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Eagle94-A1

The PLC Has Decided: Mixed Aged Patrols in May

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Regarding me suggesting things and the Scouts following. That is what I'm most scared off. I want them to think for themselves. I want them to try something new, fail, and learn from it. I don't want them just coming up to adults and doing exactly what they are told to do, nor listening to ideas the adults give out and following exactly the suggested idea. In the past, that is exactly what has been done.

 

On the opposite side, the Scouts have only seen things done one way. They sometimes cannot think outside fo the way they were shown. Even at the PLC, someone mentioned doing age specific patrols, essentially the current set up.

 

Big ole balancing act.

Yup, you've seen right into the big grey zone abyss.  ;)

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The jury is always out on these issues because they aren't locked in stone to begin with.  Some troops do well with NSP's and the next one hates them.  Wait two or three years and that might very well be reversed. 

 

One group of boys comes into my troop and they don't want to hang with each other but want to be in with the other boys.  No problem.  Go talk with them, knock yourself out.

 

Next year these boys have been together since Tigers they want to stay that way.  No problem.  Want a TG?  How's about an older boy that needs a POR, can he be considered for your PL?  You gonna figure it out on your own?  Great, go for it.

 

Whatever it takes.

 

The older boys from all three existing patrols are getting ready to quit.  Why not all get together start your own patrol and go to Philmont?  Maybe you can all work together helping each other with all getting the Eagle.

 

Sure, why not.  There's no rules that say it has to be one way or the other.  Just go with what works for the boys.  Let them tell you what works best for them.  That way when things go south, they don't take you with them.  :)

 

Seriously, in different ways they all work quite well and I have bigger fish to fry than worry about patrol structures.  That's an easy lesson for the boys to figure out on their own.  If you don't like what you have, change it to what you want.  Just let me know what you decide so I can update the troop records.

 

If left alone, the patrols will gel, will get along with each other, will function on their own and the boys will generally be happier with their patrol mates..... and it didn't require one ounce of adult effort to make it happen.

Edited by Stosh

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n“Scouting offers what boys want: outdoor adventures, being with their friends….â€

         B.S.A. website, 2016

 

n â€œthey self-select and they are friends….â€

         B.S.A., Scouting blog, 2015

 

n“Scouts should be encouraged to invite their friends to join the troop and become a member of their patrol.â€

         B.S.A. website, 2016

 



n“ ‘You set up a structure—six to eight Scouts—and let them figure it out,’ he says.

n‘Boys are going to want to stick together if you can use their friendships to put together a team.’ â€

  

    B.S.A., Scouting (May-June 2012)

 

So why not start with who they want to be with rather than random chance?  It ought to be possible to have every Scout in a patrol with one or more of the Scouts he wants to be with.

Edited by TAHAWK
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So why not start with who they want to be with rather than random chance?  It ought to be possible to have every Scout in a patrol with one or more of the Scouts he wants to be with.

 

 

I didn't come up with the idea of random chance, the PLC came up with it. Another ASM came up with an idea to refine it, specifically putting each patrol in  their own cup and pulling out instead of everyone in one cup and drawing, and that is what the PLC decided.

 

I agree with you, I would have liked to see how the Scouts themselves would come up with patrols.

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I didn't come up with the idea of random chance, the PLC came up with it. Another ASM came up with an idea to refine it, specifically putting each patrol in  their own cup and pulling out instead of everyone in one cup and drawing, and that is what the PLC decided.

 

I agree with you, I would have liked to see how the Scouts themselves would come up with patrols.

Let them roll with the experiment. And like I'm sure you do already, chat with your scouts (especially those on the PLC) going forward. Without leading them away from their current plan, see how they think it's going. Eventually if you hear enough of them expressing that it's not working, it's a chance for your PLC to reevaluate their system. 

 

For example, when my troop moved away from creating patrols by lining up scouts and assigning numbers (One of my good friends was SPL at the time, and I still give him crap about that decision), we went back to letting the scouts pick their own patrols. A group of 12 and 13 year olds decided they wanted to have 14 scouts in a patrol. The SPL came to the Scoutmaster and I and asked what he should do. Eventually through our questions the SPL decided to let them give it a try. Sure enough, after the campout that month, they decided to split into two patrols, it was too hard to operate. 

