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sheilab

How many in a patrol

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yeah, well a little bit.....but still plenty of options

 

1) kinda big for one patrol, but that's an option

2) 5 + 6

3) 4 + 7

...  permutation calculations.... but If I'm doing it correctly, its maybe 462 combinations with some limit on patrol size above say 4 or 5

Close. 462 ways to have 5 + 6, plus 330 ways to have 4 + 7.

 

However, it sounds like @@sheilab's boys have made up their mind. So, the question becomes: how to help them succede in their desired configuration? I've already suggested ditching the SPL/ASPL positions until the troop is three times as large. If the boys keep the patches, fine. But their real duties to the troop will fall along these lines:

  • A guide for the new scouts. Not knowing your Eagle, it would be hard to say if he's the right person for this. But if he has another 5 months in the troop, this would be a great way for him to earn a Palm.
  • A quartermaster. This will involve teaching the new scouts how to take care of gear as well as getting the older scouts to inventory supplies and figure out what you all need for the upcoming year or two.
  • A scribe. This boils down to recording motions and filling out a calendar. Maybe even filling out meeting plans, and recording which patrol was assigned to duties like contacting a speaker for special meetings, set-up, and clean-up, etc.

Collectively, the older scouts should be tasked with identifying activities that interest them, then figuring out locations where they can pursue those while the younger scouts camp in the vicinity and build their First Class skills.

 

As the boys get to know each other, they can start asking younger scouts to fill positions of responsibility as a need for them arises. But generally, I would be content if those new scouts just pick a PL and learn to collectively become responsible for their gear and tracking their own advancement.

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With the vague determination of 6-8 boys one must also be aware of the fact that even if the boys make decisions, there are still ways to "suggest" to the boys ways in which they might benefit from some other guidelines.  There's a lot of negative discussion on the NSP's.  Surely 8 new boys coming in without any assistance is going to be a disaster.  But a qualified SPL will assign a TG to that group to help them make better judgments based on a few years of experience. 

 

Then there's no rule in the book about the NSP selecting an older scout to be the PL of the group either.  This, along with the TG, gives guidance to the NSP directly from older boys who are focused on the success of the NSP. 

 

Then Little Johnny, younger brother to Big Billy, might want to be in his brother's patrol.  But does Billy who's a sophomore really want his 6th grade brother hanging around?  The high school freshman/sophomore boys are just starting their high adventure activities and don't want a 6th grader hanging around who isn't qualified to go along with the more mature plannings.

 

I find that the NSP boys really don't know, nor do they want to hang with juniors and seniors either.  They want to hang with their buddies that they hung with since Tigers.  What I have witnessed over the years is that if Little Johnny has a big brother Billy, they quite often ask for big brother Billy to be the PL if he isn't assigned by the SPL to be the TG.  This way, for at least a year anyway, the older patrol can still make high adventure plans and in most cases, PL Billy gets invited back into his old patrol for the duration of the HA activity.  Billy may need the POR and would like to work with the NSP anyway for advancement credit.  Solves two problems at the same time.

 

Again, the NSP isn't necessarily an age designation in as much as a maturity, learning level designation.  The new guys tend to hang together in their newbie status and the older boys, seeking HA and more challenging activities tend to hang together at the top.  The "regular" patrols tend to be quite mixed with kind of a younger regular patrols where the boys are working on Star and Life and the older regular patrols grouping towards the Life and Eagle emphasis.  That's not to say the Life/Eagle boys don't start functioning as a Venture patrol before that time, just not full time.

 

With the boys making the decision on patrol composition, it is a very fluid process.  TG and NSP PL's tend to operate more like DC's and have on one or two occasions in my troops, been the NSP boys' DC in Webelos II.  It was only natural that they selected them because they were familiar with them and the DC enjoyed it enough to stay on with them as the PL or TG.

 

Another consideration is that the boys can at anytime with the approval of the PL's move around in the patrols until they find a "home"  There's no waiting 6 months, or 12 months, or certain rank levels before they can try out another patrol.  Three weeks into the new year, Little Johnny decides hanging out with his older brother Billy isn't working out, he can go back with this buddies in the NSP.  No one has to put up with personality clashes. 

 

Once the groups are somewhat determined, there might be 9 in a patrol, because older brother Billy returns to his former patrol after doing a year's stint as NSP TG.  No rule against that.

