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Important Ideas About The Patrol Method

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Somehow I can't seem to get my mind wrapped around the idea of PLC doing servant leadership by coercing and convincing rather than taking what they have been given and working to help get it done.

 

Also I have heard that while the older boys want HA during the summer, the younger scouts don't qualify for a variety of different reasons, and thus with mixed patrols, the whole concept of patrol method goes out the window for the summer's big events.  But supposing one does have aged patrols of common friends. If the troop has both HA and summer camp planned, what's the problem.  The younger boys go to summer camp and the older boys go to HA.  End of discussion.  No older boys to help at summer camp?  Too bad, work around it.  No younger boys qualify for HA?  Too bad, get your prerequisites done and maybe you'll qualify next year.  Mixed patrols?  Too bad, some in your patrol are going to be happy and some are not.  Have a patrol morale problem then?  They'll  get over it, the PLC will convince them... or else.

 

I just see the makings of too many problems with such a dysfunctional PLC who thinks it's its job is to get everyone to think the same way when for a variety of legitimate reasons they don't have to.

 

I didn't say anything about coercion, Stosh.  And if you think convincing is inconsistent with the Patrol Method, I suppose it's your right to be wrong.  One definition of leadership is the ability to convince the led that they to want to reach the goal(s)

 

Of course the PLC should decide in the best interest of the troop as they see it.  That has been the idea since Bill got us into the Patrol Method over Darth West's resistance.

 

And if you support the Patrol method, as defined by Bill, the PLC deciding on troop program is part and parcel of it.  

 

Or you can make up your own version of Scouting.  So many others have.  It may be better.  Change can be good.  Let's just be clear on what's going on.  Like Lincoln at the cabinet meeting when he called for a vote and his "Aye' was outvoted  by eight "nays." "The aye has it," he announced.

Edited by TAHAWK

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Oh, sources. Lessee ... Webster:

PATROL

1 a :  the action of traversing a district or beat or of going the rounds along a chain of guards for observation or the maintenance of security b :  the person performing such an action c :  a unit of persons or vehicles employed for reconnaissance, security, or combat

2 :  a subdivision of a Boy Scout troop or Girl Scout troop

 

Or, nodding to that British officer, Oxford:

Definition of patrol in English: noun

1A person or group of people sent to keep watch over an area, especially a detachment of guards or police: a police patrol stopped the man and searched him

1.1The action of keeping watch over an area by walking or driving around it at regular intervals: the policemen were on patrol when they were ordered to investigate the incident

1.2An expedition to carry out reconnaissance: we were ordered to investigate on a night patrol

1.3A routine operational voyage of a ship or aircraft: a submarine patrol

1.4A unit of six to eight Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts forming part of a troop.

 

verb (patrols, patrolling, patrolled)

[with object] Back to top   Keep watch over (an area) by regularly walking or traveling around or through it: the garrison had to patrol the streets to maintain order [no object]: pairs of men were patrolling on each side of the thoroughfare

 

I suppose I should brace myself for some masterful counter-quote of BP saying that Boy Scouting's use of the term as a noun is in no way to be confounded with the traditional uses of it as a verb. If so, it doesn't seem his scouts got the memo. To quote one of his scouts regarding Brownsea:

"... we were ready for the first days activities.

That proved to be "patrolling." B-P wanted to find out if the patrol method he had devised ... would work."

-- Arthur Primmer, via Hillcort, Boy's Life, August 1982. p 32.

You have nothing, as I knew would be the case.

 

Stop appealing to non-existent authority and try to make your case that BP, Bill and a century of traditional Scouting are wrong.  It is at least possible.  Perhaps it would be better if the purpose of Scouting was to 'move though space" instead of all this other traditional stuff about citizenship, character, democracy, and values - not to mention BP's fixation with vocational training.  Anything as old as traditional Boy Scouting is certainly due for a review.  Scouting for the Twenty-First Century - Moving From Place to Place.  Go for it.

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I didn't say anything about coercion, Stosh.  And if you think convincing is inconsistent with the Patrol Method, I suppose it's your right to be wrong.  One definition of leadership is the ability to convince the led that they to want to reach the goal(s)

 

Only if the goals are the same.  Then there is no coercion necessary.  If one has one group that simply doesn't want that goal, the only way to get them to go along is coercion because no amount of convincing is going to work.  I for one don't follow leaders that aren't going to lead where I want to go.

