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TAHAWK

Which came first Patrol or Troop?

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Back in the early years of scouting in the US, Matthews from national took it upon himself to start a Boy Scout Library and he selected 72 classic, historic, outdoor adventure kinds of books and had them published in a series of books known as the "Every Boy's Library" with a BSA logo affixed in a variety of ways depending on the publishing editions.  The third edition has an impressive cover.  None of these books were particularly Boy Scout literature per se except for the covers.

A gentleman by the name of Percy Reese Fitzhugh wrote a series of 3 books that caught the eye of Matthews.  The one that set the tone was ALONG THE MOHAWK TRAIL.  Matthews contacted Fitzhugh and commissioned Boy Scout specific series of books.  They followed the lives of certain scouting stereotypes, i.e. Roy Blakeley was an upper-class, cut-up always doing strange and different adventures,  Tom Slade was a ruffian turned Scout that served in WW I and later became a SM and the personality we might all remember was Pee Wee Harris, an overly zealous scout who ate, drank and breathed scouting.  Fitzhugh wrote the books over the course of the early 1910-1940's.

It is interesting the HUGE emphasis on the boys were always in a patrol setting and never really held any troop activities.  The small group of boys were the only focus throughout the series.  Summer camp in the early books were the boys going off into the outdoors (NY State, the boys' troop was in NJ), finding a place to camp and then staying there for two weeks.  The most interesting thing was on the middle weekend the SM would come out, find them and "see how they were doing."  Otherwise no adults are mentioned other than those the scouts encountered in the course of their adventures.  In the later books Temple Camp was established and each patrol would over the course of time would build their cabin and spend THE WHOLE SUMMER.  After all, it was summer camp.  The camp was staffed by a cook, and the SM to see how things were going and Scout Commissioner would come out occasionally and hold extensive testing of the boy's scout skills for advancement.  Those two positions were the only two adults ever mentioned in the books. 

There were multiple patrols in that Pee Wee was not a member of Roy's patrol, and they would on occasion "adopt" him for a particular adventure.

Now how much of what was being described by Fitzhugh was the expected norm for Boy Scouting in the early years is truly accurate or whether it was just idealistic description of what scouting should be, I don't know.  But Fitzhugh's writings were received well enough that over 70 books were commissioned and one was not published, but was printed in Boys Life back in the 20's/30's as a serial.

NONE of what were presented to the boys back in the early years of scouting would be acceptable in today's program.

It makes me wonder if real scouting envisioned by BP has no place in today's world.

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I am not sure (likely not) whether some of the books in my collection were commissioned by bsa. But both of them are how Stosh describes.

"Campfires of the Wolf Patrol" 1913 by Captain Alan Douglas

"Black Wolf Pack" 1922 Daniel Beard

also in my collection: " The Boy Scout Hike Book" and "The Boy Scout Camp Book" by Edward Cave. These were published in the teens, many years before the Fieldbook's publication.

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14 hours ago, Stosh said:

It makes me wonder if real scouting envisioned by BP has no place in today's world.

The Scouting BP envisioned was a means to an end. His end (vision) was a world of better men, not better outdoorsmen. 

 

Can’t get there until you know where you are going. BP once wrote about the challenges of adults being to self focused on the Method and not enough on the Aim. I spent a lot of time in training trying to get adults to understand the differences between scout growth (Aims) and camping (Methods) just so they could build their program to the common goal using their own personal life skills. 

 

I think most of the experienced scouters on this forum believe Patrol Method is the best way in the troop program to work toward the Aims. But most adults struggle to see how the Methods work towards a Scout’s growth (or Aims).

 

Does an individual patrol of Scouts have an advantage over a troop of individual patrols in using Patrol Method towards the Aims and Vision? I don’t think so. As long as the program is developed for, and measured against, the Aims, the program is working correctly just the way BP intended.

 

Barry

 

Edited by Eagledad

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Of course that begs the logic of "If it's working the way BP wanted it to and it grew for 50 years into a powerhouse of a program and now after 100 years it's a mere shadow of what it was, what changed?"  Either it's the program or it's the people.  One can argue and debate 'til the cows come home as to whose fault it is, but it won't solve the problem.

1) It's the program's fault, it didn't change, and it's no longer relevant to today's world.

2) It's the program's fault, it did change, and it's not what people want and thus no longer relevant to today's world.

3) It's the people's fault, they changed and the program is no longer relevant to today's world.

4) It's the people's fault, they didn't change, and they moved on leaving the program as no longer relevant to today's world.

