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KenD500

Pl - Spl For Small Troop

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The first thing you're doing right is listening to the boys.

 

So, your older boys want to hang together. That's a positive. Being small, you can flex with that. The younger boys will now need to pull themselves together, master a few skills, and on occasion beat the older patrol at their own game.

 

Fun fact about autumn: your new boys aren't that new anymore. And soon you get newer boys.

 

So who gets to lead those crossovers? Well, if they are tight buddies, they might be best in pretty much their own patrol. If not, they might best be folded into existing patrols.

 

In either case, you assign them a Troop Guide from your batch of oldest boys. He's still a member of his preferred patrol, but he is responsible for keeping tabs of this group of boys, either in coaching them to form their own patrol, or making sure they're fitting into the newest patrol. An average guide will use the advancement method as a planning tool and check boys through as they master individual skills. An excellent guide will be a true big brother to all these boys and let PL's know what's going on with them.

 

It's like a box of chocolates, you'll never know quite what's inside until you put them to the test.

Edited by qwazse
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I'm the SM for a small Troop.  10 Scouts (a new one just joined on Monday).  2 Patrols: The Merlins - 4 Scouts, 16, 16, 15, 15 yrs old; & the Ghosty Goats - 6 Scouts, 12, 12, 12, 11, 11, 11 yrs old. 

 

3 out of the 4 Merlins are active, we see the 4th ~once a month - he just finished his Eagle project & then he's done; 6/6 of the Ghosty Goats are active.

 

Yah, hmmm...

 

To my mind, at this size a troop should either be one patrol or two mixed-age patrols, eh?

 

So instead of havin' a young/old divide, yeh have two patrols where there are a pair of older scout leaders and instructors, and a second-year scout or two, and a first year scout or two.   Patrol competitions then become possible, harder outings supported by da strength of older scouts become possible, and real servant leadership by the older lads becomes possible.  Bein' a PL becomes a cool thing that older, competent boys do rather than a popularity contest among same-age peers.

 

In that case, da 4 older lads become a PLC and work together on troop trips, pushin' each of their patrols to be the best (Go Goats!!!).  They also can run some PLC-only trips if they want for some older boy adventures.

 

Plus, that way the older lads are gettin' da POR/leadership opportunities they need for rank advancement.

 

I don't think yeh need to do da SPL thing at this size.    Wait until yeh get to 3-5 patrols and the boys decide they need someone to organize da PLC.

 

Beavah

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Good Information.

 

Several times in the past our Troop has tried to go from 1 patrol to 2 patrols and usually after several months due to the numbers we have ended back with just 1 patrol.  System we have used is the Troop being boy led by SPL, ASPL, PL, and APL.  SPL and ASPL plans and runs the scout meeting and most activities for unit outings..  PL and APL responsible for running their patrol during activities set up by the SPL and ASPL. 

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Good Information.

 

Several times in the past our Troop has tried to go from 1 patrol to 2 patrols and usually after several months due to the numbers we have ended back with just 1 patrol.  System we have used is the Troop being boy led by SPL, ASPL, PL, and APL.  SPL and ASPL plans and runs the scout meeting and most activities for unit outings..  PL and APL responsible for running their patrol during activities set up by the SPL and ASPL. 

 

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.  (Sorry for the totally inappropriate PC reference, but it fits)

 

Either the SPL/ASPL team or the PL/APL team are totally redundant and ineffective.  One patrol, one PL and one APL is all that is needed.  Add an SPL (and now the PL is circumvented.)  If the powers to be focused in on GBB's patrol method instruction, the function of the SPL/ASPL, above could easily be covered by a patrol ActivityMaster.  And not only that the ActivityMaster would be far more in tuned  with what the patrol members wanted than the SPL.

 

As a member of such an adult set up described, The last thing I would consider for a POR would be PL.  It's a no-win option right from the start.  With only one patrol, the patrol is the troop.  If the SPL is running the troop/patrol, the PL is a useless POR.

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As a member of such an adult set up described, The last thing I would consider for a POR would be PL.  It's a no-win option right from the start.  With only one patrol, the patrol is the troop.  If the SPL is running the troop/patrol, the PL is a useless POR.