 

Even though one could argue with the approach, we felt like the patrol of 14 was within the boundaries of the game. We knew it was sub optimal, but the Scouts had been told that and still wanted to try it. They did, they found out why you don't normally see patrols of 14, and they adjusted. I'm very proud of that, because it would have been easy for the adults or the SPL to stop that, but the Scouts got to try something new, they learned a lesson from it, and it was their decision. 

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One is there as an adult to create opportunities.  In this case I would let the boys give it their best shot.  They can't lose.  Either they win or they learn.  As an adult myself I would just stand back and be prepared to help pick up the pieces for their next attempt.  If they are starting to get bummed out by the struggles, one could always offer up B-P's suggestion to try and see what they have to say.  :)

 

I've always let them "have at it" and they always seem to do well with picking patrols that work.  Surprisingly it is never what I would have done had I been the one making up the patrols.  :)  One less hassle for me to deal with.

Edited by Stosh
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Interesting patrol meeting. Long story short, some of the patrol members in attendance (5 out of 8 showed up) are not happy about the split up. I jumped inon this to help explain how the decision came about and asked who made the decision. Here's the scary thing, one Scout said "the adults" and he was at the PLC meeting. (Mea Cupla, I guess I should have called it PLC+ meeting since ALL ( emphasis) officers were invited to attend and vote. Again, mea culpa).

 

I then gave the guys the full in the patrol the full details, i.e. concern about the patrol gelling (which they admit has not happened) how it's difficult for one person to reach everyone, and how we have the potential to get 2-4 new scout patrols come December, and how that will pose challenges. I also mentioned how we talked to the older scout patrol for their ideas to solve the problem, but eventually all came back to mixed aged patrols.

 

Good news is that it "clicked," especially since I told them they will be working with the new Scouts come December.

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:D out of the mouths of babes!

The positive: you've made "the adults" a synonym for "anything I don't like happening."

The "sorting hat" approach is likely to catch a boy off guard, but so is anything a boy relegates to his buddies.

The truth is any team that makes adjustments is an easy target for pessimists.

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Interesting patrol meeting. Long story short, some of the patrol members in attendance (5 out of 8 showed up) are not happy about the split up. I jumped inon this to help explain how the decision came about and asked who made the decision. Here's the scary thing, one Scout said "the adults" and he was at the PLC meeting. (Mea Cupla, I guess I should have called it PLC+ meeting since ALL ( emphasis) officers were invited to attend and vote. Again, mea culpa).

 

I then gave the guys the full in the patrol the full details, i.e. concern about the patrol gelling (which they admit has not happened) how it's difficult for one person to reach everyone, and how we have the potential to get 2-4 new scout patrols come December, and how that will pose challenges. I also mentioned how we talked to the older scout patrol for their ideas to solve the problem, but eventually all came back to mixed aged patrols.

 

Good news is that it "clicked," especially since I told them they will be working with the new Scouts come December.

 

Glad you were able to turn it around at the meeting.  I've seen the same reaction and within a few months several of the scouts quit.  Sounds like your involvement might avoid that.  Good luck.

Edited by fred johnson

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Be careful and be on the lookout.  If you have shy scouts, those who have trouble making friends, every time you mix up the patrols and don't let him hang out with the one friend he has, you risk losing him.

 

Also when you talk about how to keep the older guys happy and maybe they can go on a longer backpacking trip when the younger guys are just hiking, you've already seen the signs of a need for an older scout "venture" patrol.  Denying that it should exist, forcing the older guys to be in a patrol of younger guys when they didn't EACH individually be asked to mentor those young guys, is how the older guys learn to stay home so they don't have to babysit.  Like some older scouts have the temperament to be a big brother and teacher to the younger guys but not all older scouts can do that.  If there's two or more older guys in each of the patrols it's easy for the older guys to buddy up and talk common interests and ignore the younger guys. 