 

Of course the PLC should decide in the best interest of the troop as they see it.  That has been the idea since Bill got us into the Patrol Method over Darth West's resistance.

 

What is in the best interest of the troop is not the goal of the patrol method.  What's best for the troop is the goal of the troop-method.

 

And if you support the Patrol method, as defined by Bill, the PLC deciding on troop program is part and parcel of it.  

 

Why have the patrols decide anything if the PLC is going to do it for them?  8 boys decide which one gets stuck with going to the PLC meeting to find out what every has to do and report back.  Sorry in my book that is not the patrol-method, nor does it take any leadership from the Patrol "Leader" to accomplish that task.  All they have to do is what they are told and everything will be just fine because it's in the best interest of the troop.

 

Ahhh, .... Nope, don't buy it.

 

Or you can make up your own version of Scouting.  So many others have.  It may be better.  Change can be good.  Let's just be clear on what's going on.  Like Lincoln at the cabinet meeting when he called for a vote and his "Aye' was outvoted  by eight "nays." "The aye has it," he announced.

 

Giving the boys the opportunity to lead their own patrols/gangs is not my version of Scouting, it's the concept developed by the BSA.  If the patrol method is the preferred method of operation for the how can one honestly say things have to be done in the best interest of the troop over the patrols?  That just doesn't make any sense.  That's like saying the SPL runs the troop.  If that be the case, what's the purpose of the PL's?  They have no purpose other than to report back the mandates of the SPL and the rulings of the PLC.  

 

I'm thinking for the most part the younger scouts don't know any better, but as the boys get older they can figure out this discrepancy in intent and will simply wander off to a more honest program where they have better results with the program being promised and provided. "Okay boys, here's the scoop, the PLC has decided in the best interest of the troop that our patrol has to go to the same summer camp we have all gone to for the 6th straight year and the HA we thought about is off the table.  Raise your hand if you are going to summer camp.  A little higher please.  Higher.... C'mon guys get them up where I can see them.  Well if I can't see you're hand, I guess I'll have to figure you aren't going."

 

There's a double vote going on here.  One to go to HA and the other with their feet out the door.  This is why the troop-method doesn't work and the SM's are always complaining about their older boys not being active.  A lot of it is their own fault.

Edited by Stosh

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You mention "the goal of the patrol method."  Yet I know that you know that the Patrol Method is a method to achieve Scouting's goals.  Its designed effects are the Aims of Scouting, at least according to BSA.

 

I think you set up a false dichotomy: either all patrol or all troop. The traditional Patrol Method is mostly patrol and some troop.  (What is happening in practice is almost all troop and hardly any patrol in the context of episodic, disconnected and incomplete training in the Patrol Method for the adults and little training in that method for the leaders.  Combine that with BSA's toleration of adults who ignore Boy Scouting, and we get hat we have.)

 

Whether you chose to believe it or not , as Bill defined the traditional Patrol method, the troop also has goals and activities, and the patrol -- in so many words - is supposed to be a "loyal" part of the troop and the troop's program.  

 

"But no Patrol exists for and by itself alone.  In addition to its life as an individual unit, each Patrol plays its part in the larger life of the Troop..... Your Patrol can never have real Pat rol Spirit unless it also has a genuine Troop Spirit and an eagerness to help the Troop make a good showing in whatever it undertakes, devotion to Troop ideals, and loyalty to Troop leaders.  

 

There are two things that will make this kind of spirit a reality:

 

1. Your own wholehearted help in the leadership of the Troop.

2. Your Patrol's enthusiastic participation in Troop activities.

 

The first involves your membership in the Patrol Leaders' Council, the second your Patrol's part in making Troop meetings, hikes and camps successful."

 

William Hillcourt, Handbook for Patrol Leaders, Boy Scouts of America (1950) at pp. 27-28.

 

In fact, Bill wrote about troop activities in every significant book he authored on the topic of patrols, troops, patrol leaders, and Scoutmasters.  Under your proposed modification of traditional Scouting, he would only have written about patrol activities.

 

For the traditional Patrol Method to work,  the patrol has to balance it's goals and its duty of loyalty to the troop for the minority of program time devoted to troop activities.  That arrangement is consistent with our representative democracy, a system that the boys are supposed to learn through the Patrol Method.  

