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TAHAWK

BSA definition of the Patrol Method

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Posted (edited)

Noticing that the website articles on the Patrol Method, Patrol Leader, and Aims and Methods of Scouting had all been closed, and having tried for many years to get a coherent, comprehensive definition of the Patrol Method out of National Council, I wrote to the official answer place (Boy Scouts of America Service Desk ) and asked for such a definition so I could be sure to be following the official language at a University of Scouting presentation.  The reply stated that the "priority" for answering my inquiry was "Low."    But I knew that already.

 

Is BSA ever defines the Patrol Method in a single list, chapter or article, or ever eliminates the incorrect statements that appear here and there (""The patrol method is one aspect of what we call the boy-led troop." Scouting.org."), I will share, should I live so long.

 

 

Edited by TAHAWK

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My take is National's reply is code for just relish in the new program where girls are earning Eagles. All this patrol method and youth protection stuff is noise that will eventually blend into the future of the program. All is good.

One of my neighbors, who was also an ASM while I was SM, stopped by to chat while walking his dog. He brought up his son and how he takes his family camping a lot. I took that moment to asked him what he thought about the new BSA program, without giving him any of my opinions. His only comment was, "thank goodness my son and I were Boy Scouts before all these changes." The only changes he knows about are what he heard on the news. He doesn't know about all this other stuff that likely will has change the program more than the single change of bringing in girls. I know it's the times, but this program is sure a long ways from my dads troop where they met at the church on Friday and hiked out of town until they got tired. With the permission of the owner, they set up camp there for the weekend. 

I think National is fighting for it's life.

Barry

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Sadly the Patrol Method is dead as of October 1, 2018. It was injured back in 2012 or thereabouts when National no longer permitted Patrols to camp on their own without adults. But  the death knell was October 1, 2018 when the new YP policies went into effect that require 2 adults over 21 to be in attendance.

 

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Also, does anyone else find it coincidental that the Patrol Method truly died just before the introduction of girls into the program? After 108 years, we can no longer trust the boys?

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Not just "in attendance."  I Scouted lots as a Scout with adults "in attendance."  They drove us to where we camped or started off backpacking.  They left us alone or were not allowed to be there. (A couple of the men pulled their kids when they were disqualified, but we had 120 Scouts/Explorers and a waiting list.)    But the persons in the safety bubble, being ignorant of what Scouting is, have decreed that the adults are to "supervise" and have not explained that they are not to lead, not being the leaders.  Thus the deadly adult-led troop method is further reinforced. This blunder is most likely because the safety bubble persons, like the majority at National, misplaced Scouting decades ago.  Nor can you catch their attention as they go about destroying Scouting; their sole goal is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and they cannot see that the $$ would follow the membership they fruitter away by ignoring what kids - still - like about Scouting - kid adventure, including planning and leading.  It's a race to the bottom between Sears and BSA.

Did I mention that our newest Council Executive believes the solution to inept training is less training?  That seems to be the BSA party line.  I mean why would a competent "sales" force help sales when you can instead  shift emphasis to PR and risk management?

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1 minute ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Also, does anyone else find it coincidental that the Patrol Method truly died just before the introduction of girls into the program? After 108 years, we can no longer trust the boys?

It seems to have  started dying in 1972,  just after BSA introduced girls into the program but, more significantly, decided Scouting needed to be "modernized."  By 1983, the vast majority of troops (of the few left) here were both troop-based and adult-led.  It got sicker in about 2000 when all explanation of the Patrol method disappeared from Scoutmaster basic training, leaving no article, list, session, or chapter that defined Scouting's most important method.   It seems to have received the headstone recently when the website Scouting.org gave a "404 Closed" code to even its shallow articles on the Patrol Method, Patrol Leader, and Aims and Methods of Scouting.

We were so close - an actual red-jacket Scouter, Eagle, former SM, son of an Eagle, father of two Eagles, took over as defacto head of training at National (volunteers have no real authority).  But he was transferred in 2014 before he could really get Scouting back into adult training.  He knows more about the inside game than we do and thinks it's not intentional.   The bureaucrats simply "misplaced" Scouting, being focused on more "important" issues .  That would make it a case explained by Hanlon's Razor:  "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I don't understand the issue.  BSA's 404 error reflects a web-site with content changing with re-writes to for gender.  And, it's not going smoothly.  .  Nothing I've seen indicates patrol method is at all being eliminated or slighted.   

What I do see is BSA's literature is largely unchanged.  I like the 1950s wording better, but it's largely the same concept adjusted for after 2010 youth protection.  But, the concept has not changed.  Looking at the 1950s Boy Scout Handbook, the description is largely the same.   https://archive.org/details/officialboyscout71967boys/page/82 .... page 88 ... "The Scout patrol is the finest boys' gang in all the world.  The patrol is the unit that makes Scouting go.  It is a group of boys, usually six to eight, who pal together because they like to do the same things."

