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Eagle1993

How to increase usage of Patrol Method

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11 hours ago, Treflienne said:

The troop leader guidebook (p 37) talks about the regular monthly PLC meeting.  Also about "Patrol Leaders' Council Huddles" before each meeting and a brief PLC meeting at the end of each troop meeting. 

Our small new one-patrol troop has been holding an all-interested-troop-members-invited "PLC" meeting once a month for the scouts to plan the upcoming activities.  Typically about half the scouts in the troop (including the PL/APL) attend.   We have not been having the brief PLC meeting at the end of each troop meeting.   However I am starting to feel that something of the sort is needed -- that is, remote means of communication (email, phone) between troop meetings are not quite enough.  

So,  in your experience, especially in your small-troop experience:   do you do these post-troop-meeting huddles?  Whose attendance is critical?  Whose attendance is optional? 

On my small-troop experience, whoever did the work held the position, patches were superfluous. But how this wound up was a couple of older scouts would stay after and we asked them how things are going and what we should do next. IMHO, focus your attention on the PL+APL if they are showing up, and if other scouts are joining them and it's making everyone productive, keep it going. In the process you will identify who might be the better QM vs Scribe vs Librarian, etc ...

There is no point in formally convening a PLC until the troop has three patrols who need to coordinate. Then, PL/APL from each patrol and the SPL/ASPL are your PLC -- effectively or "leadership patrol." Again, I don't go checking patches to see who is sitting there. If a scout's doing work, he has a say.  In this context, how the weekly after-meeting goes is that some weeks it's obvious that what the plan for the next week will be so SPL says, "See you next week." Other weeks we have to hash out a number of details or follow-up on a bunch of activities, so the meeting is about a half hour. In that case, the SPL will let the leaders know that he'll need more of their time that week.

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Rough idea ... stop troop camping.  Maybe troop summer camp and a troop district camporee.  Beyond that, patrols should function as patrols.  Choose their activities and schedule.  Find their own camps.  If you really want patrols to function as patrols, minimize the troop focus.  

I say this as a rough idea because every troop calendar I've seen has a monthly troop focus with some sporadic higher adventure activity.   I never see an annual calendar for the patrols.  

Maybe asking the patrols to have one or two months each year where they focus on creating the coolest patrol campout or activity.   One patrol goes caving.  Another does a canoe trip.  Another does a state park.  Maybe another does a bike trip.  

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On 5/17/2019 at 11:20 PM, fred8033 said:

Maybe asking the patrols to have one or two months each year where they focus on creating the coolest patrol campout or activity.   One patrol goes caving.  Another does a canoe trip.  Another does a state park.  Maybe another does a bike trip.  

Excellent idea!

i'd advocate for giving the award to the patrol that goes furthest "outside" the rut of whatever the troop's usual themes and sites might be...encourage the kids to think for themselves.

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3 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Excellent idea!

i'd advocate for giving the award to the patrol that goes furthest "outside" the rut of whatever the troop's usual themes and sites might be...encourage the kids to think for themselves.

Our troop slotted two months out of the year for patrol campouts. They were very popular for the scouts and adults who supported them. Fishing and hiking seemed to be the most popular theme.

To further encourage patrol independence, they are asked to find their own rides for both scouts and gear for all camp outs. If they need additional space for gear, the PQM calls the TQM to reserve space in the trailer. If a patrol needs the troop trailer, they can request as well provided the driver and PQM have been trained and checked out by the TQM. I imagine insurance may have further requirements today.

We also encourage patrols to travel independently from the troop (or troop trailer), but we found that some of the parks and camps don't like the groups checking in over several hours. 

Barry

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On 5/16/2019 at 6:44 AM, Eagle1993 said:

So it appears I will be taking over as SM of a fairly large Troop (70 - 80 scouts).   The previous SM has been looking to step down the last few years and has not been present for most of this year. My son recently crossed over into this Troop and after a few adult leader meetings the CC asked me to take the role.  After declining twice, I had further discussions and found that while the Troop is large they are becoming less active and there is concern they will collapse.  Several Troops in my area have already died (over 4 packs feed this Troop) so I accepted.

I have a general idea of this Troop’s culture and don’t want to rock the boat, but there are a few areas I think the scouts could change.  My primary thought is that we can improve the use of the patrol method.  Currently:

patrols are set by the leaders

PL and SPLs are set by leaders

A scout told my son that Patrols only really matter at summer camp, Klondike and a few Troop meetings.

This sounds like a lot of Troops where patrols are used, but not in the original concept.  Given we have 70 - 80 scouts I think the Patrol method is critical.  Any thoughts on a plan to increase usage of the patrol method?

By "leaders" you mean adults?   If so, point out that adults have no vote in selecting leaders  or selecting program per the Handbook and national policy, and get the PLC to call elections ASAP.  (Do not refer to adults as "leaders."  Words have power,  They lead, but indirectly, and they are "Scouters," "adults," and/or "parents.")

