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TAHAWK

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

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Our local YMCA and schools are now doing more and more out-doors programing that is the rave of our local newspaper. The kids think this is good stuff.

 

Of course they don't need to wear a dorky uniform to do so and they don't have to actually touch the bugs they find. Of course if any of the kids get separated from the group, the county search and rescue team is always available.

 

Stosh

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E

As for who belongs in a given patrol, the current definitive statement by BSA is that a patrol "is a small group of friends."

 

Thanks, TAHAWK, your are kind of making my point that the BSA does give guidelines to how the program runs. If you haven't seen and haven't seen any post lately about poster who don't like the SPL, you aren't reading enough. But I think it is the everything is optional that I really like. There are some here that have a my-way-or-highway approach and that is the problem.

 

When I was asked to start teaching adults, a very wise scouter sat me down and told me that expressing personal opinions the defy the material that is being lowers the integrity of the teacher, not the program. I am known as the boy run patrol method guru in our council, but this guy knew that passion would drive more people away than convert. Adding additional information and philosphy that compliments the course material goes a lot farther than saying that using an SPL makes your program troop-method. That is a silly statement biased on limited ideals. It certainly isn't the "everything is optional" way of mind.

 

Barry

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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.

 

I fully agree, but they still had an experience that trumps most adults today. 50% of new leaders (give or take) are women. And, I have found that more than 50% of men coming in today had very little if any scouting experience (at least in our area).

 

These adults are the future of the BSA scouting program. And as I said earlier, when we start telling these adults to not use the program given to them and instead follow ONE scouter's unusual approach to working with their sons in the woods, well the advice can have the wrong effect.

 

If we really care for the future of the program, we have to accept the program that it is and not be so prideful that our style or "options" make or break the program. Integrity comes from humility of experience, not pride of protecting personal ideals.

 

Barry

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Barry has a point. And it's not just adults.

My boys know my opinions about the irrelevance of an SPL unless there are 18 or more boys around.

Nevertheless, they are down to a 1-patrol troop and they still fuss over who is SPL ... even though we haven't doled out an SPL patch for a couple years.:confused:

 

The real issue is what a troop tasks the senior patrol leader with.

 

Does he coordinate? Or does he dictate?

Is he mentoring? Or is he bailing out slackers?

Are the PL's giving after-action reports? Or are they waiting for his orders?

 

I'll through this out: with a troop-method emphasis, the SPL is a grueling, nasty, mop-up-other-peoples-mess position. With a patrol-method emphasis, the SPL is an honor position, slightly easier than PL, with ample time for naps (or practical jokes on JASMs).

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"Everything is optional" is the "cover" for adult-run, troop-method Scouting.

 

Good words by B.S.A. are in current literature. What is lacking is any behavior to pressure -- or even strongly encourage -- adults to follow the.words. Adults who refuse to allow, and advocate against, any aspect of the Patrol Method are not just tolerated; they are rewarded. This is not the acknowledged policy and some at National are against this behavior, but it is what it is.

 

 

If you have a one-patrol troop, there is no need for an SPL as you have no occasion for a PLC and no need for any program other than the patrol's. No reason Boy Scouting cannot go on. The patrol can plan its program and carry it out. Any desire for inter-patrol activity can be met by working with another "troop."

 

“Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. [emphasis added]â€Â

 

“At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.â€Â

 

B.S.A. 2015

 

 

 

 

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An adult can run a youth program far better and efficiently than a youth can. Thus if BSA is looking to preserve it's program, why would they not tolerate if not outright support the adult led program? It's kinda like the schools do what it takes to preserve the integrity of the school. If kids happen to learn something along the way, that's just a side benefit.

 

Stosh

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"Everything is optional" is the "cover" for adult-run, troop-method Scouting.

 

This statement reminds me of a scoutmaster on this forum that once said SPLs are only used by Scoutmasters to maintain control of the patrols. It is narrow minded thinking that turns off open minded seekers.

 

It seems that many of us are in more of a hurry to define bad scouting practices than explaining how to develop good scouting. Even more we seem to commit to defining all programs into single hypothetical examples. I admit that I'm a little impatient with theories being supported by scary hypothetical examples.

 

SPL is the focus in this discussion, but I've seen the Eagle abused just as badly in this forum. It seems there is a lot of opinions for what a scout has to accomplish to earn an Eagle, much less be respected as an one. And yet, what does the BSA have to say on the subject.