It's also right up front in the BSA's Troop Leader Guidebook.  Chapter three.  The words are a little less clear, but pretty much the same.  https://www.amazon.com/Troop-Leader-Guidebook-Vol-1-ebook/dp/B07N92GJ58/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=Troop+Leader+Guidebook&qid=1552603046&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull   ... "A patrol is a a semi-permanent group of compatible Scouts who elect their own leader. "   Semi-permanent?  Compatible?  Group?  I like the 1950s wording better.  

IMHO, the reason it might not be clear or we might not be happy is we all have different opinions how to make the patrol method work and what a patrol should be.  For me and mine, I want a patrol to be friends that want to do things together.  My view is a healthy troop drives from that.  Others want the patrol to be a mentoring structuring leaving the tight friendships crossing patrol lines.  Other debates about mixed-age versus same-aged patrols.  Others about permanent or re-structuring patrols. Others about assigning boys in or letting them choose.  

Scouting is supposed to be simple. 

... Side note ... I really wish my sons could have used an older style handbook.  I like the 1950s one.  I'm sure there are others that would be nice too.

 

Edited by fred8033
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The discussions are telling, count the number of threads in the last 6 months on the subjects of patrol method and youth protection. Which should be the harder subject for the adults?

Barry

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fred, I hope you are right.  Truly, I do.   I live on hope.   But I also vote in hope, and am regularly disappointed, which counsels realism.

While almost all the current  language - the 2019 language - the website language about the Patrol Method - sorry "the patrol method"  - is gone, this is still here

"Most patrol activities takes place in the context of troop activities, but that doesn’t mean that every patrol has to do the same things on every outing."  This  contradicts not only what Bill said about the primacy of the patrol, it also contradicts what BSA said as recently as 2018: "In Scouting, a troop is composed of several patrols. Boy Scouting happens in the  context of a patrol. The patrol, a small team of eight or so Scouts, is more than an organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the Cub Scout den. It is the place where boys learn skills, take on leadership responsibilities, and develop friendships that will often last throughout their lifetimes. [emphasis added].

Of course, that is not how, in fact, it is happening, and it takes little space to list the incentives BSA offers to encourage the primacy of the patrol context, or the disincentives BSA offers to discourage the de facto "troop method":

1.

2.

3. 

And we still have this January, 2019, language from BSA at Scouter.com (unchanged since 2006):  "Patrols are one component of what we call youth-run, or youth-led, troop."

And this means ???    The "youth-led troop method"?   

Probably not.  Simply more incompetency, such as Journey to 😉 giving no points for doing anything required by the Patrol Method, like having youth actually plan or lead a single, solitary  patrol or  troop activity.

So hope on, by all means. 

But remember, it's  Committee Chairman, Scout Executive,  Scoutmaster and, especially, Donor in BSAese, but it's only "patrol leader" and "senior patrol leader."

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, TAHAWK said:

While almost all the current  language - the 2019 language - the website language about the Patrol Method - sorry "the patrol method"  - is gone, this is still here

"Most patrol activities takes place in the context of troop activities, but that doesn’t mean that every patrol has to do the same things on every outing."  This  contradicts not only what Bill said about the primacy of the patrol, it also contradicts what BSA said as recently as 2018: "In Scouting, a troop is composed of several patrols. Boy Scouting happens in the  context of a patrol. The patrol, a small team of eight or so Scouts, is more than an organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the Cub Scout den. It is the place where boys learn skills, take on leadership responsibilities, and develop friendships that will often last throughout their lifetimes. [emphasis added].

A lot of the language may look the same as that of decades ago, and BSA may honestly intend that the real learning and leading should begin in patrols.  The big difference is in what is not said:  In the old days, patrols decided for themselves what they were going to do for themselves, and coordinated with other patrols for troop-wide meetings and activities.  Now, decisions are made at the troop level, and patrols are assigned roles and tasks to carry out those decisions.  The patrol is still an organizational necessity, but in an entirely different way than in the old days.

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5 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

A lot of the language may look the same as that of decades ago, and BSA may honestly intend that the real learning and leading should begin in patrols.  The big difference is in what is not said:  In the old days, patrols decided for themselves what they were going to do for themselves, and coordinated with other patrols for troop-wide meetings and activities.  Now, decisions are made at the troop level, and patrols are assigned roles and tasks to carry out those decisions.  The patrol is still an organizational necessity, but in an entirely different way than in the old days.

