Jump to content
Eagle94-A1

Changing a Troop's Culture, Balancing Boy-led versus Adult-led

Recommended Posts

 

Adults are not there to mentor, coach, direct, lead, cajole, mandate or give the vision to the boys.  We are there to help them with THEIR vision.  After all, it's supposed to be their adventure, not ours as adults.

Here we go again, no prisoners.

 

ALL adults have a vision, especially stosh who beats his vision over our heads over and over. What is at issue is how the scouts reach the adult vision. I don't agree with stosh's style of peddling his vision, but he has admitted in the past that he and I seem to have the same direction for scouts. 

 

And let me throw in some cold water of reality, Boy Scouts is not the boys program, it belongs to adults who use the program to reach a vision for their son the  scouts. The BSA in short says the mission is to develop boys into moral and ethical men whose decisions are guided by the Scout Oath and Law. Sounds like a pretty noble goal to me. 

 

Now from it's beginning, scouting's founders have said that giving scouts the freedom and independence to make decisions using the Scout Oath and Law is the best way for him learn from his decisions and work toward the vision of a moral ethical decision maker. You won't find any of the founders suggesting adults have no place in the program. So lets not get stuck in the mud of adult personality styles that should and shouldn't be used to help the scout toward a vision. Every adult is different and most have basically the same goals for their scouts.

 

Adults have a responsibility to promote scout growth. You, not Barry or stosh, have to decide if a tradition the scouts are using is in fact hurting or helping toward scout growth and how you can influence change it if need be. Stosh has posted a lot of advice to help adults improve their mentoring, coaching, and leadership skill, so I'm lost where that rant came from. Truth is everyone else here will agree that developing the art of mentoring, coaching, and leading is the best way to improve the boy's experience in the program. In fact, that is what this forum is really about.

 

The adults have the big picture, or should have the big picture of where the scouts should be heading. Scouts have their side of the program that is intended to progress their own personal objectives and goals as well. The troop needs to be a safe place where boys can be fostered forward with all their decisions, right or wrong. Adults have vast amounts of knowledge and experiences that the scouts haven't even begun to acquire. So does it make sense that the adults aren't supposed to nudge the program here and add a little something there to not only improve scout growth, but also help make the experience more fun and meaningful?

 

Truth of the matter is that there is a lot of give and take to maintaining a balance for keeping a boy run program going forward without the adults being intrusive. Is it reasonable to expect the SM to work with the 12 year old SPL the same as the 16 year old SPL? In reality, working with scouts without being intrusive is an art that takes a lot of practice. Theory is a good place to start, but the good leaders not only are willing to change, the expect to change because 12 year olds should be guided differently than 16 year olds. 

 

So lets move on from this narcissistic take no prisoners my way or the highway nonsense and actually discuss what the adults can do to enhance the program so that it can be the very best boy run patrol method program it can.  

 

Barry

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stosh,

 

The NSP. stuff was before it bbecame offiicial. Basically we were part ofthe guinea pigs. Yes, it was 100% adult instttgated as thee SM was asked to try somehing new. After a year, we went bac.

 

As for voting in folks into the LC, very informal process. Requirements were First Class and have been a PL. After SPL election, incoming SPL would talk to LC about who wanted what positions, and who we thought should move up from the regular patrol and be given a troop level position. I guess a better choice of words would be consensus among the ccurrent LC Mmembers..Most of the time, everyone had a specified POR, i.e. QM, Instructor, etc. But there were times when someone ad been in the LC, and not given a POR. Usually someone in HS who could not make every meeting or trip due to school. But when they were at the meetng or trip, they were helping out on the troop level. I know two guys who alternated in one POR for 2 years. One couuld do the jobb in the. Fall, but not spring, and vice versa. So the one not inne the POR hhelped thheother out when they could.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eagle94-1A,

 

I can see a LC set up that way, but with boys being assigned troop POR's it's a rather moot point to think the elections were of any real value.  I like the idea that the older boys with spotty attendance would be in that group so as to not disrupt the operations of anther patrol of younger boys.

