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Stosh

Boy-Led, Patrol-Method Non-Support outside of troop

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In some discussions I noticed that there are times when the activities of the districts and councils are very contra-indicative of the program emphasis of boy-led, patrol-method.

 

For example at camporees and summer camp there are leader meetings where the adults are expected to carry information back to the troop.  That in itself is adult-led, troop-method in my book.  Why aren't arrangements made for PL meetings instead of SPL meetings, Patrol registrations at camporees, Patrol table assignments at summer camp, etc.  

 

Does the SPL or SM take center stage at the RT?  At least shouldn't there be SPL gatherings at sometime or another for the boys to exchange ideas as well?

 

So often we give lip service to boy-led, patrol-method, but in reality, set up the operations and structures of activities so as to ignore it.

 

Anyone experience any effort beyond the individual units that are working with patrols rather than troops?  Whereas many troops don't do patrol-method within the troop, how many experience any patrol-method outside the troop?

 

 

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I was pleasantly surprised by our RT. We had SPLs come out and describe thier troops to pack leaders. The boys who made it really represented their units well, and some of them contributed to subsequent brainstorming for topics for future RT's.

 

But, it would have definitely been awesome to have an SPL bring his PLs and say, "These are my homies, they take care of our boys!" Then he would recognize the most unique feature of each patrol.

Edited by qwazse

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I have noticed the same thing Stosh. I would also add an idea that the adult training have more scouts as trainers. Imagine IOLS or OWLS being instructed by star-life-eagle scouts.

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Summer camp is very SPL driven in most camps we attend. They have SPL meeting each day to deliver info. They deliver the same info at the SM coffee in the AM. The smart SM lets the SPL drive.

 

Camporees were almost always adult driven. Only recently was the planning scout-driven. All the logistics are still adult-driven.

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These things can happen but it needs people who want it to happen to make it happen.  When I was a Scout way back in the dark ages (1970's), camporees began with a Friday night cracker barrel for the Scoutmasters to get the schedule for the weekend. Scoutmasters had asked in the past if they could bring their SPLs and were always told no - grand poobahs don't like change.  It even said on the schedule that the Friday night crackerbarrel was for asult leaders only.  That changed because some people who wanted it to change made it happen - the Scoutmasters of the 3 largest Troops got together and decided they would bring their SPLs to the cracker barrel - the poobahs running the Camporee told them the SPLs couldn't stay - the Scoutmasters told the poobahs that they would treat the weekend as just another campout - not participating in the Camporee and would do their own thing - and told them if any District folks tried to enter their campsites, they would be escorted out.  Since the three largest Troops had more boys at the Camporee than the rest of the Troops combined, the poobahs relented and allowed the SPLs to stay but when they tried to start the meeting, the Scoutmasters insisted that the other Troops be allowed to get their SPLs.  From that point on, the Crackerbarrels were for SPLs and Scoutmasters (and if you didn't have an SPL, you could bring Patrol Leaders).     It changed because people who wanted it to change made the change happen.  Sure, it caused a bit of a controversy for a short time - some of the District folks who had been away from Units for a while threatened to leave but the Troops came up with folks who were ready to dig in.

 

This "new blood" started taking control of the District events and training - 16 and up Scouts were brought in by the training folks to teach the pracitical skills for Scout and Cub leaders.  Den Chiefs with a lot of experience (and who had earned the Den Chief Service Award) were brought in to PowWow to teach Den Leaders about the Den Chief program, and to teach Den Chiefs how to be Den Chiefs (Our council added a Den Chief training track to the annual PowWow training for Cub Leaders in the fall and that was a very popular move as the Den Chiefs would join their Den Leaders in game and craft sessions and attend their own leadership sessions while their Den Leaders attended their own leadership lessons).

 

We even tried to put together an SPL Roundtable on the same night as Roundtable (thinking that Scoutmasters are coming anyway, they could bring their SPLs but it never was a very popular program so that died after the second month).

 

The point of this is that it has been done, it can still be done - it just needs people who want it to happen to make it happen. 

 

 

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Our camporees' cracker barrels are advertised for SM and SPL. For about the past year I've asked the SPL and PLs to go. I've never had a problem with it. I just stand back and graze for food and the scouts volunteer for things. Our camporees have been mostly patrol events for a long time, so that's good. As for cracker barrel most troops bring just the SPL and a few bring PLs.

 

What I notice, walking by camp sites, is that my troop is just about the only one where the patrols are distinct sites and the cooking is at the patrol sites. A lot of troops either have all the patrols cook in the same spot or there's just one setup for cooking. i.e., the adults are probably running it.

 

Summer camp is a nightmare for patrol method in my neck of the woods. When I ask what activities there are for patrols to have fun I get a blank stare from camp directors, council execs, pretty much everyone. I've gotten complements from staff that see oure patrol sites.

 

I think I've found what I want to do when I step down as SM. I've been leery of doing anything with the district or council because there's so much momentum that needs to be changed. I go on and on about training but I can't change what there already is. However, there is nothing called "Patrol Method Training", so I can offer that and write it any way I want. My DE wants me to do it.

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Our summer camp has done more and more to support the SPLs, although it's still not a patrol-driven camp.  For some time the SPLs have been invited to the Sunday night leaders meeting along with the SMs.  I suppose it's up to each troop who communicates the info back to the troop.  For the past couple years, the SPLs all have breakfast together for a daily camp briefing.

