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

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I know for me, the issue of boy-led vs adult is a symptom of a troop-method vs patrol method. In the article the writer discussed the problem with transitioning to a boy led troop. Instead the focus should be on a boy-led patrol. Until the patrols are boy-led using the patrol method, a boy-led-troop is a pipe dream.

 

Thanks skeptic for pointing out the irony and for making me look in the mirror.`

 

And here is the rub! Why troop method, boy led? Why is it always all or nothing? Why not let the older boys be boy-led, patrol-method and see where it goes? Everyone is in such a hurry to get the PLC/SPL model going when in most troops that process isn't even required or even needed. I would rather have 1 boy-led patrol, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 then 6, then when those patrols are all running just fine as boy-led, introduce the PLC concept. Hey, no big deal, they probably have already been doing a lot of it behind the scenes anyway.

 

The article in Scouting Magazine is nothing more than another attempt to instill in top-down management into the troops rather than the servant leadership needed for the patrol method.

 

Sorry, half-full/half-empty glass is irrelevant, what we have here is a half-hearted attempt to promote management at the expense of leadership. I don't buy it and I would think that any troops that attempt it are destined for a lot of hassles that will quickly build to the point where adult-led will need to be brought back to save the troop. The troops need leadership skills, not management skills.

 

My highest ranking scout has not gotten his TF badge yet, but he still arrives with an agenda, game, flag ceremony, and training options for advancement every week. Why? If you ask him, he'll say it's what's necessary to take care of the patrol members. He's a terrible manager, but his leadership skills make up for it in spades.

 

Stosh

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And here is the rub! Why troop method, boy led? Why is it always all or nothing? Why not let the older boys be boy-led, patrol-method and see where it goes? Everyone is in such a hurry to get the PLC/SPL model going when in most troops that process isn't even required or even needed. I would rather have 1 boy-led patrol, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 then 6, then when those patrols are all running just fine as boy-led, introduce the PLC concept. Hey, no big deal, they probably have already been doing a lot of it behind the scenes anyway.

 

The article in Scouting Magazine is nothing more than another attempt to instill in top-down management into the troops rather than the servant leadership needed for the patrol method.

 

Sorry, half-full/half-empty glass is irrelevant, what we have here is a half-hearted attempt to promote management at the expense of leadership. I don't buy it and I would think that any troops that attempt it are destined for a lot of hassles that will quickly build to the point where adult-led will need to be brought back to save the troop. The troops need leadership skills, not management skills.

 

My highest ranking scout has not gotten his TF badge yet, but he still arrives with an agenda, game, flag ceremony, and training options for advancement every week. Why? If you ask him, he'll say it's what's necessary to take care of the patrol members. He's a terrible manager, but his leadership skills make up for it in spades.

 

Stosh

 

 

You captured better what I was trying to say. Focus on the patrols.

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I have managed to convince a three SMs who wanted to change from adult-led to Patrol Method to "start over."

 

The Scouts formed themselves into new patrols. The patrols elected their PLs after a brief speech about the PL's job.

 

The PLs attended a training weekend (Outside resources used included two SPLs from other troops who had staffed NYLT.).

 

A training day was held for Committee members and other interested parents

 

A training session of one hour was held for all Scouts about the Patrol Method. (The PL represents you at the PLC; you plan your patrol program with the PL as chairman of the planning meeting; everyone has a job, etc.)

 

The patrols met separately every week for three months after the training. The PLs led their respective patrol's meetings. They had a list of adult and youth volunteers who could be asked to present at the patrol meeting. PLs copied SPL (usually electronically) on required written meeting plans (format supplied) and reported to SPL at monthly PLC on how meetings went.[All but one troop used Start/Stop/Continue as part of process.]

 

The patrols had two patrol hikes and one patrol weekend campout. [Adults were supplied by Troop, remotely present at the outings, and carefully trained to watch, not intervene, except when safety was an issue.]

 

Only then was there the first troop meeting of the new era. Most of the troop meeting time was spent with the patrols in separate areas, studying Scoutcraft, preparing for inter-patrol competition, passing advancement requirements, or preparing for patrol activities.

 

Troop activities were planned around previously-planned patrol activities.[Current BSA publications have this backwards.]

