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MattR

Important Ideas About The Patrol Method

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First of all the adults may have an inkling about what the Patrol Method is, but the boys don't.  Nothing in their experience thus far in life is anything like it.

 

So then the adults explain it to them and then don't disappear so it really never gets any traction.

 

Eventually the adults take over simply because the troop will fail on the track it's headed.

 

I know so many troops out there that have patrols in name only and then for the sake of convenience those get shuffled around for a variety of different reasons.

 

When all is said and done the boys really don't know what the patrol method is because nothing in their experience thus far in life is anything like it, even after 6-7 years of Boy Scouts.

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First of all the adults may have an inkling about what the Patrol Method is, but the boys don't.  Nothing in their experience thus far in life is anything like it.

 

So then the adults explain it to them and then don't disappear so it really never gets any traction.

 

Eventually the adults take over simply because the troop will fail on the track it's headed.

 

I know so many troops out there that have patrols in name only and then for the sake of convenience those get shuffled around for a variety of different reasons.

 

When all is said and done the boys really don't know what the patrol method is because nothing in their experience thus far in life is anything like it, even after 6-7 years of Boy Scouts.

 

This is true.   Patrols are shuffled, re-shuffled, and many times just holding pens.   Sit in this row, be quiet, hey you, hold this flag.  Instruction, communication, decision making, etc., is all top down.   PL may be just a name on a piece of paper.   Boredom ensues.

 

Be it the ideal from the old '48 handbook, or the BSA thoughts from 2015 that Tahawk shared yesterday, it seems the true patrol method is based on a certain degree of autonomy.

 

Patrols can't build their identity, maturity, pride, or skill level by being lorded over by senior scout or adult leaders.   Nor from sitting in a row of metal chairs, or a picnic bench, passively listening to someone tell them about being a patrol.   They need the basic concepts, and then they need to get outdoors.

 

I've seen this at camporees.   Patrol competition is hamstrung not only by lack of skills, but of no patrol identity.   The cool thing is the scouts figure it out quickly once they get the chance.   But many don't because they are treated like elderly cub scouts and told when/how to do everything.

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This is true.   Patrols are shuffled, re-shuffled, and many times just holding pens.   Sit in this row, be quiet, hey you, hold this flag.  Instruction, communication, decision making, etc., is all top down.   PL may be just a name on a piece of paper.   Boredom ensues, and adults start whining about how their boys don't function in their PORs especially the PL's.  This process is set up and perpetuated by adults so they have something to whine about.  I have always taught my boys the troop organizational chart in the book is WRONG!  It is a management organization chart not a leadership chart.  Leadership starts at the top and if the organization chart says it's the SM, when then the SM is the leader and that's who runs the troop.  Adult-led, troop-method.  

 

On the other hand if one wants boy-led, patrol method, the top is where the PL's are and everyone else in the organization are UNDER them because the PL's are the ones who are to lead the boy-led, patrol-method organization.  I explained this once at a University of Scouting and the council has NEVER asked me to teach since.  Suits me just fine.

 

Be it the ideal from the old '48 handbook, or the BSA thoughts from 2015 that Tahawk shared yesterday, it seems the true patrol method is based on a certain degree of autonomy.

 

Are adults seriously going to give autonomy to the patrols?  I think not.  Sure they will give them a little lead, but as soon as something goes awry, the adults jerk the leash back to a heel.  It takes months if not years to build a solid patrol method troop, and one outing to reverse it back to an adult led program.  Real autonomy is based on trust and adults simply don't trust the boys, plain and simple.

 

Patrols can't build their identity, maturity, pride, or skill level by being lorded over by senior scout or adult leaders.   Nor from sitting in a row of metal chairs, or a picnic bench, passively listening to someone tell them about being a patrol.   They need the basic concepts, and then they need to get outdoors.

 

And the adults need to get out of the way and stay out of the way.

 

I've seen this at camporees.   Patrol competition is hamstrung not only by lack of skills, but of no patrol identity.   The cool thing is the scouts figure it out quickly once they get the chance.   But many don't because they are treated like elderly cub scouts and told when/how to do everything.

