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LeCastor

Each Patrol Member Needs a Job

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I think we need to try to wrap our minds around giving the Patrols more life and meaning and resist the urge to fill a chart from the Scoutmaster's Handbook where the Troop has QMs, Scribes, etc.

In Wood Badge, for example, there is a Troop Scribe and then there are 8 Patrol Scribes who submit the goings-on from each of the 8 Patrols. The Troop Scribe shows the rest of the Troop what each Patrol has been up to through the writing of 8 Patrol Scribes. 

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The Troop QM is important in our troop because he practices the skills of teaching, organization and responsibility of the troop storage unit and trailer. He works with the patrol guide teaching them how to take care of their equipment, and organizes them for maintaining the gear, which includes loading and unloading. Our adults have learned to not get anywhere near the trailer when the QM is around because they only get in the way. I challenge any troop to beat the timeliness and organization of loading and unloading our trailer and storage unit. He manages the organization of the storage unit and keeping it clean and organized. But, just as important, the Troop QM is the only person who can allow access to the storage unit and trailer. Unless the world is coming to and end, his keys are the only keys used. The Troop QM is also responsible for hitching up the trailer to the cars. He verifies the driver is qualified, and then instructs the driver on the process for hitching the trailer up to the car. If the scout cannot go on the campout, he makes sure a qualified trained scout will be attend. This is typical when a crew uses the trailer. 

Because of the level of responsibility, I personally consider the Troop QM a required prerequisite for SPL,  unless the SPL candidate can convince me otherwise, which has happened. 

Barry

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1 hour ago, LeCastor said:

..., causing the Scoutmaster to make the decision to create an ad hoc weekend-long Patrol? Might the fact that each Patrol member has a job create a sense of ownership where each member is compelled to show up consistently for each outing? 

The SM is making that decision based on whatever is rattling around in his own head. ...The most the SM should do is say something like, "Boys, we got four patrols of 2-4 members. Have fun with that until you decide it would be more fun to temporarily reconfigure. Send someone to report to me any new way you decide to configure for the weekend."

Nowadays, that's swimming against culture and bucking that attitude is tough (c.f. my other stories about Son #1's besties being assigned different patrols, or Son #2's fellow scouts outright bucking being divided). The only way I've come close to success is carving out my crew, pushing scouts to operate independently in that context, then in joint troop/crew maneuvers putting my foot down with the other adults and saying "Welcome to my house, now grab a coffee and read a book while your SPL behaves like one of my crew VPs."

We are actually coming close to that with the troop's current PLC. Maybe it's because the crew's no longer there as a crutch, but I don't think so. I think we have a committee who "gets it" better than others have.

Here are some examples of what makes PoR's different than jobs:

In my troop growing up, the sole QM was a practical thing. The scout-house had one good place for storing canvas (i.e., the root cellar). So, PLs and APLs checked their gear in and out with him. If you turned in sloppy gear, he'd store it as long as it would fit according to whatever scheme he had, and he'd be sure you'd get the same gear next time. The nice QMs were the ones who'd chew your ear off and throw the gear back at you if it had one crease out of line. (That way you'd know what kind of gear you'd get next month.) Each patrol's room needed space for other important equipment (i.e., pool table, even larger air hockey table, ping-pong table, ...). The QM, by doing his job, made sure that our gear was safely stowed, thereby making room for us to have really fun round-robin tournaments.

Same applied to the Librarian. For a while, I was "that guy" who yelled you up one side and down the other for turning in beat up pamphlets and old BL editions. But, the patrols knew exactly where to find those needed references to teach scout skills. (Remember: any teaching method that doesn't have "reference" as a key step is poppycock.) They were neatly tucked in shelves behind the air-hockey table ... alphabetical by year.

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On 11/21/2018 at 1:36 PM, LeCastor said:

In Wood Badge, for example, there is a Troop Scribe and then there are 8 Patrol Scribes who submit the goings-on from each of the 8 Patrols. The Troop Scribe shows the rest of the Troop what each Patrol has been up to through the writing of 8 Patrol Scribes. 

I briefly remember that from Woodbadge and I remember having a hard time matching that Woodbadge example with BSA teaching materials and past habits I've seen from my troops.   I fear this is one of those where BSA teaching is not consistent and probably reflects internal differences of opinion of the BSA professional staff

At some point, we just need to make a program that works for our own troops.  My troops don't publish a scout published newsletter for use by the scouts.  Scouts text each other or chat face-to-face.  The newsletters have been for parent consumption and are for coordination.  Also, the patrols mainly follow the troop schedule with troop camp outs and troop activities.  The "patrol" organized camp out or activity is the exception. 

