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Eagledad

Weighty responsibilities bond patrols

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"""Yes, the OA is a service organization. But there was a camaraderie in the work. Sometimes that "cheerful spirit, even the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities...." resulted in turning it to fun or even turning the task into a joke to make it more bearable. Sadly that is missing.

When I was CA 10+ years ago. I suggested promoting the fun stuff as well as doing our own. We sent folks to fellowship and conclave. We had fun meetings and even did some special trips. Our work load didn't decrease, in fact we did a few extra community service projects. OA was getting back on track for a while in my neckof the woods.

Eagle94-A1"""

This isn't just OA, this is Patrol Method. I took this quote from the OA discussion, but Eagle94 is really hitting the idealism of the brothers in the patrol as well. The objective of the patrol is for the scouts Practice struggling, and come together with ideas so often that they can eventually read each others mind. They reach a place that being in the patrol isn't about scouting together, camping together, cooking together or even competing together, it's about being together. 

One poster commented that Arrowmen in his area didn't enjoy the program because it service wasn't fun. But that means they haven't come together as brothers. They were simply doing a task they were assigned. When the scouts start organizing activities to serve together, then the weighted task are easy, even fun. 

The 4 Steps of Team Development are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. The key step there is Storming because that is where the team members (Patrol Members) start to hold each other accountable for doing their part. It's called Storming because the members push back and forth until actions of humility bring balance. Humility is not a natural human action of young males because it exposes them to harm. Pride is their natural reaction because it's raises a barrier that protects them. The barrier also prevents the clay shaping bonding that forms a productive team.

The members of a productive team develop a trust with the other members where they can let their guard down. Human instinct is to hold your weaknesses close to you. Once you build the trust with the other members of the team, a relationship builds where the members not only enjoy being with the team, but also liking themselves more as well. Team members use your best skills, and that feel pretty cool.

So, how do we get the patrols to push to and through Storming part of the patrol method. Well, the more they struggle, they more they have to rely on the team the relieve the struggle. Competition is a really good method of applying stress into a team. But any struggle works. I found High Adventure Crews typically go through the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing steps in just a few days because the trek is compact with struggles. Most High Adventures are both physically and mentally stressful through most of each day. There is very little relief until after the evening meal. Takes about 3 days to reach storming, then the rest of the trek to reach Performing. Crews are pretty bonded by the end of a trek. The natural leaders will stand out and the rest of the team does their part to support the goals and vision of the team. Most scouts of a crew never loose that bond even after they break up after the trek.

I believe that preparing meals is the most stressful activity of a patrol on a normal monthly campout. Many troops like to make meals as easy as possible because there is so much stress. Pop Tarts for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and canned spaghetti for dinner with the adults cooking Sunday breakfast as the scouts break camp. Instead, encourage the patrols cooks healthy hearty breakfasts, hot lunches and complex hot dinners. Not only should they cook Sunday breakfast, but prepare lunch as well. Why are troops in so much of a hurry Sunday? Building teams takes time, troops should be using as much time as they can get. 

 I also encourage competition as much as possible. Inspections are a wonderful application of stress because they forces the scouts to keep a neat campsite. While two scouts are cooking, the rest of the team has the task of cleaning up the campsite. A tent mate may have to role up his partners sleeping bag because he is busy with KP.

Time is the Scoutmasters best tool for creating stress. When a patrol has less than an hour to get up, cook, clean up and get camp ready for inspection, they will generally come to troop assembly late until the come together as a team. I love "Time". I used it a lot.

To build a team, the adults must push a program that forces the members of the team to function together. But most important, the program should apply enough stress and struggle to force the team to hold each other accountable. Once the members start lowering their guard with humility and accepting accountability, then they start to bond through trust. 

I enjoy watching mature patrols because their is no limits to their goals and abilities. Like the mature OA team, mature patrols are naturally servant oriented because they outwardly act toward the rest of the troop they way the act toward each other. No wonder new young scouts are naturally attracted to them. These patrols not only make hard work look easy, they also make it look fun. 

It's hard for the adults at first to push a program that challenges scouts to the point of storming because they believe the hostile actions toward each other are bad behavior. Truth is the Scout Law guides how to behave in stressful situations. Adults want scouts to feel that stress often so they can learn how to control their actions. As the adults guide the scouts to use humility in their behavior, they will quickly cross the line to Norming. And then it gets fun from there.

