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qwazse

Assigning Scouts to Patrols: Community Factors?

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Readers looking for a heated discussion on patrol assignments might likely look under this forum, but actually there's one roiling away in Advancement (http://scouter.com/index.php/topic/28189-positions-of-responsibility/?p=437306 somewhere around post 50).

 

The way I see it: this is community dependent.

 

In some communities, the boys come "networked" with older and younger boys -- even as cross-overs. This was my case as I was tighter with the older boys in my neighborhood and church than with the boys in my den. So, dropping into a mixed-age patrol was like putting the bluegill back in the pond. A few years later, the first-years were a tight bunch so the SM asked me to be their PL. Not sure if he had discussed it with the PLC in advance, but I dove in, and it was fun!

 

In other communities, the boys don't come with those connections. Scouting might be the main place for them to build them, and the den might be the tie that binds. I've seen that with several groups of cross-overs. A guided new scout patrol seems to do wonders in that context ... except for the boys who were never cubs or when the boys in the den are in factions.

 

Then the SM and SPL may feel compelled to "pick teams" for the boys. Matching by grades may make sense, or maybe by neighborhood would work better? Or, maybe a couple of guys are just oil and water, and in some cases it takes a lot of  mid-stream adjustments.

 

Of course, maybe the SM naturally takes his cues from team sports and assigns patrols based on some perception of varsity vs. JV scouts. Absent any input from the PLC, I do think this is where we see the build-up of troop-method behavior.

 

 

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My first troop was adult led so all the patrols were simply assigned by the SM.  End of discussion.

 

My second troop was in a small bedroom community (5,000 pop.) with one school, boys were more apt to choose multiple ages within a year or two of their own having associated with the boys in the neighborhood a bit more simply because there weren't that many kids around.

 

My third troop tends to be from a very large city/urban area (50,000+ with multiple troops to choose from, recruiting from multiple packs, offering a boy-led, patrol method option which is unique to the council.

 

With being a new troop, I'm not seeing much beyond age layering so far with the new troop.

 

If left alone, yes, the neighborhood does have an influence on how the boys pick their patrols, if that is being offered by the adults.  The only mixed age patrols I'm familiar with are those ones that were basically assigned by the SM and didn't function as a patrol anyway so it didn't really matter.

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Spot on @@qwazse. In my community guys do go to school together. However, they tend to join Scouts from their packs in groups. We try as much as possible to keep those groups together. They get to select their patrol based on interactions with the various patrols at open meetings. Of course, there is always "the cool patrol" and you cannot have 22 guys all join the cool patrol...but you CAN help them figure out what makes the cool patrol "cool" and help them create that for their patrol.

 

We have found that, by the time most kids hit 7th grade, that which patrol they are in really doesn't matter. We've even had kids leave their initial patrol because they wanted leadership opportunities that they could never get in their original patrol.

 

I think you can revise the Patrol Method from B-P's era just a bit so that it doesn't have to be the neighborhood "gang". It can be a geographically disparate group share similar view points. That was B-P's point in the first place.

 

My two cents.

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Riddle me his, Joker.

 

We have found that, by the time most kids hit 7th grade, that which patrol they are in really doesn't matter. We've even had kids leave their initial patrol because they wanted leadership opportunities that they could never get in their original patrol.

 

What are the leadership opportunities that they could never get in their original patrol?  My boys all seem to find plenty of opportunity and if not, they can do a special SM project and still stick with their buddies.  It doesn't need to be an either/or situation for the boys.  I have had a boy "drop out" of his patrol for 4-6 months to take on a troop POR, but they always went back to their original patrols.  Their buddies held the spot for them.

 

I have had a PL step down for 6 months so another in his patrol could try out the position.  The PL then was the APL who could then mentor him from that supportive position.  After he got POR credit, he could then open up his options for doing TG types of leadership role for a while before once again returning to the original patrol of buddies.

 

About the only time I see boys jumping patrols is when there is a personality conflict, and then the other patrols tend to shy away from it because they don't want to deal with it in their patrol.  As a last resort, I work with the PL to help resolve the conflict.  I would have the SPL do it, but we tend to no have one.  I have seen PL's approach other PL's to see if they would be willing to take a boy because of some reason, but generally it gets taken care of on the PL level.

 

If there are dwindling numbers over the years and the patrols drop down below the 6 and there are no spots being held for their buddies in POR, sports, etc. then maybe the patrol might take on a seasoned scout or two from another patrol. Generally by the time the boys get to Venture patrol, their numbers have dropped sufficiently that whole patrols simply merge.

 

I guess I've never had anyone concerned about getting POR opportunities that had to switch patrols permanently.

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Growing up, my troop's SPL basically assigned folks to patrols. Initially it was essentially the first person to welcome them to the meeting. Over time we got a "feeder pack" and we would divide up the folks, teaming them up with an "experienced" Scout in the patrol to teach them and be with them at the meeting, and later on at the survival camp out. 9/10 the new Scout would join the patrol the did the survival camp out with. We were mixed aged patrols.