From what I've seen in my troops, I would NOT encourage our patrols to have patrol scribes.  I just don't think there is that much work.  But then again, if there is a true troop published newsletter and each patrol has separate activities then we maybe I would.  Ultimately, it is their choice, but the adult leaders do strongly influence the scouts.  

Edited by fred8033

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The troop scribe's main responsibility is to record the goings on, decisions, etc... of the PLC. He then puts in writing the individual reports (after review by SPL) which go to the SM, TC, other boy leaders (webmaster, librarian... etc...)

 

The patrol scribe is often the most important job. How often do we see a patrol lost in organization because they "didn't write something down".

The scribe should record the goings on at patrol meetings, for organizational purposes and put into writing the patrol needs/wants for the PL, so PL (and/APL) can fully represent the patrol at PLC.

 

I think the the job of a newsletter (if one exists) is now taken over by the "webmaster".

Edited by DuctTape

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I see a scribe as something of a historical role.  Now that communication is so easy, having someone dedicated to it is probably less important.  Our troop committee chair sends out meeting notices and takes minutes - we've gotten away from having a recording secretary.  It would seem reasonable for a patrol to do the same.

What I see as important here is that the patrol operates as a self sufficient team.   The patrol leader is not a den leader who organizes things for the patrol members.  It's a group of Scouts who work together to accomplish things.  I agree that it's beneficial to give each member a role and some ownership.  It would seem entirely reasonable for a patrol to decide on the roles it thinks it needs.  Along with that, the SPL needs to hold the PL accountable for making sure stuff gets done.   In turn, the PL needs to hold that patrol accountable.  So, if one function of the patrol scribe is recording attendance, if there is no patrol scribe the PL and patrol needs to figure out who does that.

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4 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I see a scribe as something of a historical role.  Now that communication is so easy, having someone dedicated to it is probably less important.

Yes, but, why is it that the scouts have such a hard time communicating?

It may be easy to actually send the words but someone has to figure out what the words are, the best time to send them, respond to questions, etc. What are the salient points in the PLC meeting that need to be sent out? To be honest I see very few scouts that can do this. I don't see many adults that can do this. We have a secretary at our committee meetings. Scribe is just a title, communication is the task.

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I am curious, how many boys do you need for the patrol method to work?  Right now my troop has 3 boys so we really don't use the patrol method since it wouldn't really work.  I want to get back to the point where we have multiple patrols but it's going to take some time?  

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13 minutes ago, CodyMiller351 said:

I am curious, how many boys do you need for the patrol method to work?  Right now my troop has 3 boys so we really don't use the patrol method since it wouldn't really work.  I want to get back to the point where we have multiple patrols but it's going to take some time?  

I think that patrol method can work with just one patrol.  As I see it, the patrol method is really about the boys working together as a team as they go through Scouting.  The boys learn to work as a team, set their own direction based on some high level goals,  develop leadership skills making their goals happen & getting stuff done, learn to rely on others, and in the process develop some pretty great friendships.   

All of those things that can happen with 3 boys.  So, in your troop it's not that you don't use the patrol method.  Instead, you just have a troop with one patrol.

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I'm late to this campfire, so bear with me.

1) I agree that each patrol member needs a job, or more specifically a set of duties. It does not need to be formal, i.e. patrol scribe, QM, etc, but rather based upon the needs of the patrol and abilities of the patrol members, i.e. best man for the job does it. And those duties can be rotated around at the discretion of the PL.

2) Regarding CodyMiller351's question, I've seen the Patrol Method work with 3 Scouts several times. Most of the time, it is challenging, especially with new Scouts in a NSP, but it is doable. Growing up, my Leadership Corps patrol varied from 3 to 10.

3) Regarding this comment

On ‎11‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 9:00 AM, fred8033 said:

I briefly remember that from Woodbadge and I remember having a hard time matching that Woodbadge example with BSA teaching materials and past habits I've seen from my troops.   I fear this is one of those where BSA teaching is not consistent and probably reflects internal differences of opinion of the BSA professional staff

Sadly when I worked for national, I met a lot of folks with little to no Scouting experience, whether as a youth or adult volunteer, in positions affecting the volunteers and youth. I remember writing a proposal for a pilot program I was doing, and my boss questioned every single item in the proposal. It involved summer camp, and the boss had no clue how summer camps operated since they never went to one as a youth, or staffed one as an adult. I went to them as a youth, and staffed at 4 different camps as an adult. One of the reason why I was hired was due to my experience. Then it was ignored.