For my style of Scoutmastering, this analogy doesn't fit because the SPL's responsibility is only to serve and support the PLs, NOT run the patrol. Rather, the challenge for me in this situation is finding enough responsibility for the SPL to justify an experience where he can grow.

 

That being said, I like to set scouts off in a direction where they require as little adult intervention as possible. For me, the best method of doing that is let their handbooks guide them. Just about all of the youth scouting handbooks instruct with the SPL as part of the program. In fact, the SPL Handbook, in my mind, is a better PLs guide than the PL Handbook. So, I generally encourage new adults of new troops to start with an SPL as guided by the handbooks and let the scouts figure out how to make it work, or if it can work.

 

I know using an SPL for a one patrol troop is not a popular approach by most wise leaders on the forum, but I put it out there as another approach to this situation.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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In a one patrol troop, the SPL's function is very limited in a supportive role, unless that SPL takes on more than just SPL.  If he functions as QM, TG, etc, and various other hats in that small situation, I can see a bit more opportunity for the SPL.  But as a further caveat to that situation, would he then be taking away opportunities from the various patrol members (under GBB format) of holding those positions within the patrol.

 

I could conceivably see a figurehead SPL that functions as a generalist with many hats, helping the PL, the APL, the patrol QM, the patrol Scribe, etc. develop their skills through the SPL's experience and tutelage.  Measuring the functionality of the SPL would be determined by the PL who recognizes the "outside" input of the SPL helping out the various instruction to the patrol members.  Maybe in this case the POR Instructor would be a bit more appropriate and would encompass many facets of support from the older scout.

 

Just a thought.

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I could conceivably see a figurehead SPL that functions as a generalist with many hats, helping the PL, the APL, the patrol QM, the patrol Scribe, etc. develop their skills through the SPL's experience and tutelage.  Measuring the functionality of the SPL would be determined by the PL who recognizes the "outside" input of the SPL helping out the various instruction to the patrol members.  Maybe in this case the POR Instructor would be a bit more appropriate and would encompass many facets of support from the older scout.

 

Just a thought.

Most of the troops I advised with only one patrol were new and the scouts were all the same age. And since they were all the same experience level, the "Instructor" POR wasn't really appropriate. So, the older scout role model didn't really apply.

 

Letting the Handbooks guide the scouts was the most intuitive method for guiding the scouts in a new troop with same experienced (or rather inexperienced) scouts with inexperienced adult leaders.

 

New programs are a challenge because the adults struggle with getting up to speed in the program just as much as the scouts, if not more. So, I believe this approach works well for getting the patrol method rolling because the adults are using the same program material (youth handbooks) as the scouts. They are being forced to stand back and let the scouts work from the hand book guidelines.

 

Of course the scouts will need additional guidance, but the guidance is coming more from a team member who is working from the same material instead of a know-it-all adult who just make it up. Scouts quickly learn to trust the adult as an equal student working toward the good of the whole program while the adult practices the art of humility by interacting with scouts on equal footing.

 

It's not an easy process, but it works with some practice.

 

Barry  

Edited by Eagledad

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I'm thinking the one patrol troops tend to be either failing troops or new troops.  Both exhibit a different dynamic.  Failing troops might have an older scout that could help with instruction of the younger boys, but new troops are at a distinct disadvantage.  With my new troop I just used the GBB patrol training, gave them the literature (which they basically ignored) and let them struggle through the learning curve, giving support when asked.  It's basically like running a NSP with no TG or other POR support. 

 

They're getting there.  I spend my time training the adults to follow the lead of the PL and it seems to be working well.  The PL seems to not favor one adult over the other because we will all give the same support.  A change in adult leadership wouldn't have an affect on the operation of the patrol.  Getting a newbie adult would only have an affect on the adults who would need to get them up to speed as quickly as possible on the patrol method.