 

The first couple of months of every new year is quite interesting to watch as they boys work it out among themselves how they want to be set up.  After that, except for one or two scouts, things settle down and things get back to "reasonable normal".

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Close. 462 ways to have 5 + 6, plus 330 ways to have 4 + 7.

 

However, it sounds like @@sheilab's boys have made up their mind. So, the question becomes: how to help them succede in their desired configuration? I've already suggested ditching the SPL/ASPL positions until the troop is three times as large. If the boys keep the patches, fine. But their real duties to the troop will fall along these lines:

  • A guide for the new scouts. Not knowing your Eagle, it would be hard to say if he's the right person for this. But if he has another 5 months in the troop, this would be a great way for him to earn a Palm.
  • A quartermaster. This will involve teaching the new scouts how to take care of gear as well as getting the older scouts to inventory supplies and figure out what you all need for the upcoming year or two.
  • A scribe. This boils down to recording motions and filling out a calendar. Maybe even filling out meeting plans, and recording which patrol was assigned to duties like contacting a speaker for special meetings, set-up, and clean-up, etc.

Collectively, the older scouts should be tasked with identifying activities that interest them, then figuring out locations where they can pursue those while the younger scouts camp in the vicinity and build their First Class skills.

 

As the boys get to know each other, they can start asking younger scouts to fill positions of responsibility as a need for them arises. But generally, I would be content if those new scouts just pick a PL and learn to collectively become responsible for their gear and tracking their own advancement.

I like this approach. I'm no a fan of throwing new scouts in deep with patrol responsibilities, especially in a more boy run program. The young scouts learn best by observing, so let them observe older scouts dealing with patrol responsibilities and wean them into the habit of being responsible by first starting with decisions that involve them personally. Patrol method in a Troop is enough of a cultural shock that the BSA looses more scouts during the first year in a troop than any other year.

 

Barry

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On the other hand most modern educational theorists believe one learns more from doing than from observing.  Schools are structuring away from observing and taking in information from an instructor (lecture) and moving more towards those that use a more practical, activity based approach like EDGE which will gain adherence to the subject matter faster and retain it longer.

 

This is why I still champion the level playing field of the NSP for the new boys in the program.  They are not just there to observe, but even in Cub Scouts were able to experience a bit of "running the show" as a denner for a short period of time.  Why when they get to Boy Scouts is that process put on hold for 2-3 years until they have observed long enough, or at least had the older boys age out and reduce the competition for the leadership positions. 

 

This is why we hear about so many SM's having to mandate that certain scouts be in advancement POR's so they can move on to the next rank, and yet complain loudly that the boys don't or even can't function because they have in fact no experience in the position.

 

Keeping the numbers low in the patrols insures the opportunity to learn best suits the learner.  If 8 boys is too much for the NSP patrol structure, push for 6 if possible.  The boys should be given the best opportunity to be successful and that does not mean postpone their practical experiences to sitting and observing.  It means give it a try and mentor (TG and maybe the PL if not a new scout) towards success.  Should the TG be mentoring the new boys? or doing it for them? Same for the PL?  Is he to be their just their leader or does he have a responsibility to mentor and develop his replacement from within the group?

 

Boy quit scouts the first year for a variety of different reasons.  Scouting is not for them.  They like the arts and crafts, but going out into the woods is a whole different thing.  Parents are burned out and drop out.  Everyone else gets to do things and I have to sit and learn to tie knots while the other guys are having fun DOING things.  To boys at this age, learning scoutcraft skills isn't doing the adventure that they thought they were going to get in the first place.

 

Everyone puts an enormous amount of energy into making Webelos II a transition into Boy Scouts, but it's not Boy Scouts.  The NSP finishes the transition because now it's supposed to be for real Boy Scouts.

 

Keep the patrols small, keep everyone active and doing POR within the patrols from PL to APL to QM to Scribe, etc. GBB's patrol method training has everyone working, no one is observing older boys.

 

For 1-2 years Little Johnny sat around tying knots, cooking meals, setting up tents, lashing poles, doing first aid, and now that he's First Class, he needs to do a POR.  Good luck with that.  If he happened to have a good PL he might do alright, but if one hasn't done it before, it makes for an intense learning curve of high expectations. 