 

Camporees are another matter.  Just what you describe, above -- adults running things, adult cracker barrels, adults largely running the activity stations......  Another reason we don't do camporees.

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Camp I worked at in my Council is definitely not a patrol method camp. My Troop does our best to inject the patrol method into things while at that camp, but structurally the camp doesn't work the patrol method as well as it could. 

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Camp I worked at in my Council is definitely not a patrol method camp. My Troop does our best to inject the patrol method into things while at that camp, but structurally the camp doesn't work the patrol method as well as it could. 

 

I don't recall summer camp or any other event sponsored about the district being patrol-based when I was a kid. Not sure this is a change so much as it is a continuation of what has always been.

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Kinda makes one wonder how they could have gotten away with it all these years.  "Teaching" one thing and doing another.  It's no wonder adults have no idea what the patrol method is other than in theory.

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In my youth, the District Camporees had the competitions set up for Patrols (if the Troop could field one or two full patrols).

 

My Troop never had a problem with fielding 4-7 patrols.  Even our leadership corps was organized as their own patrol.  Some other Troops had to make temporary patrols by combining what they had.

 

For us, being able to field full patrols, and that our competition was more about how we did against the other patrols in our Troop - and much less about how we compared to the other units in the district was probably a significant contributor in how well we did.  I do remember one year (the pride is actually burned into my brain), they had to add a fifth place award, just so at least one other Troop's patrol received recognition.

 

I didn't see other Troop setups so much at that age, so I don't know if their camping and cooking was patrol or troop - ours was definately patrol based.  Even when crowded into a relatively small camping area, our patrols areas were distinct.  Probably only the campfire ring was common for the Troop.  While our Adults were not 300' away, they too were organized as an (example) patrol and did their own cooking, etc.  This is one advantage of the combination of Chuck boxes and footlockers we used for patrol gear ... the patrol could set up their own footprint fairly easily.

Edited by gumbymaster

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Our Klondike Derby was once this way and was annually, the most attended District Event, but then adults could not leave a good thing alone.  :( 

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I'm curious as to why folks think that Councils should organize Summer Camp as Patrol Method - seems to me we're asking Councils and Districts to do an awful lot of things that the Troops can do on their own.  There is nothing to say that a Troop must cook their meals as a Troop - sure, the meals may be the same but they can still be cooked by Patrols (and wouldn't that be an interesting experiment - we spend a lot of time on weekend trips with Patrols all making their own menus - wouldn't it be interesting to see how each Patrol does when given the same recipe and ingredients?).  Other than room, there is nothing to prevent Troops from setting up camp as Patrols (and we used to do it that way at Camporees in smaller spaces than we would get for Summer Camp).  There is nothing to prevent Troops from forming up as Patrols at Flag Ceremony.  There is nothing to prevent Troops from running their activities in Patrol Method.  My Summer Camp had an evening Water Carnival competition between Troops - nothing would have prevented a Troop from having Patrols choose the events they would do.  Can only do one skit for all-camp campfire?  What's to prevent a Troop from holding their own internal competition to see which Patrol gets the honor of representing the Troop? 

 

Summer Camp just offers a framework for each Troop to figure out the best way for them to participate in it.  Other than Merit Badges, which is an individual pursuit, there is nothing holding a Troop back from using the Patrol Method at Summer Camp except lack of desire or lack of imagination. 

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Summer Camp just offers a framework for each Troop to figure out the best way for them to participate in it.  Other than Merit Badges, which is an individual pursuit, there is nothing holding a Troop back from using the Patrol Method at Summer Camp except lack of desire or lack of imagination. 

 

But even if troops do as you suggest the events and set up of summer camp supports a troop-based model (SPL meetings, not PL meetings, seating by troop, not patrol, group events are troop-based not patrol-based, etc.), it is tough if not impossible for patrols to feel included and exercise the patrol method.

 

I think the OP and subsequent posts were suggesting that, with a little effort, councils could support what is supposed to be one of the major objectives of Scouting rather than focusing on troop- or adult-led events.

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@@CalicoPenn

 

To add to @@Krampus 's comments, my troop of one patrol does not compete in the summer camp camp-wide games.  4 boys from my troop camped with another troop of 2 boys.  We were not allowed by camp-wide rules to combine the two troops so our boys just went off and did their own thing.

 

So we show up at camp..... 300' is not going to work very well, but if it is a non-mess hall camp, why can't the patrols be sent to different sites?  They might actually get to know some new friends from a different troop, too.  The big troop cooking would not be available and adults could be spread out over the different sites as well and maybe make some new friends, too.

 

I'm sure the first comment out of the adults' mouths would be, "NO, we can't control the situation and we won't know where our boys are."  And that is why summer camps aren't patrol-method.  The adults are running the show.  

 

Just try it some time.  "Mr. Camp Director, our troop is made up of 4 patrols.  We will need 4 sites and we don't mind sharing with other troops."  The CD will say no, as will each of the other troops who have registered first for those sites.  They don't want the responsibility of 2 adults keeping an eye on the other orphan patrol.

 

If patrols are a method of scouting, surely the summer camps run by the councils should reflect the BSA program.  Well, IF you want to do your own thing, fine, just don't expect the BSA council program to reflect the BSA national lip-service program.

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