 

But you say you don't buy it, and, as I said, you might have a better idea.  I think Bill had better ideas, at least for the U.S.A., than BP is some respects, like electing the leaders.  Of course, more samples of your method and more samples of The BSA Patrol Method would help the comparison.  We have one of the first and too few of the second and a hard time getting more.

 

If you don't see a difference between coercion and convincing, OK.  It does make communication harder when you understand and use words in idiosyncratic ways.

 

 

""The object of a camp is (a) to meet the boy's desire for the open-air life of the Scout, and (b) to put him completely in the hands of his Scoutmaster for a definite period for training in character and initiative and in physical and moral development." BP

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No, @@TAHAWK, I have a core value ... the at-large meaning of "patrol" ... that undergirds everything that the great scouters are trying to say.

 

But maybe that's a trivial idea. Maybe the important thing about the patrol method is not "patrolling" per the dictionary. Maybe it's the administrative "subdivision", detached from any action that may only coincidentally relate to the meaning of "patrol" prevalent at the time BP decided to apply it to boys as well as security forces.

 

Why don't science teachers call their student divisions patrols? ... Because when it comes time to break into lab groups, they don't need the class scheming to march perimeters around the school district. :!:

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@@TAHAWK

 

If the goal of the troop is the patrol method, making plans to not function as patrols often times is counter-intuitive.  If the "powers that are" decide to do things in the best interest of the greater whole, then the individual patrols need at times to be ignored.  Every decision made reduces the effectiveness of the patrol method because one cannot have it both ways.

 

Sure most units operate with some sort of commonality and cooperation between patrols that can be made more effective with the use of a "third" party, i.e. the PLC.  But the best interest of the troop is to have an effective patrol method, not one that is constantly challenged by outside directives and mandates of that group..

 

If the two younger patrols want to join resources for an activity great.  They are assisted by the PLC to accomplish that.  If the two older patrols what to join resources for an activity, great.  They are assisted by the same PLC to accomplish that as well.  Even though they are doing two different activities are they working to fulfill the program of the BSA?  Yes.  The younger boys wanted a walk in the nature park and the older boys wanted to hike the rugged mountain trails.  Does the PLC need convincing of consensus to accomplish the goals of scouting for the troop?  No, it does not.  The PLC does not need to function in a one-way or the other mode of operation.  If it is going to serve the needs of the patrol method as the goal of the troop, then it has to be creative and resourceful, take the leadership on developing an effective and diverse program for differing levels of interest and challenge for the patrols.  It can be done and those units that are most successful in the patrol-method have better retention because the patrol members are deciding, directing and accomplishing the kinds of activities their boys in the patrol want out of the program, not what some other group has decided for them.

 

I'm a member of Patrol A.  My buddies and I love classical music.  The troop would like us to think about a Concert in the Park activity with a Dutch Oven picnic ahead of time.  We all think it's great.  Our PL goes off to the PLC for the monthly meeting letting everyone know of our interest.  So, he comes back and says that all the patrols think a Concert in the Park activity with Dutch Oven picnic is a fantastic idea.  The only glitch is that the other 3 patrols all want to go to the heavy metal concert on the other side of town at that time in a different park.  So, now, were do you think my buddies and I are going to be that night?  Busy?  Yep, you got it.

 

Okay, same scenario with a patrol-method PLC.  PLC directs ASPL to notify adults the need for rides in two different directions that night.  QM gets 3 Dutch Ovens ready for the heavy metal group and 1 Dutch Oven for the classical group.  Scribe is in charge of collecting up funds for the tickets and orders so many heavy metal tickets and so many classical tickets.

 

End result?  Everyone happy?  Everyone get what they want?  Is the troop still in tact? Attendance is up?  Do the patrols get what they want?  Does the troop accomplish the scouting program needs?  Win all the way around?

 

To me, this is the goal of the PLC, a coordinator of the patrol-method, not a third party directorship.  The goal of the troop is the patrol-method's success.   

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No, @@TAHAWK, I have a core value ... the at-large meaning of "patrol" ... that undergirds everything that the great scouters are trying to say.

 

But maybe that's a trivial idea. Maybe the important thing about the patrol method is not "patrolling" per the dictionary. Maybe it's the administrative "subdivision", detached from any action that may only coincidentally relate to the meaning of "patrol" prevalent at the time BP decided to apply it to boys as well as security forces.

 

Why don't science teachers call their student divisions patrols? ... Because when it comes time to break into lab groups, they don't need the class scheming to march perimeters around the school district. :!

