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Hi,

Am new to the forum. I have been an adult leader for the past nine years. My younger son recently crossed over and I was asked to be the SM for our troop. Since I had previously taken the SM/ASM training, I accepted. I was wondering how much latitude the Scoutmaster has in setting up troop meeting structure. We now have a segment during the meeting where patrols plan their next campout. We (the SPL and I) are requiring all Scouts to participate even if some are not going on the campout. We feel this keeps all of the Scouts engaged in planning outdoor activities, which is an important training element in itself and even induces more Scouts to attend outdoor activities, which of course is a crucial element of Scouting. One  Scout (the previous SPL) thinks Scouts should not be forced to help with campout planning if they will not be attending and was able to get a vote in the PLC in favor of this. Can the PLC change the rules on who may participate in certain activities? Thanks for your input.

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Posted (edited)

@CarlosD, welcome to the forums!

On one level, it's your troop, your rules.

On the other hand, if your PLC had a plan for some good thing for these non-participating scouts to do, maybe it's worth giving them a listen.

Edited by qwazse

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So what are these non-attending scouts doing during the planning session? Are they gathering, checking patrol gear?

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We used to let the non-attendees do other activities, but this created problems with having enough adult supervision, etc. Having all Scouts participate in planning is something new we are trying. Would be interested in hearing how other troops do this.

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I'm a little confused as to the "other activities". We let our scouts go out around the church and cemetery grounds. They may get the (somewhat flat) basketball from the shed and shoot hoops. We don't require adults to be there. One of us may go around to check on them periodically. They often manage to make themselves useful. For example, last meeting they collected a bunch of junk that was dumped in the woods.

We've also had times when everyone was expected to stay in patrol corners even if the patrol was working on something that the scout wasn't interested it. Patrol corners are rarely more than 20 minutes, so that process didn't seem to trouble everyone. Note: we don't micro-manage patrols. Come up with a menu, or not. It's their stomachs on the line.

I don't think it's a bad idea to have the scouts in patrols for a set portion of the meeting. But, if you do, I think you need to figure out what you expect from the non-participants at that time. Maybe you need to have them join you halfway through the patrol time and go over something else relevant to troop life (e.g., the next event they will be attending, general equipment needs, projects to do for the CO, ...).

If your complaint came from a first-year, I'd brush it off. But, maybe the old SPL is seeing something that's bothering him. Maybe some scouts are disrupting the boys who are trying to pull their weekend together. I'd try to listen to him and ask him his suggested plan B.

It could also be that he's not comfortable with change.

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If the PLC voted on it, it seems like you need to respect their wishes.  Sort of boxed in. 

The question is the dynamics of the situation.  You can expect people to listen for a few minutes to something they are not involved in.  But if you ask them to spend 20 to 30 minutes, you waste their time.  Wasting their time can result in bad behavior.  IMHO, respect peoples time and they will respect yours.  Waste their time and it comes back at ya. 

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The B.S.A. has not trained adults or youth in the Patrol Method in a remotely coherent way for decades.  Yet, to earn "Scout,' a youth member must explain the Patrol Method.  ("3a. Explain the patrol method [sic]. Describe the types of patrols that are used in your troop.")  

A troop is a collection of patrols, not a group of scouts and scouters.

According to BSA back when it coherently defined the Patrol Method, a scout was to primarily spend his ("his" then) time in a patrol context.  This hint is still there if one recognizes it: “Scouting happens in the context of a patrol.” B.S.A., Scoutmaster Position Specific Training, 2019    (current syllabus)  Or this: "“Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements.”  B.S.A., Scouting.org (2018)[emphasis added].

So the bulk of a troop meeting is to be devoted to patrol activity, such as learning Scoutcraft as patrols or preparing as patrols for future activities in the patrol, with other patrols, or in the troop - competitions, hikes, campouts.  Do allow some time for "troop corners."

The Patrol Method provides that a patrol is a team, with each member having a job, and that the patrol activities are planned democratically by the members of the patrol. There is no exception for members who do not plan to participate, but the benefits of compulsory participation in democracy are not obvious.   One might ask why a member of a team is disinterested in having input into its activities -  activities that are is supposed to constitute most of his (or her) time in Scouting.  Have they figured out that it is time wasted?  (Prize for mest new idea for ______  ?)

The Patrol Method provides that troop activities are planned by the Patrol Leaders' Council, chaired by the Senior Patrol Leader and with the patrol leaders representing their respective patrol members. The Scoutmaster has no vote.  He typically has influence.  The objective - the Scouters' objective - is training the youth in citizenship and leadership by doing, not fantastic program.  Safety aside, the youth will, and are allowed to, make what adults may think are mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.

