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Patrol Method not so much


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1 hour ago, TMSM said:

 I can see some SMs being ofended by having to explain how well his program is working 

I can also see some who can't wait for the opportunity to brag (yet again) about the wonders of their program.

I'm with RainShine though --- most scouters are just good people doing their best and they won't mind some ideas for improvement.

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If you like good news, I have some to report. The patrols in our unit are much stronger now. I nudged a little, and the SM and ASMs were quite open to the changes. There was a reforming of the patrols

Hi there, thanks for the follow up 🙂  Think about everything that has happened since ParkMan's comment in October 2019. Wow, a whole world of stuff. And well, for one thing I am now the Scoutmaster.

As CC I approached it as "CC as boss".  In my implementation, the CC effectively served as president of the troop.  Treasurer as VP finance, Scoutmaster as VP program, etc. I approached the committee

1 hour ago, RainShine said:

I don't think that would happen in our situation though. We have our problems, and our patrol method got off track, but the Scoutmaster and ASMs are terrific people and I think they would welcome a recurring review. It's a great idea. The quality of our people at the local level here is top notch.

I wonder what the committee understands about the program that they can even review. I'm big in the CC being the boss, and the gatekeeper of program vision, but I've never seen it. Not that I haven't tried, at the district level, I pushed all 21 troops to send their CC to my Scoutmaster Specific course. Only one ever showed up and he was from a different council.  I do a biannual review after each SPL election to explain to the PLC and all our registered adults as to how our program is dictated by the BSA Mission, Vision, Aims and Methods. I learned to do it inside a minute, because to many people were getting hurt falling out of their chairs asleep. You want to hear it. In the beginning, there was Badon Powel,..............................................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Barry

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On 10/2/2019 at 11:45 AM, MattR said:

... followed by @Eagledad's description of giving the methods to the scouts and the aims to the adults.

I agree with @dkurtenbach that times have changed and everyone is busier. This has a negative impact on scouting and we all know why. From the district view at camporees, most patrols are ad-hoc.

So rather than fight it and form huge patrols (which I really don't like) or require participation or going the complete other way and just making ad-hoc patrols the meeting before the campout why not just embrace it and get back to Eagledad's view: The scouts own the patrol method, let them solve the problem. Look at the patrol method from outside the box and maybe a different solution will appear. Let the PLC deal with patrols that don't have enough scouts for an event. Maybe 2 weeks before a campout the PLC can identify those patrols with low participation and they can get everyone into a patrol. How they do it is up to them. They decide what the minimum number of scouts required is and how to distribute scouts from too small patrols. They can also review how it went. That still gives the scouts opportunity to grow in leadership, deal with people problems, and make everyone happy.

Following @Eagledad's framework, we adults need to understand the issue we are seeing in terms of the Aims, then explain it to the youth leadership in those terms.  So, for example: 

"The adults are concerned that our troop is not doing a particularly good job with the Citizenship Aim.  We're not talking about the patriotic aspects of Citizenship, but about people with different backgrounds, different needs, and different skill levels learning how to live together, work together, play together, support each other, and share equally in the work and the responsibility -- to be good citizens.  That's originally what patrols were designed for:  to be miniature communities where each Scout in the patrol had a job and a stake in the success of their patrol.  They learned how to be good members of the patrol -- that is, good citizens; how to make decisions together and support decisions even if they didn't all agree; and how to work together for the good of that little community. 

"But what we are seeing in our troop is that a few Scouts make the decisions and tell the rest of the Scouts what is going to happen.  The rest of the Scouts may not have any real responsibilities; all they have to do is show up in order to get the benefit of the work that the others are doing.  They only have to take care of themselves or themselves and a couple of friends, and not worry about anyone else.  They aren't being given anything to do that really contributes to the success of the group and the group activity.  They aren't being treated as equal citizens with duties and responsibilities. 

"So we'd like you to come up with some ways that will help every Scout feel that they are part of a community along with other Scouts, that each one of them has an obligation to the other Scouts in that community, and that each of them is responsible for the success of what their community is doing."

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13 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Following @Eagledad's framework, we adults need to understand the issue we are seeing in terms of the Aims, then explain it to the youth leadership in those terms.  So, for example: 

"The adults are concerned that our troop is not doing a particularly good job with the Citizenship Aim.  We're not talking about the patriotic aspects of Citizenship, but about people with different backgrounds, different needs, and different skill levels learning how to live together, work together, play together, support each other, and share equally in the work and the responsibility -- to be good citizens.  That's originally what patrols were designed for:  to be miniature communities where each Scout in the patrol had a job and a stake in the success of their patrol.  They learned how to be good members of the patrol -- that is, good citizens; how to make decisions together and support decisions even if they didn't all agree; and how to work together for the good of that little community. 

"But what we are seeing in our troop is that a few Scouts make the decisions and tell the rest of the Scouts what is going to happen.  The rest of the Scouts may not have any real responsibilities; all they have to do is show up in order to get the benefit of the work that the others are doing.  They only have to take care of themselves or themselves and a couple of friends, and not worry about anyone else.  They aren't being given anything to do that really contributes to the success of the group and the group activity.  They aren't being treated as equal citizens with duties and responsibilities. 

"So we'd like you to come up with some ways that will help every Scout feel that they are part of a community along with other Scouts, that each one of them has an obligation to the other Scouts in that community, and that each of them is responsible for the success of what their community is doing."

Well said, that is exactly where I'm coming from. 

When I was a scout, the PL hung a duty roster on the patrol box so everyone knew their responsibilities for the weekend. Everyone had a responsibility and it was important for a successful camp out. I laugh a little because those where in the days that we lived by the fire and the firewood crew was a very important responsibility. Enough so that we usually had a least two. Water had to be hauled in by truck, so we needed a crew just to get our water jugs filled. 