Implying that I see the patrol as an "administrative subdivision" of a troop is a classic example of the "straw-man argument":  accuse your opponent of making an indefensible argument that he never made and then shot down that argument.  

 

We know what BP meant from what he wrote.  Ditto for Bill.  Whether BSA means what they say is open to legitimate debate given its institutional conduct, but we know what they say.  None of them said what you have said - not remotely.

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And I agree that the PLC is not to act in a dictatorial manner and that patrols are supposed to be allowed to go their own way most of the time.

 

If you truly believe that the patrol should never compromise and go along with what the majority believes, one solution is independent patrols.  If we can have Lone Scouts, why not Lone Patrols?  I have argued here for small troops being operated as a patrol.  

 

Were the choice between troop-method and independent patrols, I would opt for independent patrols.  I am not so discouraged as to believe that those are the only choices.  

 

I have also argued here that even when the numbers are those of a troop the patrols might meet separately from the troop for a couple of months to help insure the patrol "identity" that traditional Scouting advocates when the patrols finally come together for troop programming.

 

However, if a patrol in a troop is given a veto power over troop program, that situation is inconsistent with traditional Scouting.  It would not teach the give-and-take, the cooperation,  that seems rather essential to our society.  

 

I have quoted Bill's words above.  He is against your proposal.  He sees a patrol with its own identity that, nevertheless, is part of a wider community and has a duty to support the troop programming that is democratically selected.

 

As for BP, he wrote: "It is the Patrol System that makes the Troop, and all Scouting for that matter, a real co-operative matter."  

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Stosh, your theory for a successful patrol method program is based off the premise of using same age patrols. However, same age patrols are not the designed structure of the traditional patrol method in Baden Powells scouts nor the BSA. How do you explain the long standing successes of traditional scouting without same age patrols?

 

Barry

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Stosh, your theory for a successful patrol method program is based off the premise of using same age patrols. However, same age patrols are not the designed structure of the traditional patrol method in Baden Powells scouts nor the BSA. How do you explain the long standing successes of traditional scouting without same age patrols?

 

Barry

Wasn't BP's premise of a patrol a group of friends? While Brownsea had mixed aged patrols, it doesn't follow that all the other patrols forming across England and the world in the 1910's would have been mixed age. More likely than not, it's always been both. Not an either or thing.  

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The discussion on patrol vs troop and what patrols do is good, but way beyond what I'm interested in. I'm not writing a book. In my wild dreams I'm thinking of some sort of weekend training for adults and scouts to fix their troops. I want a simple set of ideas that people can focus on to get them started in this but with enough detail that they will make progress. I'm looking for one page. Succinct and tight.

 

That said, I have another question about adult responsibility to the Patrol Method. In particular, the SM. The SM has to set the boundaries and create a framework the scouts have full reign within. I had scouts that enjoyed competitions but would never plan one because they were afraid they didn't know their skills or they might fail at the challenge. The short version of this is I said no, this is scouts, so I dictated that every campout needed a challenge of the scout's choice. It worked, now they like it. I heard of another troop where the scouts decided their campout would be sleeping in the local park and hanging out in the mall all day. I would have said no.

 

My job is to motivate scouts to do their best, what are my limits? I want to encourage them but that's a fuzzy idea. Sometimes words are enough. Sometimes a demonstration (D.O. cooking is a great example). But sometimes I need to make them do something just to try it. I'm all ears if there are better ways to encourage the scouts.

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Stosh, your theory for a successful patrol method program is based off the premise of using same age patrols. However, same age patrols are not the designed structure of the traditional patrol method in Baden Powells scouts nor the BSA. How do you explain the long standing successes of traditional scouting without same age patrols?

 

Barry

 

The same way I see only 2-3% of the boys getting to Eagle over the years.  That's not much of a statistical success rate.  How many older boys hang out with the younger ones and how many drop until the last minute and grab onto the Eagle at the last minute.  What's happening in the time period in between?  I'm thinking the boys aren't seeing it as much of a success.  Sure they start out with the "patrol-method" and with all the instruction and development, the last thing on the boys' mind is getting the sacred Eagle for one's personal achievement.  Where's the patrol-method in that?

 

Sorry, I have heard way too many stories where buddies hung together from Cubs through Eagle, working together so that everyone made it.  That is what the patrol-method should be and that can't be done with arbitrary assignments of differing aged/interest youth.  If left alone to select their patrols, they do not select mixed groups, they pick their buddies every time.  Only the adults insist on something else.

