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Eagle94-A1

The PLC Has Decided: Mixed Aged Patrols in May

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yeah, so I'll re-ask the question... Eagle94, how did the toxic scouts feel about it all?

 

I couldn't agree more with the others about the whole non-consensus thing and wanting to be with friends.  I'm with stosh, I would have quit sooner if I was completely separated from all my best friends at that age.  Now that i think about it, i would now at THIS age!  This reminds me of my recent story about the patrol patch.

The thing is, boys of a scout age may not fully get the whole thing about consensus.  majority rules is easy to understand, how to go about coming around so that there's more of a consensus is much harder.  Seems like something we could collectively try to encourage more...

 

Eagle 94, I know that you probably wouldn't really know and its not like its something you could easily find out I suppose... so this is just "thinking out loud" stuff here...

But I would find it very interesting to do a survey or study of sorts with your scouts

something they could respond to in private away from other's ears....perhaps anonymous...

to explore things like 

how many scouts are completely happy with the outcome?

How many favorable pairing ended up happening....ie how many scouts are going to be hanging with his friends?  all of them?  some? only one of them?  etc...

how many new toxic pairings might result (& I don't mean the original ones that they clearly separated)

how many scouts just aren't happy with the outcome, even if they'll live with it.... like maybe got in with one or two of his best friends but the rest boys that he's less agreeable with

how many are on the verge of quitting over it

.... stuff like that.

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Fellow scouters, an interesting discussion, but frankly, I think we are overthinking it.

 

Are we striving to seek the most harmonious, self-actualizing patrols?   If so, we're setting up the scouts for future confusion and disappointment.

 

Be it college, or the military, or working in a hardware store, young adults must learn how to cope with human and team dynamics.   If they are supervisors, they must know how to organize teams to maximize efficiency on the job and cooperation.

 

Let the scouts run their patrols.  Give them the freedom to succeed and make mistakes.     When they move into the dorm, or join the Army, they'll find themselves working with a mixed bag of humans.   They'll have to figure out how to get along.   Mom, dad and the scoutermaster will not be there to guide them.   Better to learn this lesson at 14 than 19.

Edited by desertrat77

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You are correct @@desertrat77 in that someday these boys will be exposed to these mixed-bag dynamics and there's one unfortunate flaw in this whole process.  In the real world, as in scouting, the person can always move on to the other side of the fence.  I don't have to put up with a lousy boss, I don't have to tolerate lazy co-workers, I don't have to hang out with the husbands of my wife's friends, I can pick and choose who I want as friends and I can hang with them in my free time.  When my buddies all decided to quit scouts and go Civil Air Patrol, I didn't think on it but maybe a split second and I was off with them on the new adventure.

 

Knowing this, I try my best to keep that option off the table for the boys to consider, because if they do, they can be gone on to greener pastures.  The last thing I want to be doing is anything that will facilitate that decision.  No I don't cater to their every whim, but if a group of guys want their own separate patrol, I really don't have a valid reason to break them up.  They need to be working with the younger boys, that won't happen. They need to be showing leadership, that won't happen.  They need to be.... , that won't happen either.  Why?  Because they will have left the troop, that's why.

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When they move into the dorm, or join the Army, they'll find themselves working with a mixed bag of humans.   They'll have to figure out how to get along.   Mom, dad and the scoutermaster will not be there to guide them.   Better to learn this lesson at 14 than 19.

 

Yeah, but it's not the same.  Once in the military, your choice is gone.  You want work to give you a pay check, here's your team. 
 
Everyone in scouts a volunteer.  You choose to particate.  Every time a meeting is scheduled, you choose whether to go.  Every camp out you choose whether to go.  It's a huge and very significant difference.
 
Anyway, either way can work.  Overthinking it can kill it.  
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Are we striving to seek the most harmonious, self-actualizing patrols? 

 

 

Yes, I think so. Kudu and I used to debate whether program success is a result of program application or program guidance. In other words, Kudu felt the program design was the main contributor to program success; where as I  believe performance is more the result of how the SM guides the program.

 

The BSA used mixed age patrols successfully until around 1990. The motivation to turn to NSPs was to slow down the drop out rate of the first year scouts, which happened to be, and still is the highest drop out group in the BSA program. And one intention for that change was in theory to shift the performance of the New Scout drop outs from the adults to the program design, which I agree in theory.

