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Patrol vs. Troop Cooking

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We are a troop that has grown from about 5 scouts to about 30 in the last couple of years. Troop cooking has been the norm. On camping trips we normally get about 5-10 scouts and 2-3 adults. 

 

My question is where do you make the decision to go with patrol cooking vs. troop cooking when you might have only 1-2 scouts from a particular patrol attending? Would you still have the patrol purchase supplies for only 1-2 scouts or would you integrate them into another patrol for the trip?

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First of all, welcome to the forum.  Glad you feel comfortable tossing us a bone to chew on.  :)

 

From the explanation it's kinda hard to get a handle on exactly what's going on here with the troop.  5 boys to 30 boys with 20 boys not showing up?  Sounds like more struggles than just cooking arrangements.

 

First of all, I would reorganize the boys that are attending into 6-8 boys to a patrol and if that means one would have 2 inactive patrols, so be it.  That's another issue that would need to be addressed separately.  With the reorganization, at least the groups actively going on activities will keep the numbers a bit better than 1-2 scouts per patrol.

 

Then I would get a good background understanding of the patrol method and work from there.   If only 10 boys are showing up for a campout, doing "troop" cooking isn't much different than patrol cooking at this point.  Go after attendance / patrol dynamic team building and let the eating arrangements slide for a while,  There are bigger fish to fry before getting to that point.

 

The boys in the patrols, once they get established will naturally be able to make the transition to patrol cooking on their own.

 

Get the active boys out camping and then start working with the boys to have them recruit the inactives.  I am constantly telling my boys to keep inviting the boys that don't show up because they are scouts in the troop until recharter time and they don't renew.

 

This won't happen overnight and one may have already lost the 20 inactive boys, but go after them anyway.  Then as new boys come on, focus on getting them oriented well in their first year and get them in the habit of scouting, then start working on patrol development for the new guys coming in.

 

Once one has the basics down fairly well, rely on the boys to give suggestions and options as to what they want to do and that will go a long way in building boy ownership in the program and your attendance issues will slowly decline. 

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Well, we have grown thanks to crossovers. We have great attendance at meetings. Usually about 20 scouts. About 10 scouts are High Schoolers who have reached Life and are participating less and less. 

 

The camping trips are where we only have 5-10 scouts show up. It is usually the same 5 plus a few others. Are you suggesting that the 5 that always show up be grouped into a permanent patrol? 

 

In January they redid their patrols on their own after years of being assigned patrols. We are (slowly, painfully) trying to move further into scout-led rather than adult-puppeteered. 

 

Thank you for your input and for the welcome message

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Well, we have grown thanks to crossovers. We have great attendance at meetings. Usually about 20 scouts. About 10 scouts are High Schoolers who have reached Life and are participating less and less. 

 

Doesn't sound like they are at all interested in the new guys.  Maybe a review of "help other people at all times" might be in order.

 

The camping trips are where we only have 5-10 scouts show up. It is usually the same 5 plus a few others. Are you suggesting that the 5 that always show up be grouped into a permanent patrol? 

 

What do the boys want to do?  Sure they picked their patrols, but if what they picked isn't working out, let them fix it so it is.  Maybe have one patrol known as the campers and let them do their thing.  I don't know how the other 15 boys are going to do with their advancement without camping and they make take a bit more time to accomplish it, but they shouldn't be holding back those that want to move along with the ranks.

 

 

In January they redid their patrols on their own after years of being assigned patrols. We are (slowly, painfully) trying to move further into scout-led rather than adult-puppeteered. 

 

Yep, and it sounds like you're right on track.  But remember, the boys are new at this boy-led thing and will make poor choices in the beginning.  Let them make their mistakes and support them in sorting things out afterwards.  Once they learn what they don't like, they'll gravitate towards what they do.  Mine always do.  It may be slow and painful, but remember, the struggle is what makes it worth it.  The years of struggling for a down-payment on a new house may only produce enough for a 2 bedroom hovel, but it's your Taj Mahal.

 

Thank you for your input and for the welcome message

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Patrols should always cook together. If you end up with just two then maybe combine, but three would still be fine.

