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fred8033

BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

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16 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Exactly.  That's my point.  And it got worse with the latest leader guide description of patrols.  Now we have stronger contradictions within BSA's publications.  From what I've seen, BSA would be better off re-organizing how it does publications.  IMHO, the 2011 GTA re-write was outstanding.  Done very professionally.  Many people brought in.  Specific words were precisely chosen and the structure was well laid out.  In addition, BSA created a follow-on infrastructure to provide further details and provide a feedback loop for updates.  

This was my struggle as a Cubmaster.  I had every book and went to every class.  I knew the the "what" really well.  Yet, the BSA materials and training don't cover the "how".  Later I saw the same thing in the troop.  I knew we wanted the eigth methods, but "how" was not terribly well defiend.  As they said in school - the "how" was an exercise left to the reader.  So, as a result, we spent countless amounts of energy trying to figure it out.

Yet, there's a part of me that wonders if the BSA should really try to define patrols to this level of detail.  What matters more - exactly how patrols are structured, or that patrol method is being leveraged in a way that maximizes it's benefits.  For example, there are various ways to accomplish @Eagledad's recommendation of developing a strong program by focusing on the quality of the older Scout program.  

If we leverage that fact that there is shared comraderie in solving problems together, there is value in putting Scouts in patrols of the same age.  Scouts grow together and develop bonds together.  It can lead to a model where a patrol is strong buddy group - perhaps even one where Scouts become life long friends.

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33 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

If we leverage that fact that there is shared comraderie in solving problems together, there is value in putting Scouts in patrols of the same age.  Scouts grow together and develop bonds together.  It can lead to a model where a patrol is strong buddy group - perhaps even one where Scouts become life long friends.

Can you think of one teacher that influenced the rest of your life. How about two? A coach? Maybe a friends mother or father.

Im not sure how older older patrol mates are excluded from shared comraderie. I remember my patrol role models very well. I can list the influence they made on my life. 

Now if what you meant same age patrols can also have growth through shared comraderie, I certainly agree. But, it’s far more challenging to maintain that growth thru age 18. 

I believe the reason National doesn’t get deeper into explaining the patrol method is they just don’t know. First off, how many of the professionals at National had a youth patrol method experience. My opinions of patrol method are heavily based from my experience as a youth verified by my experience as an adult. 

Also, I’m not sure National really has much appreciation for patrol method. For most adults, patrols are just a convenient way to control large numbers of boys (youth). 

I was talking to a friend who is getting back to scouting. He is being asked to be the next SM, but he is concerned about the family scouting that is being discussed. And they have new girls that is causing youth protection confusion. Patrol method is a lower priority of concern. 

Barry

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4 hours ago, Eagledad said:

For most adults, patrols are just a convenient way to control large numbers of boys (youth). 

I sadly agree.  It's very hard to get a large set of adults on the same page.  Where the patrol can be a get learning opportunity, it is often reduced to dividing the scouts into manageable numbers.  

Just now, I went to scouting.org to look at "aims and methods".  Found it for cub scouts.  But "Scouts BSA" has nothing.  It's gone.  Only lists Advancement, Merit Badges and Eagle rank.    I suspect lots is being re-written, but it's surprising to me that "aims and methods" of scouting doesn't exist at the national site anymore for their premier program.  I would be surprised if aims and methods are changing.  

I did find the scoutmaster specific training syllabus, last updated 2018.  I was surprised at two things.  #1  there are four aims of scouting.  I've always been used to three aims (character, citizenship and fitness ... 2010 scoutmaster handbook).  Now, leadership development is added as an explicit aim.  I always heard leadership development described, but it was not explicitly another aim.  It was more under character or citizenship or mental fitness.  #2  2018 SM position specific training still is aligned with 2010 scoutmaster handbook.  Only describes, new, traditional and venture patrols.  Does not mention mixed age excel that traditional patrols should not have more than three years between the oldest and youngest scouts.

BSA needs to decide where they are with their program.  Maybe BSA should acknowledge that it's a rough shell that charter orgs and create many different styles of troops within and where all those troop styles are all legitimate.  Each charter org should decide their own objectives and purposes for the troop.  This would be more aligned with the venturing style of unit.  Or maybe BSA should proscribe a purposes and objectives and ask units to work toward those ideals.  This applies toward this thread with how patrols learn and grow.  Is it through a TG that mentors the patrol or through more senior scouts embedded inside each patrol.  I'd like more BSA thought on this.

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I hate to say it, but the Patrol Method died October 1, 2018. That is when 2 adults were required for ALL activities, including patrol meetings, hikes, and day activities. Also the No more than 2 years apart rule for tents put a nail into the coffin as well. Traditional Patrols, aka Mixed aged patrols, that have been around since 1910 in the BSA, I have encountered have had people more than 2 years apart. Part of the Patrol Method is eating, sleeping, and working with your patrol mates. Older Scouts mentored and trained the younger ones.

