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Troop Communications and the Patrol Method

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Our troop sends a weekly email out with updates and information.  The vast majority of scouts in our troop do not have an email address of their own, so the parents get the email and it's hoped the scout receives it through their parent getting it.  It makes patrol communication difficult though since occasionally a parent will decide the email isn't going to their scout.  I'm hoping we can encourage more of the scouts to get emails to avoid this from happening.

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Our troop sends a weekly email out with updates and information.  The vast majority of scouts in our troop do not have an email address of their own, so the parents get the email and it's hoped the scout receives it through their parent getting it.  It makes patrol communication difficult though since occasionally a parent will decide the email isn't going to their scout.  I'm hoping we can encourage more of the scouts to get emails to avoid this from happening.

Thanks for the input! Please make a post in the new poster area and introduce yourself! 

 

Welcome to the virtual campfire. 

 

Sentinel947

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Our troop sends a weekly email out with updates and information.  The vast majority of scouts in our troop do not have an email address of their own, so the parents get the email and it's hoped the scout receives it through their parent getting it.  It makes patrol communication difficult though since occasionally a parent will decide the email isn't going to their scout.  I'm hoping we can encourage more of the scouts to get emails to avoid this from happening.

 

Thanks for the input! Please make a post in the new poster area and introduce yourself! 

 

Welcome to the virtual campfire. 

 

Sentinel947

 

Naw, you don't need to put in another post for us to welcome you to the forum.  Glad to have you with us, 

 

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.... :)

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Posted (edited)
On 9/27/2015 at 6:47 AM, SouthScout said:

How does your troop handle troop and patrol comminuction?

Fellow Scouters:  As it's been ~ 3-1/2 years since the last reply to this excellent question and thread, I thought I'd resurrect it in case some blessed Scouter has found the right recipe for intra-patrol, SPL, & intra-PLC, and intra-troop communications.

INTRA-TROOP:  For me, intra-troop communications is synonymous with "parental" communications, and eMail is satisfactory.  We have five patrols; accordingly I've established five patrol aliases with as many parent & scout eMail accounts as possible.  Proven advantages & disadvantages include:

Advantages:

  • Patrol-specific eMails not only reinforce patrol-method, but the smaller distributions mitigate the eMails from being tagged as "spam" risk and thus improve sending & receiving
  • "Aliases" prevent my (thankfully few) "sky is falling" parents from spinning up the others with their "reply-all" nonsense.

Disadvantages:

  • The aliases are mine alone; I haven't figured a way to share them with my SPL and responsible ASM's
  • Attempting to individualize five patrol eMails takes time & effort, both in the body text (I try to draft the eMails in Word to "XYZ Patrol", changing the name before pasting into each eMail) as well as a fresh Subject line (if I want to avoid "RE:" or "FW:").
  • eMails appear best suited to Parents ... to me it hasn't proven reliable at the Scout-level

SM-SPL:  Text is winning the day.  I have a text-group established with the SPL and her parents.  Same with the SPL when I was Scoutmaster of the boys-troop.  That worked quite well, even on the occasion when the SPL didn't have a phone.  His parents always did and I was pleased with SPL responsiveness on the occasion I asked his parents to have him call me.

INTRA-PLC & INTRA-PATROL:  This is where things get messy and I remain flummoxed.  After several SPL's (boys & girls) I'm about to insist the first thing I do with a new SPL is sit with her (or her parent if she doesn't yet own a phone) and perform a text-group commo-check with the rest of her/his PLC.  Barring that I'm stumped.  I'm also stumped on how our SPL's should advise their PL's on intra-patrol communications.  The good ol' phone tree just doesn't seem to fit the 21st century.  Other best-practices?

Edited by AltadenaCraig
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3 hours ago, AltadenaCraig said:

The good ol' phone tree just doesn't seem to fit the 21st century.  Other best-practices?

I share many of your opinions in your email.  I fully believe emails are for adults / parents.  In this day and age, parents expect good communication.  Period.  Though scouts are responsible, it is expected in any organization to have good parental communication.  

Mailing lists ... We use SOAR to manage mailing lists.  It does a great job and is one of SOAR's best features.  Automatically manages mailing lists.  Secures who can send and who gets replies.   Well formatted.  Automatic weekly well formatted news letters.  

Scout communication ... My experience is we can't control how scouts communicate and we often do a lousy job even helping.  We can suggest and coach.  Beyond that, different scouts prefer different ways.  We totally leave it up to the scouts to figure out how to communicate.  Different patrols in our troop use different methods.  Some use an app.  Others use group chats.  IMHO, encourage good communication but it's a losing battle to control it.  

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3 hours ago, AltadenaCraig said:

...

INTRA-PLC & INTRA-PATROL:  This is where things get messy and I remain flummoxed.  After several SPL's (boys & girls) I'm about to insist the first thing I do with a new SPL is sit with her (or her parent if she doesn't yet own a phone) and perform a text-group commo-check with the rest of her/his PLC.  Barring that I'm stumped.  I'm also stumped on how our SPL's should advise their PL's on intra-patrol communications.  The good ol' phone tree just doesn't seem to fit the 21st century.  Other best-practices?

Your experience parallels ours. I still find voice to voice communication to be the most reliable.

second most is a bulletin board.

thirdly, web sign-ups (our webmaster uses Google forms are working, but roughly. No worse than paper, but no better either.

Scoutbook is showing a lot of promise, but has a ways to go. At least our CO gave us the wifi password, so we can work on resolving issues at meetings.

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We have two primary methods we use:

Mailing lists

The communication mechanism of record is a series of Google groups.  We have different groups for different purposes.  The groups are "owned" by a Google account created for that purpose.  For each of these groups, several people are made owners as well.  This allows us to efficiently manage them and add/drop people as needed.

Event signups

We use Signup Genius to manage event signups.  We have a central place that we keep links to all the different signups.  Management of all of this is an Activities Coordinator function.  Scouts would be welcome to help - but they don't seem terribly interested.

Calendars

We use Google Calendar here.

 

We find that consitency here is a very good thing.  There are undoubtably better systems than we've got.  But, when we keep things consistent people get used to them.  Our program is way more important than which system we use.  These are all just tools to keep people up to date about our program or to let them signup for events and activities.  So, while we could continue to tinker - we generally don't.

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It's easy to get lost when you forget, or never knew, the destination. 

Scouting is not about running a well-oiled machine.   Mistakenly believing that a well-oiled machine is the boal, as BSA  does from time to time, drives adult leadership.  The goal is the Scout learning to accept and carry out responsibility, with all the bumps in the road that such a goal entails.  The point is not that everyone "got the word" but that they were given the word, to whatever extent, by the leaders - youth not adults. 

Sadly, training is no longer a BSA priority, and most employees of BSA and councils are weak on what Scouting is supposed to be.  So, noting that explaining the Patrol Method is now an advancement requirement (for "Scout"), I asked BSA for the answer.  It could not give the answer or refer me to a coherent statement of what it is - just to bits and pieces.  But they did want to help me with planning my estate. 😉

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