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Oct 1, 2018 - GSS ends Patrol Method?

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On 9/12/2018 at 1:01 PM, DuctTape said:

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.

Good point.

I see a common thread in patrol method discussions that implies that adults need to leave the Scouts alone to figure things out on their own.  It's as if the patrol method is somehow based on the concepts of:

  • learning through failure 
  • learning through self realization

While I fully embrace both concepts, I think there's also room for the Scoutmaster to serve as coach.  Here the Scoutmaster can do a wonderful job of raising the expectations and broadening horizons for the scouts.  I think that's a really good thing. 

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2 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Good point.

I see a common thread in patrol method discussions that implies that adults need to leave the Scouts alone to figure things out on their own.  It's as if the patrol method is somehow based on the concepts of:

  • learning through failure 
  • learning through self realization

While I fully embrace both concepts, I think there's also room for the Scoutmaster to serve as coach.  Here the Scoutmaster can do a wonderful job of raising the expectations and broadening horizons for the scouts.  I think that's a really good thing. 

The Scoutmaster's Handbook explains these concepts in some detail. What the BSA doesn't do well is guide the adults in how to balance the concepts.

The number one cause of older scouts leaving the troop is their program hasn't matured beyond developing First Class advancement skills (advancement). Scouts spend the first two years of their scouting experience learning the skills, then the next two years teaching the skills. The reason the troop is stuck in the mud is the adults haven't learned how to back off as scout mature with experience. Backing off and giving scouts more responsibilities to challenge their maturity is a hard skill to develop if the adults aren't conscious to the concept. I used to teach the adults to push the edge of their comfort with scout independence so that they don't become obstacles to scout growth. 

Barry

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I don't think the new G2SS rules mean the "end" of the patrol method.  I believe that in troops where it is working, the adults and Scouts will find a way for it to keep working despite the fact that two adults need to be "present."  In other words I think that in troops where it is already understood that adults need to stay out of the patrol program, the adults will be able to distinguish between being "present" for safety purposes and being "present" in the sense of meddling with the safe activities of the patrol.  In troops where it wasn't working anyway, well, it's still not going to work, because the adults don't know what their limits are.  I do recognize that the new rule may make it m ore difficult for troops to move from the "non-working" to the "working" category, or from "partly working" to "working."  Difficult, but not impossible.

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1 minute ago, NJCubScouter said:

I don't think the new G2SS rules mean the "end" of the patrol method.  I believe that in troops where it is working, the adults and Scouts will find a way for it to keep working despite the fact that two adults need to be "present."  In other words I think that in troops where it is already understood that adults need to stay out of the patrol program, the adults will be able to distinguish between being "present" for safety purposes and being "present" in the sense of meddling with the safe activities of the patrol.  In troops where it wasn't working anyway, well, it's still not going to work, because the adults don't know what their limits are.  I do recognize that the new rule may make it m ore difficult for troops to move from the "non-working" to the "working" category, or from "partly working" to "working."  Difficult, but not impossible.

Personally I feel the new generation of adults who don't have a scouting experience is more challenging than the G2SS rule. As you said, if the adults get it, they will make it work. But with a larger influx of adults that don't get it, the trend will go the other way. Of course that is all based on my theory of the new influx of inexperienced adults. We will see.

Barry

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3 hours ago, Eagledad said:

The Scoutmaster's Handbook explains these concepts in some detail. What the BSA doesn't do well is guide the adults in how to balance the concepts.

The number one cause of older scouts leaving the troop is their program hasn't matured beyond developing First Class advancement skills (advancement). Scouts spend the first two years of their scouting experience learning the skills, then the next two years teaching the skills. The reason the troop is stuck in the mud is the adults haven't learned how to back off as scout mature with experience. Backing off and giving scouts more responsibilities to challenge their maturity is a hard skill to develop if the adults aren't conscious to the concept. I used to teach the adults to push the edge of their comfort with scout independence so that they don't become obstacles to scout growth. 

Barry

I thnk part of the reason for that is that they are very different skill sets in a Scoutmaster.

