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MattR

Important Ideas About The Patrol Method

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That's the line I always use.  How do you know the boys can't do that until you give them a chance to try.

 

The only time I use ad hoc patrols is when I have only 1 boy going from a patrol.  Then he just slips in with another patrol.  Many times 2 boys is all that showed as a patrol.  They couldn't compete but they could badger their buddies to show up next time.  :)  There's a lot of times the judges have let the two boys compete anyway because they were a patrol.  It's not about winning, it's about being a patrol.

Edited by Stosh

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I have not read this whole thread. Been meaning to get around to it. Just commenting on a thing or two I have seen.

 

Age ranges - I was in Scouts before the New Scout Patrol was a thing. Or at least it wasn't common in troops in my area and we never had one in my troop. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of sticking all the youngest guys in one patrol. I see pros and cons. Not sure where I stand on the idea. Younger Scouts learned from older Scouts in their patrol how to set up tents, how to build a fire, how to cook, and so on.

 

When I started out, we had 40+ Scouts at typical meetings. I saw that number go down to maybe 6 and back up to 20-30. During all that time, high-school-age Scouts were few and far between. They tended to be SPL, ASPL, JASM, etc. (And Leadership Corps, back when that was a thing - a way to push senior Scouts aside to make room in PORs for younger Scouts to advance, turning your senior Scouts from valuable resources into a group of useless troublemakers.) Patrol leaders were usually 7th-8th graders with maybe an occasional high school freshman-sophomore. My best friend was a PL until he was almost 17 because I was the SPL until I turned 18. I didn't officially have an ASPL, but he did that duty when I needed an ASPL. He became the SPL when I aged out.

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mgood777,

   I don't use the NSP either but I do put them in with mainly middle age patrols. Generally at the Jan. PLC the SPL will discuss with the PLs how many boys are coming and where should we put them. I don't believe that as scouts these boys should be together with boys that they have been with in the same den for 4 years, I only try to at least keep buddies and friends together. I had one parent come up to me after their son had joined our troop and thank me for putting his son in a different patrol, it seems two of the boys that he did cubs with were a royal pain in the butt, wasn't to off base on that either. But they were glad their son was now in a patrol with his friend and away from the other two. I think what is really great is all you have to do is sit a talk with the boys and explain things and they are more then welcome to try and work it out. That worked way better then just dumping them in patrols and say deal with it.

 

    It's a shame the Leadership Corp. didn't work when you were a scout. I had one in my troop and I think it worked better to help retain older scouts then just push them aside. In my troop in order to be a member of the Corp you had to already be holding a leadership position (except PL) the basic members were the SPL, any ASPLs who wanted, quartermaster, scribe, librarian and den chiefs. You also had to be 15 or older. We did not do this yearly or every 6 month election stuff either. In fact until right before I aged out the SPL was not a voted on position but assigned by the PLC. Once you were assigned and excepted the job you could select 2 scouts to be your ASPLs. Come to think of it I think the only elected position we had was PL and if your patrol members were not happy with the job you were doing or you wanted to do something else the patrol would hold an election for a new PL.  You held the position as long as you did the job and wanted to do the job.  One of the main jobs you held as a member was to train someone at doing the position that you held. The scout who wanted to be trained at the job would also get credit and wear the leader patch for which he was being trained. In addition to troop acftivities we also did our own hiking and camping aside from the troop, I guess that's what they call a Venture patrol today. Some use the election system as a way of teaching how our government works. My SM used the work ethic type way, you need a POR then you compete with others for the spot, disregard the job or slack off and you will be relieved and another scout will be offered to fill your position. Found that to be more competitive then just being the popular guy. I sure miss the good old days when scouts could be scouts and adults didn't have to be there every step nof the way.

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Only Seven percent of all ASMs I polled at Wood Badges admitted they had read the whole Scoutmaster Handbook. Sadly the truth is most adults don't really care about the details of building character, they just know it's part of scouting and would rather leave the details to the SM. When you explain it, they start to fall asleep. Character is the SMs job, the rest are fine with the SM telling them what to do.