 

Having the boys lead small groups of 5-6 boys, make your mistakes there, that by the time one gets to FC, they at least have experience in what to do.  This is why the patrol method is so important to the boy's learning of leadership. 

 

I have never gained experience in anything in life by sitting around watching other people do things.

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On the other hand most modern educational theorists believe one learns more from doing than from observing.  

Not according to my Child Psychology friends (one who was a scoutmaster), and later on my observation of life. Not only humans, but until puberty, most mammals learn their behavior by observing.  

 

Our scouts were not pushed into group leadership very quickly after they joined the troop. We instead encouraged they take on roles where they had smaller responsibilities that required some communication and guidance to members of the control like Cheer Master and Grub Master. They were encourage to take on more responsibility as the gains confidence. By the time scouts did get into the more responsible roles, they had a great deal of confidence in the skills they started using. Even older scouts who transferred into the troop made comments that younger scouts had more confidence and leadership skills than their own units. They found it intimidating at first. 

 

It works.

 

Barry

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So I read you describing how your boys experienced leadership by leading - Cheer Master, Grub Master.  The were, you say, taking responsibility, instead of merely observing other being responsible.  

 

Perhaps the point is to have a Beginner's section of the swimming area instead of only the "deep end."

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On this side trail of new scouts as patrol leaders...

I think it's much more complex than to just state that it won't work.....

 

I have some recent experience with this.

Our troop formed a NSP when my son's group joined.

Troop rule is that any elected or appointed leader must take the ILST, which the adults put on right after the elections. 

 

well, it was interesting to see my son's excitement.

  you see, his patrol wasn't fully formed yet as they some scouts were trickling in right around election time so even though my son and another scout were joined, their patrol didn't elect a PL till a few weeks after the normal elections.... but my son and this other scout were around for the ILST

    to get a leg up ion getting the job, my son was gung-ho to take the class.  The other scout did not.

 

   a few weeks tick by, and the other scout is elected by the group to be PL.  He was more dynamic and the boys follow him.... so the "untrained" PL appoints my son to be his APL.  So things are pretty much as you might expect for two greenhorns "leading" a bunch of greenhorns.  Well actually the PL really didn't do much of anything and had no energy for it.  My son's energy was squelched by his defeat, then seeing his friend go untrained and skate by doing nothing.... so in the end he didn't do anything either

 

But the interesting part was this

They didn't fail necessarily because they were new, didn't know, didn't try, etc... well the didn't know was a big part of it....  as well as an element of lazyness kicking in when they found out that work was involved....

but I think the bigger part was discouragement.

Typical adult lead stuff squashed that momentum that I saw in my son really quick.  (and it wasn't all from adults, although I think it was mostly adult lead trickle down...)

I'm convinced that if these boys were heard, and really allowed to lead and represent their patrol on the PLC.... encouraged to propose and do what they wanted....then I'm confident that my son's energy would have blossomed.  

Instead they were smothered

 

So, the short of it is that even though this NSP didn't blossom in the perspective of adults anyway, I still do not think that the concept is bad necessarily.  Only bad implementation.

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On this side trail of new scouts as patrol leaders...

I think it's much more complex than to just state that it won't work.....

 

I have some recent experience with this.

Our troop formed a NSP when my son's group joined.

Troop rule is that any elected or appointed leader must take the ILST, which the adults put on right after the elections. 

 

well, it was interesting to see my son's excitement.

  you see, his patrol wasn't fully formed yet as they some scouts were trickling in right around election time so even though my son and another scout were joined, their patrol didn't elect a PL till a few weeks after the normal elections.... but my son and this other scout were around for the ILST

    to get a leg up ion getting the job, my son was gung-ho to take the class.  The other scout did not.

 

   a few weeks tick by, and the other scout is elected by the group to be PL.  He was more dynamic and the boys follow him.... so the "untrained" PL appoints my son to be his APL.  So things are pretty much as you might expect for two greenhorns "leading" a bunch of greenhorns.  Well actually the PL really didn't do much of anything and had no energy for it.  My son's energy was squelched by his defeat, then seeing his friend go untrained and skate by doing nothing.... so in the end he didn't do anything either

 

But the interesting part was this

They didn't fail necessarily because they were new, didn't know, didn't try, etc... well the didn't know was a big part of it....  as well as an element of lazyness kicking in when they found out that work was involved....

but I think the bigger part was discouragement.

