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gblotter

Oct 1, 2018 - GSS ends Patrol Method?

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What do you do when you have a group of boys that have no interest in a patrol method and just want to hang out with their buddies and have fun and just want to leave all the leadership stuff and planning to the adults. . .    even though the adults are coaching and training the boys to lead the program?

Sometimes when boys are allowed to "do whatever they want" (within the limits of safety, finances, and remaining in the game of scouting) they can sometime choose the easy,  but boring path, and then complain about how they never get to do anything fun. Maybe they choose the easy boring path because they are overwhelmed by school and sports and to them Scouts is a place to hang out with their friends and talk, and expect the adults do most of the planning.

It depends on who the boys pick as the SPL,  there are SPLs that don't want a boy lead troop and then there are ones that would not have it any other way. 

 

    

 

Edited by cocomax
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24 minutes ago, cocomax said:

What do you do when you have a group of boys that have no interest in a patrol method and just want to hang out with their buddies and have fun and just want to leave all the leadership stuff and planning to the adults. . .    even though the adults are coaching and training the boys to lead the program?

Letting the boys (and the program and the troop) fail as a learning exercise is terribly hard for adults (especially me) to do. Ego and pride and frustration all motivate me to step in when things go wrong. I'm getting better, though. I've learned that if conditions get chaotic enough, the boys themselves will start enforcing their own discipline on each other. However, their chaos threshold is far different than mine. As Scoutmaster, I have to continually remind myself that it is their troop - not my troop.

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@cocomax makes a good point. I think we should rename Patrol Method with Scout Ownership. If they want to own it then the patrol method enables them. If they don't want to own it then patrol method will not encourage leadership.

One thing that really gets in the way of ownership is what @SSScout mentioned recently about planning (something about failing to plan is a plan for failure). Planning is nitty gritty work that involves thinking of all the details. It's a grind for the scouts. Coming up with the idea is much easier than making it happen. Again, I'd rather see more support for adults to teach this skill. Leadership may be a lot more than planning but having a plan sure makes leadership easier.

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42 minutes ago, cocomax said:

Sometimes when boys are allowed to "do whatever they want" (within the limits of safety, finances, and remaining in the game of scouting) they can sometime choose the easy,  but boring path, and then complain about how they never get to do anything fun.

I've seen this happen in menu planning for campouts, for example. The boys will choose the simplest menu items imaginable (cook hotdogs on a stick over an open fire) to minimize effort on their part. I respond to that by organizing over-the-top meals for the Dad Patrol. The boys drool with envy because the Dad Patrol is greedy and we never share food. A playful competitive spirit makes it fun, and we sometimes even taunt the boys about their hotdogs to motivate greater effort next time.

But what about the scenario where the boys only vote for car camping because backpacking requires too much effort on their part? That is a current concern of mine for our troop.

Edited by gblotter
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I heard a cute story that our Troop had a French foreign exchange student at summer camp this year, and everybody liked him, and he was a good cook!  He was voted assistant patrol leader for the Beavers, and they added an assistant, assistant patrol leader who's local.  

One of the prizes our new Cubmasters are doing (I can't remember for what) but they said they would cook a meal at camp as a prize for something or another, and so its now known that our boys like to eat. 

Gblotter can you baby step your troop into more camping? 

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""It is easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.""   = Henry Ward Beecher =

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2 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Gblotter can you baby step your troop into more camping? 

Our troop goes camping 10 months out of the year - that's not the issue. I'd just like to see more backpacking in the mix, but the boys seem to vote only for car camping destinations. It wouldn't seem right for me to override their choices with backpacking instead. And they are not keen on variety, either - voting to return to the same few popular camping destinations again and again.

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15 minutes ago, gblotter said:

I've seen this happen in menu planning for campouts, for example. The boys will choose the simplest menu items imaginable (cook hotdogs on a stick over an open fire) to minimize effort on their part. I respond to that by organizing over-the-top meals for the Dad Patrol. The boys drool with envy because the Dad Patrol is greedy and we never share food. A playful competitive spirit makes it fun, and we sometimes even taunt the boys about their hotdogs to motivate greater effort next time.

I'll admit that we fall short on the patrol method when it comes to cooking. The boys pick whatever they want to eat (and I do mean whatever) and I guide them in making it until they can do it on their own.  Otherwise, they would be eating hot dogs and lukewarm chili out of the can. Do your boys not ask you how you made this dish or that dish?

2 minutes ago, gblotter said:

Our troop goes camping 10 months out of the year - that's not the issue. I'd just like to see more backpacking in the mix, but the boys seem to vote only for car camping destinations. It wouldn't seem right for me to override their choices with backpacking instead. And they are not keen on variety, either - voting to return to the same few popular camping destinations again and again.

Are they hiking the entire time or do you backpack to a location and stay for a day? Do they have quality backpacking gear?

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2 minutes ago, Saltface said:

Otherwise, they would be eating hot dogs and lukewarm chili out of the can.

I'm ok with that, actually. Nobody will starve with hot dogs and lukewarm chili, and it will hopefully motivate greater effort from them next time. Boy will tolerate lots of things, but bad food is not generally one of them.

3 minutes ago, Saltface said:

Are they hiking the entire time or do you backpack to a location and stay for a day? Do they have quality backpacking gear?

It's not a question of gear. It not a question of too many miles. Even a short backpacking trip (2 miles in, 2 miles out) requires more effort than just driving up to a campsite and unloading your gear from the back of a Suburban.

