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Cambridgeskip

Scout led - to trust or to over ride?

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Right, thought I'd get the perspective of you chaps across the Atlantic on this one....

First for those not familiar with UK age ranges scouts runs 10-14 years old, explorer scouts 14-18 years old. I run scouts. So far so good.

So.... first night back after Christmas tonight and we had a PLs council before hand. On the agenda was who should be the next batch of PLs. We're due to lose 3 out of 5 PLs and 2 out of 5 APLs to explorers at Feb half term and they'll need to be replaced.

The current PLC selected, among others, an 11 year old (12 in June) to become a PL in February.

Selection of PLs here doesn't follow a set process like it seems to with you. Each troop has its own way of doing it. With us we have traditionally had the PLC (both those due to remain and those due to go) select the next batch with me reserving the right to over ride them if I deemed it appropriate. In reality I don't think I ever have done for a PL. I think I drew the line once or twice about the odd APL but I have typically let them get on with it.

This 11 year old is exceptional for her age, intelligent and mature and there is family history in that her older brother is a current PL and a complete super star. If she follows in big brother's foot steps she'll be fine.

She is though only 11 and we do ask a lot of our PLs including leading patrol camps on nights away passports (ie no adults with them). I find that stressful enough as it is (I don't sleep well when they are doing it), I think realistically if she was a PL I'd have to draw a line there and say no, we'll need adults on site.

So I guess the question is 11 year old PLs. Who's done it? Has it worked? Any thoughts or comments? And with your big emphasis on scout led, would you just let them chose and see what happened?

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Why is it important that the forum give feedback on this issue.  Shouldn't the patrol members be the one's to give the yea or nay?  After the past 10 years of having the boys in the patrol pick their own leaders, the problems have been reduced to near zero.  Occasionally a PL will not uphold his responsibilities and get replaced, but for the most part when the boys pick their leadership, they really can't complain down the road.  :)

As far as the gal's age, it shouldn't be a big problem.  I have had a lot of new scout patrols that have not selected an older scout to be their leader and have picked from within their new ranks and have done just fine.  A little more guidance by the Troop Guide, but never any issues to speak of.

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I have found the Scouts know who is better to do the job than us old fogeys.

My son was 10 when he was a PL. Ok it was a New Scout Patrol with other 10 and 11 year olds with an older Scout as Guide, but he was in charge, and in all honesty the Guide didn't do much. At the end of his term of office, he was nominated for, and elected by the troop. Senior Patrol Leader. He was 11 years,  2 months old  when elected.

You trained your Scouts. You need to trust your Scouts. NOW LET THEM LEAD! to paraphrase Green Bar Bill. ;)

 

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"Why is it important that the forum give feedback on this issue.[?]"

Because the UK does not follow Bill's Patrol Method, as Leader (BP's "Officer") he has the power to name the PLs or define their powers, and he wants some input. 

Cambridgeskip, girls are often more mature than boys.  She could have a test run with a adult within scream and you could go from there.

There are always questions - even role-plying - to test how she would handle "issues."

 

 

 

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As Tahawk says, the patrol system runs a bit differently here. Ultimate call does rest with the SL albeit they give as much responsibility to the scouts as possible. The view of the forum is simply to get some outside opinion. In any walk of life it's sometimes easy to miss something that you may wish to consider when only seeing things from the inside. Getting an external view can be very helpful!

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We often have the new scout patrol choose their PL from among their ranks, so that boy could be around 11 or 12 years of age. BSA no longer lets members hike or camp independently with their mates, so official solo camps are off the table. But, this is Western Pennsylvania, so keeping some clusters of boys (and, sometimes, their girlfriends) from soloing would be like keeping the wind from blowing. Those clusters, however, tend to be older. So, your instincts about pushing a young PL too hard in that direction are probably sound.

The ground truth: most of us are only as good as our assistants. So, a lot of what you grant this PL will depend on how cohesive her APL and other scouts are. And, you only learn that through field testing as the year progresses.  So, for example, if she gets her crew to snap together a shelter blindfolded, you can increase your comfort level with her on a nighttime insertion in the field. If her gang, on the other hand, are a bunch of ignorant thugs, you'll have to "shorten the leash."

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I don't think you should override the youth decision in this case without actual evidence, either from her prior behavior or their prior judgement that the decision is necessarily a poor one.

I would probably watch a little more closely and check in with her patrol mates a little more directly as to her performance, but  you don't have reason to do more than that.