Typical adult lead stuff squashed that momentum that I saw in my son really quick.  (and it wasn't all from adults, although I think it was mostly adult lead trickle down...)

I'm convinced that if these boys were heard, and really allowed to lead and represent their patrol on the PLC.... encouraged to propose and do what they wanted....then I'm confident that my son's energy would have blossomed.  

Instead they were smothered

 

So, the short of it is that even though this NSP didn't blossom in the perspective of adults anyway, I still do not think that the concept is bad necessarily.  Only bad implementation.

 

A lot of this has to do with expectations from both the group and the individual.  It is pointed out that the APL didn't get the job even when he was qualified and an unqualified scout got PL.  The individual's reaction was to pull back himself rather than stepping up and functioning as expected.  Yes, morale can be devastating, but then that's the challenge.  As APL, his job is not to merely be there when the PL is gone, he is expected to be the PL's "right hand man".  Is the APL doing his job of making sure the PL is successful or is his disappointment his way of sabotaging the PL? 

 

It was interesting that when my troop got large enough to have enough patrols for an SPL, the SPL was not selected from the existing PL's who all wanted to stay PL's.  Instead they picked the best supportive APL to be SPL and support them from the other side of the equation.  As APL he supported the PL in relation to his patrol, as SPL he supported all the PL's in relation to the adults.  It worked out just fine.

 

NSP's are unique and require different dynamics.  All the boys generally are in a long and tedious learning curve and unless the TG is ready and able to effectively help them be successful they won't be.  A PL of a NSP if an older boy needs to address his responsibility differently than if he were a PL of a regular or venture patrol as well.  I have seen venture patrols collapse as readily as NSP's because of this inability to adapt to the differing needs of the patrol. 

 

I teach all my boys to lead from the "back seat".  It works.

 

When I was the administrative assistant to the general manager of a large corporation I had certain responsibilities, most of them were underlying one basic principle.  When a new general manager came in and took over he "interviewed" me as to what I saw my responsibilities as.  I flat out told him, it was my job to make sure he was successful with his job.  We got along just fine after that.  It is the same for every APL.  I believe one of the reasons the APL is not listed as a valid POR is because no one ever takes this position as seriously as it needs to be.  The APL if he is going to "take over" for the PL in his absence needs to know as much about being a PL as the PL himself.  If he's just going to sit around waiting for the PL to be absent (which is what is normally expected) he's going to be a total waste of time to the PL and the patrol both.  I have seen some APL's function at a level where they are sought after by other patrols to be their PL simply because of the job they do as APL in other patrols.  A good APL makes a fantastic TG for a NSP.

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So I read you describing how your boys experienced leadership by leading - Cheer Master, Grub Master.  The were, you say, taking responsibility, instead of merely observing other being responsible.  

 

Perhaps the point is to have a Beginner's section of the swimming area instead of only the "deep end."

Sure, but your analogy fits better for skills used for enhancing the processes like managing and organization. Observation really is more about behavior in the process of making decisions. So in your analogy I would describe the scouts learning the different swimming strokes in the shallow end while observing to learn how and what strokes to use in the deep end. The skills are as much about giving the confidence to use the skills in new situations that require decisions as they are an aid in the process after the decision. 

 

Our troop works from the philosophy of passive learning, as apposed to instructional school type learning. I guess we are being purist or fanatical, but we worked toward a program of scouts learning everything by observation and material guidance (handbooks). Our objective for the program was that if the adults didn't show up, the program continued normally. We wanted the scouts to have total independence from adults guidance in managing the program.

 

So the skills we encouraged were intended to be tools used when the scouts reached a maturity and confidence for making complicated decisions. Even the smallest of responsibilities encouraged the scouts to perform some authoritative communication with other scouts, planning a process, starting the process and completing the process. So in the case of the Grub Master, the scout has to use authoritative communication to plan a menu with the patrol and start the process of acquiring the groceries for the menu and get those groceries to the campout. In most cases the scouts don't even know they are practicing skills. They are just kind of following through a system to get eat on a campout. But when you compare the scout's skills and confidence from his first day to his last day, you see a completely different person. A person who is ready for a more advanced level of growing. Quartmaster, ASP, who knows? It depends on the scout and his ambition in the program.