“Adults understand that their role is to create a safe place where boys can learn and grow and explore and play and take on responsibilities—and fail, and get up and try again.  B.S.A., Orientation for New Scout Parents (2019)

Never do for a Scout what he can do for himself.”  "To what standard?"  "Why to a boy's standard."

Bill

Then there is this other thing going on.

 

  • Upvote 1

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I think the Scout 3a. requirement is silly anyway. Like the Scout Oath and Law, they don’t really care until reflecting on the experience. 

Barry

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4 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

The B.S.A. has not trained adults or youth in the Patrol Method in a remotely coherent way for decades.  Yet, to earn "Scout,' a youth member must explain the Patrol Method.  ("3a. Explain the patrol method [sic]. Describe the types of patrols that are used in your troop.")  

A troop is a collection of patrols, not a group of scouts and scouters.

According to BSA back when it coherently defined the Patrol Method, a scout was to primarily spend his ("his" then) time in a patrol context.  This hint is still there if one recognizes it: “Scouting happens in the context of a patrol.” B.S.A., Scoutmaster Position Specific Training, 2019    (current syllabus)  Or this: "“Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements.”  B.S.A., Scouting.org (2018)[emphasis added].

So the bulk of a troop meeting is to be devoted to patrol activity, such as learning Scoutcraft as patrols or preparing as patrols for future activities in the patrol, with other patrols, or in the troop - competitions, hikes, campouts.  Do allow some time for "troop corners."

The Patrol Method provides that a patrol is a team, with each member having a job, and that the patrol activities are planned democratically by the members of the patrol. There is no exception for members who do not plan to participate, but the benefits of compulsory participation in democracy are not obvious.   One might ask why a member of a team is disinterested in having input into its activities -  activities that are is supposed to constitute most of his (or her) time in Scouting.  Have they figured out that it is time wasted?  (Prize for mest new idea for ______  ?)

The Patrol Method provides that troop activities are planned by the Patrol Leaders' Council, chaired by the Senior Patrol Leader and with the patrol leaders representing their respective patrol members. The Scoutmaster has no vote.  He typically has influence.  The objective - the Scouters' objective - is training the youth in citizenship and leadership by doing, not fantastic program.  Safety aside, the youth will, and are allowed to, make what adults may think are mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.

“Adults understand that their role is to create a safe place where boys can learn and grow and explore and play and take on responsibilities—and fail, and get up and try again.  B.S.A., Orientation for New Scout Parents (2019)

Never do for a Scout what he can do for himself.”  "To what standard?"  "Why to a boy's standard."

Bill

Then there is this other thing going on.

 

Thank you for that sir. Requiring all Scouts to participate in campout planning with their patrols was designed in part to stimulate interest in attending the campouts. Attendance has been lagging in our troop. We tried this compulsory planning one time and 18 scouts attended the campout. A huge uptick for us.

So my question is can the SM snd SPL overrule a PLC decision we feel is damaging our Scouting program?

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38 minutes ago, CarlosD said:

So my question is can the SM snd SPL overrule a PLC decision we feel is damaging our Scouting program?

Yes, you can over rule but you could also share what you have learned here and from  other scouters and use it to revisit their decision.

 

 

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While I usually would recommend a deference to the PLC, in this case I think the decision should be based at the Patrol level. 

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Posted (edited)

BSA allows adults to ignore the methods of Scouting as Scouting is secondary to other things that concern BSA.  Indeed, BSA does nothing material to either recognize those who follow the Patrol method - Scouting -  or to discourage noncompliance.  So it's up to the volunteer adults and their integrity.  Safety and ethical issues aside, Scouting provides that the patrol is to plan its program, and the PLC is to plan troop program.  As adults, we are to teach, council, mentor  and encourage to the end that the youth learn,  through their practice of good citizenship in their patrols, and to a lesser extent, in the troops formed to support those patrols. to be good citizens when they are no longer under our thumb .

Edited by TAHAWK

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Posted (edited)

Thank you TAHAWK and to all who responded. Will let you know outcome.

Edited by CarlosD

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Just following up. So we are respecting the vote taken by the PLC for now. I may ask the SPL to request a new vote sometime in the future since it seems they did not follow proper rules of order. We are training the PLC on the use of Robert's Rules.

  • Upvote 1

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Rules of order are next-level. Your PLC should be proud for even trying to use them.

I wouldn't ask for a recount based on technically. If some PL's felt left out, they could move for a vote of no confidence in the SPL. But, it is probably better to just wait until the next election cycle and see if candidates bring up these changes as justification for election/reelection.

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