 

Every 6 months we would do troop and patrol elections. After the SPL's election, we all had the chance to switch patrols if we wanted to. Rarely folks switched patrols, but it did happen. Then PL elections. Once we needed a 4th patrol due to new Scouts. I was asked to be their PL, so I left. This was before NSPs became part of the BSA, we were guinea pigs and it failed miserably. We went back to mixed aged patrols. But my patrol thought I did a good enough job to reelect me PL. In all honesty it was the only time I was elected to a POR.

 

The exception to all this was the "cool patrol", aka the Leadership Corps. They were the older Scouts who had "been there, done that." All were First Class or higher, had served as PLs, and were essentially elected into the patrol by its members. Grant you it was an informal process, but they had to want you to join them. There were some perks, specifically doing some challenging activites whiel the troop did the scheduled stuff, but we also worked our butts off. We were the ones doing the teaching. We were the ones running the meetings, judging the interpatrol competitions, etc. The Leadership Corps was the ones serving as Instructors, Librarians, Quartermaster, etc.

 

My current troop had adults assign patrols. One patrol is awesome, the older Scouts in the venture patrol. The others we will see. part of me wants to go to the model above: Permanent patrols that they stay in unless they want to switch or move up to the venture patrol.

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@@Stosh, if you get a patrol with all superstars, and superstar #5 wants to be PL, he may have to wait a long time to get PL. Make the switch and he might get it faster. Guess what? He did. ;)

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He can drop out of his patrol for 4-6 months, his buddies hold his spot, do the PL thingy and then go back to his original patrol, too.  This is how my troop officers did their shot on the Leadership Corps.  They got their shot at POR, did their thing and like playing a season of football came back to their buddies.  None of these switches need to be locked in stone.

 

I also emphasize leadership OUTSIDE of the POR requirements.  My boys learn how to effectively lead from "the back seat".  Major supportive leadership.  Like I said, all but one of the rare SPL's in my troop were selected from the patrol APL position.  My Eagle scout had to prove to me he understood leadership before I would recommend him for Eagle and he did so without being in a POR job.

 

Instead of a regular meeting tonight, my Webelos boys and one scout went over to the cemetery to place flags.  Before getting assigned a row to place flags two different Webelos boys came up to me as I was getting out of my car and said, "Mr. Stosh, what can I do to help?"    I don't have boys chomping at the bit for the plumb PL jobs, they are too busy doing leadership in a variety of different ways.  Lesson #1 in leadership might be "take care of your boys", Lesson #2 is, "the best leaders are the best followers" and Lesson #3 is "if everyone is a leader, you end up with perfect teamwork."

 

Like I said, it is not uncommon for the PL (highest authority in the troop, top job) to step down for a few months to APL to let his buddy take the reins for 6 months to get his POR while the "former" PL mentors.

 

I had it happen only once, but I had one boy try the TG thingy and stepped out of his patrol to do so.  He struggled quite a bit with the new boys, but his home patrol PL mentored him as if he was still in his patrol, and by the time the boy had things under control, the whole home patrol was backing him up.  They didn't do it for the NSP boys as much as they did it for their TG buddy who technically was in the Leadership Corps patrol at the time.  Those patrol bonds run strong.  Never saw anything like that again, but for a moment it was really neat t see it play out.

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@@qwazse, you're asking why would scouts want to be together and the common response is they have common interests. I don't see that as much as the scouts have common personalities. I have a patrol of quiet, focused scouts, a patrol of egregious scouts,  a patrol of leftovers, .... within any of these patrols there is not much common interest. Friendships that have formed since tigers are the same thing. The scouts are good friends, and yet they may have few interests in common.

 

Also, the idea that all scouts want to be in patrols of the same age does not hold with what I see. Some scouts want a mix of ages. The younger because they do want some help, and the older because they do want to help. One scout told me he likes being with the younger scouts because he can escape the usual high school drama. The idea that all older scouts want to hike harder, farther, faster than the younger scours is also a myth. Some do, most don't. I had one patrol where everyone was the same age and it became a mean girls HS drama theme because everyone was trying to one up everyone else. The scouts decided on their own to move a few people around, to mix things up, and it is working much better.

 

Without a doubt, the older, self centered scouts want to be away from the younger scouts. That's not to say that all older scouts that want to be away from the younger scouts are self centered, but when the response to a younger scout that's misbehaving is "I don't want to babysit them" then I start asking questions and it usually comes down to the older scout is really just thinking about himself. If he'd instead say he wants to go on longer hikes then it's a very different conversation. About when the scouts are close to 17 there is a switch and those scouts would like to camp together.

 

Bottom line, there is no one size fits all approach.