Not unlike how the country has evolved...from a collection of independent states who collaborate for a common defense, to a group of subdivisions of an overarching Government which dictates what and how much they can do.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

While almost all the current  language - the 2019 language - the website language about the Patrol Method - sorry "the patrol method"  - is gone, this is still here

"Most patrol activities takes place in the context of troop activities, but that doesn’t mean that every patrol has to do the same things on every outing."  This  contradicts not only what Bill said about the primacy of the patrol, it also contradicts what BSA said as recently as 2018: "In Scouting, a troop is composed of several patrols. Boy Scouting happens in the  context of a patrol. The patrol, a small team of eight or so Scouts, is more than an organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the Cub Scout den. It is the place where boys learn skills, take on leadership responsibilities, and develop friendships that will often last throughout their lifetimes. [emphasis added].

I fear BSA's writing is a feedback reflection of the common reality.  It's not the best practice, but it's a common reality.  I've seen the details of five local troops.  All those troops brag about how they are boy-led with the inference the others are not.  They all brag and argue about how to ideally structure patrols.  But all those troops only created troop level plans for camping, activities, skills, learning, competitions, etc.  ... except my first two or three years in 2005 to 2007, I never saw any scoutmasters encourage patrols to create their own activities or camp outs or unique ideas.  

Sadly, I do see BSA's statement as correct.  Most patrol activities take place in the context of troop activities.  Most "patrols" are not real autonomous units.  They seem more like a sub-team to divide a big group.  IMHO, if you want a patrol to be a patrol, you need to create regular unique activities and goals for them.  Maybe they go to the movies together.  Maybe they go on a ski trip or a canoe trip.  Maybe they have game night.  Maybe ...

So I really can't blame BSA.  Even troops that boast of "patrols" really don't do patrol method.

Edited by fred8033

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It feels to me like angst is causing more concern than is needed here.  I've seen no evidence that the BSA is doing anything to the patrol method.  The BSA's changes in language over time probably have more to do with whoever wrote the latest material that references it.  Somehow I don't think there is a vault at the BSA where they hold "the defintion of patrol method".

As for the comment:

19 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

I wrote to the official answer place (Boy Scouts of America Service Desk ) and asked for such a definition so I could be sure to be following the official language at a University of Scouting presentation.  The reply stated that the "priority" for answering my inquiry was "Low."    But I knew that already.

You emailed their helpdesk and asked for a definition of the patrol method.  These are folks who deal with tracking down people's registration, answering YPT questions, etc.  I'm almost certain that they have as much insight into what the BSA is doing around re-writes of language on the website as you or I do.  I'd read absoletly nothing into that response.

For those of us that hold the patrol method in high esteem, I think it's entirely fair to desire that the BSA is clearer on it's application.  But, for as long as I've been a Scouter, the BSA always seems to be more focused on mechanics of unit operation than about trying to tune application of the patrol method.  Similarly, they don't spend a lot of time trying to tune how units do advancement.  From the BSA it's much more of "here's the ideas, here's the goals now have at it." 

I for one think it would be good for the BSA to focus more effort on helping us unit leaders have a better understanding of these things.  But, I can't say I've seen anything from the BSA that suggests they are even considering a change to the patrol method.  As far as I can tell patrol method is still plan of record.

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I also suspect that what the BSA is doing is limiting what they will insure. Bunch of teenagers without adults isn't a BSA insured activity, but its not like a group of scouts cannot go camping/hiking whatever outside of the insurance domain of the BSA.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

It feels to me like angst is causing more concern than is needed here.  I've seen no evidence that the BSA is doing anything to the patrol method.  The BSA's changes in language over time probably have more to do with whoever wrote the latest material that references it.  Somehow I don't think there is a vault at the BSA where they hold "the defintion of patrol method".

As for the comment:

You emailed their helpdesk and asked for a definition of the patrol method.  These are folks who deal with tracking down people's registration, answering YPT questions, etc.  I'm almost certain that they have as much insight into what the BSA is doing around re-writes of language on the website as you or I do.  I'd read absoletly nothing into that response.

For those of us that hold the patrol method in high esteem, I think it's entirely fair to desire that the BSA is clearer on it's application.  But, for as long as I've been a Scouter, the BSA always seems to be more focused on mechanics of unit operation than about trying to tune application of the patrol method.  Similarly, they don't spend a lot of time trying to tune how units do advancement.  From the BSA it's much more of "here's the ideas, here's the goals now have at it." 

I for one think it would be good for the BSA to focus more effort on helping us unit leaders have a better understanding of these things.  But, I can't say I've seen anything from the BSA that suggests they are even considering a change to the patrol method.  As far as I can tell patrol method is still plan of record.

I wrote to the address that the BSA home office last specifically told me to write.  I have been asking those I have been told to ask for eighteen years - with no answer as to the goal or the idea, except five years ago when the then national head of training, an actual professional,  was trying to generate the proper language in training syllabi.  His expressed goal would have been fine, but it was not achieved, and the "guidance" has only become more vague and incorrect by Bill Hillcourt standards since the typical bureaucrats got back in charge.  That they are not too interested in program is nothing new.   I was warned about that reality by my first Council Exec in 1959.  No change. Too bad they do not see the connection between program quality and their goal.

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