As to her leading the patrol on an overnight, who else is in her patrol?  Is she leading a patrol full of other 11 year olds?  If she wasn't the PL would the make-up of the patrol change significantly.  It may be true that there is a designated PL on an outing, but ultimately patrols are teams and succeed or fail based on the behavior of the team members.  If she isn't up to snuff, especially the first go round, is there someone else in the patrol who will likely help her be successful anyway --- presumably the person who would be second choice, or if you override, your first choice as PL?

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Keep it in mind that females at this age are scientifically proven to be on average 2 years more mature than males.  With that being said, one could feel fairly confident that she would be on par with an equivalent 13 year old male.

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I think it's all about trust. Do you trust not only the PL but the rest of the patrol? If all the scouts in the patrol have good teamwork skills and all but the PL have gone on these campouts without adults before (I'm so jealous) then that's a big part of trust. The other part is making sure the whole patrol is prepared. What might go wrong and how will they handle it?

Sit down and talk to them about it and trust your judgement. Be honest and tell them what your concern is. Then ask them what they think. If they're humble in their response they'll be humble when dealing with any problems they find. If they blow you off and tell you're just an old fool, maybe they aren't ready. Ask them how far away they'd like you to be. Five hours? One hour? Five minutes? Right there to keep Tommy from sticking his hand in the fire?

One thing that has always worked for me is to let them know you trust them, even though other adults might not. That will buy you some respect and they'd like to prove you right as well.

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I let my boys know up front that they have 100% of my trust in all their decisions they may make.  However, if that trust is ever broken, they will never again achieve 100%  I then leave it up to them to decide how they wish to proceed.  Out of the past 45+ years, that trust has been broken maybe a half-dozen times.  The interesting thing about broken trust, the boys that want to earn it back work harder than those that simply maintain it in the first place.

The biggest obstacle to this whole thing is whether or not the adults wish to trust in the first place.  A few, like me, do.  Most don't.  The boys can spot that dynamic a mile off and conclude, why try to build trust that will never happen.  I agree with them.  I wouldn't even bother trying.

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I just had a conversation with a very young second class scout who already completed a term as PL. I'm not sure how youth-led his troop is. But it does show that other SM's are willing to let this sort of thing play out.

The boy said he wants to try to be troop Scribe for a while. He's starting to get good at it.

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Posted (edited)
On 05/01/2018 at 9:12 PM, Stosh said:

Keep it in mind that females at this age are scientifically proven to be on average 2 years more mature than males.  With that being said, one could feel fairly confident that she would be on par with an equivalent 13 year old male.

I've never been completely convinced by that, at least not in a scouting context.

What is true is that girls become more articulate than boys at an earlier age which can give the impression of maturing more quickly. I think it a mistake though to necessarily see that as a sign of excessive wisdom. Boys and girls tend to bring different things to the troop/patrol. 

Edited by Cambridgeskip
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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Stosh said:

I let my boys know up front that they have 100% of my trust in all their decisions they may make.  However, if that trust is ever broken, they will never again achieve 100%  I then leave it up to them to decide how they wish to proceed.  Out of the past 45+ years, that trust has been broken maybe a half-dozen times.  The interesting thing about broken trust, the boys that want to earn it back work harder than those that simply maintain it in the first place.

The biggest obstacle to this whole thing is whether or not the adults wish to trust in the first place.  A few, like me, do.  Most don't.  The boys can spot that dynamic a mile off and conclude, why try to build trust that will never happen.  I agree with them.  I wouldn't even bother trying.

I guess this is the broader question.

If we put aside the specific situation, at what point should an adult intervene and say this really isn't a good idea? I'm sure you'd agree on a point of safety where the decision was going to get someone hurt or worse. But are there other times?

 

Edited by Cambridgeskip

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On ‎1‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 5:18 PM, Cambridgeskip said:

Right, thought I'd get the perspective of you chaps across the Atlantic on this one....

I don't know how many "special" children you have in scouting on your side of the pond. We have quite a few. Some of these kids are a handful for a trained adult, much less an untrained parent or a young scout.

 

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4 hours ago, Cambridgeskip said:

I guess this is the broader question.

If we put aside the specific situation, at what point should an adult intervene and say this really isn't a good idea? I'm sure you'd agree on a point of safety where the decision was going to get someone hurt or worse. But are there other times?

When you actually see that a patrol isn't having fun!

Even then, the first (or even second, third, or fourth) discussion isn't about reassigning leadership positions. It's more after action review: what went well? What didn't go so well? What should we do differently next time? (A.k.a., thorn, rose, and bud.) Get the patrol in a circle and have each member rattle off an answer to each question. This gives the PL feedback on the next move in leadership development.

If you get a patrol to do this automatically, You'll have intervened without them even knowing it. If leadership change is needed, it will hopefully become the PL's idea.

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