 

Some comments on the new era [no claim of cause and effect made, but interesting]:

 

1) the Scouts self-identified as "Meatballs," "Flaming Ice Cubes," or "ATM ["at the moment" 'cause they couldn't decide on a "permanent" name] rather than "members of troop 161";

 

2) patrol flag contest and three months to get 'er done produced much more impressive patrol flags. (PLC decided patrol flag should always be carried by respective PL unless he needed both hands for something.) [They were steered in that direction by questions.]["Meatball" "flag" was a soccer ball painted brown on a pole bearing the word "YUM" with a large screw-in eyelet "for all the ribbons we're going to win." They were first at Klondike two years running. If you do it, it ain't braggin' .]

 

3) given the opportunity to lead, most PLs were judged to be more active and effective as leaders than had been the case in the formerly adult-led troops;

 

4) PLs in the PLC were clearly doing better job of bringing the desires of their patrols to the planning process rather than their personal preferences;

 

5) attendance at all activities increased dramatically [one troop had 100% attendance at their Klondike and summer camp];

 

6) performance at district competitive events improved greatly;

 

7) the patrols continued to have separate hikes and campouts because they wanted to.

 

8) membership increased a minimum of 15% over the first year.

 

9) It took more resources at the beginning but that enhanced load tapered off;

 

10) It was worth the extra work.

 

NOTE: all but one of these troops met in churches with a number of rooms for breakouts.

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Troop activities were planned around previously-planned patrol activities.[Current BSA publications have this backwards.]

 

 

I'm confused. Are you saying he dynamics should be from the bottom up or the top down? Top down is a management style where as bottom up is a leadership style.

 

The people at the bottom (patrol members) are not going to follow managers, they follow leaders. (#1 reason troops have discipline problems in their troops) Until people get this worked out in their heads they will always fall prey to adult-led, adult-managed troops with no patrol autonomy or Patrol Method.

 

The patrols dictate what the troop does because that has been established by the boys through the Patrol Method.

 

SPL: Eagle patrol is in charge of the flag ceremony at the upcoming Camporee.

 

Eagle PL: Sorry, we won't be there, the boys will be doing a 10-mile hike that weekend. They're working on their Hiking MB.

 

SPL: Sorry, SM Jones said all patrols have to attend the Camporee. I'm just passing along what he told me.

 

Eagle PL: Not a problem. Mark us down as no one is attending from the Eagle patrol, they are all busy with something else that weekend.

 

People tend to follow leaders who are perceived as taking their best interests into consideration when making decisions. The Eagle patrol is working on a hiking MB. Their PL is doing whatever it takes to make that happen for them. That's leadership and they will all follow him without discussion. Tell them that the word has come down from on high that they have to attend the Camporee and attendance will fall off accordingly. In order to maintain management of the situation, discipline from the SPL will need to be enforced to attempt to maintain attendance. If the boys do not attend, the next SMC will center the discussion around insubordination and what's best for the troop! The Patrol Method is on paper only in a troop managed program even if it's "boy-led" in name only.

 

I do not teach managers, I create leaders. Those are two different and often conflicting issues. Managers attend to tasks, Leaders attend to people. A group of people lead well will accomplish tasks far better than a good manager dictating his singular plan any day.

 

Stosh

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I'm confused. Are you saying he dynamics should be from the bottom up or the top down? Top down is a management style where as bottom up is a leadership style.

 

Sorry that I was not clear. I was trying to say that, as the patrol is the important unit in Scouting, patrol activities should have priority,especially if previously scheduled., On its website, contradicting other current statements, BSA says troop activities always take precedence. This is probably not a policy decision but merely another example of the practice of inconsistency and/or poor communication.

 

 

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yeah my troop is getting B to A grade :) LOL seriously thought that's a good look at things. I'd say for our troop right the boys are great on their own on a campout - they set up everything but the adult area. Now and then they will need a "I think something is missing from this area" usually a lamp or the wash water cooker is what's missing but they don't need a "hey set up x" just aren't paying attention and don't see that something hasn't been done.

 

Our group of boys is great at picking places to camp and what to do at said location. But what they do still struggle with is the PLC picking activities for the weekly meetings especially when the next campout is one that doesn't have a specific scout skill goal toward it to work on preparing for. Sometimes it just takes a gentle question of "does anyone in your patrol need a requirement done that others can lead or refresh with?"

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Kathy, questions are a great tool to open minds to new possibilities. We are there to be resources for new possibilities that they can pick from.