 

But, it is important that the SM be able explain why they are doing what they're doing so that there is buy in to the SMs program. Does that make sense? That is why the SM is the gatekeeper of the vision. As long as the SM can consistently repeat the same vision and explain how what they are doing it is going in a positive direction toward the vision, the other 95% are perfectly happy to follow the plan.

 

The reason for knowing and understanding the Aims and Methods is so the SM can explain the roles of scouts and adults in a scout run troop. After every election, I explained to both the PLC and ASMs that the adults were responsible for: scouts fitness, citizenship and character (three aims). The way the adults achieve the Aims is by the scouts actively: using the the Scout Oath and Law, using patrols, camping outdoors, advancing, a mature relationship with adults, reflecting on personal performance of Doing A Good Turn, leadership and uniform. In other words the "Eight Methods". As long as the scouts take personal responsibility for the Eight Methods, the adults will not interfere with their program. Pretty simple really.

 

That is how I taught and defined the roles for the adults in the boy run troop. The adults are supposed to be passive to the scouts actions as long as the scouts are working toward "growth" in the Fitness, Citizenship, and Character. "Passive"means stand back and stay out of the scouts way. The scouts are on the other hand working "actively" with the Eight Methods. That is where the line is drawn. But, for that to work successfully, the SM has to be able to define how each of the eight methods work toward any or all of the three aims because many challenges will come up In the grey area. In fact I challenged each PLC that if I (SM) couldn't explain how a scout activity or action worked toward any Aim, I would let them take it out of the program. It also protects the scouts from the adults. If the troop has a low performing SPL and the adults start bulking, the wise Scoutmaster points out that character spawns from adversity, not prosperity.

 

The other thing not being discussed here is the factor of maturity. It doesn't take much reasoning to understand that a 17 year old Scout is more capable of making decisions because they have more experience and wisdom. So the responsibilities or roles of the adults and scouts boy changes as a scout grows from his experiences. A responsible adult isn't going to drop off a new NSP by themselves without training, but a patrol with scouts of several years experience in most cases shouldn't be a problem.

 

But boy constant growth and maturity "requires" that the adults grow and mature with their responsibilities well or they will find themselves in the way and restricting scout growth. Just like we wouldn't give an 11 year old SPL the same responsibilties we give a 17 year old, we also wouldn't restrict the 17 year old SPL with the same independence we gave the 11 year old. The adults have to continually grow and adapt to the scouts growth. I've said before, as adults we screwed up a lot, but we were humble And made adjustments so as not to keep repeating those mistakes. Guiding the adults to change and adapt along with the scouts can be a difficult responsibility for a shy SM who struggles with directing adults. But the SM is the guard of the vision, he/she must keep that in mind.

 

I've gone way too long, hope this helps.

 

Barry

@@Eagledad, I like your description of how to use the aims and methods. I'm doing a lot of that without recognizing it. It is a fairly vague set of rules to interpret, though. As an example, six months ago I got frustrated with talking to the PLC about how bland their program was  and said every campout needs a challenge of some sort. It wasn't a problem of character, citizenship, or fitness, but it was a problem with delivering on what scouts is about. You told me about how every scout needs to keep growing, where does that fit in to this? Something we see a lot is the scouts don't see the possibilities and therefore fall into the same old rut. When I mention a fire building contest they see that maybe they don't really know how to build a fire so they're hesitant and say no. Once we had the competition they wanted another chance to do better. There's more to the interaction between the adults and scouts than "modeling good character." You mention the SM is the keeper of the flame. The challenge is really getting the scouts to see the flame.

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Exciting program attracts Scouts so we can accomplish what Scouting is about.

 

The actual fire-building skills are good fodder for contests.  Kids who don;t like fires ???  (after which, hot dogs, marshmallows, pie irons)

 

Did you educate them as to the various ways one can have a fire-building contest?  Exploding balloons, for example?    scout fire building contests    gets 2.8 million Google hits.

 

We all only know what we know.  Some are  more motivated to try and learn more, but it's a legitimate adult role, I think, to ask, "Have you thought of/seen/heard of  X?"  I thionk that's part of the adult as resource role.

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Did you educate them as to the various ways one can have a fire-building contest?  Exploding balloons, for example?    scout fire building contests    gets 2.8 million Google hits.