As for national and their experience with the Patrol Method, I would say less than 2 percent. And the lawyers got to them.

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

I sadly agree.  It's very hard to get a large set of adults on the same page.  Where the patrol can be a get learning opportunity, it is often reduced to dividing the scouts into manageable numbers.  

Isn't it the job of the Scoutmaster to lead the program?  Presumably he/she has a pretty good understanding of what patrol method is and how to utilize it in a program.  Other leaders should look to the SM for guidance.   If the Scoutmaster doesn't understand patrol method, that's a bigger issue.  Presumably you've chosen the Scoutmaster based on their understanding of the program and their demonstrated desire to run a good program.

1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

BSA needs to decide where they are with their program.  Maybe BSA should acknowledge that it's a rough shell that charter orgs and create many different styles of troops within and where all those troop styles are all legitimate.  Each charter org should decide their own objectives and purposes for the troop.  This would be more aligned with the venturing style of unit.  Or maybe BSA should proscribe a purposes and objectives and ask units to work toward those ideals.  This applies toward this thread with how patrols learn and grow.  Is it through a TG that mentors the patrol or through more senior scouts embedded inside each patrol.  I'd like more BSA thought on this.

I wonder if this has something to do with how people learn today.  I get the sense that many people are ignoring the training.  Trained leader percentages are well below 50%.  The BSA materials are fully of information on patrol method, but people tend to ignore it.  So, I wonder if the BSA materials are trying counter that by focusing more on the theory thinking "if we explain it, then people will find more value in the training materials and attempt to learn them."

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6 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Can you think of one teacher that influenced the rest of your life. How about two? A coach? Maybe a friends mother or father.

Im not sure how older older patrol mates are excluded from shared comraderie. I remember my patrol role models very well. I can list the influence they made on my life. 

Now if what you meant same age patrols can also have growth through shared comraderie, I certainly agree. But, it’s far more challenging to maintain that growth thru age 18. 

That's what I meant.  Same age patrols can have growth through shared comraderie.    A group of mates working together to solve challenges that they run into.  

I'm not arguing that same age patrols are better.  Most point is really just - if leaders understand the purpose and goals of patrol method then could they accomplish the same with mixed age patrols?  Could you develop a strong program for older youth by leveraging roles like Troop Guide?  I could envision a model where Scouts work together in their same age patrol. They grow together as they mature and their patrol strengthens.  As their learning opportunities begin to run out at the patrol level, they then take on roles like Troop Guide, SPL, ASPL, Quarter Master, etc.  The Scouts grow in responsibilty and challenge as they mature.  

I think you make a very compelling argument that an older youth program is the key to a strong troop.  MIxed age patrols are one path to providing meaning for older Scouts.  But, I wonder if it's the only path.  Couldn't you accomplish much the same by utilzing same age patrols as I decribe above? 

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13 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I wonder if this has something to do with how people learn today.  I get the sense that many people are ignoring the training.  Trained leader percentages are well below 50%.  The BSA materials are fully of information on patrol method, but people tend to ignore it.  So, I wonder if the BSA materials are trying counter that by focusing more on the theory thinking "if we explain it, then people will find more value in the training materials and attempt to learn them."

I think this is a function of stupid rules and inconsistent programming.  One can only read just so much stupidity before you starting thinking "Hell, if just this part that I've read is asinine, why bother with the rest?"

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Just now, elitts said:

I think this is a function of stupid rules and inconsistent programming.  One can only read just so much stupidity before you starting thinking "Hell, if just this part that I've read is asinine, why bother with the rest?"

In our troop we seem to have a paradox

  • new leaders expect to get their guidance from more experienced leaders.  They don't got to training because they know the experienced adults will show them the ropes
  • once untrained leaders get some experience they decide that they know the basics already and it's pointless to go spend a day taking training.

So, after a while you see a whole bunch on untrained, experienced leaders.

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1 minute ago, ParkMan said:

In our troop we seem to have a paradox

  • new leaders expect to get their guidance from more experienced leaders.  They don't got to training because they know the experienced adults will show them the ropes
  • once untrained leaders get some experience they decide that they know the basics already and it's pointless to go spend a day taking training.

So, after a while you see a whole bunch on untrained, experienced leaders.

Ahh.  Yes, that would be problematic.  In my troop every adult is (at a minimum) required to do the position specific training.  But from there, there is little guidance provided to new adult leaders from experienced ones.  I think this probably is a part of why we do still have some issues getting adults to back off and let the kids actually run things.  We have a couple adult leaders that really think their job is to "keep the boys/girls on task".

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5 minutes ago, elitts said:

Ahh.  Yes, that would be problematic.  In my troop every adult is (at a minimum) required to do the position specific training.  But from there, there is little guidance provided to new adult leaders from experienced ones.  I think this probably is a part of why we do still have some issues getting adults to back off and let the kids actually run things.  We have a couple adult leaders that really think their job is to "keep the boys/girls on task".

