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fred8033

BSA patrol method is lost in the fog

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21 hours 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.  

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.

The BSA has moved a lot of its troop information over to TroopLeader.org and ProgramResources.org:

https://troopleader.scouting.org/scoutings-aims-and-methods/

http://www.programresources.org/




 

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Leadership Development was, until recently, a "Method," rather than as Aim, but leadership dovetails nicely with citizenship.

 

The judgement I got from the national head of training in 2014 was that BSA had not changed policy on the Patrol Method's centrality, but that those in charge had "misplaced" the Patrol Method out of (my word) ignorance. ("don't know what it is")  Seeing that explaining the PM was an advancement requirement for the newish Scout rank, I asked BSA last year what the correct answer would be.  They could not say.  Beyond embarrassing, were they but capable of that..

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5 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

Leadership Development was, until recently, a "Method," rather than as Aim, but leadership dovetails nicely with citizenship.

By my reading of https://troopleader.scouting.org/scoutings-aims-and-methods/ it's now BOTH an aim and a method (?!?).

5 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

Seeing that explaining the PM was an advancement requirement for the newish Scout rank, I asked BSA last year what the correct answer would be.  They could not say.  Beyond embarrassing, were they but capable of that..

If anyone on this channel can point to who within the BSA is responsible for integrity among its publications (including websites), please let me know as I'd be happy to volunteer to help where I can.  My experience was with TRADOC (Training & Doctrine Command) which performs this function for the US Army.  I don't know that BSA needs an entire bureaucracy (none of the other uniformed services has a TRADOC), but BSA obviously need some help.  Nowadays such a function could easily be organized online and performed remotely by a cadre of professionals teamed with capable volunteers.

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1 hour ago, AltadenaCraig said:

By my reading of https://troopleader.scouting.org/scoutings-aims-and-methods/ it's now BOTH an aim and a method (?!?).

Yeah, BSA's documentation quality is lacking right now.

 

1 hour ago, AltadenaCraig said:

If anyone on this channel can point to who within the BSA is responsible for integrity among its publications (including websites), please let me know as I'd be happy to volunteer to help where I can.  My experience was with TRADOC (Training & Doctrine Command) which performs this function for the US Army.  I don't know that BSA needs an entire bureaucracy (none of the other uniformed services has a TRADOC), but BSA obviously need some help.  Nowadays such a function could easily be organized online and performed remotely by a cadre of professionals teamed with capable volunteers.

I agree.  I think BSA could easily solicit dedicated volunteers and organize them into an effective structure to improve the documentation of the program.  

 

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7 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

The BSA has moved a lot of its troop information over to TroopLeader.org and ProgramResources.org:

https://troopleader.scouting.org/scoutings-aims-and-methods/
http://www.programresources.org/

As I said, I suspect it was being re-written and re-organized.  I suspected that's why I could not find it.  I'm surprised it's a search issue.  When I search "Aims and methods" from the top level scouting.org, I only find the Cub Scout aims and methods.  The new TroopLeader.Scouting.Org is not found.  ... But if you search in TroopLeader.Scouting.Org, then you find the TroopLeader info without finding the results of the top level scouting.org search.  ... The sites are isolated somewhat from each other.

I've seen the ProgramResources.org site, but I really was not sure if it was BSA's product or not.  Or if it was active and used or a future product or past product.  ... I pray ProgramResources.org matures and continues.  ... It would benefit to be found under Scouting.Org.  Like TroopLeader.org that re-routes to TroopLeader.Scouting.Org, ProgramResources.org would benefit from ProgramResources.Scouting.Org.

 

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2 hours ago, AltadenaCraig said:

... who within the BSA is responsible for integrity among its publications (including websites),...

I'd like to know too.  I've been comparing training documents, Kindle versions of guidebooks, web sit content and GTSS content.  There are still glaring surprises. 