And I am told it has gotten worse. Now I am told national is focusing on folks with advanced degrees and are "experts" in their fields. Like the national director of training who has a PhD in education but no practical experience in Scouting. Scouting is not suppose to be school, and if you read some of BP's writings, he actually does NOT want school teachers as SMs because it is too easy to go back to their standard school ways.

Edited by Eagle94-A1

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9 hours ago, MattR said:

Yes, but, why is it that the scouts have such a hard time communicating?

It may be easy to actually send the words but someone has to figure out what the words are, the best time to send them, respond to questions, etc. What are the salient points in the PLC meeting that need to be sent out? To be honest I see very few scouts that can do this. I don't see many adults that can do this. We have a secretary at our committee meetings. Scribe is just a title, communication is the task.

My hunch is that when Scouts don't communicate it's for one of a few reasons:
1) they don't need to
2) they don't think they need to
3) they are waiting for someone else to do it

What I tend to see happen is that the leader communicates decisions made and assignments.  A good leader ought to be taking some notes so that he knows who is doing what.  Minutes from a PLC meeting or patrol meeting end up really just being the SPL's or patrol leader's notes with some clean up.  Having a Scout who's job it is to write down the same information seems like extra work with the technology we have today.  Back when these things had to be typed up, photocopied, distributed, etc. it was different as it required real work.  Today the leader simply sends out a quick summary to the team.  When you insert a scribe into this process, you end up making it more complicated for the leader - he's got to go chase the scribe to get the info sent out.  What if the scribe remembered something different or was wrong?  Is it really worth that hassle?

I do see a need for a troop scribe to handle general marketing and communications stuff.  I also see a need for a troop scribe to keep track of things like attendance (though I'm not a big fan of tracking attendance).  It's also a good role for keeping the troop calendar up to date.
 

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27 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

... 1) I agree that each patrol member needs a job, or more specifically a set of duties. It does not need to be formal, i.e. patrol scribe, QM, etc, but rather based upon the needs of the patrol and abilities of the patrol members, i.e. best man for the job does it. And those duties can be rotated around at the discretion of the PL.. ...

This sounds more like I'm accustomed too seeing.  Within a patrol, one guy has a title:  the patrol leader.  Maybe the APL too ... maybe.  But the rest of jobs and responsibility.  In advance of events and activities, someone is developing the menu and buying the food.  Someone is also getting special gear needed for the camp out.  For during activities and events, the PL makes sure the patrol work is spread out and shared.  Assignments for cooking, getting water, etc etc etc.  

I always fear when I hear things such that everyone needs a job that it will get too formalized such that we are teaching middle-management instead of teaching leadership; that we start teaching bureaucracy instead of teaching taking care of your people and being a member of a team.  

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We have a young man who has done an excellent job teaching me how useful and important the role of Scribe can be. Mind you, I was Scribe for a while back when I was a youth member, and I never felt like I did anything important in that role. But this kid has really made the job his own. He keeps neat, organized minutes at every meeting, and he writes everything relevant in a tidy binder with dividers separating various types of "documents." He has a file for menus (including shopping lists, which Scouts will purchase what, who will cook the meals, et cetera), camp-outs (where they are camping, duty charts for the outing, requirements the boys want to pass off), troop minutes (with a better agenda than even our committee uses) -- this kid didn't ask whether the patrol needed a Scribe or not, rather, he made himself needed, and found ways to magnify his role so that it is now an invaluable part of patrol functions. I think that's what every boy should be aspiring to; it's not about the job you take, but rather it's the effort that you make.

Edited by The Latin Scot
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I agree, @fred8033, that too formal is a problem, but too informal is also a problem. There is a sweet spot. When I see an entire patrol working on the same task, for every task, then it really all gets dumped on the PL because all he's doing is herding cats. It reminds me of swarm ball when 6 year olds play soccer. Everyone goes for the ball and nobody thinks about getting open to receive a pass. Consequently everyone is tripping over each other.

As you say it depends on the task. The PL's job is formal because it really is a long term job. The grubmaster's job is one campout plus a few weeks prior. He's the leader for that task, he owns it, is responsible, and when it's done it can go to someone else. The scout responsible for making a fire has that job for an hour or two. He doesn't need a patch :) but during his job he does have authority to get people to help.

Respecting that authority, or being obedient, is a reason for just a bit of formality. Lots of new scouts will just ignore any scout because they've only had to listen to adults before. Eventually they learn they have to listen to their PL but they keep arguing with other scouts in their patrol. It gets back to team work. A lot of scouts have never really seen that before and it's hard. Especially those without siblings but that's another thread. That's why I promote the idea of giving everyone a job, even if it only lasts an hour.

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