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TAHAWK

Are Scouts Really Experiencing the Patrol Method?

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Many Eagles, to be conservative, have not experienced the Patrol Method.  In my council,  we find in every survey for decades, that the majority of PLs and SPLs are appointed by adults, experience primarily or entirely program planned by adults, and have had little to no opportunity to lead.  As I have trained Eagles in Wood Badge who had taken no formal training whatsoever as adults, I can attest to their greater than average knowledge of Scouting, but they could neither define the Patrol Method, a state they share with most Council and National Council employees, nor explain the Aims and Methods of Scouting.  They would possibly have been more ahead of the curve in one of the first two versions of Wood Badge, where Scoutcraft was relevant.

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As UC going around to the various units, I have found that the "good" units are well indoctrinated with adult led.  Of course the adults can run the show better.  Patrol Method?  Those that try get frustrated easily and abandon the process even before it has a chance to get a foothold.

All the dynamics of today's society run counter to the patrol method.  Home? Parents run the show at home and they have no intention of budging "as long as that kid is under my roof".  Schools?  Yeah, right, no teacher is going to turn over the class to total anarchy, they will lose their jobs! Churches?  most of the youth programs are centered around trying to keep the kids in an entertainment program so they keep coming back, not about any leadership or mission focus.  That is a lot more difficult than playing games and heating up pizza.  Sports?  Like the captain of the team is anything more than a title?  Coaches still run the drill for the program. Neighborhood gangs?  Yes, they have a draw and will continue to do so as long as there is a void of more constructive endeavors for the boys to be involved in.

Other than chores, homework, and playtime on a team, what is there for today's youth?  BSA is playing right into the same forces and is going to try and compete without a "gimmic" other than going outside in the weather, bugs and have a sleepover in the woods.  Right, that's gonna sell.  So the adults run the show trying to guess one step ahead of the rest of the adults out there and no one is ever asking what the kids really want.  There's a smorgasbord of activity and nothing of any substance.  Patrol Method is about the only structure where boys today can do something entirely different, and that's been swept under the rug over time by the BSA.

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Hmmmm - how to respond to this?

In various unit, district and council positions I have seen a wide range of adult to boy led units. What does the "best units" mean? I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. Part of how I judge the best units is by the level of boy-led they actually are.

Boy-led units, on average, tend to be less organized and less efficient than adult led in many cases. However, the top handful of our best units are very boy-led. They have been doing for so long and so well that it is their culture, and those units rock along like well oiled machines with virtually no adult being actively visible. You rarely see the adults anywhere near the activities and the units have the highest participation and enthusiasm.

The bottom handful of our units that struggle the most are very adult led. There are rules for everything and everything is in place, on time and boring as can be for the youth.

In the middle is a mix.

As for EBOR, I always try to talk about Patrol method and leadership.  A rough guess is 2/3 to 3/4 of the Eagle candidates do a good job of explaining patrol method. Of those, about half say their troop does a good job of being boy-led. Of the rest I would say half say it is up and down on boy-led and half say rarely or never.

So I would say that pans out to about 1/3 to 1/2 of our units do a good job of being boy-led. I have always considered that pretty bad percentage, but reading this maybe we are not doing so bad after all.

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HT,

A local SM was "Scoutmaster of the Year" for 2011.  "His" troop led the Council in FOS and popcorn sales.  Six Eagles given (slightly above average for a year in this unit).  Gold Journey to "Excellence" every year.

"Best"?  Should be pretty good, right?  Scoutmaster of the Year.

There were five Patrol Leaders.  They could not tell me the names of the respective patrols of which they were "Leader." (I asked because I saw the green bars but no patrol medallions.)

Stand outside the door and listen during the troop meeting.  Whom do you suppose you hear?

SM: "Have the patrols breakout during the meeting?  Why, the patrol leaders would be in charge."

Separate patrol activities during the year was equal to the number of patrol flags at the meetings.  Nada.

When playing games at the troop meetings, it was 1s vs 2s.

35 pp of troop bylaws drafted by the SM

The UC "knew" only that he was "the best Scoutmaster in the Council."

Scout training completed by the SM = ______________________________("You only need to like boys.").

 

 

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18 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

HT,

A local SM was "Scoutmaster of the Year" for 2011.  "His" troop led the Council in FOS and popcorn sales.  Six Eagles given (slightly above average for a year in this unit).  Gold Journey to "Excellence" every year.

"Best"?  Should be pretty good, right?  Scoutmaster of the Year.

There were five Patrol Leaders.  They could not tell me the names of the respective patrols of which they were "Leader." (I asked because I saw the green bars but no patrol medallions.)

Stand outside the door and listen during the troop meeting.  Whom do you suppose you hear?

SM: "Have the patrols breakout during the meeting?  Why, the patrol leaders would be in charge."

Separate patrol activities during the year was equal to the number of patrol flags at the meetings.  Nada.

When playing games at the troop meetings, it was 1s vs 2s.

35 pp of troop bylaws drafted by the SM

The UC "knew" only that he was "the best Scoutmaster in the Council."

Scout training completed by the SM = ______________________________("You only need to like boys.").

 

 

This is why I left the first troop I was associated with as an ASM became a SM of a troop that drove hard on the PM.  I was asked to leave that second troop because I expected "too much leadership from the boys".  It was ironic that I was asked to leave the third week of GBB Patrol Method training.   The boys grew from 5 scouts to 28 in 3 years.  I know for a fact that those numbers have dropped back down since I left. 