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From what I'm seeing in the OP, it sounds like the older boys are the ones backing off.  That would mean that whatever older boys one would have having just picked new patrols may indeed have the older patrols loaded up with the older boys.  The new guys would be hung out to dry.  If they had TG's that would help.  I do realize that in the quest for the idea patrol method setup, these new guys might be more inclined to having PopTarts and hot dogs for a while.  I would much rather have the suggestion tossed out there that would align the boys into those that want to be there and those that don't rather than ending up with a whole bunch of fragmented patrols of one or two.  Don't ad hoc them for camping, just align them that way as a patrol of boys that want activities and not worry so much about the one staying at home at least not in the beginning of the patrol-method transition.

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Thanks for joining us.

 

To answer your first question, 1 has to join another patrol, 2 I leave to their choice, 3 or more they should cook as a patrol.

 

The question you didn't ask is why are only 5 of 30 scouts active? This is a symptom of bigger problems. It could be growing pains. What worked with 5 scouts won't work with 30. The 5 might feel like things have changed from what they like. 5 scouts is barely a patrol whereas 30 is maybe 4 patrols. 4 patrols with only 10 scouts showing up on a good day is not conducive to patrol spirit.

 

I'm reading tea leaves here but this is what I'd try. The older scouts drive the enthusiasm. Talk to them. You can't win them all over but half would be really great. You need their help. Ask them for their opinions. Give them some freedom to come up with ideas to crank up the enthusiasm. Once you have half the older scouts enthusiastic the younger scouts will start following.

 

If the older scouts are dead weight then get them out of the way and work with the younger scouts.

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The older boys are indeed backing off. They are getting a whiff of the fumes and their attentions are drifting elsewhere.

 

More than half of the troop are scouts who have been there one year or less. Looking at the next camping trip, there are 3 older scouts going and then 2 or 3 from each patrol. This is our biggest turn out for a camping trip ever and most of them are the ones who have just crossed over. 

 

Reading the comments, it seems like if there are 2 or more from each patrol, each patrol should do their own menus and do their own cooking. Is that right? Traditionally, we've been doing troop cooking but I think the task is getting to be too much. It's a different skill to cook for a group of 12 than to cook for 3. 

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The older boys are indeed backing off. They are getting a whiff of the fumes and their attentions are drifting elsewhere.

 

More than half of the troop are scouts who have been there one year or less. Looking at the next camping trip, there are 3 older scouts going and then 2 or 3 from each patrol. This is our biggest turn out for a camping trip ever and most of them are the ones who have just crossed over. 

 

Reading the comments, it seems like if there are 2 or more from each patrol, each patrol should do their own menus and do their own cooking. Is that right? Traditionally, we've been doing troop cooking but I think the task is getting to be too much. It's a different skill to cook for a group of 12 than to cook for 3. 

We even had a patrol of one on one campout. He got a cheering ovation from the troop at the end of the campout.

 

The task for cooking meals is a group activity and is one of the better team building exercises a patrol can do, no matter how many are involved.

 

But as is being pointed out, that your older scouts are finding reasons not to participate shows a bigger problem with the program. You will get a lot of advice for working toward that problem, but just going to a standard policy of patrol cooking is a good start.

 

Barry

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Reading the comments, it seems like if there are 2 or more from each patrol, each patrol should do their own menus and do their own cooking. Is that right? Traditionally, we've been doing troop cooking but I think the task is getting to be too much. It's a different skill to cook for a group of 12 than to cook for 3. 

 

It is very rare, but there are times where we have 3-4 Scouts per patrol going on a camp out. That's a perfect size for a new Scout to try his cooking skills. The Instructors work their way around to keep an eye on the cooks. If there's only 1-2 for a patrol or two we combine them for that trek only. Does not happen often, thank goodness.

 

We never cook as a troop unless we are doing desserts by the campfire. Even then, each patrol manages their own Dutch oven.

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It would seem that this is an illustration not of a policy shift at BSA but of the need at BSA for someone(s)  to police what different people or teams generate, to the end that a consistently accurate message is delivered.

 

Another example would be those in the Journey to Excellence bubble ruling that a weekend watching movies is a "weekend campout."

 

An article on Bill noted that he, informally, took on the role of insuring that BSA literature was consistent and of high quality.  Apparently, he had no problem raising issues of consistency and quality with anyone at BSA.