 

But as it turns out, the first year drop out rate hasn't improves with NSPs. I believe the reason first year scouts drop out is because of the sudden paradigm shift of going from an adult lead life to being self responsible. NSPs don't really relieve that stress on the scout. 

 

The fallacy of the NSP is that the BSA and most adults believe age is 95 percent the reason scouts would want to hang together. Of course it seems natural that same age boys would have a draw to other boys their own age. And certainly boys who have been hanging around each other for five years in Cubs would want to hang together as well.

 

However while those reasons may dominate the reason boys would hang together in an unfamiliar environment like the first night of a troop meeting with a bunch of older stranger scouts, boys aren't as simplistic as we would like to think. Most new scouts want to hang out with older scouts for a lot of reasons; one is that it makes them feel cool. Another is they feel a little more secure in their unfamiliar environment with older confident scouts. Older scouts are like older brothers. And friends? Well we found that while a whole den of Webelos may be friends, most have only one or two (mostly one) who they would need to feel comfortable in "any" patrol; mixed, same age or whatever. Just one.

 

So yes I believe we over think it and take away some of the life growth and confidence building a boy can gain with an experience of starting a great experience with a few strangers. I also believe that success of building the confidence of new scouts to slow down their drop out depends largely on the SM, not the program design. I'm not trying start another discussion of adding to the syllabus, but I did spend a few minutes at SM Specific explaining why new scouts struggle with their new environment. I believe that while each SM will mold the program to fit their personality, I also believe that if they don't understand the fear of a new scouts, their success with new scouts will be about the same whether not matter what type of patrol they use. I have observe that very thing. 

 

That is not to say that one style isn't better than another, I have learn from experience that, at least with my style of scoutmastering, mixed age patrols perform much better over all. But as far as the success of preventing first year drop outs, I don't really believe it matters what patrol a scout joins. As far as growth is concerned, it matters a lot, especially after six months. 

 

That is why I like to spend a lot of our discussions helping scouters work better with the scouts. That is where the real difference is in the short run.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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By "we" I meant "we scouters."  Adults striving to impart peace/harmony/etc. on behalf of the scouts instead of letting the scouts achieve such goals on their own.

 

I could have phrased my original point better.

 

Here is what I'm seeing in this thread:  the scouts make a decision, and pretty good one.  And then the adults dissect and analyze every nuance of it.   Did the scouts consider this?   That?  

 

Way too far in the weeds. 

 

Let the scouts do their thing.   Unless life/limb/abuse are involved, we don't need to overcomplicate the situation, nor throw a wet blanket on it.   Granted, we're just talking here on the forum and the scouts are none the wiser.   But I see this dynamic in action at times, and it stifles the scouts.  

Edited by desertrat77
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I'm a firm believer that scouters may complain about helicoptering parents, but I see plenty of helicoptering scouters doing the same thing, but because they are registered and have been trained, it's okay.  NOT!  I think the #1 reason scouters don't like helicopter parents is because it cuts into their helicoptering turf.....

 

So, I'm going to take hits for that, that that's okay with me.  I hear of plenty of scouters out there that have said their #1 job is to keep parents out of the scouts' hair and by doing that stay out of the scouts' hair as well.  These tend to be the troops that have the most potential for boy leadership.  The vacuum left by absentee adults means the opportunity for the boys is ripe!  I have found they tend to appreciate this opportunity and for the most part make the best of it and do well, often times beyond even my expectations.  Desertrat77, you are on the right path when it is indicated that the adults seem to over think much of what is going on with the boys and the reason they overthink it is because they have never taken the opportunity to ask what's going on so they just keep guessing and speculating. 

 

Listen to the boys, if given the opportunity, they will definitely surprise even if it wasn't the route the adults would have chosen.

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And if one were to present this to BP I wonder what he would say about natural leadership when it comes to this type of personality?  :)  After all that ability to draw others into trouble is a strong indicator of leadership.  Just because one may not like it, it's still leadership.  Harness that and one has the basis for a great leader.  Been there, it works!

B-P would have an issue with current troop sizes, BSA training, the cost of uniforms, etc. By the time he got around to Jimmy and Timmy needing to be in different patrols because they'd eventually stab one another with their buck knives, B-P would already have defibrillator paddles firmly affixed to his chest. ;)

 

We need to get over that one part about boy-led that precludes any adult interference. There's a fine line between the boys having their way all the time and Lord of the Flies. ;)

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Way too far in the weeds. 