 

My LC patrol operated similarly, but there were no restrictions.  You had the POR you were in that patrol.  On the other hand we did have another patrol that was an Honor Patrol of older boys that was by invite/election to join.  I guess one could justify calling them the Venture Patrol.  It did help hold the older boys in the troop.  They didn't have to hold POR's (except the PL and other POR's that didn't impact the other patrols directly, i.e. Bugler, Chaplain Aide, any Den Chiefs, etc.)  If the POR required direct interaction with the patrols, they were in the LC group.  That would be the Scribe, QM, Instructor, TG, etc.

 

It seemed to work out well for the boys, especially the older boys.  The older boys could handle the discontinuity of the LC where the membership changed as the POR's changed.  They were more functioning at an adult level of leadership rather than patrol method of learning to lead process.

 

If left alone, the boys seem to figure this out on their own and do a rather good job of it for the most part.  A few slackers and glory hounds slipped in on occasion but they didn't last very long before their buddies squared them up.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Growing up, every 6 months we had the opportunity to switch patrol and elect new PLs. It was the Scout's choice. Exception to that was the following: 1) When we needed a third patrol and I was appointed PL. This was when we were trying the NSP thing before it become BSA policy. Didn't work and eventually two guys from other patrols migrated over and we became the 3rd mixed aged patrol 2)When someone got elected into the Leadership Corps. Again the LC members voted on who would join them. Now SPL would assign Webelos who visited to a patrol to work with for the meeting and the camp out. Usually when they joined the troop they went to that patrol. I can't recall anyone wanting to join a different patrol, but my brain has been frozen, so my memory may be wrong.

 

under this model of operation, do you remember any occasions when at the time the 6th month rolled around and the boys had the opportunity to change, that nobody or very few of them did?... or was it always a reshuffle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@blw2 ,

 

For the most part, the only time people switched patrols were A) when we created the NSP in 1986, and I left my patrol to form a 3rd patrol and  B) when someone moved up to the Leadership Corps.  When we gave up on the NSP stuff,  2 friends of mine and some of the others in my patrol switch over. Otherwise i cannot remember anyone switching from one patrol to another.

 

Part of that may have been patrol spirit and esprit de corps.  The two original patrol flags, Hawks and Eagles, were still in use when I joined the troop. Every patrol ribbon the patrol ever earned were still on those flags, it was a very big deal when I left and "resurrected" the Owls. After 2 months, we wanted to switch names, and were told we could do it, but we would have to start all over in regards to flag, ribbons, history  etc. Only Owl Patrol items were kept were the cooking and camping equipment.  Unfortunately when we switched to Ravens, the Owl flag and ribbons were retired and put back into storage. When our storage shed developed leaks destroying a bunch a gear, the Owl Patrol flag was part of equipment destroyed.

 

@@Stosh ,

 

Why 6 months, I haven't the foggiest idea. It was like that before I joined the troop, and continued after I left. We'd do SPL elections, then move folks to LC if needed, then allow folks to switch patrol if they wanted, then have PL elections. PLs tended to keep getting reelected until they moved up to the LC. friend of mine were PLS for 18 months straight.

 

Now SPL was a different story. Most wouldnot run for reelection. Usually school played a factor in that decision. Again there were two guys who alternated being SPL for 6 month periods for 2 years. One had a busy fall semester with school and would not run for election in the fall, the other was busy in the spring and would not run then.

 

It worked for us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the magic behind the 6 month thing?

It's a tradition that 95% of troops use for their election cycle. Where does is come from, different places in BSA literature that kind of set the tone for the 6 month cycle. Example from the Eagle Requirements list.: 

  1. While a Life Scout, serve actively in your unit for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility. List only those positions served after your Life board of review date. ***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eagle94-A1

 

Sorry, Eagle, for not using the mention button.  My computer crashed and I'm on a backup Linux machine and I don't get all the features I used to.

 

Yeah, I'm under the impression that the 6 month "term" is some arbitrary adult rule based on POR requirements.  I've never used it because if a patrol picks a popular PL who is only interested in wearing a patch and getting by on unearned POR credit, the boys don't have to wait 6 months to correct the problem.

