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Eagle94-A1

Building Patrol Spirit: a Pie in the Face

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So, oldest is trying to come up with ways to inspire the patrols to do what they are suppose to do. He came up with putting a pie in an ASM's face for the top patrol after 2 or three months. I'm game, but what are your thoughts.

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It needs to come from the boys to have any meaning. We had one where it was put a pie in the SM's face but ended up being all about him and in the end the boys were turned off. A silly song and dance was popular once. 

 

We make the PL do at least one, preferably 2, Patrol Activities every 6 months. Some did a camping sleep over, a few Q-Zar or Movie dates, one just grilled hotdogs and played video games. Once done it really seemed to help camaraderie; just getting them to do it...

 

A few years that we made sure that when a Patrol one a competition it got displayed for a few meetings. Tried a Hogwarts-style points system but never got anywhere... 

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I'll find out in a few weeks. Doing something similar.

 

But Tampa Turtle brings up a very important point. A pie in the face will only help patrol spirit if it's something the patrol wants to do. It will also only last as long as the competition, so a couple of months in this case.

 

In my troop the older scouts decided to perfect making pizza in a DO and have chocolate fondue afterwards. It's their thing, they came up with it, and other things get pushed out of the way to accommodate it. They've been doing this every campout for the past 9 months. That's leadership and teamwork. I was talking to a scout in a different patrol and he noticed how much fun they were having. Turns out his patrol is suffering a lack of teamwork. I asked him what his patrol is good at and what they'd like to do. Long story short, he got excited about backpacking and making cookies in a DO. It's not anyone else telling them what to do. I don't think you can tell a patrol to have better teamwork. Something just has to click and someone has to make it happen. The right personalities are a big part of this. The great buzzkill is a group of scouts that only do what they're told and complain a lot. You need some scouts that are going to say hey, let's go do this, and a bunch of other scouts that say it sounds like fun.

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We've done some things like that as well and TT is right. We once had a competition where the winning patrol got to shave the SMs head. The scouts lost interest and it never happened. 

 

Nothing brings a patrol together more than the stress of working as a team. The more intense, the better. I was told once that a group needs to be together at least 30 to 35 hours to start bonding as a team. A weekend camp out just barely gets that in. I know it was a small thing, but that is one of the reasons we didn't break camp until after lunch. 

 

And many of us have heard the four phases of team building; Forming, storming, norming and performing. Well it's rare to find a close team that didn't go through those phases. The most intense and fastest I've watched scout teams bond (norming and performing), are the high adventure crew trips. Nothing like climbing 4000 feet at high altitude in one day to weaken the our patience. The scouts on crew trips have a few days to break down and build back up. Except for summer camp, patrols don't have the kind of time. So troops have to get creative.

 

Bonding patrols is always a topic among troops. I don't personally have a lot of hope for the pie in the face, but I am impressed with your son initiating the idea and looking for something. I'm confident he will make it happen. Just understanding the need is 90% of the problem. 

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Nothing brings a patrol together more than the stress of working as a team. The more intense, the better.

There might be more to it than that. The patrol I mentioned above with the scout that was jealous of the older scouts, most of that patrol went to Philmont a month ago and they argued over stupid stuff the whole time. Two scouts in particular just wouldn't let it work even after 12 days on the trail. They are both strong willed but one in particular just doesn't get what the oath and law are about. Doing something wrong only means you got caught.

 

I went on a week long backpacking trip with a group of scouts years ago and one scout was rather vocal and complained about everything. He brought the entire group down. There wasn't enough of something in the other scouts to just ignore him. The other adult and I tried talking to him, but nothing worked. In hindsight we found out his family life had issues. Personalities do matter.

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If you do make a promise, even if the boys lose interest, keep it. We had a few leaders that promised a party or a fishing trip to boys who earned XX and later forgot all about it or just didn't do it. Major withdrawal of trust. The boys do notice those things even if they never say it.