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In a one patrol troop, the SPL's function is very limited in a supportive role, unless that SPL takes on more than just SPL.  If he functions as QM, TG, etc, and various other hats in that small situation, I can see a bit more opportunity for the SPL.  But as a further caveat to that situation, would he then be taking away opportunities from the various patrol members (under GBB format) of holding those positions within the patrol.

 

I could conceivably see a figurehead SPL that functions as a generalist with many hats, helping the PL, the APL, the patrol QM, the patrol Scribe, etc. develop their skills through the SPL's experience and tutelage.  Measuring the functionality of the SPL would be determined by the PL who recognizes the "outside" input of the SPL helping out the various instruction to the patrol members.  Maybe in this case the POR Instructor would be a bit more appropriate and would encompass many facets of support from the older scout.

 

Just a thought.

In our Troops the SPL does function as a TG and the main youth mentor to the PL & APL.  We have a ASPL due to the fact to fill the gap and step in if the SPL is not able to attend a Troop meeting or activity.  At this time we only 12 active youth in the Troop.  1 that ages out the next 6 months.  2 that will age out in a little over a year.  A 15 year old that has not wanted to take any leadership responsibilities within the Troop and 8 brand new scouts.  The SPL & ASPL at this time are the two 16 year old that will age out in a little over a year.  The 17 is working on his paperwork for approval of his Eagle Project.   PL and ASP are both one of the brand new scouts.  All the new scouts have just started to bring up the subject of replacing the PL for missing meeting.  At this time the SPL has his hand full getting all the new scouts past the pop tart and P&J menu stage for camping trips among other things.   

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In our Troops the SPL does function as a TG and the main youth mentor to the PL & APL.  We have a ASPL due to the fact to fill the gap and step in if the SPL is not able to attend a Troop meeting or activity. 

 

Or the ASPL knows as much as the SPL and basically "answers the phone" when the SPL is away.

 

At this time we only 12 active youth in the Troop. 

 

If it was me I would have 2 - 6 member patrols. 

 

1 that ages out the next 6 months.  2 that will age out in a little over a year.  A 15 year old that has not wanted to take any leadership responsibilities within the Troop and 8 brand new scouts. 

 

Not really an even break, but the 4 older boys could work up some nicer activities for themselves and take on a supporting role such as functioning as the Leadership Corps for the other patrol.  With the aging out processes coming up, keeping them interested as numbers dwindle is going to be a challenge.  Give them a bit of free rein to get the ball rolling.

 

The SPL & ASPL at this time are the two 16 year old that will age out in a little over a year.  The 17 is working on his paperwork for approval of his Eagle Project.   PL and ASP are both one of the brand new scouts. 

 

Looks like the break down of the 2 patrol situation is already there.  The SPL and APL really aren't 24/7 needed and could work nicely in the other patrol.

 

All the new scouts have just started to bring up the subject of replacing the PL for missing meeting.  

 

In my troops, that would have been a done deal before the discussion even started.  APL, if around, is now the PL, let him pick his own APL. 

 

At this time the SPL has his hand full getting all the new scouts past the pop tart and P&J menu stage for camping trips among other things.   

 

Poptarts can go, but there's nothing wrong with PB&J.  Cooking can come later, focus on what's really important.  One is not going to win every battle, and not every hill has to be fought over.  Pick the battles that count.  SPL getting the new scouts past pop tarts and PB&J sounds like too much hands on for an SPL in the patrol.  He needs to help the new PL get the boys into skills, and when they realize they need cooking to get FC, they'll clean up their act.

 

Edited by Stosh

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In our Troops the SPL does function as a TG and the main youth mentor to the PL & APL.  We have a ASPL due to the fact to fill the gap and step in if the SPL is not able to attend a Troop meeting or activity.  ...  

This is what I've observed when our troop was one-patrol. Responsibilities weren't defined by the patch so much as what needed to get done. There was this constellation of 16-17 y.o. boys on who knew how to operate the facility (as well as the program) and did what they could to make life bearable for the PL - who was younger and faced all of the usual problems that learning to lead a half dozen boys involved.

 

The SPL/ASPL/QM/TG (or whatever they called themselves at the time) kept their distance, dropping in from time to time. With a resource that the PL could use.