In both my Cub Scout & Boy Scout volunteer experiences, I joined troops with established leadership groups.  We had leaders who had been around for a while.  The leadership team in the pack is about 10 people.  In the troop about 20.  There is a defined pack/troop culture that was established by the "senior" leaders.  New leaders certainly take on positions of responsibilty, but there is always someone who can point them in the right direction.   Someone new shows up and starts making waves, someone pulls them aside and points them in the right direction.  It's all very positive as everyone is pulling in the same direction trying to have the best troop possible.

In my humble opinion, I think this kind of culture would be useful in more packs and troops.

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40 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Only lists Advancement, Merit Badges and Eagle rank. 

Maybe this is why people think the program is advancement.

42 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Each charter org should decide their own objectives and purposes for the troop.  This would be more aligned with the venturing style of unit. 

I see where you're coming from but shouldn't the objectives and purposes for each unit be the aims? Living the oath and law? Maybe there are different ways to get there but the goal is the same. The thing missing is how the methods get us to the aims. It would do a lot of good to talk about how advancement teaches a scout to help other people at all times. That alone should get us over the idea that the goal is eagle. How does the patrol method encourage selfless decision making? I could go on for every method except the one about ideals (and that's mostly just redundant to the aims).

Something else missing is teaching the scouts all of this as well. I've never understood that. Why doesn't the scout handbook explain the program as well? I would think everyone in at least a troop should understand what the program is. Why the outdoors, why advancement, why patrols, etc. That way, when one of the adults, parents, or scouts start making a mess the everyone else will know something is wrong. When the parents start complaining that their kids aren't advancing fast enough it would be so much easier to point them to some page in the handbook that explains how advancement helps a scout reach the aims of scouting. "Here, read this page with your child."

1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

Is it through a TG that mentors the patrol or through more senior scouts embedded inside each patrol. 

While I agree that this is a good thing to describe, the problem is that not enough people even understand that older scouts should be working with younger scouts.

15 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I wonder if this has something to do with how people learn today.  I get the sense that many people are ignoring the training.

If you mean adults want training that is to the point, timely, and useful, I agree. My experience was that the BSA training was not that.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

If you mean adults want training that is to the point, timely, and useful, I agree. My experience was that the BSA training was not that.

You could make the BSA training one hour of jam packed info and you'd get about the same attendance.  The simple reality is that the basic mechanics of Scouting are pretty straight forward and can easily be learned on the job.  A significant percentage of Scouters realize this and don't bother to get trained.   Most packs and troops don't bother to push the issue.  In the process, we have whole generations of leaders who's training amounts to whatever they saw the leaders before them do.

The sad reality is that we as Scouters bear much more responsibilty for the lack of trained leaders than any BSA content.  As experienced Scouters, it's within all our power to encourage new leaders to get trained.  If experienced leaders insisted on trained leaders, it would happen.  But, we don't, and so it doesn't happen.

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15 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Also the No more than 2 years apart rule for tents put a nail into the coffin as well. Traditional Patrols, aka Mixed aged patrols, that have been around since 1910 in the BSA, I have encountered have had people more than 2 years apart. Part of the Patrol Method is eating, sleeping, and working with your patrol mates. Older Scouts mentored and trained the younger ones.

This isn't strictly true. It is possible, but challenging to have a patrol with a range of age groups beyond two years, and still observe the 2 years in age rule for tenting. My NYLT Scouts just encountered that and dealt with it on one of their training weekends a few weeks ago. 

However, it does make things harder to manage, and when adults are involved, we tend to make things easier for us to comply with the rules. I imagine that most patrols will only have a -2 year age spread going forward, but that doesn't mean it strictly has to. 

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1 hour ago, Sentinel947 said:

This isn't strictly true. It is possible, but challenging to have a patrol with a range of age groups beyond two years, and still observe the 2 years in age rule for tenting. My NYLT Scouts just encountered that and dealt with it on one of their training weekends a few weeks ago.

I don’t think it has much effect. Mosts scouts join with at least one friend who are generally the same age. Same goes for our crews. I can think of one situation that would have been a problem and that was a 16 year old working with a 11 year old sever mentally retarded scout. 

I can also see this as more of a problem for NYLT since the participants come from multiple units. Council might have to require two scofrom each unit. 

Barry

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I don’t think it has much effect. Mosts scouts join with at least one friend who are generally the same age. Same goes for our crews. I can think of one situation that would have been a problem and that was a 16 year old working with a 11 year old sever mentally retarded scout. 

I can also see this as more of a problem for NYLT since the participants come from multiple units. Council might have to require two scofrom each unit. 

Barry

I should have clarified, my staff had to figure that out. For NYLT last year we made sure that all the members of each patrol were within 2 years of age from the youngest to the oldest. 

For a typical unit, I don't really think the two years apart in tenting rule has a ton of impact, for exactly the reason you stated. 

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