For example, I'm searching right now to see if any other BSA document contains this ... "Range of ages (no more than three years between oldest and youngest)."  That's written for traditional patrols under the syllabus for scoutmaster specific training.  ... Did some author just throw that in?  I can't find references in GTSS or other books right now.  IMHO, it sounds like a good idea, but I just can't find it.  GTSS has a two year age difference for tenting.   Could follow as common sense as scouts should camp by patrol.  ... Or is it just basic math because older boy patrols start at 14 years old  and 10/11 year old scouts start in a new scout patrol?  Thus three years apart in age ?  

It's stuff like this that drives me crazy.  Is it intentional or a different author / team that had a different view on the topic?  Or was an author just getting creative?  Or am I missing something?

Maybe it's also how BSA has organized info.  There are too many books that try to re-state the exact same thing yet again ... in a slightly different way.

For example, troopleader.scouting.org on patrols methods (https://troopleader.scouting.org/the-patrol/) seems to introduce new words in the statement on what a patrol is:  "A Scout patrol is a small team of normally six to eight members where Scouts learn skills together, share responsibilities and take on leadership roles"  ... It's a different meaning than the 1950 handbook and different than Hillcourt or I'd even Baden-Powell.  ... But then later words in the section seem to represent the traditional view.  ... But then troopleader.scouting.org references types of patrols that has new emphasis on mixed-age and at the same time references a beginngers guide that has no reference of mixed age patrols.  

BSA really needs help getting it's hands cleanly around it's publications (paper, web, training materials, etc).  IMHO, GTSS and GTA (and the advancement team) have done extremely well and are as high quality as I've ever found.  The rest (including the painfully verbose rank requirements) need to be cleaned up, condensed and made internally consistent.  

Edited by fred8033
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Sadly, you are correct, BSA publications are full of contradictions. Even G2SS and G2A have issues, IMHO. Biggest issue with the later 2 publications is that they change so  fast that Scouters in the field have a hard time keeping up. Is a revised G2SS 3-4 months online really needed? Best  example of contradictions and folks not knowing about them was last years rule that Lions and Tigers could not do Shooting Sports. Rule apparently came out in May in some addendum to the G2SS. So it was not in it, nor the Shooting Sports manual. NO ONE IN THE FIELD KNEW ABOUT THE NEW RULE! (major emphasis) Not our brand new NCS certified day camp director, not our NCS certified Shooting Sports Director, whom I believe is on that national committee, and not the pros. I let Tigers do archery, and they did BB guns with the other ranger officer. It was not until September or October that the new policy became publicly known, and everything broke loose online. It was only the second time in my years in the program that National listened to the folks in the field and reverted to the original policy. BUT is was because the new policy  caused a storm of protest.

 

Biggest problem with National IMHO is that you have folks who are "experts" in their field via academia or working with other non-profits, but have 0 experience in the field working with a troop, ship, pack, crew, or summer camp. Examples of that include out national training director, or whatever her title is, and the two PhDs doing research on the BSA. These folks are in their little fiefdoms, do not work with anyone else, and are creating policy that they really have no idea how it will work out or affect units in the field.

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24 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Biggest problem with National IMHO is that you have folks who are "experts" in their field via academia or working with other non-profits, but have 0 experience in the field working with a troop, ship, pack, crew, or summer camp. Examples of that include out national training director, or whatever her title is, and the two PhDs doing research on the BSA. These folks are in their little fiefdoms, do not work with anyone else, and are creating policy that they really have no idea how it will work out or affect units in the field.

I whole heartedly agree.

In their ignorance of day to day character growth, these folks couldn't see the organizations real success. So, they made changes for a path of bigger indicators of success, numbers.  I guess National's lesser view of outdoors and adventure in the 70s highlighted their arrogance of the traditional program value. But, the new Tiger program in the 1980s highlighted their greed. IMHO, the added burden of toddlers to an already full program teetered the scales negatively all they way to Venturing. The aged based new scout patrols have done a lot of damage to the tradition of Patrol Method, which is the heart of the BSA. But, I feel the harm from the additional burden of Tigers overshadows the shift away from traditional patrols. I believe the damage from aged based patrols would have eventually caught up with the program, but overburdened Pack program drove organization numbers down so much that National has became reactionary to the trend. And here we are.