  • Years 1-2 - stage 1 - about a Scout learning core outdoor skills.
  • Years 2-4 - stage 2 - about a Scout learning how to be a leader of a small team and accomplish tasks involving others
  • Years 3-5 - stage 3 - about a Scout learning how to be an organizer and leader of other leaders

I'm not military, but if I were, I might draw the analogy:

  • Years 1-2 - Scout boot camp
  • Years 2-4 - Becoming a senior enlisted scout
  • Years 3-5 - Becoming an officer

The patrol method establishes a framework within which these things are more readily to happen.  However, it still takes adults, and in particular a Scoutmaster, who can mentor Scouts effectively. 

We're very good at stage 1.  We're OK at stage 2. I think stage 3 is where we struggle as an organization and volunteer team

 

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2 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I thnk part of the reason for that is that they are very different skill sets in a Scoutmaster.

  • Years 1-2 - stage 1 - about a Scout learning core outdoor skills.
  • Years 2-4 - stage 2 - about a Scout learning how to be a leader of a small team and accomplish tasks involving others
  • Years 3-5 - stage 3 - about a Scout learning how to be an organizer and leader of other leaders

I'm not military, but if I were, I might draw the analogy:

  • Years 1-2 - Scout boot camp
  • Years 2-4 - Becoming a senior enlisted scout
  • Years 3-5 - Becoming an officer

The patrol method establishes a framework within which these things are more readily to happen.  However, it still takes adults, and in particular a Scoutmaster, who can mentor Scouts effectively. 

We're very good at stage 1.  We're OK at stage 2. I think stage 3 is where we struggle as an organization and volunteer team

 

I like your stages, but I don't think they are always sequential. 

My troop has been very good at recruiting and retaining new scouts, ever since I joined in 2005. Stage 1, very good. 

From 2007 till about 2013 the patrol method was basically dead in my Troop. Throughout that time there was very little small group leadership. Stage 2, very poor. We've lost most of our Scouts at that year 2-4 mark. 

My entire time 2005- till now, my Troop has had pretty good SPL's and Troop Guides, who have been mostly well coached by adult leaders (not always the Scoutmaster). They kept the troop program moving, and had more or less capacity to make their own decisions and lead their fellow youth, depending on the Scoutmaster and where he was in his training and development. Stage 3, ok/decent, to somewhat good. 

I think this is where ASM's become important. We all have individual strengths. Ideally a Scoutmaster should be a coach and mentor to the boys first. Handling logistics, communication with parents, and a lot of the other aspects of running a troop should be handed off to the Committee and the ASM's. An ASM or two that also have that coach, mentor, teacher mindset can be helpful for when the SM cannot be in more than one place at a time. 

However, sometimes with a Troop adult leadership, it's a coalition of the willing. If somebody volunteers to be Scoutmaster, but doesn't have strong youth coaching skills, and nobody with better developed skills in that area volunteers, then that's who the Troop gets as Scoutmaster. 

In my opinion, a Scoutmaster has only a few "core" responsibilities. The rest of the things a troop has a Scoutmaster do are purely optional. (For the Scoutmaster, not for the Troop)

  • Coach the SPL and PLC, on outings, meetings and PLC. 
  • Recruit ASM's. 
  • Train ASM's
  • Attend Meetings, Outings and PLCs, or arrange for appropriate ASM if he cannot attend.
  • Conduct Scoutmaster's conferences. 

With a few exceptions, any other function can arguably be passed off to somebody else in the troop. Getting the new scoutmaster to understand this has been a challenge, since the previous Scoutmaster was one of those guys who tried to do everything, till the other ASM's staged an intervention of sorts and the above system was implemented. 

In short, regardless of who's in what roles, recruiting of suitable adults, delegation and playing to those adults skills are important to running a successful troop. If the Scoutmaster is bogged down in the operational details, he won't have the bandwidth to work with the Scouts the way they should. 

 

Edited by Sentinel947
Totally rewrote parts of my post to be more relevant to the topic and discussion.

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13 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I thnk part of the reason for that is that they are very different skill sets in a Scoutmaster.

  • Years 1-2 - stage 1 - about a Scout learning core outdoor skills.
  • Years 2-4 - stage 2 - about a Scout learning how to be a leader of a small team and accomplish tasks involving others
  • Years 3-5 - stage 3 - about a Scout learning how to be an organizer and leader of other leaders

 

This is a good analogy for a new troop, but not an older troop where the older scouts are the main role models for the program. The measure of quality of a troop program is best measured by the performance of the older scouts. Since they are the role models of all the scouts, the whole program is a reflection of them. 