 

I used to be really critical of National of how they guided adults in training and manuals, but Looking back from my experience of working with hundreds of scouters, the BSA actually does a pretty good job of allowing "options" while still giving a solid frame work to start. I still have issues with them, but watching the new generation of adults coming into the program, I have a respect for present and coming challenge.

 

I say all this because I think this forum does a lousy job helping scouters improve their program. It used to be one of the best. But we as a whole now come off arrogant and hostile. Arrogant in that we think we the smartest person in the room, and hostile in that we are condescending to those that don't seem to agree with us. A couple folks here seem to even take pride in attacking members for even being part of the group. Heaven help a parent ignorant to scouting seeking some guidiance. We have driven off those who really need the help and limited the ideas to only those willing to stand against criticism. We are eating our own and will eventually have nothing left. The membership numbers show it.

 

Barry

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Here's my $.02 worth.

 

1) There is no need for an SPL unless you have 2 or more patrols. SPL is just that: the SENIOR patrol leader. If you only have 1 patrol, then you only have 1 PL.

 

2) I do belive the unofficial motto of the BSA is "SEMPER GUMBY" OR "ALWAYS FLEXIBLE." :) One of the most important things I learned in Scouting is that sometimes the best made plans fall apart, and you sometimes have to think "on your feet" or "outside the box" to solve problems. Best example I can give is finding out our of our camping gear was destroyed the night before we were taking Webelos on a campout. We really thought on our feet that night to prevent cancelling that camp out!

 

3) In regards to patrols working together, if the situation calls for it, then I am for it. Best example I can give on this is my son's troop at the moment. They have 1 "expereinced" patrol, and now 2 NSPs. PLC has the "experienced" patrol members working with the NSPs members during the instruction period.

 

4) Sometimes the higher up the food chain you get, the you remember about being at the bottom. Best example is some of the pros I've met and worked with. They forget that every "number" is a youth that we are making an impact on.

 

5) Also in regards top national, sometimes they talk to the wrong "experts." Instead of going to folks in the field and getting their thoughts and opinions, the consult outside experts who don't have a clue as to what Scouting really is. I saw a lot of that when I worked for supply: folks coming up with crazy things to sell that have little to no practical purpose for being sold.

 

BUT in regards to 5 national is slowly getting better, and I give them credit for that. When the info came out that ALL Cubs needed to switch to the new requirement as of June 1 2015, folks at national did listen to us in the field and make the option for those current Webelos to continue using the current AOL requirements.

 

6) In regards to "eating our own," I know in my own case I am tired and frustrated at some of the things I am hearing and seeing from new leaders, especially ones that I helped train. Especially right now. The leader that I planned ITOLS around and told me "it's too cold to camp" is now posting about how it's perfect camping weather right now.

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Eagle94-A1

 

I don't know if I would use the word flexible in as much as I would use the word adaptable. I don't think that the concept of BSA program is a one-size-fits-all is correct. Surely the dynamics and needs of a 1 patrol troop is not the same as a 6 patrol troop, nor is a brand new troop the same as one that has flourished for 99 years. This also needs to be tempered with the skills and abilities of the adult and youth leadership at hand and this can change as often as once or twice a year. To think everyone is going to adhere to BSA publications like they are holy scriptures is kind of foolish. Whatever it takes to make it work for the boys!

 

Stosh

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I don't know if I would use the word flexible in as much as I would use the word adaptable.

 

Yes, adaptable is a better word. But "Semper Gumby" sounds so much better. ;)

 

 

I don't think that the concept of BSA program is a one-size-fits-all is correct. Surely the dynamics and needs of a 1 patrol troop is not the same as a 6 patrol troop, nor is a brand new troop the same as one that has flourished for 99 years. This also needs to be tempered with the skills and abilities of the adult and youth leadership at hand and this can change as often as once or twice a year.

 

Agree with you. I like to call being a SM is an art, not a science. There is a multitude of factors involved in scouting: from resources, abilities of leaders, abilitiies of scouts, CO support, loctaion, ad nauseum. Every troop is different.

 

 

 

To think everyone is going to adhere to BSA publications like they are holy scriptures is kind of foolish.

 

Unfortunately I've met folks who think that what is expressed in the current BSA literature IS the only way of doing it, even if it will be detrimental to the program in some situations. And if you tell them otherwise, it's blasphemy. There are some folks who don't realize that there are a variety of ways, all legit, to deliver the program.