 

Let the scouts do their thing.    

 

I was involved in a troop where the scouts "choose".  What I also saw were adults heavily influencing the scouts behind the scenes or outside the meeting.

 

It's like that kid in every grade who stands up as a representative for some unpopular view because his dad or relative was involved even though it makes him less popular with the girls.  When I was young it was my friend who supported nuclear power because his dad helped build and run nuclear power plants.  His opinions were heavily influenced from the relationship and comments of his dad.

 

When I saw going from scouts choosing their patrols to the PLC assigning the patrols, I remember some parents talking about it with their sons about it being the right way to do things and how it was done when they were a kid.  Those scouts then argued for it because essentially they were defending their opinion of their dads.

 

So when i hear ... "The PLC decided" ... an eyebrow goes up and I apply a filter of common sense to understand the decision.  

 

In any event, good luck.  It can work.  I prefer scouts choosing and NSP.  But that's me.  

Edited by fred johnson
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Not looking to end the discussion, but Eagle94-1, be sure to update us regularly on how things are going, if issues ya'll were having are changed by this adjustment.

​Sentinel947

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So when i hear ... "The PLC decided" ... an eyebrow goes up and I apply a filter of common sense to understand the decision.  

 

 

Unless the PLC actually *did* decide. ;)

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Hope it works out. That type of change is never easy.

 

Did they consider at all whether to keep friends together as much as possible?  Particularly among the younger Scouts?

 

I hope so too.The troop has lost some potential Scouts because of the "disorganization" of the NSP. Doesn't matter that A) Scouting is  organized chaos and B) only the NSP is having issues. Folks see the NSP and it's an issue. Plus we have several Scouts frustrated with the situation.

 

As for friends being together, more on that in a bit.

 

How did the "toxic" scouts feel about it?

 

That was rather interesting at the PLC. When one person commented on he and his buddy becoming a toxic situation when together, he protested a bit. SPL basically said, think about it, do you and (your buddy) goof off too much, and cause problems when together? He admitted Yes and SPL stated He's the same way with one other Scout, so he understands what he;'s going through, but splitting up will help you in the long run if you think about it. And the Scout who protested thought and agreed.

 

THAT BLEW MY MIND! ( emphasis) These guys are growing :) despite the challenges.

 

I was having the same thought as Stosh, but I do notice you say "toxic combinations" rather than "toxic Scouts." What is it about these combinations that is "toxic", and what has been done to try to resolve the issues? And how many "toxic combinations" are we talking about here?

 

By "toxic" I mean 2 things either A) together they don't do anything but cause trouble making life miserable for all or B) together and there is a potential for violence. Mostly the A category, but we do have 1 combo where one scout has hit the other Scout twice. The two incidents were over a year apart, we've contacted parents, and are keeping a strong eye on the situation. The one that has struck the other will be moving shortly.

 

With the exception of 1 combo in the A category, SPL and his buddy, the rest are in the NSP, which as you can imagine makes life challenging.

 

BUT, on the last camp out, 1/2 the NSP couldn't make it due to illness or school. The toxic combos were NOT present, and it did work out great, in fact the best camp out for them. That's when my oldest commented on "toxic" combinations.

 

The boys tried it so I'm willing to give my benefit of the doubt. I will say:

 

My troop has tried this exact method, the Scouts will congregate into their natural patrols, unless quick steps are made to build patrol identies. My Troop stopped battling the natural patrol dynamic and let them form their own patrols, free for all. It's worked so far and done alot to eliminate the issues we used to have regarded patrol membership.

 

In short, Scouts will form into their preferred patrols naturally, your PLC can either battle this process or facilitate it. Clearly if what you did before wasn't working, your Scouts will not build their own patrols based on that, but I'm not sold on trying to build balanced patrols. I haven't seen that work yet. The scouts tend to abandon their assigned patrols and form into their usual gangs, (or as I've said, their natural patrols.)

 

 

Kudos to the scouts for their initiative, and I respect the scouters for having the courage to stand back and allow the scouts the freedom to do this without a bunch of adult nitpicking.

 

Whatever wrinkles ensue, I'm sure the scouts will solve them.

 

Maybe this may seem like adult interference, maybe adult guidance, but the adults did mention a few ideas to divide the patrols when things were just not working out and the SPL asked for some help.