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We are a troop that has grown from about 5 scouts to about 30 in the last couple of years. Troop cooking has been the norm. On camping trips we normally get about 5-10 scouts and 2-3 adults. 

 

My question is where do you make the decision to go with patrol cooking vs. troop cooking when you might have only 1-2 scouts from a particular patrol attending? Would you still have the patrol purchase supplies for only 1-2 scouts or would you integrate them into another patrol for the trip?

 

You need to go to patrol cooking.  Personally, I would say that patrols should cook together, but our boys prefer to make ad hoc patrols if enough members of a patrol aren't present. 

 

How are your boys ever able to get the cooking requirements for T21 or cooking merit badge with Troop cooking? We have enough problems doing it in patrols.

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First of all, welcome to the forum.  Glad you feel comfortable tossing us a bone to chew on.  :)

 

From the explanation it's kinda hard to get a handle on exactly what's going on here with the troop.  5 boys to 30 boys with 20 boys not showing up?  Sounds like more struggles than just cooking arrangements.

 

First of all, I would reorganize the boys that are attending into 6-8 boys to a patrol and if that means one would have 2 inactive patrols, so be it.  That's another issue that would need to be addressed separately.  With the reorganization, at least the groups actively going on activities will keep the numbers a bit better than 1-2 scouts per patrol.

 

Then I would get a good background understanding of the patrol method and work from there.   If only 10 boys are showing up for a campout, doing "troop" cooking isn't much different than patrol cooking at this point.  Go after attendance / patrol dynamic team building and let the eating arrangements slide for a while,  There are bigger fish to fry before getting to that point.

 

The boys in the patrols, once they get established will naturally be able to make the transition to patrol cooking on their own.

 

Get the active boys out camping and then start working with the boys to have them recruit the inactives.  I am constantly telling my boys to keep inviting the boys that don't show up because they are scouts in the troop until recharter time and they don't renew.

 

This won't happen overnight and one may have already lost the 20 inactive boys, but go after them anyway.  Then as new boys come on, focus on getting them oriented well in their first year and get them in the habit of scouting, then start working on patrol development for the new guys coming in.

 

Once one has the basics down fairly well, rely on the boys to give suggestions and options as to what they want to do and that will go a long way in building boy ownership in the program and your attendance issues will slowly decline. 

 

Exactly.

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I can see keeping the boys in their patrols for cooking even if the number falls below 2-3 boys.  There is absolutely no motivation to work on getting others in the patrol to show up for outings if they are going to blend the patrols together anyway. 

 

As an adult leader whose other leader has dietary restrictions and does her own thing, I end up cooking for myself all the time.  It won't fulfill any requirements for advancement, but it's not the end of the world either.

 

I had 2 boys wanting to start their own patrol.  They were going to go out and recruit and basically what they did was draw POR credit for doing nothing.  They thought this was a big joke until it came to summer camp.  No mess hall camp and they needed to cook by patrols.  Well the one boy broke his leg 2 days before they were going to leave.  That left one boy all week long that had to do everything by himself.  That lasted until Tuesday when I was notified that the boy was now a member of another patrol.  It wasn't a temporary thing, it was a real move to the patrol.  After summer camp the boy with the broken leg found out he was in a patrol all by himself and gave up his shenanigans and joined an established patrol as well.  Sometimes one has to hold their ground and let the boys work out their failures on their own.

 

Older boys being affected by fumes?  This is another myth in Scouting.  They are not being lured away by the excitement of the various fumes, they are leaving because of the redundant boredom of a poorly run program.  It's time to let these boys be 16-17 year old boys at the top of their scouting game and let them put those skills into their adventures.  THEY DON'T WANT TO TEACH SQUARE KNOTS TO THE NSP!  If I were given the choice between teaching square knots or going kayaking.  I'd be out of there in a heartbeat!  Why would a 16 year old young adult not feel the same way?   Lemme see here.... Going on a date with Jeanie Sue or going to council summer camp for the 7th time?   Hmmmm, I'll get back to you on that one.  Now, if we're talking heading out west for a week long camp in Yellowstone's or Denali's back country or 100 miles of the AT,  Maybe some serious whitewater kayaking, I'm thinking Jeanie Sue might not make the grade.

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