Barry

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On 5/26/2019 at 12:07 PM, ParkMan said:

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.

The older publications of the handbooks (BS, PL, SM, etc...) and Fieldbooks made explicit the "how" by providing actual examples. Of course the examples could not cover every possible scenario, but they provide a baseline for the student from which to begin.  IMO, providing the rationale and goal without explicitly stating and showing how is incomptetence at best and malpractice at worst when it comes to creating a handbook. This is why the handbooks aren't really used except as "sign-offs" BECAUSE THEY ARE OTHERWISE BASICALLY USELESS. 

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Is a revised G2SS 3-4 months online really needed?

I'm not sure if it's needed, but the infrastructure around the G2SS and how it's organized enables easy updating.  It could definitely use a "what's changed" and maybe even a subscription allowing announcing changes.  But it's a good model for tracking such things. 

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The story goes that Bill was the unofficial quality/consistency control chief for BSA publications.  But he's been gone from the office for over forty years and was not replaced - in fact, whatever the theory.  So no one tells whoever did the online "Orientation for New Scout Parents" that this is horribly wrong: "Patrols are one component of what we call a youth-run or youth-led troop."    Holy backwards, Batman! 

 

 

 

 

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There have always been contradictions among BSA publications.  I remember one thread on here (more than 10 years ago probably) in which the issue was who appoints a JASM:  The SM, or the SPL in consultation with the SM.  The answer was, it depends (or depended) on which BSA publication you read.  Someone pointed out that the two publications came from different departments within the BSA, and basically argued that it was unreasonable to expect consistency between different departments of the BSA.  I thought that was ridiculous.  You could probably fill up many pages with contradictions just between Scouting magazine and everything else, and yes, I think someone(s) should be checking everything to make sure they are consistent.

 

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1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

The older publications of the handbooks (BS, PL, SM, etc...) and Fieldbooks made explicit the "how" by providing actual examples. Of course the examples could not cover every possible scenario, but they provide a baseline for the student from which to begin.  IMO, providing the rationale and goal without explicitly stating and showing how is incomptetence at best and malpractice at worst when it comes to creating a handbook. This is why the handbooks aren't really used except as "sign-offs" BECAUSE THEY ARE OTHERWISE BASICALLY USELESS. 

One reason for the consistancy was because 1 author wrote all those books, and he gave real life examples from the troop he ran as SM.

Also, how many editions have we had in the past 10 years? 12th ed came out in 2009. Then the 13th in 2016, and now a 14th this year. It is getting ridiculous.

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BSA task groups operate in bubbles - apparently oblivious of the other bubbles or that there is a "business" to run with the primary objective being "youth served" ($$).

 

There are dramatic contradictions within the same publication and between publications on the same topic.  

 

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44 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

One reason for the consistancy was because 1 author wrote all those books, and he gave real life examples from the troop he ran as SM.

Also, how many editions have we had in the past 10 years? 12th ed came out in 2009. Then the 13th in 2016, and now a 14th this year. It is getting ridiculous.

Great points.  I noticed that myself.  Lots of revisions.  And I'm not always sure it's for the better.  I still prefer v11 over v12 or v13.  

We should cut BSA some slack though as they needed to revise the books for the gender updates.  But still, it's a little over the top right now.  For example, Scoutmaster Handbook was 2010.  Then new Troop Leader Guidebook in 2018 and another new one in 2019.  Why did they even publish the 2018 ?  They knew there was more coming for 2019.  It frustrated me.  But then again, it frustrates me that we have to pay anything for the troop leader guidebook and the other leader books.  IMHO, BSA should sell the youth scout handbook and it should be a complete book (scout, SPL, PL, etc).  The rest should be available easily online.   

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