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Beavah

Patrol Method Made Simple (for the Real World)

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Spun off from: The Senior Patrol Leader is In Charge

 

Yah, figured I'd spin this off from da other odd thread that was gettin' all confusin'.   :)

 

The topic is "Patrol Method Made Simple".  Everyone gets one post to offer practical advice to a well-intentioned scouter who has had a year or two in da program and is steppin' up to be Scoutmaster.  He/She wants to use Patrol Method effectively.   Give your pragmatic, practical advice on how to set that up.   Assume a typical troop of, say 22 boys on paper, 15 active includin' three high school aged boys, plus 3 crossovers from one pack and two from another.  Right now they've got patrols on paper only as administrative groups for meetings.

 

Note: This is about Patrol Method, eh?  Not Youth Leadership.  Yeh can include a bit about trainin' or helpin' PLs and such, but let's not mix this up with Boy Led.

 

Ready....

 

Steady...

 

Go!

Edited by Beavah

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Oh goodie, this is easy.

 

Take all your boys put them into a room by themselves, no adults.  Tell them they need patrols of 6-8 boys and a leader.  Can't come out until that's done.

 

Record the groups and leaders.

 

If one has more than 3-4 leader/groups put the leaders back into the room and tell them they have to pick a PL support person to be SPL.  They can pick from anyone in the troop.

 

When they come back in record who that is.

 

Take the SPL and PL's and give them training.  "TAKE CARE OF YOUR BOYS,  DON"T LET THEM REGRET THEIR SELECTION."

 

Now it's time to go get coffee.

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Step 1: Envision the pinnacle scouting experience of youth hiking and camping independently with their mates.

Step 2: Ask every adult in the room to do the same. (Depending on your audience, you may need to emphasize one word in that vision over the others.)

Step 3: Ask every youth to do the same. (This may involve turning off some electronics.)

  • Ask them what they think that would look like,
  • where they think it would be,
  • who they think it will be with,
  • who will most likely get them there.

Make it clear that when that is happening on a monthly basis "they will have arrived" as a scout.

Then hold up the handbook and say, "Make it so by reading this and doing what's in it. Any questions?"

 

Then, what @@Stosh said is about as good a start as any. But, it's possible that when they tell you who they think it would be with, they will answer "our respective patrols, and our PLs will get us there." If so, then start at the training.

 

Step 4. At every success, remind them "You are that much closer to the pinnacle scouting experience. Keep it up!" Be sure to brag about it to the kid's mom and dad as well.

At every failure, return to step 1 or step 2. They should go more smoothly each time.

Edited by qwazse

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Help the boys split themselves into two more or less able and active patrols.  Give each patrol their own set of clearly marked equipment: tents, chuck box, fly, etc.  On every campout, no matter who shows up a patrol is a patrol is a patrol is a patrol, each patrol plans its own meals and then sets up their own stuff, and eats, sleeps, and cleans together.

 

That's my advice, now here's my dilemma (sorry Beav) this is pretty close to how my scouts are set up in theory.  But left to their own devices, which I try very hard to do, they do not maintain patrol integrity and will end up operating as one big group, or two groups, that co mingle everything: themselves, their sites, their gear, their food.  In the conflict between boy-led and patrol method I allow the boy led decisions to trump the patrol method.  I have never been able to solve this riddle.

Edited by T2Eagle

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300' between campsites is the general rule...... If they want to co-mingle after that, try barbed wire.

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Our patrols are divided primarily by food preferences. Fish or no fish?

 

Does that loosely translate into Catholic Protestant or am I reading too much into it?  :)

  • Upvote 1

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1. At the next committee meeting discuss your vision with the COR, CC and members.  Explain to them what it means, what it looks like, and why they want it.  Ensure they are on-board and explain that you have some legwork to accomplish to set the table.

2. At the next meeting with just your adult ASMs have the same conversation.  Ensure they are also on-board.  Review the youth roster to flag who regularly misses meetings, campouts or activities.  Be prepared to minimize impact on the patrols.

3. Quietly take a review of your current camping patterns and equipment, ensure you have the infrastructure available to provide for multiple patrols.  If you are a car camping unit you'll need two of everything perhaps.

4. Repeat Step 1, ensure everybody is still on-board and acquire whatever gear/support/equipment might be necessary.  

5. If you have a Sr. leadership group (SPL, etc.), take them out for pizza and explain everything to them as well.  Talk about structure of patrols (NSP vs mixed age, etc.), patrol competitions, ideas for patrol specific ideas on campouts (cooking competitions, etc.).  Develop a plan with the boys.

6. Have the SPL and team start the discussion with the boys.  Have them go through setting up their patrols.

7. Do a month or two of guided patrol meetings, PLCs and campout.  Pick a local state park where the patrols can go hiking or fishing or whatever independent of each other.