 

I gave them an idea to use  an approach similar to Sentinel. have the older Scouts divide up among themselves, and let the rest of the troop join who the older Scouts they want to be with. Another ASM suggested modifying the pick out of a hat approach they wanted to do, by drawing out of the hat by patrols in stead of dumping everyone's name into the hat and completely random.  The PLC liked that idea and went with it.

 

@@Krampus

 

If left alone, do you think any of these boys would naturally want to be in the same patrol as the others?  I find that boys that don't like each other will find patrols that are different.

 

However, with that being said, I had a kid in my Cub Scout den that was a real jerk.  We even went so far as to "take it out back."  In Boy Scouts we became best friends.  Go figure.  :)

 

As an adult I don't know how all these things work out.... so I stay as far away from the selection processes as I can and for some reason the boys always seem to find a way on their own.... which makes life a lot easier for me.  :)

 

I honestly do not know. The older Scouts surprised me once when we were talking about one of the NSP members, who knows his stuff and can probably hang with the older Scouts when they do camp and go backpacking, but can be a goofball at times. They commented about how if he could focus and avoid being a goofball until the appropriate time, he would not be a bad Scout to camp with.

 

More later and keep the questions coming.

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I hope so too.The troop has lost some potential Scouts because of the "disorganization" of the NSP. Doesn't matter that A) Scouting is  organized chaos and B) only the NSP is having issues. Folks see the NSP and it's an issue. Plus we have several Scouts frustrated with the situation.

 

 

Maybe this may seem like adult interference, maybe adult guidance, but the adults did mention a few ideas to divide the patrols when things were just not working out and the SPL asked for some help.

 

I gave them an idea to use  an approach similar to Sentinel. have the older Scouts divide up among themselves, and let the rest of the troop join who the older Scouts they want to be with. Another ASM suggested modifying the pick out of a hat approach they wanted to do, by drawing out of the hat by patrols in stead of dumping everyone's name into the hat and completely random.  The PLC liked that idea and went with it.

 

 

 

It's always worth playing with the structure of things. I think this is a good process. Also, I believe adults have a role to play in this, I don't think you or another leader has overstepped (​based on what you've told us.)

 

But I will reiterate, scouts go to what patrol they want to be in. Roughly five years ago our SPL and PLC tried to experiment with a variety of methods to make more balanced patrols. Despite the adults reservation (I was just finishing up my time as a youth) they allowed us to give it a try. It didn't work for us, it may work for you all. The scouts just informally hung out in their natural patrols.

 

Your PLC has made the decision, and your job as an adult is to help them learn to manage and execute their decisions. 

 

​Best of luck, and feed us regular updates, I'm really curious to see how your scouts do with something mine couldn't make work.

 

​Sentinel947

 

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Eagle94, I'm impressed with both the scouts and the scouters.  You provided the scouts sound guidance, and they respected it and then proceeded to make sound decisions.

 

PS (added)   Regardless of their choice--mixed or NSP--I like the fact they had the courage to make a change.

 

What works--mixed or NSP--is truly in the eye of the beholder.   Personally, I dislike the NSP concept due to my own experience as a member of a NSP eons ago, and my observations as a scouter thereafter.     But each troop is different and the NSP may work like a charm elsewhere.

Edited by desertrat77
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How many patrols are we talking about?  I'm of the opinion that most patrols, no matter how they are formed, never really get a chance to gel.  One thing our Troop tried (and it worked pretty well) was to have a camping trip where each Patrol had their own campsite - not just 300 yards and in sight.  We used Camp Lakota, our local Boy Scout camp (sadly on the chopping block in 2017) and the campsites weren't really in visual or normal sound range of each other.  The adults and senior Scouts had their own campsite.

 

That doesn't mean the Patrols were left to their own devices - each had a walkie talkie to be able to communicate with the SPL/Base Camp and the Troop did come together a couple of times over the course of the weekend (including a late Saturday afternoon wide game - patrols versus each other in a capture the flag game) but otherwise, they were on their own.  There was a Friday night fire for the entire unit but Saturday night, each Patrol had their own.  They had to plan their own activities for most of the weekend.  Was it a struggle for them?  Sometimes - but at the end of the weekend, the Scouts all thought it was one of the best camping trips they had been on, and the Patrols really worked well together after that.

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