 

We were pretty strident about "he who does the work holds the position". I was hoping that would motivate the boys who weren't likely to step up and grab a PoR patch. I think it did for a couple of them. I'm afraid it made things worse for one of them. (But he was having pretty big home/school challenges at the time.)

 

I would have preferred just one PL at the top, and the boys claiming some specific patrol role, while investing in a task-oriented PoR for the troop like QM, Librarian, Scribe, etc... I would have then advised a couple of the would-be SPL's (including Son #2) to become Webelos den chiefs. I also would have asked boys whose advancement stalled to consider Musician or Honor Guard. This would have prepared them for when the troop merged to have something of a specific culture that could flavor meetings.

 

Hindsight.

 

That's the problem with a one-patrol troop. Getting the right boys in the right positions so that what's best about their style is preserved and rubs off on the new kids. You have limited depth, and your vision is a little cloudy, and the boys have limited patience for vision-casting anyway. If you can get them around a campfire every month to reflect just a little, you better your odds. But maintaining physical presence is the post-modern youth's biggest challenge.

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We are a small troop of 25 Scouts divided into 3 patrols by age. The youngest patrol focuses on Trail to First Class during the first year (new Scouts). The middle patrol is where intensive Scouting happens - many activities and lots of advancement. The older patrol is composed largely of inactive Scouts (a few of them making progress toward Eagle).

Our SPL carries the responsibility for most of the boy leadership, and the Patrol Leaders basically function as ASPLs. While this works ok for us, I’m open to improvements.

To be clear ... I’m not complaining about having a smaller troop because we do some really incredible things with our numbers. The intimacy of a smaller troop also yields some tight friendships. But I recognize we are limited in how true we can be to the Patrol Method, and so I’m always on the lookout for possible ways to do this better (thus my interest in this thread). In a troop with our numbers, sometimes the the goal of “Boy Leadership” seems more relevant and doable than the goal of implementing the “Patrol Method” in every aspect. Perhaps that is heresy to some here, but I have to pragmatic about this.

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@gblotter

As I read your post, the phrase PL acting like ASPL's.  This is where the rub comes for me.  With the patrol method, there should be a bit of autonomy with the patrols.  Each patrol is not responsible for doing all the same thing all the time.  This puts the burden on the SPL to run the show of 25 boys with 3 assistants.  The assistants take their guidance from the SPL and dictate to the patrols rather than the patrols deciding what they want.  If the SPL says we do this and the patrol members don't like it, the vote with their feet.  If they had ownership of what they did, the might be more attuned to actually participating.  The function of the Patrol "Leaders" here is to do nothing more than follow directions from the SPL.  They don't need leadership to do that.  One of the goals  of the PM is to develop multiple leaders in the unit.  Thus for my units I always place the PL in charge of his patrol.  He is directed to focus on taking care of them.  This means the PL worries about 6-8 boys instead of 25.  A far easier task and an easier learning opportunity.  The SPL's work to support the PL's and make them successful.  He is more of a teacher/mentor than a director.  Thus the PL's actually lead.  In your case you would have 3 people doing leadership instead of just one.  I found that this format in the PLC ended up as Okay boys (PL's) what do you need from me this month so that your patrols are successful with what they want to do.  It took about 2 months of that when the SPL realized his job of dealing with 4 people instead of 28 (in my situation) was a lot easier.  However, the challenges he had to deal with was the diversity of things the patrols wanted to do.  How do I get 2 adults to go to summer camp, another 2 adults to go to a second camp and yet another 2 adults to go to Philmont.  He could focus on that instead of trying to come up with activities a certain percentage of the boys really don't care about.  It works for me, your mileage may vary.

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@Stosh, as an ADC, I have made this argument to Troop Committees and Scoutmasters who ask me about how to conduct elections for SPL.  When I tell them their Troop might be too small to even need an SPL they look at me like I have 5 eyeballs.  They could easily have two Patrols, each with a PL, and no SPL at all.  Usually, the units go ahead and elect an SPL who acts in the capacity of PL over 12 Scouts...:confused:

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