 

Take the entire New Scout Patrol, Expereinced Patrol, Venture Patrol set up of today. I've met folks who have told me you cannot have Mixed-Aged Patrols because it is not in BSA literature. Yet for the first 62 years of the BSA,, that is how it was done. Then for the next 17 years, you had Mixed-Aged Patrols and the Leadership Corps. it wasn't until 1989 that NSPs and the current format came out, and many troops still ran the old way, because for them NSP didn't work as well as Mixed-Aged patrols.

 

 

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Stosh, you are far from a newbie. I hope you were just missing the "irony" emoticon .

 

If there were a question, a well-run program is not the method or the objective. Boys leading the program is the method and learning democracy and leadership the objective. People in love with a "well-tuned machine" will either get frustrated of take over - mostly the latter recently.

 

Not sure what BSA is focused on preserving. The Patrol Method is, supposedly, the most important characteristic of the program - the "School of democracy" to prepare youth to be good citizens and leaders. Yet we have the article that is the topic, approving dumping the Patrol Method to meet adult needs.

 

 

Barry, I'm in a hurry to define good Scouting practices because BSA has done a less-than-optimal job of defining them. For fourteen years we had basic training for SM's and SA's that ignored the Patrol Method in the session on "Working with youth, the patrol method." After waiting so long, the new syllabus mentions some aspects of the method in "The Patrol Method" but not all aspects, and the new syllabus does not even have the objective of the participant being able to define or explain the method. BSA still says all the right things scattered here and there, if one can recognize what it is talking about -- the things quoted above. Yet BSA allows statements like those in the Scouting article that is the topic of this thread.

 

I do not apologize for believing that explaining how to develop good Scouting begins with clearly explaining the methods and goals of Scouting, including, of critical importance, the Patrol Method. I also believe in training Scouters in that method and finding ways to encourage its use. If BSA has been wrong about this from 1930 to date, so were the men who built Scouting into a great world movement.

 

And those thinking the Patrol Method somehow produces a rigid sameness need to remember that the directions steered both short and long-term will be as various as the changing cast of boys who plan and lead and the adults who, working behind the scenes, teach, coach, and mentor them.

 

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 take my text from B.S.A. itself. This does not come from me, although I agree with the text I have quoted. I didn't invent Boy Scouting. I have seen it work, to one degree or another, when it is tried. ​I do think a Boy Scout leader ought to lead and support Boy Scouting , as explained by B.S.A., rather than something else. We have some here who want to invent their own program yet operate under the label of Boy Scouting. I have no issue with the first. It's a free country. If you know better than BP. Bill, and BSA combined, go for it. You may be right in the end. Let's just not pretend we are Boy Scout leaders when we reject basic elements of Boy Scouting.

 

In training Scouters, I find no shortage of adults willing to try Boy Scouting if only they are told what it is and are allowed to talk through why it is a good idea to allow the relative disorder of boy leadership.

 

Adults come here and are told by some to ignore what BSA says, - on whatever topic they bring. This causes, at best, confusion. Often, the topic they raise is totally ignored , perhaps because the poster has something to say, relevant and material or not.

 

"Driven off"? I submit that promising adventure and boy leadership and delivering something else drives away boys quite well enough. Boys in typical fashion of persons of that age, have little patience with hypocrisy. Don't we -- Scouters and BSA -- need to say what we mean and do what we say.? If we fail, let's at least fail trying to deliver Boy Scouting to the best of our ability. An outdoor program run by boys who are counseled and supported by adults may prove to be a popular program. It was once.

 

 

"Agree with you. I like to call being a SM is an art, not a science. There is a multitude of factors involved in scouting: from resources, abilities of leaders, abilities of scouts, CO support, location, ad nauseum. Every troop is different."

 

Eagle 94-a1, Sounds right. Working with people doesn't seem much like science (even if we have "social scientists"). And the same variety existed when almost every troop ran the Patrol Method (and we knew the very few that did not) - back when 2 of 3 boys were registered Scouts at some time. People don't come off an assembly line like bottles.

 

"Unfortunately I've met folks who think that what is expressed in the current BSA literature IS the only way of doing it, even if it will be detrimental to the program in some situations. And if you tell them otherwise, it's blasphemy. There are some folks who don't realize that there are a variety of ways, all legit, to deliver the program."

 

So what is "the program" that you are worried about? Adult-run troop-method troops? What BSA has said since 1930 or what each individual adult thinks the program should be? I submit that refusing to use the Patrol Method means you are not keeping the promise to deliver the Boy Scouting Program. You may be delivering something. Heck, I might like it, Why call it Boy Scouting if it fails to include the youth leadership that the Scouts are promised in the Handbook -- the feature that is said to be THE thing about Boy Scouting?

