish it their way "owning" the process. Some were Micro managers, with thumbs on everything. Guess which ones had the happiest departments? The first had folks that sought out the problems and solved them before the need became critical. The second waited for "the boss" to tell them what needed to be done and then did ONLY what was asked.

Train, Test, Trust.

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Since you seem to me to believe that "everything is optional" is a fine idea and within BSA policy:

 

1. Shouldn't BSA stop promising the boys the Patrol Method, stop telling adults that the "[boys] lead their patrols and their troop," and openly say that adults can do whatever they want, including no Patrol Method?

 

2. Do you believe that the Oath and Law are also optional?

 

It's along way from "demanding perfection" to not even try. One should try to "throw strikes" if you agree to take the ball and toe the rubber. We can disagree on what is most important in the Patrol Method or how the words ought to be understood. People often differ around the edges. But there ought to be essential aspects that we at least try, in our own imperfect ways, to have happen.

 

 

 

I guess we have different ideas of optional because the BSA doesn't allow any options for 1. or 2. My point all along is that if you can't find BSA support for what you are telling others to do, likely you are off the reservation and possbily leading others to fail.

 

Barry

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I have found that until the older boys get to know the younger ones' date=' the NSP keeps the boys going and oriented to how the troop does things. [/quote']

 

I have found that new scouts get up to speed a lot faster in a mixed age patrol than Same age patrol because all the scouts are a resource as well as a teacher. The only time I found that not to be the case is when the new scouts are more than 20percent of the Patrol size. At the point, the patrol dynamics takes a hit.

 

I teach in our area that if the new scouts increase the patrols by 25 percent, then the NSP is the preferred choice. But, on average the new scout is up to speed in about six months or after summer camp, which ever comes first. At that time, the new scout is better off joining a mixed a patrol because the patrol members are a better resource for growth than the Troop Guide.

 

Barry

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I guess we have different ideas of optional because the BSA doesn't allow any options for 1. or 2. My point all along is that if you can't find BSA support for what you are telling others to do, likely you are off the reservation and possbily leading others to fail.

 

Barry

 

 

Barry, I am not sure what you mean. The article in Scouting clearly supports the Patrol method as an option. In the two councils in which I Scout, it would be an improvement is as many as 20% of the troops use the Patrol Method. B.S.A. will not even say what "the Patrol Method" means, although all the pieces parts are laid out here and there. Scouters routinely tell me that, so far as they know, the Patrol Method is "one way" to run a troop. What was once very clear is increasingly murky.

 

 

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Scouters routinely tell me that' date=' so far as they know, the Patrol Method is "one way" to run a troop. What was once very clear is increasingly murky. [/quote']

 

Could it be that the BSA is increasingly using outsiders who know little to nothing about Scouting?

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Could it be that the BSA is increasingly using outsiders who know little to nothing about Scouting?

 

I'd chalk it up to post-modernism and the necessity that there be more than one narrative for everything.

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Barry, I am not sure what you mean. The article in Scouting clearly supports the Patrol method as an option. In the two councils in which I Scout, it would be an improvement is as many as 20% of the troops use the Patrol Method. B.S.A. will not even say what "the Patrol Method" means, although all the pieces parts are laid out here and there. Scouters routinely tell me that, so far as they know, the Patrol Method is "one way" to run a troop. What was once very clear is increasingly murky.

 

 

 

I'll agree with that.

 

A few years ago I met someone who was close to many of the pros at national and his take on what they were trying to do was go full a head on age based patrols as well as split the troop at age 14. The introduction of NSP, Troop Guides and 1st Class in 1 year was the beginings of that goal.

 

Along with that, folks just don't realize what allowing women leaders into the program has done to it. Ignoring the political correctness aspects of it, women forced a huge dynamic shift just from lack of scouting experience as a youth. All the changes in training introduced in 2000 were a result of that dynamic shift.

 

I feel that National's goal of that time has been interrupted because the troop split was put on the back burner, but I honestly don't know where National wants to go in the future. I think the murkiness you describe is partically on purpose and I don't feel that that National has the best intentions for the BSA vision and mission. I think progressives have a lot of influence and it just a matter of time before the resistance from the old timers will fade enough for them to change the program into an after school program like the YMCA.