 

My boys can also jump ship from one patrol to another at any time and control who is in their patrol and who is not.  All I ask is that the boys keep me up-to-date on who's in what patrol.  Right now with the numbers I have (one patrol), no one jumps around much.  :)

 

My BOR committee members are trained to accept POR fulfillment in pieces.  A boy might get credit for 1 month of QM work for getting the trailer ready for summer camp.  He might get a month or two as Instructor for helping out with the NSP patrol's advancement, then fill for the Chaplain Aide for 3 months while the usual CA is in football.  If it adds up to 6 months, it doesn't make any dfference whether the boys was selected, appointed, elected, volunteered or not or whether he even wears the patch.  If he does the work, he gets the credit.  In all my tenure as SM I have never had an SPL.  The position has always been temporarily filled by a PL as needed.  With only 4 patrols at the most, I've never had a PLC either, so those 6 month POR issues never arise.  I have had a number of boys fulfill the POR piece-meal, though.

 

The longest running POR I ever had was my first Eagle Scout who served the entire 4 years I was there as one of the PL's and was capable of doing the SPL work as needed at activities that required it.

 

There is a drawback on the long running office holders, the expectations for the next guy are often way out of line and impossible to fulfill.  Usually takes a couple of boys to break into the position and the boys don't wait long enough for the new leader to get his feet on the ground.  However, once the patrol figures out one of those new guys is capable, they settle down.  I had one older boy age out just before I took over as SM in my prior troop.  Big legacy and big shoes to fill.  A new guy went in, lasted a month, second guy went in lasted about as long, then then went back to first guy, then a third guy, and finally settled on the first guy.  :)  He stayed for over a year as PL.  They didn't have to listen to political speeches as to who would be the best PL, they got to "test drive" them and then decide.  They got it settled on their own.  It was interesting to watch.

 

It's kinda surprising that the boys always seem to figure things out if you leave them alone long enough.

 

One must also realize that cream seems to rise to the top and the "untouchables" end up in a "loser" patrol.  I often worried about that at the beginning.  Either the boys quit or they "grew up" and did rather well in Scouting and were even reabsorbed back into the other patrols over time.  It was their choice and they either stepped up or quit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It's a tradition that 95% of troops use for their election cycle. Where does is come from, different places in BSA literature that kind of set the tone for the 6 month cycle. Example from the Eagle Requirements list.: 

  1. While a Life Scout, serve actively in your unit for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility. List only those positions served after your Life board of review date. ***

 

 

Yes, I know the requirement, but what's so magical about it?  That was the question I posed to Eagle94-A1.  My question is what do the other 5% know that 95% don't know?   "Setting the tone" for a generic tradition sounds like a general one-size-fits-all kind of approach and we know that doesn't work well for everyone across the board.  Simply accepting something at face value without trying to make it work for the unit may or may not be in the boys' best interest.

 

One can also see that my approach to multiple positions held for a short period of time over 6 months without any tenured term limits also works with the requirement.  "...serve actively in your unit for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility...."  Nowhere in that requirement does it say anything about how one is selected, elected, appointed, volunteer, etc. for a period of arbitrary time.  If a boy gets elected PL of his patrol then does SPL work concurrently and then does the Chaplain Aide work for the troop, too, who really cares about his SPL and CA work, he has it covered with the PL POR requirement.  On the other hand using my analogy earlier where the boy sequentially fulfills 3 different positions over the 6 months it, too, fulfills the requirement "as spelled out in BSA literature."  But if one were to be locked into a 6 month election cycle it would never work out that the boy experiences more opportunities for leadership development in a variety of different areas.  Well, he could, but it would take him 3 times as long.

 

It is this kind of adult derived traditions that most often involve the greatest angst for Scouters and Scouts alike.  Look at all the threads about coming up with elaborate formulas for determining whether or not a boy is even active in the troop.  How many days/activities does it take to deny a POR over a 6 month period?  Even if the boy gets sick for a month, the adults have to make a special circumstances rule to account for the fact that one month of the time he is "excused", instead of just letting him add on another month before handing off the reins to the next scout.   No room in that in a 6 month election cycle.  He'll have to serve another month and then he can quit that POR in the middle of the term and leave his buddies hanging. 

 

Then there are the long, drawn out job descriptions minutely spelling out all the hoops the boy has to jump through to satisfy the POR requirement.  Hmmm, he slacked off consistantly for 5 1/2 months, but he got his feet on the ground the past couple of weeks so we'll give him credit for it.  (Sound like the pattern of the "death bed" Eagles?)