 

Well, some minds. 0___0

 

So a question: If the Patrol Method were important, what might B.S.A. do to encourage use of the Patrol Method ?

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How to help youth play baseball

 

Is it CHAOS or CONSTRUCTIVE DISARRAY? Here’s how you can help your little league team's youth play baseball

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“The adults got the message to step back and let the boys play, but the boys had never done that before, said Sgt. Rock. Starting in Pee Wees, the adults had always played.

 

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A year of training and letting the kids handle the equipment followed. They were gradually allowed to throw, catch, pitch and hit, but not officially.

 

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With a solid plan, you and your fellow coaches can also discover just how cool boys playing little league baseball can be. Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Scouting is "A game for boys under the leadership of boys with the wise guidance and counsel of a grown-up ...."

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What is strange is that this thread on The Patrol Method is discussing an article in the Scouting magazine that promotes The Troop Method. :) If this is a lesson on Boy-Led, well then, the solution is simple. A boy will be far more successful leading in a Patrol Method unit than he will be trying to lead in a Troop Method unit.

 

Stosh

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While there were several interesting things that occured last nite, one is relevent to this topic. As most of you may know, the troop I'm with is young, and is slowly moving to patrol method. One of our troop guides "recquisitioned" his dad's copy of the Scouting and read the article. Asked me if I read it and I did say yes, but he noted my wariness of the article. He asked me, "You don't think the article is good?" And I told him, "I don't think the article goes far enough."

 

T-11 days to ITLS-T!

 

 

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What is strange is that this thread on The Patrol Method is discussing an article in the Scouting magazine that promotes The Troop Method. :) If this is a lesson on Boy-Led, well then, the solution is simple. A boy will be far more successful leading in a Patrol Method unit than he will be trying to lead in a Troop Method unit.

 

Stosh

 

 

LOL, only a few weeks ago you were praising Scouting magazine because it was promoting a style that you favor, same age patrols. That article also had a one-side bias bent, but it was a great resource then.

 

Clearly for me that National has lost touch with the practical approaches to the Scouting program, but I don't see hope in the BSA future because even the opinions here come off as extreme. The majority of new scout leaders joining today don't have a youth scouting experience or much outdoors camping experience and you guys expect them to trust your fanatical opinions, why?

 

Seems we have lost the objective of scouting for each individual boy as well as the motivation for being a Scout in the first place.

 

Barry

 

 

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The majority of new scout leaders joining today don't have a youth scouting experience or much outdoors camping experience and you guys expect them to trust your fanatical opinions' date=' why?[/quote']

 

This is an interesting thought. When I enter a situation in which I have no experience, I tend to seek out those who have been around a while to see what I can learn about how things work. You're saying that today's young dads/moms would be more likely to ignore or mistrust those with experience. I wonder how that attitude is working for them professionally, outside of Scouting.

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My apologies, I was pulled away.

 

The problem with many of our opinions is that they don't really explain what we want to achieve or why one style or method is prefered over another. AND most of the time we prefer what works best for us personality, not what works best for everyone. For example, I know that I can build a very successful troop using the SPL position. The position isn't evil or destructive and doesn't make a troop less boy run or less patrol method. SPL also doesn't make a program more troop method, UNLESS the position is guided that way by the adults.

 

See part of the problem here is that many think that Boy Scouts is a boys program to let them do what they want. In fact it has always been and adult program use to guide boys in their growth toward being adults. From the very day Baden Powell started the boys scouts, there was an adult driven objective to what a boy was to get from his experience. Even the most radical suggestions of patrol method and boy run given on this forum are adult driven. So I read these post and wonder how in the world are we to take adults totally ignorant to scouting and camping and show them what they are supposed to be doing, and more importantly, why.

 

Sadly I've also come to take the articles in Scouter magazine with a grain of salt because they have gotten more directive and bias without much balance in there substance. Troop method vs Patrol method, age based patrols vs, mixed age patrols, First Class in one year, Eagle Requirements, all these things are based on perspectives of scouting experience, life experiences, and philosphical approaches to life. National has an advantage because it is in control of what it publishes to ALL its leaders.