 

Of course that is just my conspiracy theory based from watching the changes over the years. But, I've said several times that less than 25% of adults joining the program today have a scouting experience. The time is not so far away of when there aren't any scouters who remember the true patrol method program. The numbers are working against us, so it is inevitable that the foundational drive for the program will come from this culture, not the last.

 

Barry

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Stupid question, but here it goes anyway. Doesn't WB21C teach the Patrol Method?

 

I admit I have not gone through WB, either the old or new courses. Nor have I staffed NYLT. But I went through the old Brownsea 22 course, and staffed JLTC back in the day. The patrol methods was instilled in the patrols from day one. Having outdoor activities to do and compete, cooking meals, etc were part of the expereince that created the patrols.

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Maybe it's our area, but I have never seen what many call Troop method around here. But I've noticed that with some folks on this forum, troop method is anything that appears adult run. In my opinion, same age patrols are by nature more adult run, but I would never call them troop method. Barry

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I'll agree with that.

 

A few years ago I met someone who was close to many of the pros at national and his take on what they were trying to do was go full a head on age based patrols as well as split the troop at age 14. The introduction of NSP, Troop Guides and 1st Class in 1 year was the beginings of that goal.

 

Along with that, folks just don't realize what allowing women leaders into the program has done to it. Ignoring the political correctness aspects of it, women forced a huge dynamic shift just from lack of scouting experience as a youth. All the changes in training introduced in 2000 were a result of that dynamic shift.

 

I feel that National's goal of that time has been interrupted because the troop split was put on the back burner, but I honestly don't know where National wants to go in the future. I think the murkiness you describe is partically on purpose and I don't feel that that National has the best intentions for the BSA vision and mission. I think progressives have a lot of influence and it just a matter of time before the resistance from the old timers will fade enough for them to change the program into an after school program like the YMCA.

 

Of course that is just my conspiracy theory based from watching the changes over the years. But, I've said several times that less than 25% of adults joining the program today have a scouting experience. The time is not so far away of when there aren't any scouters who remember the true patrol method program. The numbers are working against us, so it is inevitable that the foundational drive for the program will come from this culture, not the last.

 

Barry

 

BSA went the first twenty years without the Patrol Method. Many of the leaders of the "Golden Age" could not have experience TPM as Scouts. When it finally arrived at BSA, it had talented and convincing advocates, If it is true that BSA still supports the Patrol Method, the message is being poorly and weakly conveyed.

 

However, the reality that the Patrol method was moved forward largely by people with no experience gives us hope that nit might survive, and even again flourish, despite the demographic realities that you point out.

 

As for the changes of 2000 being due to women coming into commissioned positions,they were in those positions in in 1988 and at Scout Wood Badge at least by 1984, two in the Course I took that year. There were conspiracy theories in 1972 as well -- and in 1960 when the First Class Badge disappeared as Scouting's symbol ("They're deemphasizing advancement !") We may be extending too much credit to what is simply less-than-stellar leadership.,

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Maybe it's our area' date=' but I have never seen what many call Troop method around here. But I've noticed that with some folks on this forum, troop method is anything that appears adult run. In my opinion, same age patrols are by nature more adult run, but I would never call them troop method. Barry[/quote']

 

 

The Patrol Method has an essential element that the troop and patrols are youth-run. So it has been said since 1930. But your comment again illustrates the poor job done by BSA of explaining the Patrol Method in a clear and coherent statement.

 

The "Troop Method" seems to focus on the failure to have the patrol be the context in which the Scout primarily experiences Scouting. Lack of separate patrol activities and lack of the patrols planning the troop activities, through the patrol's representatives at the PLC, are symptoms of the Troop Method approved by the Scouting article that is the original topic of this thread.

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One must also consider the dynamics of the PLC as the fulcrum. If the SPL is dictating to the patrols through the PLC, it is a troop run program, the patrols have little or no say in the program. But if the patrols are directing the direction of the troop through the PLC, then it is a patrol run unit.