 

I may not do thing according to every else's traditions, but then I don't seem to have anywhere near the number of problems others are having either.

 

Your mileage may vary.....

 

By the way, this isn't another one of those "my way or the highway" things.  It's just another way of looking at things that may or may not make someone else's life out there a bit easier.  Maybe their unit needs a wee bit of tradition and a wee bit of out of the box to make it work for them.  At least now they have some options to consider. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We, meaning the youth, didn't allow for switching patrols or PLs until the 6 months were up. Reason for that was to emphasize that decisions do have consequences. If you switch patrols, you need to adapt to that patrol's standards. If you elect a PL that ends up lousy, you need to live with the consequences until their term of office is over.

 

Funny thing is that the PLs usually did outstanding jobs and had minor complaints.  We had issues with a few SPLs, and teh ASPL either picked up the slack, or took over for the remaining term

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We, meaning the youth, didn't allow for switching patrols or PLs until the 6 months were up. Reason for that was to emphasize that decisions do have consequences. 

 

That probably was an advantage of the method, maybe one of many advantages.... but just a gut guess on my part, I'd bet your first answer "I have no idea why" was closer to the basis of the old practice.

I can fully imagine that it could have been from some long ago directive by some long forgotten scout or more likely a scouter.  The current boys have only seen it done this way, so surely there must be a good reason for it, right.  What else is there?

 

Regardless, This conversation reminds me of a radio interview I heard years ago.  I think it was some author on a NPR station... it had that feel as I remember it anyway...

So the discussion was about youth athletics and adult involvement.  They covered the topic well, and it stuck with me, even though I am the antithesis of a "sports fan"

It went something like this....

 

on one end of the spectrum, you have a neighborhood group of friends and a pick-up game of some sort in an empty lot down the road.

The natural leaders quickly find their place.

The followers find theirs...as do the athletic ones, and the not so athletic.

They pick teams

They make up the rules, and they layout the playing field.

Maybe it's baseball, but since they are using a rock, or maybe a tennis ball, they modify the field and rules to compensate.

Maybe it's a completely made up game not resembling any organized sports

They might make special compensations for a younger player.

They do all of this and adults are nowhere to be seen or heard.

 

then, on the other end of the spectrum

you'll have some organized highly competitive league with the parents touch in every aspect.  The rules are inflexible. The coaches are hard driving.  Parents yell and cuss at the umps.  They berate coaches because their future major leaguer is sitting the bench too much... and may not get their ride into college as a result!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is this kind of adult derived traditions that most often involve the greatest angst for Scouters and Scouts alike.  Look at all the threads about coming up with elaborate formulas for determining whether or not a boy is even active in the troop.  

Its this kind of hypocrisy that I have little patience for. You  have preached this method of POR to the forum using your two troops as examples for several years. Do you really expect us to believe that it's a coincidence that both troops use the same method. We know they got the same "arbitrary adult" guidance from the same adult SM, who brags often on this forum that he, and only he, is the only adult allowed to work with the scouts. No big deal to those of us who also started troops and understand that adults have to start somewhere. But I am astounded that you don't see the hypocrisy of your demonization of everyone else.

 

And let's for a moment just say your ridiculous assertion that scouts starting with an adult idea is anti boy run. Then the only other possible approach for a new troop is let the scouts start with NO guidance at all. How would that work? Send the 10 year old scouts off into the woods by themselves for a weekend? I have often suggested to new leaders starting new troops to consider using the SPL Hand book, PL Handbook and Scout Handbook to guide their program because it is simple for both the adults and scouts to understand, and it implies more emphasis on letting the scouts make decisions and taking control than new adult leaders are experienced to giving. But what election cycle method do you think those resources would suggest the scouts start using? Does it really matter?

 

Big talk, and to be honest, if you were capable of preaching your scouting ideals without denigrating your fellow brother and sister scout leaders to make your point, I think you have a lot to offer. But you won't or can't and we miss out on some good ideas. 