 

We all only know what we know.  Some are  more motivated to try and learn more, but it's a legitimate adult role, I think, to ask, "Have you thought of/seen/heard of  X?"  I thionk that's part of the adult as resource role.

I tried that for 6 months and finally said enough is enough, there will be a fire building contest. Words work on one side of the brain and competition is on the other side, and in boys the two sides do not talk to each other. It wasn't until they did it that they knew they liked it. My point is we're more than a resource. We have to motivate as well and sometimes motivation includes telling someone something they don't want to hear. To be honest I've also had to eat my words when my motivation back fired.

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Hmmm. It's like @@MattR had a definition of patrolling that envisioned these groups of boys needing to light fire quickly in order to live up to the definition.

... My point is we're more than a resource. We have to motivate as well and sometimes motivation includes telling someone something they don't want to hear. ...

I guess the growth of scoutmaster skills involves learning when and how hard to nudge a stagnating patrol. We need to accept that when you have to push one aspect of your vision for a patrol, boys may push back. It's a quandary. Just "doing what you do" may not inspire your boys to imitate. Telling them they should do what you do may have them digging their heels.

 

Either way, the practical result for me is their plans for hiking and camping independently need to be tailored to the skills that they have demonstrated. For example, as much as my boys would likely enjoy it, there's no crossing bogs off-trail until they come back from orienteering courses with solid after-action reviews. Obviously, that requires they set up or attend orienteering courses.

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Hmmm. It's like @@MattR had a definition of patrolling that envisioned these groups of boys needing to light fire quickly in order to live up to the definition.I guess the growth of scoutmaster skills involves learning when and how hard to nudge a stagnating patrol. We need to accept that when you have to push one aspect of your vision for a patrol, boys may push back. It's a quandary. Just "doing what you do" may not inspire your boys to imitate. Telling them they should do what you do may have them digging their heels.

 

Either way, the practical result for me is their plans for hiking and camping independently need to be tailored to the skills that they have demonstrated. For example, as much as my boys would likely enjoy it, there's no crossing bogs off-trail until they come back from orienteering courses with solid after-action reviews. Obviously, that requires they set up or attend orienteering courses.

Pick any skill you'd like, @@qwazse, orienteering, pioneering, backpacking, fishing, hiking, caving, the list goes on. They're hesitant to try anything they don't already know and some are hesitant to sweat (even though they play sports, which I can't understand). They got signed off and now they don't have to do that any more. It's not that knowing those skills is the the only thing I'm looking for in a patrol. I would like to see some motivation and camaraderie. Solving problems together is one way to generate camaraderie and competitions are a good way to generate those problems. As for crossing bogs off-trail as a motivator, they wouldn't see that as any reason to set up an orienteering course. It's also not that they wouldn't enjoy it, I think they would. It's just the forward looking portion of their brains are mush.

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 When I was a scout reading Green Bar Bill's articles in Boys Life was required of all PLs, SM would say if you want to know more about having a good patrol program this was the guy to listen to. One year my PL came up with the idea of maybe doing a "patrol merit badge" at summer camp. Nothing hard generally a handicraft, nature or scoutcraft badge that all of us would agree on.For the next four years we did this. It was fun and I think made our patrol even better. Tried to introduce this with the scouts in our troop, but its hard to do with todays merit badge mills. 

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My boys always agree on one MB at summer camp they will do as a patrol.  Generally it's something that is interesting to all.  Working together also helps with keeping everyone in the game and reduces partials.

 

Last year it was Wilderness Survival, this year it's Cooking.

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Pick any skill you'd like, @@qwazse, orienteering, pioneering, backpacking, fishing, hiking, caving, the list goes on. They're hesitant to try anything they don't already know and some are hesitant to sweat (even though they play sports, which I can't understand). They got signed off and now they don't have to do that any more. It's not that knowing those skills is the the only thing I'm looking for in a patrol. I would like to see some motivation and camaraderie. Solving problems together is one way to generate camaraderie and competitions are a good way to generate those problems. As for crossing bogs off-trail as a motivator, they wouldn't see that as any reason to set up an orienteering course. It's also not that they wouldn't enjoy it, I think they would. It's just the forward looking portion of their brains are mush.