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There might be more to it than that. The patrol I mentioned above with the scout that was jealous of the older scouts, most of that patrol went to Philmont a month ago and they argued over stupid stuff the whole time. Two scouts in particular just wouldn't let it work even after 12 days on the trail. They are both strong willed but one in particular just doesn't get what the oath and law are about. Doing something wrong only means you got caught.

 

I went on a week long backpacking trip with a group of scouts years ago and one scout was rather vocal and complained about everything. He brought the entire group down. There wasn't enough of something in the other scouts to just ignore him. The other adult and I tried talking to him, but nothing worked. In hindsight we found out his family life had issues. Personalities do matter.

Had a Scout just like that in my Philmont crew last year. Pulled his own weight but was a morale pain in the butt.

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I think there's always one in every Philmont crew that doesn't really belong there.  We had one in my crew as well.  I didn't know a kid could whine for 9 days in a row.

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I think there should be a special PITA knot for just such occasions. Did a 5 day hike paired with such a lad. And did a one day 25 miler with a boy who was truly not ready and complained for the entire time. Being so slow I often end up hiking with the ones who are unhappy who also happen to be slow. However it forces me to be cheerful to keep up their morale which in turns helps me feel better.

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Somewhere, somehow, I sense someone looking in the Index to the Guide to Safe Scouting, perhaps under "Face, Pie in the" :)

Do not, repeat do not use Menthol shaving creme.

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Is there a better way to build patrol spirit than having the Scouts spend most of their time in the patrol context -  camping, swimming, competing, learning, doing service, being silly?  

 

Try nothing but patrol meetings for a month or for the Summer.

 

Honor Patrol system to encourage behaviors desired by PLC with reward of ??  Big Red One disk for patrol flag; choice of site at campout; double vote in PLC on some issue (home field for World Series for winner of All Star Game)

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Some Patrols just "get it" more than others. We had one that was usually #1 or #2 and took a lot of pride in their patrol box, etc. The being able to pick the Patrol camping area was a very coveted benefit and they usually picked the best spot farthest away from the adults. On occasion we found they had pinched the best site from the adults!

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1) Patrols need to matter.   Avoid combining patrols on camp outs.  Combining patrols conveys the message that patrols don't matter.  This month a scout is in the liger patrol (combination of lions and tigers because only a few from each patrol attended the campout); next month he is in the leagles (lions and eagles), following month, it is the leagears (combination of lions, eagles and bears).  Loyalty (and the resulting spirit) doesnt build with a random, ever changing group.

 

2) Have meaningful competitions.  Interpatrol activities at each meeting and camp out need to be patrol vs patrol.   Patrols need to have bragging rights that they bested the other patrols.  This implies that there should be more to competitions than simply dividing up into 2 groups for a large game of capture the flag; a 3 or 4 team (i.e., patrols) will work better at building patrol spirit. 

 

3) Patrols camp at some distance from each other - this topic has been covered extensively in other threads.

 

4) Mixed age patrols.  You want older boys to care about and nurture younger boys in their patrol.  This creates a bonding that doesnt happen as easily when all of the boys are of near equal ability.  It is also needed to have meaningful competitions  (there is not much spirit building when a patrol consisting of 8th grade boys competes with a patrol of 6th graders).

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Is there a better way to build patrol spirit than having the Scouts spend most of their time in the patrol context -  camping, swimming, competing, learning, doing service, being silly?  

 

Try nothing but patrol meetings for a month or for the Summer.

 

Honor Patrol system to encourage behaviors desired by PLC with reward of ??  Big Red One disk for patrol flag; choice of site at campout; double vote in PLC on some issue (home field for World Series for winner of All Star Game)

 

Better yet, do it this way all the time.

 

I was gone for the past 3 weeks and my ASM was running the show.  Got the boys all organized and after flag told them to go off and do their requisite patrol meeting for 5 minutes and then come back for the "rest of the meeting".  The boys were promptly told that there is no "patrol" meeting.  We have only one patrol.  In a mere 3 meetings the troop had gone from a boy-led, patrol method troop to a 5 minute boy-led patrol method meeting with a one hour 25 minute adult-led troop meeting. 

 

That got corrected on the spot.

 

Yes, people it can happen that fast.

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