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45 minutes ago, gblotter said:

I've seen this happen in menu planning for campouts, for example. The boys will choose the simplest menu items imaginable (cook hotdogs on a stick over an open fire) to minimize effort on their part. I respond to that by organizing over-the-top meals for the Dad Patrol. The boys drool with envy because the Dad Patrol is greedy and we never share food. A playful competitive spirit makes it fun, and we sometimes even taunt the boys about their hotdogs to motivate greater effort next time.

But what about the scenario where the boys only vote for car camping because backpacking requires too much effort on their part? That is a current concern of mine for our troop.

I think the same idea can be used albeit much heavier lift. I often share with my scouts the adventures beyond the car. Photos and stories go a long way. Another is to find a really cool spot when day tripping from the car camp. The hidden campsite off trail near a waterfall for example. Then the idea of camping at these other locations becomes the goal.

Instead of looking at the question as car camp vs backpacking, instead it becomes "destination". Then how do we get to that cool spot might require backpacking or paddling. 

Another idea is to go with another dad and his son (the 4 of you) to a really cool camping spot which requires backpacking. Cook awesome food over and open fire, explore the nearby lake, go fishing. Then on the way home say to your sons "ya know, your patrol could do that, what do you think? Maybe you two could plan that instead of the troop trip next month".

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Wisconsinmommas post reminded me of something more...

Often the boys don't know what they are really missing. As I said before the Patrol Method is also a goal, so as a means to get them "out of their rut" this non-boy-led idea can help. Offer to be their camp cook (and cleanup) if they go this really cool spot you found. Keep the backpacking distance and terrain easy, and make awesome food (which is still easy to make). The boys will learn of a new location, and see a new awesome menu too. They might take the idea and run with it.

 

Another thought. Often the simple menu is not about the ease of cooking, it is the cleanup. We make the cleanup process so cumbersome and ridiculous it is no wonder the boys choose a no cleanup hot dog on a stick. Simplifying the cleanup (which is necessary when backpacking anyway) helps. I personally hate the 3-bin system. It is too much work, and often more unsanitary than other methods unless it is adult run.

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1 hour ago, gblotter said:

Our troop goes camping 10 months out of the year - that's not the issue. I'd just like to see more backpacking in the mix, but the boys seem to vote only for car camping destinations. It wouldn't seem right for me to override their choices with backpacking instead. And they are not keen on variety, either - voting to return to the same few popular camping destinations again and again.

My troop was in that rut about 8 years ago. We had a ASM start offering backpacking merit badge. A few of us with loaner gear loaned it to the scouts to go. Now our troop has 3-4 backpacking trips a year. Not all the boys go or want to, but it's been key in keeping older boys engaged in our program. 

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Just for a little reference, I have never been backpacking in my life, and neither has my husband, an ASM.  I would bet that very few of the parents in our den have ever been backpacking.  For us, we don't have experience to share, although we might start to get some of that experience now that our kids are older.  We started out car camping 5 years ago when our oldest was about 4 years old (and fully potty trained!)

We also don't really have backpacking gear, but again, we could start learning.  I think it's a great goal but not an easy goal for troops to get into backpacking. 

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11 hours ago, gblotter said:

I can't claim perfection, but our troop definitely attempts to use the Patrol Method.

This weekend, our troop is doing beach camping at a location voted on by the boys during the annual planning meeting led by the SPL. Adults made the actual campsite reservation because that requires a credit card and coordination with a private business. We are taking three boy patrols on the campout with each patrol doing their own menu planning and cooking. Adults will be cooking/eating separately as the Dad Patrol. The organization of menus and camping equipment assignments has been led by either the Patrol Leader or an individual Scout working on Camping merit badge requirement #4b. During the planning meeting, notes were tracked by our Troop Scribe. We also have a boy organizing the campfire program to satisfy Communications merit badge requirement #8. Our Chaplain Aide (a boy) will lead us in grace for the campout meals. The beach activities will be low-key games chosen and organized by the boys.

We aren't perfect, but I give our troop  at least a B grade in Patrol Method. Adults do make our camping reservations after the boys vote on the destinations. As Scoutmaster, I send out communication emails to the parents - that doesn't come from the boys. But certainly we are attempting to use the Patrol Method - the adults do not organize everything.

 

10 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

We do our best.  

The PLC (or Greenbar) meets monthly to plan the meetings, they cycle through activities by patrol at the meetings.  For campouts the patrols cook and work together.  They setup patrol areas (tarp / table / cooking) and all the Scouts meals are together.  The leaders camp hopefully out of sight, but sometimes that is not possible.  At worst well away. 

On campouts they do tent with friends or hammock in groups, not necessarily patrols.  At summer camp they function in patrols for waiter duty, campsite duties, etc.

The Scouts plan the outings and determine at the annual meeting what and where we will be going for outings.  Yes the leaders make the actual reservations.  At the outings they run the weekends, leaders sort of function as timekeepers.  They handle openings, campfires, any issues, Scout's own service, police lines for cleanup, gear setup, take down, and loading.

Not 100% perfect, but the patrol method is our underlying effort.  If you come at dinner you will see 6 distinct patrol areas and 6 stoves cooking differing meals with Scouts working within their groups to do different tasks.  No leaders involved, we just amble by and watch

Gentlemen, thank you for your posts...both made my day.  Kudos to all who are still striving. 

Edited by desertrat77
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50 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

 

Gentlemen, thank you for your posts...both made my day.  Kudos to all who are still striving. 

There are plenty of us out there fighting the good fight. 

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