 

We were in forced by adults mixed aged patrols and lost on average 75% of the new scouts between bridging in March/April and sometime before school restarting in August.  Now we have a new scout patrol with an older age Troop Guide and we are keeping 75% or more of the new guys at least thru August.  In August If they have made friends outside of the new scout patrol they can ask to join another patrol.  so it's not NSP forever.

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I always enjoy these conversations about patrol designations.  There is no such thing as a "mixed-aged" patrol in the BSA.  BSA has identified New Scout, Regular and Venture patrols.

 

So, the new guys on the block are in the New Scout.  This shouldn't come as any big surprise.  After the calendar has rolled around one full cycle and a new group of boys comes in from Webelos and/or recruiting,  This first group is not the new guys on the block anymore and without any changes in membership or alignment, they automatically become a regular patrol.  The TG's work is done with this group and he goes and starts to focus his attention on orienting the new, new boys coming in that are now designated the New Scout Patrol(s).  Once this group has been around for a year they, too, become a Regular Patrol.  No where does it say the adults have to step in and do an apple-cart up-side-down to make the name designation or membership changes.  No where in BSA literature do I find all these boys from the first year have to merge into existing patrols.  No where does it say that ANY patrol has to dissolve into another patrol unless the boys decide it for themselves.  So this group hangs together until they are 15 or 16, whatever they decide and they have "been there, done that" for a few years now and want to take on some bigger challenges so they go out and buy some Venture strip patches and now call themselves a Venture Patrol.  No harm, no foul, and NO MEMBERSHIP changes unless attrition has taken it's toll over the years and two of the shrinking older boy patrols decide to merge into one and call it a Venture Patrol.

 

From where I sit, about 99% of the hassles that are being identified here on this subject are borne out by adult interference and false interpretation of what the patrol designations really are.  Of course feeding the boys this false information doesn't really help either.

 

1) NSP - A patrol that is formed when the new guys come into the troop. 

2) Regular - The designation of patrols that have been oriented after a year and haven't yet gotten to the "we want a challenge" years.

3) Venture - Older boys that really don't want to go back to council summer camp for the 4th time in a row.

 

If a scout coming into the troop doesn't want to hang with his Webelos buddies and wants to join a patrol where is older brother is, no problem.  His older brother can be his personal "TG" to get him up to speed.  No big deal.  If a boy in one Regular patrol isn't getting along with another boy, he can ask the PL of another patrol if he can move over there.  No big deal.  If a boy in a regular patrol is getting bored and wants to hang with the super cool older scouts of a Venture patrol, he can ask to join up with them.  Otherwise maybe everyone in his patrol are getting bummed out and they just announce their switch over to the Venture patrol and will be going to BWCA instead of summer camp this coming summer.

 

To me these designations of the 3 patrols established by the BSA are merely indicators to let everyone know that 1) the new guys might need some special attention, 2) the regular guys should be able to sail along pretty much on their own, and 3) the older guys are needing some special attention, too, to help keep their interest in something more exciting other than babysitting some new guys at council summer camp yet one more time.

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I'm hoping it works. Regarding a venture patrol, the hope, and I stress HOPE, is that by mixing them up into traditional or regular patrols now, we can get everyone up to speed so that when the 14-23 new Scouts come aboard in December, it will not overwhelm us. The goal is that the older guys can train the younger guys up so that the younger guys can take on the New Scouts, and the Older Scouts can form a venture patrol.

 

Regarding our NSP, by the 1 year definition, they should be a regular patrol. With the exception on 2 who came aboard in June and 1 who came in December, everyone else has been in Boy Scouts for 12-15 months. They should have "gelled" by now, but for whatever reason, and I do think I know why now, they have not.

 

As to why they have not "gelled,"  I think the first TG and later PL, they had was the reason. Found out that the reason why they didn't have the arguing and bickering like they do now is that he used a very dictatorial approach. Instead of working their way through things, he told them exactly what to do and how to do it. It was his way or the highway so to speak. Which thinking about it, a lot of the challenges we had before the last patrol elections with the NSP was when the TG/PL  was not camping with them. The adults heard some of this, but not everything hence why it's taken a while to realize this. Then when the new TG was assigned, because he is trying to get them to do things on their own and be independent, it is chaos and anarchy. They have been in Scouts 6-12 months, but have never really been independent. Instead of adults telling them what to do and how to do it, it was the TG/PL.