 

Webelos III program running around pretending it's a Eagle Mill troop that produces Paper Eagles.  The Patrol Method is the only way to produce real youth leadership, cripple that process and the adults run the show.

Edited by Stosh

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Eventually the adults take over simply because the troop will fail on the track it's headed.

 

But if the adults take over, that is utter failure to provide Boy Scouting.  In 1930 and today: "nless the patrol method is in operation, you don’t really have a Boy Scout troop.â€

 

I have seen adults behave in ways that showed they understood the difference between merely being within screaming distance and running the program.  But in the 1950's and 1960's, at least in our council, adults were told in no uncertain terms that they had absolutely no right lead the program and would not be there again if they tried to do so.   BSA needs to man up and lay it on the line by action., and the same needs to be going on in the districts and councils.

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@@TAHAWK I think many agree. Sadly I don think many leaders -- unit, district or council -- actually want to walk that walk. That would mean giving up power and the spotlight. I suspect most who frequent this board would gladly give up power, but many others in similar positions wouldn't.

 

In the end we can only affect change in our unit.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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@@TAHAWK I think many agree. Sadly I don think many leaders -- unit, district or council -- actually want to walk that walk. That would mean giving up power and the spotlight. I suspect most who frequent this board would gladly give up power, but many others in similar positions wouldn't.

 

+2

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How many people at national were even around during the 50's and 60's?  Very few, they would be retiring right about now.  Also the backlash of Vietnam's anti-military hit of the early 70's pretty much cleaned house.  The whole new generation of people have never experienced the patrol-method of the 50's and 60's.  And these are the people who are going to bet their careers on something they know nothing about?  Like I said, it's my opinion that the ship has sailed.

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By the way, the definition I gave is my own, departing from the dictionary based on what I've read on this and other forums, and from my conversations with various special forces ...

Patrol (v) = to hike and camp independently to get to know the lay of the land on behalf of your unit.

Patrol (n) = a small band of scouts assembled (more or less permanently) for the express purpose of patrolling.

Patrol Leader (n) = a scout whose goal is to qualify to take his patrol hiking and camping.

Even, so, I'm concerned about it being too verbose. Suggestions on reduction are welcome.

 

Although many of the points and quotes listed in other replies are valid in most cases, they are superfluous in many. Adults could back away, and a patrol would still not hike and camp. Boys could hike and camp and adult generals would be sent to mind their every move. A patrol leader may abandon the persuit of first class. Boys may be all about their patrol to the abandonment of the unit.

 

For all of these and other scenarios, a scouter needs to provide a consise vision of what a patrol is to whoever needs correction.

 

On BSA's end, the pinnacle scouting experience needs to be hiking and camping independently with your mates. Jambo, high adventure, rare awards, those are all secondary.

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@@qwazse, spot on. Philmont used to be a special, rare once in a life time event. Now scouts are going two and three times. Now everyone is special.

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"Boys may be all about their patrol to the abandonment of the unit."

 

Early scouting literature promotes this.  Rarely are scouts depicted beyond the confines of their patrols, and then it was never the meeting of two patrols, just a patrol interacting with a single scout of a different patrol.  It is also noted that the absence of adults was very much evident.  When they were mentioned it was with the SM or some other official of the BSA, i.e. camp director or camp cook.

 

If this early literature is reflective of the intent of Scouting, it is a far cry from what we have today.

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"Boys may be all about their patrol to the abandonment of the unit."

 

Early scouting literature promotes this.  Rarely are scouts depicted beyond the confines of their patrols, and then it was never the meeting of two patrols, just a patrol interacting with a single scout of a different patrol.  It is also noted that the absence of adults was very much evident.  When they were mentioned it was with the SM or some other official of the BSA, i.e. camp director or camp cook.

 

If this early literature is reflective of the intent of Scouting, it is a far cry from what we have today.

Keep the baby when you change the bathwater! :cool:

I don't disagree that the average contemporary troop foists so much on the boys that the significance of patrols is obscured. But, let's not revise history to the point where folks think once-upon-a-time every patrol existed in a vacuum. There was always that one meeting every couple of weeks -- sometimes every month -- where a patrol would report back to the SM/SPL their accomplishments.  Patrols were accountable in one way or another for making sure meetings and ceremonies ran smoothly.