This is not a big deal with adults who understand they must change their style of guiding the program as the troop culture matures in growth. But my observation is that the majority of the troops don't recognize their need to change (or don't know how), leaving their program to muddle.

Older scouts have the maturity and intellect of young adults who need young adult challenges to continue their growth in the program. While the fun of adventure is the draw to scouting, it's the satisfaction of personal growth that keeps young adult scouts in the program. 

This is not to say National doesn't say anything about the need to change, they hint on it here and there, but there isn't really any good guidance in showing adults when and how they need to change the adult side of the program as the scouts mature in their side of the program. And maybe that is an aspect of scouting that is hard to grasp, much less teach. Wisdom is knowledge that has been hardened by humility. Maybe we don't teach the action of humility very well.

Barry

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I read those stages as the individual stages for a scout, not the troop. So I agree with you Barry, that an older troop has the older boys as the main role models etc... But I disagree that those stages are only in new troops.

Older boys as the main role models and leaders  is consistent with the boys being 3-5 years older and in stage 2 or 3 of their scouting career. The first year scout is focusing (in general) on core basic skills as taught/modeled/etc.. by the older boys and in 3 years  that new scout will be the older boy continuing the cycle. 

Or perhaps I misunderstood the stages.

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48 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I read those stages as the individual stages for a scout, not the troop. So I agree with you Barry, that an older troop has the older boys as the main role models etc... But I disagree that those stages are only in new troops.

Older boys as the main role models and leaders  is consistent with the boys being 3-5 years older and in stage 2 or 3 of their scouting career. The first year scout is focusing (in general) on core basic skills as taught/modeled/etc.. by the older boys and in 3 years  that new scout will be the older boy continuing the cycle. 

Or perhaps I misunderstood the stages.

I agree, but the stages of a mature troop aren't as systematic. I should have went into more detail, but I was just trying to get to a different point in limited time.

Scouts in an experienced troop are going through the three stages all at the same time. True, they are focusing a lot on the core skills, but they are learning the skills of the other two stages simply by watching the older scouts in action. We humans instinctively learn most of our behaviors and skills by watching our role models. That is why older 15 to 17 years old are so important for a program of scouts ages 10 to 17. 

Learning from role models is so powerful that mature experienced troops running perfectly would require no training for a scouts to learn all their skills the program offers. My philosophy for our program was to only using training to pass along new information or to fix a problem that had a negative impact on the scouts activities. I used training as a Red Flag to indicate areas of the program that needed special attention.  Role models are why the Patrol Method is so powerful for developing growth. 

I also like Sentinel's post about the Scoutmaster roles. Just how much adult coaching, mentoring and guidance does a troop of scouts require with 16 and 17 year old scouts running the program. Typically a 17 year old scout is sharper with scouting skills than adults. So, what advantage, if any, does a 21 year old adult have over a the 17 year old Eagle in running a troop? The answer is life experiences. Which means that a 17 year old man still has something to learn from the older adult with a few mores years of life's experience. And if the troop is encouraging scout growth with experienced role models, the Scoutmaster's responsibilities become very limited to mentoring senior scouts and training ASMs. 

As the SM of such a program, I spent a lot of time just sitting around the campfire allowing the scouts do their thing. And while Scoutmastering for such a program is extremely rewarding, it was also the most stressful responsibility I ever experienced. More than any other person in all of the BSA, the SM has the most responsibility AND POWER in the development of boy's physical, mental and spiritual growth. That is a lot of responsibility. 

It was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life, which is why I love this scouting stuff.

Barry

 

Edited by Eagledad
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@DuctTape was correct - I was describing stages of development for Scouts.  

I appreciate the thoughts since my last post.  You've all hit on some things that were rattling around in my head too.

I would agree that Scouts are learning skills and developing traits even 11 or 12 that will help prepare them for stages 2 & 3.  I fully expect there is some overlap here.

The liked the idea of these stages because I sense that stage 3 (and sometimes stage 2) is very nebulous for many Scouters.  We tend to focus on the on concept here (boy led) or on technique used here (i.e. learning through trial and error).   But, we talk and train much less on what we're really trying to do here - preparing and teaching Scouts to lead their own organization.  This leads to older Scouts who are either not prepared or not empowered to really do it.  In some troops this leads to the classic adult led troop because the adults don't understand how the scouts can possibly be effective at it.