I know, but I was bored with all the other discussions. So, I started one on a subject that is fun for me. Not that they aren't good discussions, they are. I'm just adding a little variety. Hope you don't mind.

Barry

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Great post, Barry!  You make some excellent points:

  • Encourage complex cooking (opening a box of Pop Tarts presents no chance to learn, experience, grow...)
  • Encourage competitions (stress and time are great motivators)

SPLs and SMs could learn much by remembering at least those 2 basics for starters...

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Well, 

23 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I enjoy watching mature patrols because their is no limits to their goals and abilities. Like the mature OA team, mature patrols are naturally servant oriented because they outwardly act toward the rest of the troop they way the act toward each other. No wonder new young scouts are naturally attracted to them. These patrols not only make hard work look easy, they also make it look fun. 

This could start the debate about "New Boy Patrols" vs   "Mixed Age Patrols" couldn't it?    

I Scouted in a so-called Mixed Age Patrol, altho it didn't have that title back then.   Us new Scouts were apprenticed into a Patrol that needed a couple of kids to bring it up to 8.  We fit in,  the older fellows showed us the ropes (so to speak) and our Troop also had classes in things. But we camped and hiked in the existing  (short handed? ) Patrol.  

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3 minutes ago, SSScout said:

Well, 

This could start the debate about "New Boy Patrols" vs   "Mixed Age Patrols" couldn't it?    

I Scouted in a so-called Mixed Age Patrol, altho it didn't have that title back then.   Us new Scouts were apprenticed into a Patrol that needed a couple of kids to bring it up to 8.  We fit in,  the older fellows showed us the ropes (so to speak) and our Troop also had classes in things. But we camped and hiked in the existing  (short handed? ) Patrol.  

My experience is New Boy or Same Age patrols don't perform as well with Patrol method because they don't have role models to follow. They either learn it on their own, from adults, or don't learn it at all. One common problem I've observed with same age units is the patrols tend to become cliquish and the scouts don't like doing activities outside their patrols. Some troops work around the problem by moving whole patrols into troop leadership positions instead of individual scouts seeking each position independently.  It's described as patrols taking their turn. That creates its own challenges, but it works for adults who desire same age patrol program. 

Barry

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What are some good ways to encourage Scouts to expand their cooking repertoire without "taking over"?  My son's troop tends to have a single menu plan that they repeat over and over again...

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6 minutes ago, Thunderbird said:

What are some good ways to encourage Scouts to expand their cooking repertoire without "taking over"?  My son's troop tends to have a single menu plan that they repeat over and over again...

Perhaps a cooking contest.

Our troop's past scoutmaster liked challenging the boys with a Dutch oven cookoff, with a small prize awarded to the winning patrol and a photo of the winning patrol posted in the scout room. You could do others too: gourmet breakfast, no-pot dinner, best backpacking meal, etc.

Could also do a "demo day" type event where the boys are given ingredients, recipes, etc. and work in small teams to put together a dish, then they try each others' dishes and vote on their favorite.

Can't do too many contests though or the awards become meaningless...

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25 minutes ago, Thunderbird said:

What are some good ways to encourage Scouts to expand their cooking repertoire without "taking over"?  My son's troop tends to have a single menu plan that they repeat over and over again...

I'm sure there are a lot of good suggestions here, but one I remember that helped a lot was our troop did a cooking them one month. Each meeting had a different theme, like dutch oven, stove cooking, fire cooking and other themes. That was 20 years ago, so I can't remember. But the patrols were asked to create some minus to hand out to all the patrols and cooked those menu items at the meeting to be judged by the Scoutmaster. Then the patrols had another competition at the campout. 

The way we got the patrols to cook healthier meals was approaching the the PLC to be more responsible with healthier cooking by following the recommend  BSA and National nutrition guidelines that require proteins and vegetables. Adults are responsible for the scouts healthy eating from the Fitness Aim. Once the scouts starting understanding the adults responsibilities and guidelines for proper healthy eating, they pretty much take over. The adults can introduce new ideas in their own campsite. We once provided turkey to all the patrols on evening that we cooked using the charcoal posts reflective oven.   https://www.instructables.com/id/Turkey-on-a-Tripod/

Patrols started cooking turkeys with the method until I retired. 

