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MattR

Patrols for the Millennials

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... Qwazse' date=' you bring up another point. With "only worried about themselves" is it that the scout can't even share, or is it that he needs to actively try to make things better for his patrol? I have a troop full of scouts that can share, but actively try and help each other? That's a foreign concept. I now have patrols that are on their own without a dictating SPL so I hope this idea takes hold.[/quote']

 

How this plays out actually depends on the method being worked on at the moment. Take advancement. (Because that's the most frequent talked-about thing in many troops.) Ideally every patrol member should know what every other member needs to do for his next rank. You might be able facilitate that by asking a PL, "So what does each of your guys need to do next for advancement?"

Don't dress him down if he doesn't know the answer, just keep asking regularly until he gets that this is a thing. Then at a meeting, he may care to ask the boys (compare handbooks, whatever). Then someone says "Hey Joe and Bob need a five mile hike!" Another boy says "Let's go on one this weekend!" Everyone agrees .. even if everyone else has already done that, because they really want to help Joe and Bob succeed.

 

You can imagine with all the aims and methods, plus each point of the law and oath, there are many, many opportunities to build a common vision.

 

Needless to say, your praise along the way counts for much.

 

So to your questions:

Yes, he may be too close-minded (or in the other direction, intimidated) to share a common vision. That's not an excuse. He and his buddies need to change, or they will eventually disband.

Yes, he needs to make things better. Noticed that I dropped the "actively try to". Boys (most people, actually) don't do well with nuance. The "actively trying" get's them off the hook if things don't get better. Don't let that happen.

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I find that when I query my PL's it is always in the context of: "How's everyone in your patrol doing?" Sometimes one gets the, "I dunno." With that being said, they all know the next question is: "Is that your best leadership answer as to how well you're taking care of your boys?" It's is offered up with a smile. They get the point rather quickly and don't often repeat that process unless serious lapses in leadership have occurred. If I get that answer too often from a PL, then the follow-up is, "Maybe your APL could be helping you out on that, because they don't have much to do anyway and if they are going to be a PL some day, they're going to have to know how the leadership thing works. After all, he's your assistant, not just your fill-in when you're gone."

 

All of these things are designed to draw the attention towards those whom they are supposed to be looking out for and away from themselves.

 

I had one PL actually spell it out for me one day and blurt out, "If I'm looking out for everyone else, who's looking out for me?" I told him, "The SPL is supposed to have your back. Does he?" He said the SPL was always bugging him about advancement and things like that. I asked him that when I talk to the SPL should I tell him to back off or do more? He just smiled and the discussion was over.

 

Stosh

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I had a talk with one of the younger PLs tonight and I spelled this all out to him. I put it in terms of he was responsible for "delivering the promise" to his patrol and the promise was all the reasons why anyone is in scouts. He liked it. And when I said he has to learn how to say no to the SPL he really thought that was cool.

 

​I did something similar for some older scouts but I told them they all would have to help each other if they were going to do all the fun things. We also talked about purpose and how different scouts are there for different reasons. I could see some light bulbs go on. I could also see some dead batteries.

 

Keeping it in the context of a patrol sized group of scouts with similar interests made it all seem so much easier. I appreciate the gang of friends concept. A three year spread is good. Six is too much.

 

One thing I see getting in the way is communication. It used to be pick up the phone and dial. Now it's voice? email? text? facebook? All buried amid 100 messages a day wrapped up in the fact that Billy lost his phone while Johnie will only text. So how can Billy find out that Johnie wants to go skiing? I think I need to facilitate the conversation.

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What needs to be done to take care of one's boys is one thing, HOW that is done is up to the leader to figure out. If the world changes the leader must adapt. Whatever it takes to take care of your boys. All part of the training.... :)

 

Stosh

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only time we switch up patrols is when we have a campout with just 1 boy from a patrol and then he joins other patrol. Boys don't mind being just 2 or 3 in their patrol they have learned it can sometimes be easier to cook for smaller group and have more food. Of course they've had to learn to change up menus a bit to fit their budgets, but they learned that if the adults can do it every campout then they surely could as well.

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The troop I serve operates with 5-6 patrols of 7-8 Scouts each.

 

It's rare that we get 100% attendance from any one patrol at an event. So sometimes (ok, most times) a patrol has to function with only 5 or 6 (or even 3 or 4) of its members present. Scout are being pulling in 101 different directions these days with other commitments (school, sports, band, family, religion, etc.). While some Scouts are more active than others, I don't think we have a Scout on our roster that has a 100% attendance record for all troop functions... however no one has a 0% (or even below a 50%) attendance record either. We try to juggle all the calendars (if we have a lot of Scouts in the high school band, we'll try to not to plan a big event that conflicts with that schedule... but with only 4 weekends a month and with all the activities of Scouts from 6+ schools and 30+ families, it's impossible to avoid every conflict). Several times - especially when there is a school event that might pull the Scouts from a single age group (such as a school dance or the SATs or a big football game) - we've seen patrols of just two Scouts (which the boys often enjoy because it's easier to co-ordinate things when it's just you and your buddy rather than having a big group of 8 to wrangle).

 

The only time we'll ever "break" the patrols is if we have a patrol of one (the "buddy system" is important after all) -- if we have a solo-patroller then that lone Scout will be "adopted" as a guest by another patrol for the event. It's very rare that this happens (I think we've done it twice).

 

If we notice that a certain patrol is routinely low on attendance (and it's the same 2-3 Scouts every time), we'll work with the patrol leader (through the SPL and PLC) to help the problem -- either address the attendance issues of his fellow members and work to get them to start attending more regularly (find out why they're not coming and work on solutions to fix)... or if the Patrol really doesn't like running as a 3-man patrol, then they've got to go out a recruit new members to join up! In some cases, as there is attrition (and Scouts start to age-out. drop-out, or disappear), we may reconfigure patrols... we try to keep the patrols intact as much as possible (but each year after re-chartering, we make sure the patrols are still fairly balanced and populated... if any change is made, often it's that the older Scout patrols will merge).

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