I do think some Scouters are just naturally good at this.  So, those troops succeed at this.  Some Scouters have similarly learned through experience and are good at it  However, the challenge I see is with the remainder.  Those troops that haven't found the right collection of leaders with the understanding and skills to make it happen.

It strikes me that we ought to be able to train more on the skills & knowledge adults need for these stages.  I've got to think this would help reduce the adult led aspect.

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I think we are all on the same page here, it is only the inhibiting medium of interweb forums vs sittin around a campfire which  allows for a more nuanced discussion.

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21 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

 

It strikes me that we ought to be able to train more on the skills & knowledge adults need for these stages.  I've got to think this would help reduce the adult led aspect.

This is what IOLs, SM specific,Wood Badge and the like are for. But we all know those don't entirely solve the problem. What would you add that would fill in the gaps? 

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3 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

strikes me that we ought to be able to train more on the skills & knowledge adults need for these stages.  I've got to think this would help reduce the adult led aspect.

One of my WB ticket items was to observe PLC meetings of other troops to learn and improve our meetings. One of my observations was that most troops don't teach using a meeting agenda in the PLC meetings. The adults basically threw the scouts in a room and expected a perfectly run meeting. When the SPL stumbled, usually adults jumped in and many times took over. When I researched this a little farther, I learned that the SMs didn't expect an agenda because they didn't run their own meetings with one. Now that really struck me because I've been using some form of meeting agendas ever since I can remember, and our unit committee meetings are run with meeting agendas. 

It's not like the agenda isn't talked about in training, the SM Handbook talks about meeting plans as well as the SPL Handbook gives an example. The issue is many adults don't respect it as an important tool for the scouts to run the program because they don't rely on them in their personal life.

I guess my point is that training can only go so far. The leaders need to respect the material being presented enough to use it. What the adult doesn't use, the scouts don't learn.

I was able to help the problem a little through our JLTC (NYLT) course. The scouts in our courses created ticket items. We called them something else. Anyway, we required each troop to send an adult (preferably the SM) to review the scout's ticket items with him and develop a plan to how they would accomplish the scout's objectives before the scout went home. This way, the scout was the teacher and the adult was the student. It worked pretty well and I never heard a negative comment about  it from a leader.

I agree that the quality of a unit is directly relational to the quality of adults working with the scouts. That challenge is developing quality scouters. I'm not saying that BSA training is satisfactory in developing quality adult leaders, but I have seen adults run their program against what they were taught. I'm not sure how to change that.

Barry

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4 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

This is what IOLs, SM specific,Wood Badge and the like are for. But we all know those don't entirely solve the problem. What would you add that would fill in the gaps? 

I agree that is what those courses are for. But, the curriculum at IOLS and SM specific (i haven't done wb) do not even come close to addressing the development of boy-led, patrol method scouting. Before gaps can be filled, the core curriculum needs to have this fundamental concept at its core operation, not just words.

For example at IOLS. Instead of the module on woods tools with the participants "acting as a patrol" to learn the totin'chip skills. the module should be 1. what does the boy-led patrol method look like when scouts are learning and using woods tools, 2. what are the roles of the adults. 3. what are the roles of the scouts. 4. how to transition to a more boy-led patrol method structure.

These (off the top of my head) should be the curricular goals of the modules using the scouting skills as a medium, not the goals themselves. Currently the curriculum is for participants to learn the (woods tools) skills, not how to foster and grow a boy-led patrol method scouting experience.

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When I started working with my current troop (now on 10+ years ago) the go to attitude was can't go down and interfere with the Scouts, they have to figure it out.  I had (on my first campout) a good discussion with active troop leaders, explained sure you can.  We are to observe and mentor.  They explained the long time SM (who did not attend outings regularly) direct that.  I knew him and felt it was a misinterpretation.  Guess what, it was.  They took "don't do things for a scout he can do for himself" as Hands Off.

Take for example setting up a tarp. If they have never really set one up, how do Scouts know how to do it properly, tricks, etc.  You can mentor and advise the PL on what maybe the next steps should be without impinging on their leadership.  Again, observe and mentor.  Same with tent placements, cooking, etc.  

Patrols can clearly function with leaders around, the leader needs to clearly understand their role.  It is the Scouts patrol and not the leaderts.  They are not in fact a "leader", they are are in fact an advisor or mentor.

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