The picture is my Troop Guide son showing off his turkey cooking skills to the new scouts on their first campout.

Barry

 

Eagle40.jpg

Edited by Eagledad

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Maybe offering a Cooking merit badge class could help.  Put a lot of emphasis on meal planning, nutrition, discussion of meal plans/recipes, etc. Maybe some samples. Maybe get a few different adults to help with contributions so that the burden of ideas isn't on one person (plus add to the excitement, let the boys work with multiple adults, etc.)

Get a core group of boys thinking about food and maybe they'll spread the enthusiasm to their peers.

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Yep, cooking is a prime example.   How does anyone learn to cook?  On a kitchen stove or wood camp fire?   Three things are necessary:   Hunger and boredom with the current menu (!!),  someone to demonstrate possibilities, and or instruction.

Scout Iron Chef episodes are great.   I remember a "Scout Chef"   camp, I still have the souvenir woggle from it.   How could your District encourage such events?   

Like a Camporee but with a  THEME of  "Clever Nutrition"?   We have a Tasters Walk in a neighboring local,  every restaurant sets up a tasting table in front and you walk the sidewalk and TASTE ! You buy a slew of tickets (it is a charity fundraiser) and for a ticket or two, you get a sample of whatever the restaurant special is.   Something like that?   Patches? Woggles?  Prizes?

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There are two different discussions going on here. One point is that meals are challenging for a team because scouts are forced to accept responsibilities that effect the whole group. Meals also provide opportunities for serving the group or being served by the group. I remember one scout who never liked a single thing the patrols cooked. Is he giving or taking in the team effort? Is the team giving or taking in giving him choices? The Scout Law is quite clear, but personal pride or humility figure into the failure of the success of that situation. As I said, until the members of the team give up their personal pride, they will stand out from the team.

The other part of the discussion, and I also think a good one, is how can the adults get the patrols to become successful independent teams, like in cooking. We start with a nudge by encouraging cooking competitions or activities the push scouts to be creative and use good sense in their decisions. I found that scouts want to do things right, they just need help in understanding what is right. Nutrition for example is a good tool for scouts to use in creating healthy meals. Fun activities encourage creativity to broaden the range of healthy meals.

I'm am not a great cook, but what I can cook, I cook pretty well. And most of what I cook I learned in scouts. Boys by nature are lazy and don't like to put too much effort in new ideas. So they get in a rut repeating the same habits as the previous campouts. I think it's OK to encourage creative variety into the scouts program. don't just do a compass course,  do one that involves a lake or river. Do a five mile hike that requires climbing riding a bike. Do a simulated car wreck to force the scouts to practice first aid. Our PLC planned all of these things. 

And once the scouts get momentum, watch out because the program will take off.

Barry

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Great subject, @Eagledad. Thank you.

There's another aspect of this I'd like to hear more about. It's about motivation. For the scouts that are internally motivated it's best to get out of their way. But many scouts don't have that. They need to be externally motivated. The question is how to get them to the point where they're internally motivated?

Some scouts are motivated by competition, by shiny new things, their imagination. The 4-ings (forming, ....) all depend on everyone being motivated to accept the challenge. I made a challenge for my district to build sleds for klondike. Most patrols had them so it worked, but in the case of one patrol in my troop the PL was super excited about it but just had the worst time getting some of the other scouts interested. They did get it built and had a lot of fun with it and so I hope next time they're a bit more interested. Anyway, it seems like there might be some art to creating those challenges. We do cooking competitions all the time and when we do the level of food is amazing. But when we don't do it the food is back to the same old thing. One problem is some scouts are just not motivated by the usual competition or, say, climbing a mountain. How many scouts are self motivated? Do you create a challenge like this for every campout?

I had a campout years ago that was a teamwork training event. I crammed it full of challenges, time was of the essence. The rewards were big. Consequences were also big. The scouts went all out. In the end they said they really liked it because they had so much spare time (!?). I was rather shocked. I explained to the scouts how much they did and how their unusually good teamwork was what gave them the extra time. They said oh, that's cool. And went straight back to their old ways on the next campout. I guess the big question is how long does it take them to internalize the motivation?

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