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@@qwazse, you're asking why would scouts want to be together and the common response is they have common interests. I don't see that as much as the scouts have common personalities. I have a patrol of quiet, focused scouts, a patrol of egregious scouts,  a patrol of leftovers, .... within any of these patrols there is not much common interest. Friendships that have formed since tigers are the same thing. The scouts are good friends, and yet they may have few interests in common.

common personalities.... yet another variable in the mix.  Good point

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If one were to spend a lot of time discerning all the dynamics as to why certain boys hang out together and others don't, one could spend an enormous amount of time sorting it all out.  There are as many different factors that determine friendships that a mere month from now are all off the table.

 

I for one don't want to spend the time worrying about it.  I let the boys pick and choose who they want to hang with today and tomorrow I let the boys pick and choose who they want to hang with and the day after that I let the boys pick and choose.....  Seriously I have more important things to do than worry about who's getting along with whom today, just to start all over again tomorrow.

 

I do have to admit, I think a lot of the discipline problems that I hear others having with their boys are a result of a number of factors that I don't have to hassle with.  Bullying?  I saw it in my first troop, none since.  I'm not saying it's perfect, but the problems I do have generally work themselves out on their own.

 

Emotionally I work with such things as homesickness, narcissism/ego, and personal issues not related to scouting.

 

...and this is why I stay out of it when it comes to patrol structure. 6-8 boys and let me know who's the PL.  That's all I want to deal with.  It things are not working out it's their problem, not mine, and they have all the authority to fix it. 

 

Community factors?  Personality factors?  Relationship factors?  Interest factors? Age factors?  Maturity factors?  Yes, most likely.  Do I need to know what they are?  Nope.  All I need to know what 6-8 boys are hanging out together and who's their PL.  If I need to know more than that, they'll tell me.

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He can drop out of his patrol for 4-6 months, his buddies hold his spot, do the PL thingy and then go back to his original patrol, too.  This is how my troop officers did their shot on the Leadership Corps.  They got their shot at POR, did their thing and like playing a season of football came back to their buddies.  None of these switches need to be locked in stone.

 

But all of this was the Scout's doing. It was his request. He was one of four guys that spent Tiger-AOL together. They crossed over together. One day he said he wanted to switch patrols. A new patrol was forming and he wanted to be part of it from the ground up. That took guts. BTW, this was my Scout who recently passed. He was all that and more!

 

Anyway, since it was his request I let him move...and he was brilliant. In fact, that patrol would not have become the cohesive unit they did without out.

 

I would argue that this approach is ALSO how the Patrol Method should work. When guys decide on their own it is time to move then why not? I mean, we don't stay 12 forever and we all grow up. So too must the Patrol Method grow and develop. As long as it is still based on the boys' decisions I see no issue.

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Neither do I, all of scouting, especially the patrol method member/leadership selection is entirely up to the boys' choices.  My comments on the forum only reflect what I have observed over the years as to what those choices have been.  I personally don't care one way or the other unless something goes seriously haywire and I have to deal with it.

 

I have seldom seen where buddies break apart for very long without eventually getting back together later on.  Unless there is some kind of tension among the boys, I don't see much bridge burning.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just not very often.

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We have several feeder packs and those boys tend to come in as NSP as their old Webelo patrol. Brand new scouts are assigned to the same patrol a friend. Later when they have some actual experience we let them pick a buddy or triad and assign them to the existing mixed age patrol. A few times the core of the old NSP want to stay together and start a new patrol.

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We have several feeder packs and those boys tend to come in as NSP as their old Webelo patrol. Brand new scouts are assigned to the same patrol a friend. Later when they have some actual experience we let them pick a buddy or triad and assign them to the existing mixed age patrol. A few times the core of the old NSP want to stay together and start a new patrol.

 

That seems to be the consensus of my boys as well.  I think the majority of boys wanting to go into older patrols depends a lot on older brothers, kinda things.  Otherwise, I think the boys find a commonality that first year in the NSP that they tend to feel like they are all in the same boat, facing the same challenges, and working together that they don't want to give up later on.  I find a lot more "movement" in the older scouts who are seeking POR credit and such, but for the most part once the boys form up, there's only a little movement here and there for a myriad of reasons. 

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Ok, I have a question with all of these different patrol configurations. As you may remember, we are trying (kicking and screaming) to move to patrol method. The scouts arranged themselves into mixed age patrols about 6 months ago but we did leave a NSP since most of them came together from one pack. 

 

We are getting ready to go on the first ever Patrol camping trip for the NSP. It's been easier to nudge the new scouts that way rather than the ones who have been around for years and used to the troop method. I brought up patrol camping to the PL of a mixed patrol and he was excited but an adult reminded me of the rule where scouts with more than 2 years age difference can't be in the same tent. Doesn't that interfere with the mixed age patrols? Do you just end up taking extra tents so that the ages can be segregated?

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