 

But I can see that you don't really get it yet. There is nothing wrong with using 6 months for an election cycle. There is nothing wrong with 4 months or 12 months if it accomplished growth toward the mission because it is just one small tool the adults use to reach big goal. A good scoutmaster knows It is not the end all. If it were, it would be the only method. I had this same discussions with Kudu. He believed that the BSA program was inferior to the Badon Powell Scouts program because he had success with that program's method of selecting the Patrol leader. The SM in Badon Powell Scouts selects the Patrol Leader with the knowledge the scout could stay in that position for several years. Talk about the risk of selecting favorites. Kudu was one of the best scouters I have ever known, he would use that method to programs best intention. But how many other adults understand the method enough to make that impartial selection. My contention was that a good SM could use any style of selection and didn't have to rely on a specific youth organization standard to reach the same goals. And I think I proved it in our discussions. Programs are too big for one small method to have that kind of influence. A good adult leader will always produce good results with what ever tool he is presented because they understand the actions required for growth and not submit to letting the shell of the method limit performance.

 

Its interesting for me that you believe that left up to scouts, your ideals would be their choice. Ironically our PLC 18 years ago was asked by the SM to consider switching from the 6 month cycle election to something closer to your troops POR style. The SM gave them suggestions of the advantage for using the system so they could make the choice with full understanding of it. The PLC seriously considered the suggestion and decided against it because the effort to change the system within their program was not worth the gains proposed. Who was more wrong, the SM for proposing an arbitrary adult idea, or the Scouts for not using the system that might have been a better for them in the long run? Or was anybody wrong? We will never know, but I give credit and was proud of the scouts for looking at the big picture and measuring the risk. Pretty mature approach in my book. On a side note, the SM (me) was disappointed they didn't try, but I also considered that my disappointment was likely seeded from pride. 

 

You think your POR style is better, great. But try to explain it's advantages without using condescending straw men to demonize the other troops and the scouts using them. I don't think you can and as a result readers can only move on to the next responses that are without the condescending insinuations. Is there nobody you are afraid of offending?

 

For those of us who can see the big picture because we have the Been There Done That t-shirt, your advantage over most leaders taking over programs is that you started with clean slate and fresh new scouts to experiment your ideals. You didn't have to contend with all the baggage (traditions, habits and routines) from the previous program, so you can't relate with the struggle of changing troop cultures. And you show that through your responses that have a tone of start over.

 

You had the luxury of starting with stoshs arbitrary adult ideas from the beginning. As I said, we understand that scouts need a safe starting place to do their scouting stuff because we all know that it would be criminal to send 10 year old boys off into the dark woods by themselves without any guidance at all. Yep, you by default are that guy that you blindly hate so much on this forums. You are an adult with a vision and idea of methods for scouts to use to reach the vision. Strange you don't see it. That is Ok, I'm here to guide. 

 

Barry

  • Downvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

man, talk about calling the kettle black!

Barry, you may not agree with Stosh, but look at your last post.  It must have taken you twenty minutes of typing..... and it comes off like you are very agitated and that you are confident that your vision is THE way.

Stosh has a lot of history with scouting and is a valuable participant here, as are you.  I've got to say taht many of his points on this topic hold some sound logic and really make sense.  You also bring up valid points.

I think its important to remember that a lot is lost through the written word, especially when it's written off hand and quickly without much thought.  Could it be that there is a misunderstanding of the intention or tone?.... or perhaps coming at it with a different paradigm?

I find that a lot of people from other countries and even other regions of this country come off as very rude, but I have to remind myself that sometimes it doesn't necessarily mean they are bad people.  Even personality types look at things differently and that can go a long way towards taking things in ways other than intended.

Even word choices can be huge.  For example, I tend to say "should" a lot but my wife always takes that like I'm ordering her and that my way is the only way.  Not intended at all.

I hope we can all remember the 4th point of the law

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

man, talk about calling the kettle black!

Barry, you may not agree with Stosh, but look at your last post.  It must have taken you twenty minutes of typing..... and it comes off like you are very agitated and that you are confident that your vision is THE way.

 

Thanks blw2, I appreciate your post. Yes, I lack the skill to make a point quickly. But read it again because it wasn't about a difference of opinions, it was about denigrating other people to present an idea. If tearing other people down is the only way to express your ideas and opinions, then the words have no integrity and aren't worth expressing.

 

As for calling the kettle black, you could be right. But stosh used to be a minister, he understands the basis of rebuke.

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×