 

"Take the entire New Scout Patrol, Expereinced Patrol, Venture Patrol set up of today. I've met folks who have told me you cannot have Mixed-Aged Patrols because it is not in BSA literature. "

 

Is too. ^___^. A patrol "is a small group of friends." B.S.A. 2015. That's in the literature since 1930. Didn't say BSA is good at communication 'cause its only fair - at best. Read literally, that language about three kinds of patrols has no patrol for a second year Scout who is not First Class. People in that "bubble" at BSA did their thing while the people who write about Methods do their thing. BSA says for nearly eighty-five years that the Patrol Method is the essence of Boy Scouting then Scouting says it's OK to go months and months with no Patrol Method, try it out, and dump it for another year because it does not produce what adults (who did without boys leading before) decide its not a well-oiled machine. Others at BSA have said from 1930 to date that a well-oiled machine is not the objective - the processes counts more than the results. Apparently no one has the job of making sure there is a consistent message.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Does it really matter what the BSA literature says if the boys are picking their friends to be in a patrol with? Suppose you have a group of 16 year olds that want to hang out together and the NSP are wandering around getting oriented. The third patrol has 11-15 year olds that want to be together.

 

Is this a mixed aged patrol troop or same age patrol troop?

 

I for one am not going to tell the boys they have to do relatively same aged patrols or mixed aged patrol because that's what BSA literature says. Instead I'm going to listen to my boys more often than the "ideal" of the BSA. I find that there's a lot less hassle that way and the disciple necessary to deal with the hassles is non-existent.

 

If patrol-method works for the boys and troop-method works for the adults, then one must ask, whose the program for? And yes there are those out there that will say, in our troop with the boys we have and the adults we have, the troop-method works the best for all...(says the adults).

 

Stosh

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Stosh,

 

Letting the boys pick their own patrols is what I'm talking about. Some folks say that all new scouts MUST be put into a NSP; all Scouts over a certain rank ( I keep hearing First Class) MUST me in "Experienced Patrols," etc. The youth have little to no input into the matter. One thing I liked about my troop growing up, every 6 months when elections occurred, we got the chance to switch patrol IF WE WANTED TO (all caps emphasis)

 

I admit, my troop is guilty this. When folks join, they go to a NSP, or as the case is now the 2nd NSP. When they hit First Class, they automatically move into a different patrol. We don't have a Venture patrol yet because we don't have the age or expereince.

 

Only good thing the adults did in the situation above IMHO is saty out of the way and let the PLC decide how they were going to divide the 14 new scouts into the two NSPs. All of the Scouts who crossed over or transferred into the troop became the 2nd NSP. They left the current NSP alone minus one Scout who was about to go to the "experienced" patrol. Adults suggested appointing him troop guide, but SPL was adamant in not appointing him troop guide, but giving him a chance to run for PL since "being voted PL would mean a lot to him. If he doesn't get elected PL, then appoint him TG."

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I have found that until the older boys get to know the younger ones, the NSP keeps the boys going and oriented to how the troop does things. The PL of the older patrol does know that when he takes on a newbie, he is responsible for that boy's advancement and it probably doesn't coincide with what the current patrol boys are doing. The PL has the final say so as to whether or not he wants that responsibility. NSP seems to work well under those circumstances and they focus mainly on advancement in that patrol.

 

Our boys can switch around among patrols anytime they want. If they are having a problem with one patrol, they don't have to wait to get a different situation. The only rule is patrols are to be 6-8 boys.

 

As far as PL's are concerned. Any patrol can elect any other scout regardless of what patrol they are in to be their PL. The NSP can do that as well. They generally don't do that especially when there are 8 boys in the patrol and one would need to leave or be assigned a troop leadership position to make the numbers work.

 

If the NSP does not decide who their PL is outside of their patrol, they do get to decide who their TG is going to be. Generally by electing an experienced scout to be their PL, the NSP doesn't then need a TG.

 

The boys seem to figure this stuff out rather quickly and it doesn't seem to be a hassle. I had one boy needing a POR and said he wanted to be a PL. No patrol wanted him so he went out on a "recruiting" venture and basically tried to "steal" members from other patrols and bring in outside the troop. Needless to say he couldn't come up with but one boy to be is APL. It ended in a disaster and he got no POR credit. But at least he tried!

 

Stosh

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