 

This is the rub. A SM tells the SPL what to do, the SPL tells the PLC what to do, the PL tells the members what's going on. This is an adult-led, but patrol-method troop. Some SM's cut to the chase in an effort to be expedient and tell the PL's what to do if there even is a PL. This is an adult-led, troop-method troop. One can also have a boy-led, troop-method program where everything the troop does is voted on by all the members. The SPL asks, "Anyone want to go to Philmont next summer?" and then counts the number of hands that go up regardless of any patrol dynamics. On the other hand a boy-led, patrol-method program will take it's goals from the interests of each patrol. PLC meeting, Patrol #1 is going to Philmont next summer, Patrol #2 is going to summer camp. The SPL now gathers resources to make it work for both patrols. The program of the SM, SPL and PLC is to insure what the patrols want and need for a program. After all it is the patrol members that are the "paying customer" in the process. If they don't get what they want and need they will go elsewhere. It's not marketing, it's human nature.

 

Stosh

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If I may drop my two cents. My troop has recently made the transition to the Patrol Method. We didn't get any interviews from Scouting magazine.

 

My Troop made the jump cold turkey. Some of the older Scouts. 14-15 years old, had been to NYLT and had been exposed to the patrol method. The Scoutmaster was skeptical, but saw the light at some point. The Committee Chair has been supportive of the Patrol Method the whole time.

 

As the most experienced active Scouter (which that's terrifying to say) I took on a kinda quasi Scoutmaster role. From about September till December, I coached the SPL's and helped them bring their NYLT training to the Troop Meetings and Outings. I realized in a Troop of 60+ Scouts. I can't personally train each of them, but I can train the SPL. He can train his Patrol Leaders, and then the Patrol Leaders will lead.

 

In addition to regular coaching patrol leaders the (A)SPL's conducted the BSA training Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops. We found it to be a bit lacking in the Patrol Method, so we edited the syllabus a bit. Our primary goal was to use that program to teach and model the Patrol method.

 

I've been training the Scoutmaster and he's ready to take over coaching the new SPL. We as a Troop are not going to backslide like the Troop in the article. When I pushed for the patrol method, I told Scoutmasters and the Committee that it would be messy, and it would not be a well oiled machine. The messiness is part of the point. Leadership involves problem solving and adapting to circumstances. The Scouts need to do that, we can't step in and fix all their problems for them.

 

The Scouts have bought in enthusiastically to the vision the (A)SPL's have laid out for them.

 

So why is the Patrol method important to Scouting? It's simple really. Scouts want responsibility. They want to be a valued member of a team. They want to feel like their contributions are important. My troop has historically seen a high level of buy in from the SPL's (Who are running everything) but not too much from other Scouts. The strong patrol of their friends and peers (which in my mind means mixed or same aged) does that. I think we get too wrapped up in the whole mixed age, same age thing. The important aspect is being in a patrol that the Scouts choose. That the scouts elect their patrol leader. Whether the patrol is mixed or same age and the benefits of each are a separate issue. If the patrols are adult or SPL mandated, then they are less patrol method, less boy led.

 

For years the adults complained about a lack of older Scout involvement. I finally came up with the Patrol Method as a solution and challenged the Adult leaders to step out of their comfort zone. I think because of my experience in Scouting and time in service to the Troop (ten years now), they trusted me initially, but the Scouts making things happen and buying in quickly sold the deal to skeptical adults more than any of my sales pitches could.

 

I hope by the time I graduate from College and leave this troop. (Which is about a year and a half away), the Patrol Method will be deeply rooted and will be there to stay. The former Scoutmaster killed the Patrol Method, it was inconvenient and hard to understand to him. The Troop produced many Eagle Scouts under that Scoutmaster's watch, but I think the Troop lost its soul in the process.

 

I won't harp on the Troop in the article. My Troop still isn't there yet with the Patrol Method. We are still very early into it.

 

Sentinel947

 

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Great points S947, and I think you just made 'HAWK's point ...

 

... In addition to regular coaching patrol leaders the (A)SPL's conducted the BSA training Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops. We found it to be a bit lacking in the Patrol Method' date=' so we edited the syllabus a bit. Our primary goal was to use that program to teach and model the Patrol method. ... [/quote']

 

If the PM was anything but "Optional" in the BSA, why would ILST be lacking on it in any way? If the PM were the national standard of operation, would not ILST be chock full of tips on being a successful "federation of patrols," and those troops who would prefer not to, wouldn't they be the ones who would have to modify the syllabus to promote their more centralized leadership structure?

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