8. After a couple months, if all goes well, maybe encourage the patrols to plan separate campouts/activities if you have the support.

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If one has more than 3-4 leader/groups put the leaders back into the room and tell them they have to pick a PL support person to be SPL.  They can pick from anyone in the troop.

 

Although some people may not care - well, there is no "may" about it, some people definitely do not care - but I just thought someone should mention that the BSA says the SPL is elected by the members of the troop, not just the PL's.

 

(How the election should be run is another story.  For years our troop followed the path of put the kids in a room and see who ends being SPL, with no adult involvement.  Unfortunately upon closer inspection the elections seemed to be sort of a cross between 1950's-era Chicago and current-day Russia, which is not meant as a compliment.  There were some complaints about fairness.  A couple of years ago we decided that an adult leader who is very experienced with elections and is a former local elected official (that would be me) should "model" how an election should be run and hopefully the boys would pick it up.  Hopefully this is the year the boys will pick it up, because we have an SPL who is presumably stepping down after 2 years in the job, and he's a bright kid and a fair kid, so hopefully he can run an election without images of Mayor Daley (the first one) or Vladimir Putin coming to mind.)

 

But I digress.

 

I am less sure about this next one, but I suspect the BSA literature also says there should be an SPL if there are 2 or more patrols, not "more than 3-4".

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300' between campsites is the general rule...... If they want to co-mingle after that, try barbed wire.

Philisophically why do I want that?  What Aim is achieved by insisting on two patrols of seven rather than one organic patrol of 14.  BP said put a bunch of boys in a field and they'll form their own gangs.  Why is two gangs of seven better than one gang of 14?

 

I know I should want two, but I'm hard pressed to articulate why.

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Of course people can do it any way they want, but over the years I have had very little if no problems with the boys that have served my units as SPL's.  As far as the selection/election process, I have seen SM's assign SPL's, I have seen troops elect them and then suffer for 6 months before they get a chance to correct their poor selection, the whole time the adults yelled at the boy for no doing his job, and I have done it by having the PL's pick someone they trust to help them be successful with there patrols.  I offer that as a suggestion to the boys and the most often choose to do it that way.  They have tried the BSA troop elections and found them to not be very helpful.  Either way success or failure, I'm not in the picture, I'm not holding the bag and the boys know they always can do a "do-over" at any time to fix the problems in the troop.  My troops have been quite small - took over a troop  of 5 boys and built it up to 28 boys, and this second one is a new troop now with 10 boys.  They really haven't felt the need to have an SPL until they got up around 3-4 patrols.  That was their call.  I didn't need to worry about an SPL if they didn't want one.

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Philisophically why do I want that?  What Aim is achieved by insisting on two patrols of seven rather than one organic patrol of 14.  BP said put a bunch of boys in a field and they'll form their own gangs.  Why is two gangs of seven better than one gang of 14?

 

I know I should want two, but I'm hard pressed to articulate why.

 

One huge patrol?  no problem, about half the boys won't have to be responsible for anything.  They're going to like that.  Larger challenge for the leadership to handle that many boys.  Professional teachers will always tell you, the more students in the classroom the more difficult it is to teach, maintain discipline and the kids' educational development is shortchanged.

 

2 patrols?  Twice the leadership opportunity, closer camaraderie, everyone has a responsibility, small groups develop deeper bonds.  Everyone has a job and works together for each other.

 

When the large group becomes unruly, the opportunity for adult intervention increases proportionally to the ruckus. 

 

I do know as has been borne out by small group dynamics, the group will grow to a certain size and then stop.  It cannot be handled by the leadership to be any bigger than this arbitrary number.  Older boys might be able to handle 8-10 boys, but the younger patrols or mixed patrols won't be able to do that as well.

 

The patrol method seems to have a pretty good track record coming out of the gates back at the beginning of Scouting,  Over the past 100 years , there have been no significant improvements that push the envelop beyond the original specifications.  Everyone is free to try it on their own.

 

For me, I just find as an adult there is far less drama and problems with the smaller groups.  With my 10 boys, I'm right on the cusp of going to two patrols.  I have all new boys, so it's going to be difficult to divide the support two ways, but it will be a major topic of discussion for the boys next week at summer camp.  We may just give the two patrol set up a try this fall.  I'll have to wait to see what the boys want.

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the boys know they always can do a "do-over" at any time to fix the problems in the troop. 

 

Ah, yes, no fixed terms, just have an election whenever "the people" "decide".  Somewhere, Vladimir Putin's ears perk up.

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Does that loosely translate into Catholic Protestant or am I reading too much into it?  :)

You are reading too much into it.

  • Upvote 1

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So does every parliamentarian democracy in the world including the UK the birthplace of Scouting.

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