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Pl - Spl For Small Troop

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1 minute ago, LeCastor said:

@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:

Yep, happens all the time because some BSA adults think the position is necessary.  I waited until the boys decided they wanted an SPL and that was at the 4 patrol level for them.  They then picked one of their APL's to fill that position because he was doing a bang up job for the one PL and the other PL's wanted him to work for them as well.  It turned out really well.

A  2 patrol unit's PLC work can be handled by a phone call between the 2 PL's.  No need for an SPL unless one is put in that position by the adults.  Not a good solution for developing leadership in the troop.  Too often the SPL is nothing more than a SM directed position to see to it that what the adults want the adults get.

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@Stosh

I get your points. Our model is not perfect, and I admit we have room for improvement. Maybe one day we will reach the kind of boy leadership you describe. Over the last year, I have stepped back a lot and just let them go at it (and sometimes fail). Our SPL will even give me a nasty stare if I start hovering. Our boys have a ton of fun together and really like each other - sometimes a bit too much, which then descends into unproductive silliness. I believe that is one reason why the older Scouts keep their distance from troop campouts and other activities where the younger Scouts are present. I'm curious how other troops deal with the silliness factor, because it is a big issue with our younger Scouts.

Regarding boy leadership, a typical troop meeting has a joint opening program with flag/oath/law and and announcements. This is directed by the SPL. Then the patrols break off for their own activities (directed by the PL). In the case of the new Scout patrol, the ASM is mostly running the show although they do have a PL. The older patrol is usually a no-show entirely. We have never held a PLC.

The SPL also acts as a coordinator. For a campout, the SPL will contact the PLs to determine attendance headcount and coordinate other logistics. Menu planning and other campout preparations will happen at the patrol level led by the PLs (many times it is just one patrol anyway).

Our big limitation is that our older Scouts don't usually show up to anything, so they can't be relied on for leadership and mentoring of the younger Scouts. We finally had to put a stop to absentee senior Scouts in the SPL position because it wasn't working for obvious reasons. Our current SPL is only 13 years old. It's a lot to ask of a 13 year old, but he really is our best Scout. He is on fire with Scouting but still learning leadership skills (so am I).

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51 minutes ago, gblotter said:

@Stosh

I get your points. Our model is not perfect, and I admit we have room for improvement. Maybe one day we will reach the kind of boy leadership you describe. Over the last year, I have stepped back a lot and just let them go at it (and sometimes fail).

This is a good start, they have to take ownership of the process, but it sounds like the process is entrenched in tradition without consideration to other options.

Our SPL will even give me a nasty stare if I start hovering.

As well as he should.  :)

Our boys have a ton of fun together and really like each other - sometimes a bit too much, which then descends into unproductive silliness. I believe that is one reason why the older Scouts keep their distance from troop campouts and other activities where the younger Scouts are present. I'm curious how other troops deal with the silliness factor, because it is a big issue with our younger Scouts.

The maturity level of a middle school kid will quickly get on the nerves of the older high school boys.  Heck, it gets on my nerves as well.  I don't blame them for their reaction, it's normal.  Here's were the 300' come into play.  The older boys should be allowed to form their own patrol and distance themselves from the "silliness".  Is that option being offered?

Regarding boy leadership, a typical troop meeting has a joint opening program with flag/oath/law and and announcements. This is directed by the SPL. Then the patrols break off for their own activities (directed by the PL). In the case of the new Scout patrol, the ASM is mostly running the show although they do have a PL.

This is what a Troop Guide is supposed to do.  Sounds like the ASM is taking away an excellent leadership role for a scout needing a POR, the TG is a good one in this case.  This can also be augmented with a good Instructor, (another good POR opportunity going to waste) because the ASM is messing with it.

The older patrol is usually a no-show entirely. We have never held a PLC.

And that answers the question that solves your problems.  Why aren't the older boys doing their own thing in their own patrol.  As I mentioned, if the activities don't cater to their interests, they vote with their feet!  Thus the no-show of the older boys.

As far as the PLC goes, if there are only 2-3 patrols, one isn't needed.  If there are 3 younger boy patrols, they can, if they feel the need, get an SPL to help them run their patrols.  Until the younger boys get a system going for them, I would suggest getting the older boys back with the lure of running something like a Veteran/Honors kind of thing where the first question asked is: "Well, what do YOU want to be doing?"  Let them run independently (no 13 year old SPL telling them what to do all the silliness 300' away, etc.) until they can slowly be worked back into the fold so to speak.  For example, 3 younger patrols, the newbies run by a TG/Instructor team.  Maybe once the older boys get on board with their program they might be interested in doing the TG or Instructor kinds of things on an occasional basis.  The SPL should be focused on helping the PL's be successful with their patrols, especially the newbie patrol...NOT the ASMs.  That should keep him plenty busy and out of running the patrols as a whole.

 

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The SPL also acts as a coordinator. For a campout, the SPL will contact the PLs to determine attendance headcount and coordinate other logistics. Menu planning and other campout preparations will happen at the patrol level led by the PLs (many times it is just one patrol anyway). 