5) (Insert whatever excuse one wishes) and it's no longer relevant to today's world.

Well if the debate shifts over to offering something, anything, to try and make whatever one has as relevant, it is easy to see BSA is in a 50 year slide with many miles to make up to be relevant to today's world, because statistics show it isn't relevant to today's world.

No amount of methods, aims, visions and gimmicks are going to work.  They may mask a  symptom, but they aren't going to cure a thing.

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"Moderator bias"?    You do know the mods do this thankless task as a good turn to Boy Scouting?

There is no "Troop Method" in Boy Scouting.  There are simply adults, including some at B.S.A., who either do not believe in Boy Scouting as formally defined by B.S.A. for generations, or do not know what that definition is.  The latter is quite understandable given the failure of B.S.A. to coherently define the Patrol Method for decades.  It is also understandable given that BSA and its councils not only tolerate adult failure to supply Boy Scouting but do not even do the simple things that might be done, and have been done in the past, to encourage the use of Boy Scouting, such as  recognizing those units  which follow B.S.A. policy on the Patrol Method. 

It is far more understandable to me that those adult volunteers who  sincerely do not believe in the Patrol Method will not use it than that persons employed by B.S.A. and its councils will not support with behavior the words that B.S.A. publishes - do not walk the talk. 

The most obvious manifestation, but not by any means the only behavior, that shows the belief system of the non-complying adult volunteers is their refusal to allow Scouts to freely elect their leadership: "They will pick the wrong ones."  That canard was offered to explain why in fully 2/3 of the troops represented at a roundtable in 1986 adults reported that they appointed patrol leaders and SPLs.  It is a short step to having adults plan and lead the program becasue "We do a better job."

Nor, with respect, do I think this thread should be about "Which came first," although Scouting started with patrols and had independent patrols into 1969, however much that sincerely seems like "folly" to one of us.

1911

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1930s

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1969

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I add that the the Troop Log of Troop 43, in which I was a Scout, began with the report of the meeting of the Eagle Patrol of the First Asbury Methodist-Episcopal Church.  

 

The real issue is, or ought to be, whether official B.S.A. program will be provided to the Scouts, why that should be done (beyond authority) or why it is an inferior idea to the the non-patrol method, sometime called the "troop method" or "boy-led troop method."

"The Scout Way of Developing Leadership

This training is carried out by giving to the boy through the Patrol System, opportunities for learning how to lead, by handling a small group, gang or Patrol. But if we are to get results, this responsibility must be a real one, and not merely one on paper. A Scoutmaster who does not make It his Principal objective to use his Patrol Leaders, rather than himself, to put over what he wants done, is failing, and need not be surprised if the result is a failure to? For a Troop to be successful in Scouting, the boys must live, move and have their being, in the Patrol.

. . .

One, two, three, four or five Patrols may form a Troop, but the Patrols are the working unit whenever practical and the Troop organization is designed to provide supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service.

Boy Scouts of America, The Patrol Method, 1938 ed. at p. 2.

 

 

Edited by TAHAWK
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23 hours ago, David CO said:

Are you indicating a moderator bias here? Since we have no forum for Troop Method, I would have preferred that it be left where it was.

The moderator in question seems to have regarded this as an attempt at humor. I will choose to do so as well. (If we’re incorrect, please don’t tell me.)

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5 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

The moderator in question seems to have regarded this as an attempt at humor. I will choose to do so as well. (If we’re incorrect, please don’t tell me.)

That's how I meant it. 

Edited by David CO
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Scouting is a multi-layered activity. Some of it is done as an individual scout. Some of it is done as a patrol. Some of it is done as a troop. I see no useful purpose in elevating one part of scouting and diminishing the others.

I see the troop as the basic unit of scouting because that is where the ownership, rechartering, registering, and record keeping takes place. I don't think this diminishes either the individual efforts of the scouts or the group activities of the patrols.

I didn't know that BSA once registered patrols. That's interesting. Yes, I can easily see how a scout who was registered in a patrol might have considered the patrol to be the basic unit of scouting, but BSA doesn't do that anymore. BSA does still register Lone Scouts. When I was a Lone Scout, I saw the individual scout as the basic unit of scouting. 

 

 

 

Edited by David CO

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36 minutes ago, David CO said:

Scouting is a multi-layered activity. Some of it is done as an individual scout. Some of it is done as a patrol. Some of it is done as a troop. I see no useful purpose in elevating one part of scouting and diminishing the others.