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I'm hoping it works. Regarding a venture patrol, the hope, and I stress HOPE, is that by mixing them up into traditional or regular patrols now, we can get everyone up to speed so that when the 14-23 new Scouts come aboard in December, it will not overwhelm us. The goal is that the older guys can train the younger guys up so that the younger guys can take on the New Scouts, and the Older Scouts can form a venture patrol.

 

Regarding our NSP, by the 1 year definition, they should be a regular patrol. With the exception on 2 who came aboard in June and 1 who came in December, everyone else has been in Boy Scouts for 12-15 months. They should have "gelled" by now, but for whatever reason, and I do think I know why now, they have not.

 

As to why they have not "gelled,"  I think the first TG and later PL, they had was the reason. Found out that the reason why they didn't have the arguing and bickering like they do now is that he used a very dictatorial approach. Instead of working their way through things, he told them exactly what to do and how to do it. It was his way or the highway so to speak. Which thinking about it, a lot of the challenges we had before the last patrol elections with the NSP was when the TG/PL  was not camping with them. The adults heard some of this, but not everything hence why it's taken a while to realize this. Then when the new TG was assigned, because he is trying to get them to do things on their own and be independent, it is chaos and anarchy. They have been in Scouts 6-12 months, but have never really been independent. Instead of adults telling them what to do and how to do it, it was the TG/PL.

That's an issue when scouts are TG/PLs for younger guys. One of the job responsibilities of the SM is to train youth leaders. That may be directly though coaching, it may be indirect through Troop Instructors, SPL's or NYLT. 

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Regarding our NSP, by the 1 year definition, they should be a regular patrol. With the exception on 2 who came aboard in June and 1 who came in December, everyone else has been in Boy Scouts for 12-15 months. They should have "gelled" by now, but for whatever reason, and I do think I know why now, they have not.

 

As to why they have not "gelled,"  I think the first TG and later PL, they had was the reason. Found out that the reason why they didn't have the arguing and bickering like they do now is that he used a very dictatorial approach. Instead of working their way through things, he told them exactly what to do and how to do it. It was his way or the highway so to speak. Which thinking about it, a lot of the challenges we had before the last patrol elections with the NSP was when the TG/PL  was not camping with them. The adults heard some of this, but not everything hence why it's taken a while to realize this. Then when the new TG was assigned, because he is trying to get them to do things on their own and be independent, it is chaos and anarchy. They have been in Scouts 6-12 months, but have never really been independent. Instead of adults telling them what to do and how to do it, it was the TG/PL.

 

IMHO, This is why one is to teach leadership instead of management.  Pure and simple.  Teaching the boys that bossing people around is not taking care of them and sooner or later that whole process is going to come back and make life miserable.  Obviously one can see this happening in this situation. 

 

If this is the "leadership" that's being taught in the troop, the problems one is identifying simply aren't going to go away anytime soon regardless of how mix and match the adults and/or boys scramble the patrol memberships.

 

The really sad part of this whole process is that the BOYS are blamed for poor adult leadership instruction.  All these discipline problems, these attendance problems, these whatever problems are most often the result of poor adult leadership.  The adults aren't taking care of their boys nor are they teaching the boys to take care of other people at all times, instead they are teaching them only to take care of jobs and solve the problems that they have created for themselves because of poor leadership training.

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IMHO, This is why one is to teach leadership instead of management.  Pure and simple.  Teaching the boys that bossing people around is not taking care of them and sooner or later that whole process is going to come back and make life miserable.  Obviously one can see this happening in this situation. 

 

It's not even effective management... 

 

A managers goal is to accomplish a task as efficiently as possible. Angry subordinates will not be efficient. They will rebel, and the task will not get done. Miserable subordinates will quit if they can. In volunteer organizations, they simply disappear. In employment, they slack off and look for new jobs, then drop their two week notice out of nowhere, (or if their manager really sucks, they'll just leave.) 

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