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The discussion on patrol vs troop and what patrols do is good, but way beyond what I'm interested in. I'm not writing a book. In my wild dreams I'm thinking of some sort of weekend training for adults and scouts to fix their troops. I want a simple set of ideas that people can focus on to get them started in this but with enough detail that they will make progress. I'm looking for one page. Succinct and tight.

 

That said, I have another question about adult responsibility to the Patrol Method. In particular, the SM. The SM has to set the boundaries and create a framework the scouts have full reign within. I had scouts that enjoyed competitions but would never plan one because they were afraid they didn't know their skills or they might fail at the challenge. The short version of this is I said no, this is scouts, so I dictated that every campout needed a challenge of the scout's choice. It worked, now they like it. I heard of another troop where the scouts decided their campout would be sleeping in the local park and hanging out in the mall all day. I would have said no.

 

My job is to motivate scouts to do their best, what are my limits? I want to encourage them but that's a fuzzy idea. Sometimes words are enough. Sometimes a demonstration (D.O. cooking is a great example). But sometimes I need to make them do something just to try it. I'm all ears if there are better ways to encourage the scouts.

 

Plain and simple.... For the patrol-method, make sure the boys pick their own patrol members and patrol leaders.  No rules, but the rules the boys make up for themselves.  As a definition of a patrol, the membership is 6-8 boys, any combination of ages, social structure, or whatever they choose.

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The number of Eagles, 1% when I Eagled, and 6 or 7% now, depending on which BSA statement one reads, is not a measure of the success of Scouting.  

 

BSA tries to use the number of Eagles as a surrogate for measuring whether the goals of Scouting are being reached, but it's pretty inexact --  unless you think BSA is 6-7 times as good at turning out good, civic-minded, fit adults as it was in the 1950's.

 

And arbitrarily assigning Scouts to patrols is the opposite of the Patrol Method - a small group of friends.  Bill specifically warned against it:

 

"In a Troop in which the boys are shuffled together at frequent intervals and dealt out into new Patrols according to the whim of the Scoutmaster, there obviously can be little opportunity for the development of Patrol morale and Patrol traditions.â€
 
 
Someone at BSA gets it: "â€they self-select and they are friends….â€
 
 

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Stosh, your theory for a successful patrol method program is based off the premise of using same age patrols. However, same age patrols are not the designed structure of the traditional patrol method in Baden Powells scouts nor the BSA. How do you explain the long standing successes of traditional scouting without same age patrols?

 

Barry

 
It's unfair and wrong to assert traditional scouting used assigned patrols or used mixed age patrols.  It is more accurate to say troops have done it differently over the years and people generally defend what they learned when they joined scouting.   And it's more accurate to say those who prescribe a modern age "traditional scouting" program use patrols of mixed ages.
 
References ...
 
 
 
BP in "Scouting for Boys" simply said 6 to 8 boys.  BP said patrols choose their own leader; not assigned.  No discussion about age.  That's it.
 
 
In 1951's Lord Rowallan introduction poitned out that scouting started as boys forming their own patrols and looking for a scoutmaster.  And that boys naturally grouped into older boys because they wanted to do more.  Thus creating the concept of senior scouts.  
 
 
 
 
The 1911 Boy Scout Handbook had little to say about ages except that the easiest way to join was by finding an existing patrol.  No mention of age.  It was very different back then.  Packs and troops were not stalking schools for new scouts.  
 
 
The 1913 Handbook for Scoutmasters on page 13 says "In assigning the boys to the patrols it is advisable to group boys as near the same age as possible, taking into consideration the natural instincts of boys and their desire for association with one another.  This is often a more important factor than age."
 
 
 
Summary ... For patrols to succeed, association is important.  Strong life long friendships are the result of successful patrols.   As such, age is a natural choice because boys of the same age tend to associate together.  But adjusting for friendships is okay too.   A key point though is the patrol members need to want to associate with each other.  That's why many of us believe it's best to put all new same age scouts in a BSA proscribed "new scout patrol."  After that, IMHO, let the scouts choose patrols as reflects their friendships, associations and desires for adventure.  
  
Breaking up "healthy" friendships or natural associations is self-defeating.  Reorganizing patrols is dangerous.  
Edited by fred johnson

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