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Patrol Method - Best Practices

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The distance is, manifestly, a tool to help maintain patrol independence.  The goal may be harder to achieve without it, but if the understanding and commitment is there, the youth can still have Scouting.

 

Tarps?

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On 2/8/2018 at 11:09 AM, Col. Flagg said:

Not sure if you all knew, but Boys' Life has a pretty decent archive going back a long way. You can find a number of the GBB "from the campfire" or "from the hiking trail" columns from him there. Our PLC is frequently pointed in this direction when they need good inspiration.

One word of caution: The navigation is a bit weird. Sometimes your search results show up with a link back to your search results...sometimes it doesn't. If can get a bit aggravating if you are in a hurry.

Figured I would share this trove if you hadn't already found it. 

You can also find all the old Boy's Life magazines in Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=HEFsdunJeZMC&dq=boys+life+magazine&source=gbs_navlinks_s

 

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On 5/15/2018 at 8:14 PM, Eagle1993 said:

Do you have some recommended parks?  We are looking for some good options in Wisconsin this July for a Pack Family camp.

 

On 5/15/2018 at 8:27 PM, Cubmaster Pete said:

Peninsula, Point Beach, Kohler-Andrae, Blue Mounds, Kettle Moraine North and South. 

If you can get into Peninsula you would not be dissappointed. Not sure how far you are willing to drive or where u are coming from.

The issue we have with the Wisconsin parks is that they charge a $11+ fee per car, per DAY, plus the camping fees. That gets pretty pricey for drivers at $20-30 per weekend. The resident fee is less and you can buy a sticker good for the year at reduced rates, but we don't always camp beyond the Cheddar Curtain that oftrn.. We have been able to utilise the Illinois state parks and find that we can usually spread our patrols out far enough to keep the patrol areas distinct. Some of our favorites are Rock Cut in Rockford, White Pines in Oregon, IL and Starved Rock has a fairly large youth area.

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Back in my day (your day?),  each Patrol was supposed to have  a Patrol Leader, Assistant PL, A quartermaster (yes, we had stuff to take care of), a Treasurer, (who collected our dues monthly or weekly and presented them to the Troop Treasurer, who was an adult), and when we went camping, a grubmaster and Cook which changed as we went different places.  I remember being each of these positions thru my Scout Career.  When I graduated from Scouts, I left a well appointed Eagle Patrol.   

Our menu for a camp out could vary, but inevitably, we did our shopping on the way to the campground or trail head.  We would stop at a Safeway or Acme (there were regular places depending on our direction) and the Patrol would run around the store collecting stuff. Dehydrated milk, cocoa, Tang, canned fruit, eggs (repacked in foam for the trip). Fresh hamburger  meat would be frozen the night before, this being probably the only thing bought and arranged ahead of time,  wrapped up well in foil and towels , and by the time dinner came around, it would still be cold but thawed out.  The Treasurer paid for it, no parent's credit card, cash only.

At the trail head, we parceled out the gear and food among the hikers, repacked everything, and set off.  Some dad followed along behind, or had gone ahead to reserve the cabin or site.  We had the map, or had been there before and knew the way. A hatchet, matches, flint and steel, tinder in a candy can, a plastic tarp tent, no roll up "umbrella " tent as of yet.  

We took a liking to a campsite in the Cunningham Falls state park, near a trout stream, nice short hike in,  camp store a short quarter mile away.   Fire rings, picnic tables, memories.  Much later, after college,  I called up a friend from another Troop, and said let's go up to Cunningham Falls for the weekend.  He agreed, we gathered our gear, dusted off the old tents and sleeping bags, bought some Dinty Moore and set off.  When we arrived, we drove around and around and could not find the entrance to the campground ! We finally gave up and stopped at the Ranger Station. Where was the Campground? Were our memories so faulty?  No, the Ranger said, pointing at the map on the wall.  We built a dam and formed a swimming lake two years ago.  Your campground is now here, under about 50 feet of water.   Sic Gloria mundi.   No more trout stream there.  We found a different campground. 

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On 1/10/2019 at 1:00 PM, Spiney Norman said:

 

The issue we have with the Wisconsin parks is that they charge a $11+ fee per car, per DAY, plus the camping fees. That gets pretty pricey for drivers at $20-30 per weekend. The resident fee is less and you can buy a sticker good for the year at reduced rates, but we don't always camp beyond the Cheddar Curtain that oftrn.. We have been able to utilise the Illinois state parks and find that we can usually spread our patrols out far enough to keep the patrol areas distinct. Some of our favorites are Rock Cut in Rockford, White Pines in Oregon, IL and Starved Rock has a fairly large youth area.

I believe Wiscinsin has some national forest land. Regs vary (slightly) between areas, but most have free dispersed camping opportunities. Of course this requires backpacking (or paddling) in to make camp and group size regulations  (like a patrol size... which is perfect!)

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A patrol is a team in the game of Scouting.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Patrols will have the same experiences as sports teams: they'll win some and lose some, have good performances and poor performances, succumb to failures and overcome failures.