 

The observing part is really more about the behavior process of reacting to decisions. Our adults purposely never yell or take initial directive actions in the presents of the scouts. We stand back and wait for the scouts to initiate what ever actions are expected at the time. Even to the point that adults never put the sign up to get attention. If an adult has the floor and needs to get the attention of the group, they ask a senior scout near them to get the groups attention. 

 

It was pointed out by another Scoutmaster at summer camp that our senior scout leaders where quiet in their leadership. I hadn't noticed until he said that. The scoutmaster said that our scouts quiet nature stood out among all the other troops that seem to yell or bark out commands at their scouts. 

 

Learned skills help a scout performance in the activities and processes (leadership) of the program. Practice of those skills guides a scouts to make decisions, but the behaviors learned by observing others guides the scout to how he reacts to decisions. If the role models tend to speak loudly to motivate action, then those who observe that behavior will likely duplicate that style of behavior. If on the other hand the role models react with a more quiet voice or by delegation or what ever, those who observe will likely duplicate the same actions.

 

Barry

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OK, Barry.  Forget the allegedly inapt analogy,  

 

They are all learning to lead by leading, some with more potential responsibility than others.  If that is not going on, you are not using the Patrol Method.

 

That does not preclude other learning from example.  That is the rationale for the "Adult Association" method.

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A lot of this has to do with expectations from both the group and the individual.  It is pointed out that the APL didn't get the job even when he was qualified and an unqualified scout got PL.  The individual's reaction was to pull back himself rather than stepping up and functioning as expected.  Yes, morale can be devastating, but then that's the challenge.  As APL, his job is not to merely be there when the PL is gone, he is expected to be the PL's "right hand man".  Is the APL doing his job of making sure the PL is successful or is his disappointment his way of sabotaging the PL? 

 

well, yes.... and actually I tried to hint and advise him on several occasions to do just that....

     that his job is to support his scouts.... to make his PL look good...... constructively show his PL how to do it... etc....

 

He was disappointed, but also understood that the other guy was....well more charismatic, for the lack of a better word....  & so that wasn't really the show stopper.  

     And he certainly wasn't trying to sabotage in any way shape or form.... it was more about being lazy....and "if he doesn't have to do it then why should I?"

 

But right out of the gate, he hears the adults say in a very direct fashion..... "you can't hold the job if you don't attend the training."    period

    and then they with the very next breath let a scout take and hold the job without the training.  

         He's 11 but he aint stupid.  He see what it is.

then, add to that scribes that do not much of anything, librarians that do not much, webmaster that does what exactly.... and he's being taught by troop guides and instructors who are just reading out of the book like they would at school because the "have to"...and not inspiring or leading in anyway.

and apparently even as PL, he tried to make a few suggestions at PLC and was shot down or treated like an underling rather than an equal at the PLC table.

 

All I was trying to get at with all of this was an example of how the idea of new scouts hanging together isn't what kills it and makes the "NSP" underperform.  I think that it could be more form lack of encouragement and instruction...and lack motivation.

 

   I liked in Clarke Green's book how once the scouts realized that they really do have permission to make decisions, that their confidence and excitement soared.... and yeah I know that's a work of fiction, but I saw the opposite approach in action and so I believe it's possible.

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OK, Barry.  Forget the allegedly inapt analogy,  

 

They are all learning to lead by leading, some with more potential responsibility than others.  If that is not going on, you are not using the Patrol Method.

 

That does not preclude other learning from example.  That is the rationale for the "Adult Association" method.

I think it is a good analogy.

 

I agree with your whole post. All I was saying is that how a scout reacts to decisions is based on how they observe their role models reacting to decisions. 

 

That is one reason why I say the performance of the whole troop can be judged by the performance of just the older scouts.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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   I liked in Clarke Green's book how once the scouts realized that they really do have permission to make decisions, that their confidence and excitement soared.... and yeah I know that's a work of fiction, but I saw the opposite approach in action and so I believe it's possible.

Work of fiction?  Over the years, many of us on this forum have stated Clarke's point. It's a big hurdle for both the adults and scouts, but it does change the dynamics of the program when that level is reached.

 

Barry

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