I see the troop as the basic unit of scouting because that is where the ownership, rechartering, registering, and record keeping takes place. I don't think this diminishes either the individual efforts of the scouts or the group activities of the patrols.

I didn't know that BSA once registered patrols. That's interesting. Yes, I can easily see how a scout who was registered in a patrol might have considered the patrol to be the basic unit of scouting, but BSA doesn't do that anymore. BSA does still register Lone Scouts. When I was a Lone Scout, I saw the individual scout as the basic unit of scouting. 

 

 

 

“[The patrol members] interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success.”

              B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)[emphasis added]

“ Scouting happens in the context of a patrol.”

            B.S.A., Scoutmaster Position Specific Training (current syllabus)

“[The patrol is] the place where boys learn skills together, take on leadership responsibilities, perhaps for the first time . . . . ”

            B.S.A. Scouting.org., (2014)

Patrols are where Scouts learn citizenship at the most basic level. . . . ”

            B.S.A., Scouting.org. (2017)

“Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements.”

             B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)[emphasis added]

“A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be.”

            B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)

“Your Boy Scout troop is made up of patrols, with each patrol’s members sharing responsibility for the patrol’s success.”

            B.S.A., The Boy Scout Handbook, 13th Ed. (2015) at p. 25

“Patrol spirit is the glue that holds the patrol together and keeps it going. Building patrol spirit takes time, and because it is shaped by a patrol's experiences—good and bad.”

            B.S.A., Scouting.org, 2017

"The Patrol Leaders bring the needs and wants of their respective patrols to The Patrol Leaders’ Council and the members democratically select the troop program."

            B.S.A., bsahandbook.org (2017)

"Patrols are the building blocks of a Boy Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of boys who are similar in age, development, and interests. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility for the patrol's success. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership. All patrol members enjoy the friendship, sense of belonging, and achievements of the patrol and of each of its members."

            B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)

"The patrol method isn’t one way to run a troop. It’s the only way.

            B.S.A., Scouting (2014)(currently posted https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/    2014/09/05/patrol-method/

 

Obviously, that last must be read in light if what B.S.A. tolerates.

 

"The Scout Way of Developing Leadership

This training is carried out by giving to the boy through the Patrol System, opportunities for learning how to lead, by handling a small group, gang or Patrol. But if we are to get results, this responsibility must be a real one, and not merely one on paper. A Scoutmaster who does not make It his Principal objective to use his Patrol Leaders, rather than himself, to put over what he wants done, is failing, and need not be surprised if the result is a failure to? For a Troop to be successful in Scouting, the boys must live, move and have their being, in the Patrol.

. . .

One, two, three, four or five Patrols may form a Troop, but the Patrols are the working unit whenever practical and the Troop organization is designed to provide supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service.

Boy Scouts of America, The Patrol Method, 1938 ed. at p. 2.

 

Edited by TAHAWK

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14 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

...

“A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be.”

            B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017). . .

One, two, three, four or five Patrols may form a Troop, but the Patrols are the working unit whenever practical and the Troop organization is designed to provide supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service.

Boy Scouts of America, The Patrol Method, 1938 ed. at p. 2.

In conclusion, within 30 years, BSA asserts that without a troop, a patrol may lack supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service (empahsis @TAHAWK's). So, to be "the best it can be" by standards of today or 8 decades past, a patrol's better part of wisdom would be to seek all of those good things that a troop should provide.

This is not a rallying cry for Troop Method (in the way we use it on this forum to describe adults who abuse their privileged position and undermine youth leadership development). Maintaining a bead on the rightful role of the troop is part an parcel of the patrol method -- as stated in a BSA guidebook on the topic.

 

Edited by qwazse

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My dad was a scout in the early 40s. I don't know how a typical troop functioned back then, but his troop would meet up on a Friday afternoon at one of the scout's house and then hike out of town with their gear. It was a small town in Mississippi, so they didn't have to hike far to be in the county. They would hike until they had had enough and then ask the owner of the property nearby for permission to set up camp. All this without the SM. The SM would ask them at the next meeting what they did and what they learned. He would provide a signature for what ever needed the SM's signature. I'm sure there was more to the SM's responsibility than that, but that is about as much as my dad remembers of the responsibility. I don't know how many patrols were in the troop, or if they just had one patrol, but he said the SPL was the troop leader on camp outs.

 

To be fair, there weren't very many men around at the time because of the war and the few who were around worked long hours to make ends meet. So, his scouting experience might have been unusual even for the time.