Do you merge patrols when the numbers drop for an event?  I never did that.  If only 2 of the boys out of 8 show up and don't have as much fun, THEY will let their buddies know about it and encourage attendance.  Otherwise if they constantly merge the necessity of that goes away.

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Our big limitation is that our older Scouts don't usually show up to anything, so they can't be relied on for leadership and mentoring of the younger Scouts. We finally had to put a stop to absentee senior Scouts in the SPL position because it wasn't working for obvious reasons.

Yeah, I can see that.  What if the older boys were given a choice of going on a patrol canoe trip or staying home and "babysitting" all the scouts under the age of 13.  I know what I would vote for in a heart beat.

Our current SPL is only 13 years old. It's a lot to ask of a 13 year old, but he really is our best Scout. He is on fire with Scouting but still learning leadership skills (so am I).

I was at summer camp many moons ago where there was a troop nearby that the boys just all sat around doing "nothing".  It got my curiosity up and I stopped in to chat around their perpetual campfire.  What I found out was all the boys were 17 - 18 years of age, all Eagles, this was their last summer camp before heading in every different direction for college, they had done it all, and they decided to come to summer camp and just do nothing for a change.  They ate at the mess hall and went back to camp and jaw-jacked the whole week away.  What a great way to end out their Scouting careers.

 

Edited by Stosh

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40 minutes ago, Stosh said:

 Do you merge patrols when the numbers drop for an event?  I never did that.  If only 2 of the boys out of 8 show up and don't have as much fun, THEY will let their buddies know about it and encourage attendance.  Otherwise if they constantly merge the necessity of that goes away.

No. Our last campout was attended by two Scouts from the older patrol. They camped and ate together and were fine with being a patrol of two.

 

42 minutes ago, Stosh said:

The older boys should be allowed to form their own patrol and distance themselves from the "silliness".  Is that option being offered?

Yes - they have their own patrol but they don't have the motivation or availability to meet or do separate activities. These are typical high school students with busy lives, cars, sports, homework, girlfriends, etc. Scouting rarely makes the cut in their list of priorities. In 2017, they did only one activity as a separate patrol, while a few of them joined in the troop activities/campouts with the younger Scouts. Meanwhile, the younger Scouts are lapping their older brothers in the troop with advancement.

 

46 minutes ago, Stosh said:

This is what a Troop Guide is supposed to do.

Agreed. Great position for an older Scout - if he would show up. We previously had an older Scout TG (his 11 year old brother was in the patrol), but he the TG never showed up (not once) despite promises that he wanted the POR.

 

55 minutes ago, Stosh said:

Why aren't the older boys doing their own thing in their own patrol.

There is a "too cool for school" attitude among a few of these older Scouts and it spreads to the others. I have refocused my attention on the younger Scouts who have genuine interest and desire to engage in Scouting. My hope is to raise up a new generation of Scouts who will enter the older patrol with the motivation to provide real mentoring and real leadership. Using our present 13 year old SPL as an example, I think we are well-positioned to do just that. He is quite critical about what goes on the in older Patrol and wants to change things from within when he has the opportunity.

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He just might be the catalyst to make it happen for the older scouts to stay interested.  Just make sure he has the opportunity to be a strong enough leader to retain the boys around him.

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2 hours ago, Stosh said:

I was at summer camp many moons ago where there was a troop nearby that the boys just all sat around doing "nothing".  It got my curiosity up and I stopped in to chat around their perpetual campfire.  What I found out was all the boys were 17 - 18 years of age, all Eagles, this was their last summer camp before heading in every different direction for college, they had done it all, and they decided to come to summer camp and just do nothing for a change.  They ate at the mess hall and went back to camp and jaw-jacked the whole week away.  What a great way to end out their Scouting careers.

I guess you had to be there to appreciate the beauty of what you describe. Your story makes me think of my own older Scouts - sitting around, unengaged, and “jaw-jacking” while everyone else around them is doing real Scouting.

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1 hour ago, Stosh said:

He just might be the catalyst to make it happen for the older scouts to stay interested.  Just make sure he has the opportunity to be a strong enough leader to retain the boys around him.

He certainly won’t be able to make those changes all by himself, but his peer group among the younger Scouts are following his example.

Together, I can see them establishing a different (better) precedent for Scouting among old boys as they age up in the program.

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Just now, gblotter said:

I guess you had to be there to appreciate the beauty of what you describe. Your story makes me think of my own older Scouts - sitting around, unengaged, and “jaw-jacking” while everyone else around them is doing real Scouting.

:) They were the only ones there, it was a patrol.  The rest of the troop was off at a different camp or was at a different site, didn't ask.  Considering most of the boys were over 18, there weren't any adults.  The few 17 year olds were being "supervised" by the other 18 year olds    I'm sure with them all being Eagle scouts, the camp really didn't have much to offer that they handn't already have.  I didn't want to interfere too much so I didn't get much detail on how that was all working, but they were pleased with what was happening and they didn't bother anyone else, so no harm, no foul.

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