 

Eight boys who plan and implement excellent adventures and drift into troop meetings with no contribution to unit ... not even a report on their goings-on ... are a crew, not a patrol. We can see this happen with older boys in contemporary troops when adults often step in, often uninvited, to instruct or demonstrate. The skilled boys loose their sense of purpose and cease to "take up the mantle" of mentoring the youngns. But, this doesn't have to be an adult-driven problem. There are lots of reasons that a group of boys may get it into their heads that they are neither needed or wanted. To any SMs reading, if this is your situation, your troop is in dire straights ... fix it soon.

 

That is why "on behalf of your unit" is in my definition of to patrol. It keeps the sense of representing something greater than one's self in the method.

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The norm in my district when I was a Scout (1954-1961) was that the patrol normally met on its own every week and most of the "troop meeting" was spent in what today is called "Patrol Corners."   We knew about, and pitied, the two troops that did not work that way.  Every "voice" in Scouting at that time sent a consistent message about the centrality of the patrol and the patrol experience.  The classic 1950 Handbook for Patrol Leaders was current.

 

What I recall doing was planning activities, working on Scoutcraft (cooking disproportionately in my first patrol) and advancement, and preparing for competition in the troop, district and council. We almost always had a game, and there was, inevitably, some "messing around."

 

1970 seems like a key date for me, not because of VN and anti-war feelings but becasue that is about the date (really 1972) of The Improved Scouting Program.  Masses of experienced volunteers voted on the drastic de-emphasis on the outdoors by quitting, and many of them seem to have stayed away when BSA had a regime change, retracted the NSP, and brought Bill back.

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@@qwazse

 

I didn't re-write early BSA history, I collect it and read it.  :)  Percy Reese Fitzhugh was commissioned by the BSA to write books for boys that exemplify the principles of scouting for boys to learn.  It must have been what BSA was looking for because he wrote over 80 books and had one of them published as a series in Boys Life.  Pee Wee Harris and Roy (Blakeley) are two of his main characters along with Tom Slade (the first book was made into a movie by Hollywood), Westy Marting, Mark Gilmore (Scout of the Air), etc.  Many of the Buddy books looked at specific issues boy deal with in terms of Scout Law and ethics.  Topics were covered from troubled youth being turned around by scouting to maintaining honesty and loyalty when faced with social pressures, using scoutcraft to enhance everyday situations, and the list goes on and on.  Summer camp seemed to be the only time adults were present and summer camp lasted most of the summer if the boys could afford it.  Getting to camp whether it be by boat, train or hiking, it was always without adults, but as a patrol.  Pee Wee (Raven Patrol) and Roy (Silver Fox Patrol) always hung out together as friends even though they were not from the same patrol.  

 

Some of the Every Boy's Library series also included scout life as described by other authors.  

 

So if there be any idealism portrayed in today's world by me, it's not a re-write, it's just a good read to understand what Scouting was initially set up to be. 

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@@Stosh I thank you for introducing me the Along the Mohawk Trail  by Fitzhugh.   :D I keep two books of matches in my campaign hat (like the Scout in the story) to remind me of the true adventures of Scouting.

 

I've enjoyed watching our young Patrol gel and get to know each other on the playground, teaching Scouting skills, and growing up together.  They have a lot going on in their lives, so camping on the weekends isn't always possible.  But our JASM came up with a first aid activity and the entire Patrol was there to practice their skills in a mock triage event.  My job was to corral all the adults who felt is necessary to hover.  They came back to see why I was hiking so slowly wayyyyy back on the trail. SCORE! 

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The need is to get beyond fair words -- policy -- to actual action -- practice.

 

What can be done to encourage and recognize use of the Patrol Method?  We can tell we have a long way to go when Scouting [magazine] ignores BSA policy and runs an article arguing that the Patrol Method is optional, at least until youth leadership can produce a well-oiled machine by adult standards.  

 

 

I didn't interpret the article that way.  :unsure:

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