I seriously believe the vast majority of adults do not wish to see their boys using the PM as the leadership it develops is a threat to their control over their "children".

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Stosh,

Kids planning and leading is not "normal" in families.  

"Helpful" adults hate to see kids fail so they jump in to "help."

All around hem they see examples of the adult-led troop method, and the proprietors have lots of bling on their shirts.  We have one with custom lowered pockets for more rows of knots, and he bought the Buffalo.  Conclusion?  They must be right.  Scoutmaster of the Year, and all that.

BSA has not explained what the Patrol Method is in over forty years. It was totally absent from Scoutmaster Specific for fourteen years.  (The word "patrol" appeared once in the syllabus section on "Working with youth; the patrol method."  No a sentence in that session related to the Patrol Methoid - not one.  BSA still has the right words here and there, but not is a single chapter, list, or article and very little is identified as part of the Patrol Method.  So no coherent statement since before most SMs were eaned (or born).   Plus, BSA publishes contradictory things that are anti-Patrol Method.  So if you don't know what you are seeing, you might think it's about the mythical Boy Led Troop method, as per "Orientation for New Scout Parents."

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The other glaring omission is the PL handbook in the opening chapter alludes to servant leadership and yet spends it's time describing managerial directives and organization.  That one always bothered me as well.  It's no wonder there's so much confusion in how to operate a troop.

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9 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

HT,

A local SM was "Scoutmaster of the Year" for 2011.  "His" troop led the Council in FOS and popcorn sales.  Six Eagles given (slightly above average for a year in this unit).  Gold Journey to "Excellence" every year.

"Best"?  Should be pretty good, right?  Scoutmaster of the Year.

There were five Patrol Leaders.  They could not tell me the names of the respective patrols of which they were "Leader." (I asked because I saw the green bars but no patrol medallions.)

Stand outside the door and listen during the troop meeting.  Whom do you suppose you hear?

SM: "Have the patrols breakout during the meeting?  Why, the patrol leaders would be in charge."

Separate patrol activities during the year was equal to the number of patrol flags at the meetings.  Nada.

When playing games at the troop meetings, it was 1s vs 2s.

35 pp of troop bylaws drafted by the SM

The UC "knew" only that he was "the best Scoutmaster in the Council."

Scout training completed by the SM = ______________________________("You only need to like boys.").

 

 

That makes my head hurt 😞 

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this sort of thing is why I always used to roll my eyes (with them closed) just a bit when I'd hear scouters tout that they were scouts in a way of stating qualification....or when others such as CC's would pick folks to be SM just because they were eagles....or they were scouts as a kid..... as if that automatically makes them qualified.

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Are scouts experiencing the Patrol Method?  The Patrol method once referred to a fixed membership group of scouts, now if seems more dynamic or ad hoc for each activity - lead those you got?

 

Edited by RememberSchiff

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12 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

All around hem they see examples of the adult-led troop method, and the proprietors have lots of bling on their shirts.  We have one with custom lowered pockets for more rows of knots, and he bought the Buffalo.  Conclusion?  They must be right.  Scoutmaster of the Year, and all that.

 

HHHHMMMM, maybe I should start wearing all of my bling on my ASM shirt, and maybe folks will listen?

Nah won't happen. I've parents who want "high speed, low drag" advancement. They want everything in Boy Scouts to be advancement oriented, and not fun. they want a 100% guarantee that their kids will be safe, and nothing will happen to them.

Experience and training don't mean much to these folks. And Scouters with that much bling and still doing it wrong hurt all of us working on doing it right.

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12 hours ago, Stosh said:

The other glaring omission is the PL handbook in the opening chapter alludes to servant leadership and yet spends it's time describing managerial directives and organization.  That one always bothered me as well.  It's no wonder there's so much confusion in how to operate a troop.

Do note that the latest Handbook says a troop is "made up of patrols."   That is a profound statement IF understood.

As for "servant leadership,"  a concept hardly explained by BSA, we somehow got through the Golden Age of Scouting without it.  The admonition to the leaders (by which I habitually mean Scouts) was "take care of the Scouts in your patrol/troop."   "Boss" was an insult. "Bossy" was worse.   "but how are the other members of your patrol doing?" was the question.

The "Kinds of Patrols" language, so loved by National, is unnecessary and  can be misleading.  "A group of friends" can hardly be improved upon.

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52 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

As for "servant leadership,"  a concept hardly explained by BSA, we somehow got through the Golden Age of Scouting without it.  The admonition to the leaders (by which I habitually mean Scouts) was "take care of the Scouts in your patrol/troop."   "Boss" was an insult. "Bossy" was worse.   "but how are the other members of your patrol doing?" was the question.

Well, we got through the "golden age" without the phrase "servant leadership" but I don't think the concept is all that different.

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Take care of your boys IS servant leadership. :)  It's a phrase ID of Robert Greenleaf adopted in the late 1970's long after the Golden Age of scouting.  It does the same things as countering the managerial directive style of being the boss in charge.

Edited by Stosh

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3 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

Well, we got through the "golden age" without the phrase "servant leadership" but I don't think the concept is all that different.

Exactly so. 

 

No need to get hung up about labels when the ideas are the same.  "Explain; teach; application phase" is EDGE.   Not to mention "Communicating" vs "Communication."  

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