Scouts to be allowed to move between patrols. Patrols are to be largely self-selected.  A troop is a collection of patrols, not a collection of Scouts.  Patrols do not have to be "balanced" or meet some adult standard of neatness.  Any kid without a couple of pals in his/her patrol will be inactive at best and likely will "vote with his or her feet."

Teach, counsel and encourage patrols to have lots of independent activities.   Require adults present to allow PLs to run patrol activities.  Adults are there as safety monitors - not as leaders.  Spend most of troop meeting time broken out as patrols.

Lots of inter-patrol games and contests.  Honor Patrol system - scoring set by PLC for desired behavior with some form of recognition/reward.

Get the new PLC together on an outing to group-form the troop leadership team.  The elected SPL needs to lead through the PLs to respect, acknowledge, and reinforce their authority - even more so when the adults relate with the leaders (Scouts).

The patrols are the teams (everyone with a "position").  The troop is the league.  Adults don't get to play,  just "coach." 

 Do not expect district , much less council, to help.  Program generally is over their attention horizon.  Stupid to so ignore the "product," but increasingly so for forty years with predictable results.

You want citations of authority,  just ask.  They are handy as I am addressing a Commissioners' Conference on this crisis topic in a few weeks.

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Had the start of a conversation during our annual planning meeting (adults only, but SPL and a few other senior scouts were invited).   Overall it went well, but I can see this could take several years to get a really strong patrol method Troop.  The issues go back years where a previous adult intentionally broke up groups of friends between patrols. 

This came up when I asked if patrols go on their own outings.  One of the other leaders said his son would hate that as none of his friends are in his patrol.  I asked about camping arrangements and they never tent with Patrol members.  I asked why and once again... the current patrols are not groups of friends.  There was really no reason behind that.... other than a leader from years ago.

So, one of the first tasks is to relook at how we divide up our scouts into patrols... then build from there.  We talked about other changes and overall received support from the adults to increase usage of the patrol method.

... now I need to talk with the SPL to get his thoughts.

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10 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

Had the start of a conversation during our annual planning meeting (adults only, but SPL and a few other senior scouts were invited).   Overall it went well, but I can see this could take several years to get a really strong patrol method Troop.  The issues go back years where a previous adult intentionally broke up groups of friends between patrols. 

This came up when I asked if patrols go on their own outings.  One of the other leaders said his son would hate that as none of his friends are in his patrol.  I asked about camping arrangements and they never tent with Patrol members.  I asked why and once again... the current patrols are not groups of friends.  There was really no reason behind that.... other than a leader from years ago.

So, one of the first tasks is to relook at how we divide up our scouts into patrols... then build from there.  We talked about other changes and overall received support from the adults to increase usage of the patrol method.

... now I need to talk with the SPL to get his thoughts.

My favorite approach is:

Year 1 - At crossover time, form a partol of new scouts who have all joined together.  Assign them a troop guide.  This lets scouts go through "new scout" stuff as a group and learn together.

Year 2+ - After a year, let the scouts shift patrols to their liking.  Try to keep patrols no more than 8-10.  This lets scouts for patrols of their friends and work in groups where they are comfortable.

 

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The longest journey begins with a single step.  

Let the Scouts form patrols: 

[A "patrol" in Scouting is . . . a small, largely self-selected  team of friends who, under the leadership of a Scout they elect,  experience a Scouting program they collectively plan

    and, through that leader as their representative, help lead the troop." [emphasis added]
 
"Why do boys want to join Scouting?
To develop their fitness, citizenship, and character?
To give adults a smoothly-running organization?
 

qO1LASX.png

 

“ ‘You set up a structure—six to eight Scouts—and let them figure it out,’ he says.
 
‘Boys are going to want to stick together if you … use their friendships to put together a team.’ ”
   B.S.A., Scouting (May-June 2012)(quoting child psychologist  Dr. Brett Laursen )
 
“Again, although the Scoutmaster may often advise with the Patrol leader and his Patrol concerning new recruits, the admission of a new boy to the Patrol should be with the approval of the Patrol members.”
                        Hillcourt, William, Scouting, September, 1930 at
                                p.  244 [emphasis added]
“In a Troop in which the boys are shuffled together at frequent intervals and dealt out into new Patrols according to the whim of the Scoutmaster, there obviously can be little opportunity for the development of Patrol morale and Patrol traditions.”
 
                   Hillcourt, William, The Patrol Method, B.S.A.
                            (1930) at p. 10.
“Patrol spirit is the glue that holds the patrol together and keeps it going. Building patrol spirit takes time, and because it is shaped by a patrol's experiences—good and bad.”
                BSA Scouting.org, 2018
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