 

However, we in the trenches have some power through personal communication like forums and local scouter functions. Of course there are as many opinions of how to run a scout program as there are personalities. But I have noticed in the last few years that the opinions are appear more radical and extreme, and the new adults today have less experienced to judge the differences of those opinions. So, they are ignoring those opinions. One example is when I started on scouter.com way back when, we average over 800 participants at any one time. Now there how many dozen. I used to teach in my Scoutmaster course to use Scouter.com as a tool for new ideas, but lately I've been told members here are out of touch and don't understand todays program. Hmm, after reading about the evils of using the SPL, maybe they are right. Is your advice really practical with todays average new leader? I know National has lost touch, but if those of us who have worked with hundreds or thousands of scouts can't help these folks, what hope is there for scouting in the future?

 

We need to rethink our approach.

 

Barry

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Eagledad, I am not sure who, among recent posters, thinks the SPL position is wrong somehow. Since 1930, one of the essential elements of the BSA Patrol Method as explained, clearly by Bill and not so well since, is a Senior Patrol Leader, elected by the Scouts, who acts as chairman of the PLC and leads the troop portion of the program.

 

As I have had occasion to point out, Bill Hillcourt, as much as anyone author of the BSA Patrol Method, specifically and expressly wrote about the patrol as part of the troop program and the duty of loyalty to the troop. (Teams find it convenient to have a league in which to play.)

 

This policy does not mean that patrols are not the basis of Scouting, the primary context for the Scout's experience, or that patrols are not to have independent existence, including independent program. (Please see quotations of current BSA language in post 7.)

 

The failure to understand the Patrol Method, including by some at BSA, complicates discussions, much less application. But lack of understanding has never prevented we mere mortals from expression of strong opinions that are in error. Sincerely believed error is often more damaging that deliberate falsehood. The Scoutmaster whom I work with at present told me recently that "everything is optional" and that "advancement is Scouting." This point-of-view helps explain a situation, at one point in the recent past, of no PLC meetings for twelve years and even "PLs" who did not know to what patrol they supposedly belonged. ("Breakout? The patrols would be in separate rooms? Why that would mean the Patrol Leaders would have to be in change.") BSA contributes to such confusion by having training on the Patrol Method that does not even have as an objective explaining what constitutes the Patrol Method and by not, somewhere, coherently defining the Patrol Method.

 

 

As for who belongs in a given patrol, the current definitive statement by BSA is that a patrol "is a small group of friends." That says to me that the Scouts, to the greatest extent possible (vs. convenient) decide who is in a patrol. Adults tend to be neat freaks who are put off by one patrol of six and another of eight. In my current roop, patrols until recently existed only on paper as an administrative convenience, When a patrol got weak, we had upset the basket day, and everyone was reshuffled to make it all tidy. Bill, of course, expressly warned against such behavior by adults.

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The majority of new scout leaders joining today don't have a youth scouting experience or much outdoors camping experience and you guys expect them to trust your fanatical opinions' date=' why? [/quote']

 

I hate to say it but even some of the adult leaders WITH ( emphasis) youth Scouting experience have little to no actual, "traditional" Scouting experiences. That is because the were involved in the 1972-1979 Improved Scouting Program (ISP) that de-emphasized traditional Scout skills and expereinces like the outdoors. They model the troops they work with on the model of their youth, and the troop's outdoor program suffers.

 

As for us "old fogeys" being radical and extreme, I think part of it has to due with the charley foxtrot that was the ISP of the 1970s. Some of us survived that period, others like me saw and are seeing the affects of it to this day. Let's face it, BSA would have gone the way of Campfire USA ( I haven't seen or heard any lately about them except on this site) if "Green Bar Bill" had not come out of retirement, wrote a new BSHB, and wrote new training programs that brought back the "OUTING in ScOUTING." IMHO Bill is the one who saved the BSA, and he is no longer with us.

 

Us old fogeys see a gradual return to the ISP, after all the new DEs of the time are now the National pros today. We know that the ISP almost killed Scouting, and Bill is no longer there to save us.

 

Do we need to adapt? Yes we do need to change and adapt to the times and technology (GPS, ultralightweight gear, LNT etc). But we got to remember 1) The Patrol Method is the second foundation of the movement (behind the ideals). If we don't "Train 'em. Trust 'em, LET THEM LEAD!" we taking one of the legs of Scouting out from under the program.

 

2) "SCOUTING IS OUTING!" More and more research showing that unstructured, outdoor time is needed by all these days of constant technology, the Outdoors is needed more than ever.

 

 

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