The Patrol Method is a special kind of team building process that uses small groups, hands-on learning, concrete tasks, and (most importantly) flexibility in task completion.

  • Small groups (6 to 8 members) make hands-on learning possible and require that each patrol member be given real responsibility in order for the patrol to successfully complete its objectives.  
  • Hands-on learning is best for the many physical skills necessary for Scouting, and is much more fun than sitting and listening.
  • Concrete tasks are easy for youth to understand, and are easy to check for degree of success.
  • Flexibility means that within certain boundaries (for example, safety rules, budget, park use rules, schedule, available equipment, etc.), the patrol is free to decide how to accomplish a task or achieve an objective.  It is the difference between a football team where the coach sets the game plan, scripts the plays, and specifies where each player is supposed to go on each play, and a football team where the players, as long as they follow the rules, can come up with a game plan and improvise plays in the huddle. 
  • In the Patrol Method, successful completion of an outing or activity by a patrol is the secondary goal.  The primary goal is the development of skills, problem-solving, responsibility, and teamwork in the patrol members.

Each patrol must have (in no particular order):

  • Concrete, specific, measurable objectives, which usually involve organizing and executing successful outings and activities. 
  • Rules and requirements the patrol must comply with in doing its work. 
  • Room within those rules and requirements to come up with its own plans, approaches, and methods for completing its work.
  • Resources (including advice and expertise) at its disposal for carrying out its objectives.  
  • Organization and division of responsibility among patrol members.
  • A process for training and developing each patrol member so that he or she will have the skills necessary.
  • A process for planning its work that includes all patrol members.
  • A process for reviewing and evaluating its performance that includes all patrol members.
  • A patrol identification different from those of other patrols.
  • Its own place to meet separate from other patrols.
  • A reliable method of communication within the patrol.  
  • Regular communication among patrol members outside troop meetings.
  • Longevity, so there is a chance for all the other conditions of patrol success to develop.

Each patrol member must learn (in no particular order):

  • The patrol's objectives -- what the patrol is trying to accomplish, and why.
  • The rules and guidelines for the game of Scouting generally, and the specific rules and internal guidelines that apply to the patrol's objectives, including patrol organization, procedures, and schedules.
  • The resources (equipment, supplies, materials, advice, expertise, etc.) available to the patrol and to each member of the patrol, and how to access those resources.
  • His/her specific role or responsibility, and the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out that role or responsibility.
  • The roles and responsibilities of each of the other patrol members.
  • That patrol members don't need to be friends, they just need to be teammates.
  • That he or she is just as responsible for attaining the patrol's objectives as any other member.
  • That the patrol's objectives can only be accomplished when all the patrol members work together.
  • That success belongs to the patrol as a whole, and failure belongs to the patrol as a whole.
  • That failure is inevitable, and overcoming failure is necessary in order to succeed.

The biggest obstacles to successful implementation of the Patrol Method are:

  • Failure to impress upon troop adult leaders and parents that in training youth through personal experience, we must embrace inefficiency, mistakes, re-starts, and try-agains.  "Efficiency" is an adult value that can lead to adults telling patrols and patrol members exactly how to do things (that is, how the adults would do them), adults taking over tasks because patrol members aren't doing it the way the adults would, and adults not letting patrol members do things because they won't do it "right."
  • Failure to provide patrols with what they need.  For example, many troops may organize patrols, give the patrols names, elect patrol leaders, and have the patrols meet, but don't actually give them any responsibility because the outings and activities are planned and executed by others or through a different troop process.   Or troops may set aside time for patrols to meet, but don't train patrols in what they are supposed to do at patrol meetings.
  • Failure to teach each patrol member what he or she needs to learn.  For example, patrols may not assign specific responsibilities in advance of an outing or activity or teach the needed skills in advance, so patrol members don't have the chance to do something meaningful for their patrol at the outing or activity.
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"A patrol is a team in the game of Scouting. "

 

Good.  And what is a "troop"?  BSA used to know.

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On 1/16/2019 at 11:10 AM, DuctTape said:

I believe Wiscinsin has some national forest land. Regs vary (slightly) between areas, but most have free dispersed camping opportunities. Of course this requires backpacking (or paddling) in to make camp and group size regulations  (like a patrol size... which is perfect!)

Good point.  National Forests are a GREAT place to camp, hike and paddle. They're generally rustic, so you don't get crowds of people "camping" in their mobile tin cans and killing the ambience of nature with their racket of generators and A/C compressors.

By the way, the US Forest Service does generally require campers to practice Leave No Trace principles...

If you don't have a National Forest near you, you might still be able to find good, large parcels of open land:

  • In western states, the Bureau of Land Management has public lands that are open to free, dispersed camping.   (See https://www.blm.gov/)
  • In many states, so does the US Army Corps of Engineers. Here in Texas, the Corps of Engineers have several camping areas near reservoirs, which might also offer opportunities for canoeing, fishing, etc. (See https://www.usace.army.mil/Locations/)

Now might not be the best time to go to public lands though...  Due to President Trump's government shutdown, permits and services might be unavailable,  roads might be closed, etc. Check before you go...

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