 

I have found that almost any skill can be made the topic of a game.  If you tell me that your Scouts have no interest in games, I suggest that you are recruiting from Area 51.   :eek:

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Yep, they came from Area 51. They did learn quickly. The training they needed was that failure is not all that bad. They were more worried about losing then getting excited about winning. Now that they've tasted red meat, it's a different story. But they never would have tried it if I hadn't made them. That's a paradox with the idea of boy led.

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Love this!!!

Yep, they came from Area 51. They did learn quickly. The training they needed was that failure is not all that bad. They were more worried about losing then getting excited about winning. Now that they've tasted red meat, it's a different story. But they never would have tried it if I hadn't made them. That's a paradox with the idea of boy led.

It's like my boys have evil twins! :dry:

 

What they needed was a "vision" of what a patrol should be preparing to do. You gave them that by saying, "These are the games you can play, and this is the one you are going to do, and do it until you like it."

 

Every patrol is different, mine are currently older boys (if they are acting through the crew things are only slightly different than when they are doing it through a patrol), so navigating an Appalachian bog in a race against bears to the blueberries is a vision that they accept. Settling down comfortably in weather that others would curse and finding beauty therein is another vision that they accept. It's something that *I* told them that *I* expect every scout in any unit *I* serve should aspire to do. They've accepted it ... with some limits. From time to time I remind them that their "won't do" lists make up the bars in the prisons of their own design, and If they want to break some shackles, I'm here with the keys. This is how we talk. It doesn't work for everyone, and it doesn't always work with these guys. But it lays the groundwork for further growth in all of us.

 

For younger scouts ... you do need to be more concrete. "Okay, Wolfs, you've been together for a year, your PL has become a first class scout. Your mission is to set up camp on the opposite side of the field from us adults. Get a fire started quickly, and cook dinner on it. Then review the map of this area and come to me with your plan for tomorrow's 5 mile hike through town. Determine when you will have breakfast, when you will have secured camp for your absence, and when you will return. Set a time tonight or tomorrow for me to review your plan." The first outing, after months of sheltering under the wings of the older boys in the troop playing scout skill games, they might balk. Or they might be overly ambitious. But regardless, they need to get a vision via adult association to know where they stand.

 

I don't consider any of that going against the patrol method. I consider it defining the method for the boys so that they apply it successfully.

Edited by qwazse

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Yep, they came from Area 51. They did learn quickly. The training they needed was that failure is not all that bad. They were more worried about losing then getting excited about winning. Now that they've tasted red meat, it's a different story. But they never would have tried it if I hadn't made them. That's a paradox with the idea of boy led.

 

I don't think it paradoxes at all.  Adult association, i.e. hanging out with adults who are demonstrating by example, making up games among themselves showing how much fun the boys are missing out on is not paradoxical to Boy-led, patrol-method scouting at all.  There's nothing in the rules that say the boys can't observe what the adults are doing when it comes to new opportunities.  Nothing catches their attention like lighting the camp stove with flint and steel instead of a match.  After all, that's how my stove at home works, except the spark is electrical rather than flint and steel.  Doing something "different" is what excites the young boys' imagination better than anything else.

 

The boys were doing foil dinners, one of my most favorite meals to toss in the garbage along with pop-tarts and hot dogs.  I knew the boys had that on their menu, so I brought my own ingredients and when they were sitting around waiting for their dinners to burn in the fire, I made my hamburger-sauteed onion gravy over mashed potatoes and brown sugar glazed carrots out of my mess kit.  The next time the patrol decided on foil dinner supper, half the boys had purchased mess kits and were asking for advice on how to make the gravy.

 

Did I set up the menu?  Did I ban foil dinners?  Did I teach them anything?  Did I make an opportunity for them to see the same thing in a different way?  Okay, I did show them how to keep from getting lumpy gravy, but that was about it.  They simply learned by watching my example and hanging/associating with me.

 

What did they learn?  1) The mess kit can be used for cooking, 2) You don't have to eat burnt food.  3) food can actually be made to taste good of done right.  4) if we watch the adults that are hanging out with us, we could learn all sorts of neat tricks about camping and campfire cooking.

 

I must warn you, however, never substitute French vanilla cappuccino from their normal hot chocolate.  You'll end up with a bunch of boys acting like a new puppy that you just promised a ride in the car. 

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