 

BUT, can anyone envision that type of troop today? 

 

Barry

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A discussion of the Patrol Method, benefits from a shared understanding of what that B.S.A. "method" involves.  We lack that shared understanding.

Nor do we share an understanding of what the "troop method" might be.  I contend that the "troop method" is as much exemplified by the "boy-led troop" that does not follow the "Patrol Method" as by a troop in which the adults do the leading without the other aspects of the Patrol Method. 

I contend that, as shown by the B.S.A. pronouncements above, the Patrol Method is expressly far more than just youth leading.  I  fact, It is especially, the concept that the Scouting experience centers on the Patrol - hence the "Patrol Method" rather than the "Boy Led Troop Method."

"The Scout Way of Developing Leadership

This training is carried out by giving to the boy through the Patrol System, opportunities for learning how to lead, by handling a small group, gang or Patrol. But if we are to get results, this responsibility must be a real one, and not merely one on paper. A Scoutmaster who does not make It his Principal objective to use his Patrol Leaders, rather than himself, to put over what he wants done, is failing, and need not be surprised if the result is a failure too.  For a Troop to be successful in Scouting, the boys must live, move and have their being, in the Patrol."
. . .

One, two, three, four or five Patrols may form a Troop, but the Patrols are the working unit whenever practical and the Troop organization is designed to provide supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service."

             Boy Scouts of America, The Patrol Method, 1938 ed. at p. 2.

Thus, the troop supplies administrative support to the patrols which collectively form a troop - "supervision, coordination, institutional loyalty and service" -  a league in which the patrol teams play the game of Scouting.

“Your Boy Scout troop is made up of patrols, with each patrol’s members sharing responsibility for the patrol’s success.”

            B.S.A., The Boy Scout Handbook, 13th Ed. (2015) at p. 25.

 

I urge that Scoutmasters should surely take pride in the success of their troop - their league, but the real measure of success is the accomplishments of the teams, the patrols, within that league.  How are your teams doing, Mr. Scoutmaster?

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4 hours ago, Eagledad said:

BUT, can anyone envision that type of troop today?

No, because I can't even imagine 1) scouts that would walk that far (our town isn't that small), 2) anyone that would allow them on their land, 3) any parents that would allow their kids to walk on a road with all the cell phone based car accidents I've seen.

I can almost envision something similar, where parents drop the kids off at a trail head. Still, we have issues with people camping on blm or national forest land and drinking and smoking and shooting off weapons (just a mile or so from the scout camp, to be exact).

In other words, I can envision the scouts doing this, but I would be concerned with random adults mucking it up. At the same time this is the exception and with a bit of wisdom and discussion with the county sheriff, can be avoided. So, I can envision it. I even told some scouts about it. They thought it would be cool but they never went beyond that. We have a great scout camp, that's big as well, and I'd really enjoy seeing the scouts take off up there.

Now, can I get the scouts to do this? I'm still hunting for that motivation. So, I can envision it, I'd even like to see it happen, but I haven't gotten there yet.

One of the things that has changed from years ago is the idea that people have to be amused in their spare time. Fishing or hiking was more than enough to amuse a group of kids. Now we have to have some structured activity or else the scouts won't even consider it. Consider zip lines. They are very expensive to install, it's like a Disney ride as far as anticipation and getting scouts all excited, but they're really only fun for a couple of rides. Then it's boring. It's not that scouts need to sit and meditate in the woods, but sometimes it seems like they need to learn how to be happy with something simple. Cooking over a fire is a great example. It takes a lot of time to start a fire and burn it down to coals and then cook over it compared to using a stove. I don't know how to convince scouts that slowing down on occasion can be a good thing.

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I think this is a very interesting thread.  Points to a fundamental failing me thinks.

Semantics in a way, sure....

    but I'd guess that near 100% of us scouters joined a troop when we were young.  Boys today also join a troop. 

    Patrols are usually the afterthought

but

I think that this thinking is fundamentally wrong,

and points to one of the largest failings in the BSA today. 

If we would all twist our thinking around on this, to much of what has been written here in the thread....patrols as a core, sometimes coming together as a troop to compete etc... with a scoutmaster overseeing just enough to keep the patrols out of trouble (the trespassing example) and on track, etc....
 

 

This written regrettably, as my tenure as a registered scouter is coming to a close in about 8 weeks time, because my son lost interest in scouting and quit.....and I just don't have the gumption to keep on with it given that i see it as a broken system that I alone can in no way fix.

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