Anyway, dkurtenbach is right, when we don't feel part of the group, we feel outside the group and that isn't fun. Seeing that the Citizenship Aim is not performing as expected, the adults have to push an adjustment on the PLC for the patrols to strive to become a team. There is a flaw in the process that needs changing. 

Humans by their nature want to be credited with being part of success, so they will willing seek to learn skills if they are appreciated for their effort. And, as scouts grow as a team, they will submit to a responsibility that helps produce success. As they mature farther, their experience and maturity will naturally advance them up to higher responsibilities.

I found that time and inspections are great motivators of team development. Imagine, the scouts are expected to at the assembly area at 8:00 am. A camp inspection will be performed by the SPL and ASPL while the patrols are doing the activity. That means the patrols have to get up, cook, clean, prepare the camp, tents and be ready for the activity by roughly 7:50 a.m. So, lets see, 2 cooks, 2 kp, 2 camp clean up, 1 tent inspector, 1 to get the activities gear ready, we have 7 scout right there making sure the Patrol and camp is ready for inspection by 7:50.

I know, I know, but that is just an example of how Time and Performance Expectation and drive a bunch of scouts to organize to be a team.

We can go on and on, but I find adults look for excuses to take responsibilities away. Scout don't like campfire, so no need for Cheermaster. They don't like to be told to do anything, so they don't make a roster. No roster, no public accountibiity of expectation. Bobby doesn't like supper, so he doesn't feel he needs to do kp. Scouts argue and drift farther apart, not closer because they don't feel motivated to be a team member.

At some point, the adults need to find the combination of ideas to inspire the scouts, and be ridged enough to expect performance. What is the Goal. Oh yah, community. In the end, I think the adults will realize that they are encouraging the scouts to make their methods more fun and more rewarding. 

Barry

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Because my first SM was Council Training Chairman for Life (11 consecutive years High School Teacher of the Year selected by students and faculty- Wood Badge at Gilwell Park while in Army overseas),  I got to see lots of Patrol Method Scouting.

“[The patrol members] interact in a small group outside the larger troop context outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success.”

                    B.S.A., Scouting.org (2018)[emphasis added]

 “Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements.”

             B.S.A., Scouting.org (2018)[emphasis added]

 “Your Boy Scout troop is made up of patrols, with each patrol’s members sharing responsibility for the patrol’s success.”

                       B.S.A., The Boy Scout Handbook, 13th Ed. (2016) at  p. 25 (current                                  publication)

In Scouting, a troop is composed of several patrols. 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 Scouts BSA version of the Cub Scout den. It is the place where Scouts learn skills, take on leadership responsibilities, and develop friendships that will often last throughout their lifetimes.

                        B.S.A., Scoutmaster Position-Specific Training (2018)(current ublication)                              at p. 20 [emphasis added].

 

Team

The troop is not the primary team in Scouting; the patrol is. 

Every Scout needs not a duty but a job. in his/her patrol  He or she needs to be trained to do that job and supported in that job.  He or she also needs to be responsible for doing his/her best to perform.  The Third-baseman is not to expect the Catcher to field ground balls hit towards Third Base. Not everyone wants to play, but those who have no desire to play a position, after counseling and encouragement of effort, have no place on the team.  Life. "Mr. Smith, Johnny does not want to play the game.  We are not in the business of forcing him to play.  If he changes his mind, we would be happy to have him.  if not, no good will come of trying to force him, and we are nor set up to do that."

"To share responsibility – to be a 'team' – everyone needs a job within the patrol."

             B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)

The Patrol Leader appoints every other member to a patrol job, such as Assistant Patrol Leader, Scribe, Quartermaster, Grubmaster, Hikemaster, Cheermaster, Firemaster, Photographer, Webmaster . . .

                B.S.A., Scouting.org ( 2018 )

 

"Everyone has a position on our team.  No one just sits on the bench.  Everyone plays.  Sue has agreed to the Assistant Patrol Leader, to back me up, to lead the Patrol in certain activities, and to and lead the Patrol if I am absent.  Someone has to be Grubmaster, who does x,y,z.  No Grubmaster; no food. Who will take that job so we can eat on campouts?"

To share responsibility – to be a “team” –

everyone needs a job within the patrol.

             B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)

 

 

To share responsibility – to be a “team” –

everyone needs a job within the patrol.

             B.S.A., Scouting.org (2017)

 

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On 10/2/2019 at 11:25 AM, Eagledad said:

I wonder what the committee understands about the program that they can even review. I'm big in the CC being the boss, and the gatekeeper of program vision, but I've never seen it. Not that I haven't tried, at the district level, I pushed all 21 troops to send their CC to my Scoutmaster Specific course. Only one ever showed up and he was from a different council.  I do a biannual review after each SPL election to explain to the PLC and all our registered adults as to how our program is dictated by the BSA Mission, Vision, Aims and Methods. I learned to do it inside a minute, because to many people were getting hurt falling out of their chairs asleep. You want to hear it. In the beginning, there was Badon Powel,..............................................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Barry

As CC I approached it as "CC as boss".  In my implementation, the CC effectively served as president of the troop.  Treasurer as VP finance, Scoutmaster as VP program, etc. I approached the committee as part executive staff and part board of directors.  All in all, I think this worked pretty well.

What I noticed in this process is that it helped to regularly revisit our goals - just what were we trying to accomplish as an adult team.  Membership, program, finance, etc.  While it sounds a little corporate - it was actually pretty helpful as it provided the Scoutmaster the ability to talk about what he wanted to accomplish.  We didn't talk about the aims specifically, but we effectively covered them.  The Scoutmaster could say "what we're really trying to do here is grow these kids into strong leaders.  You all need to stop worrying about the mechanics of the SPL election or patrol structure.  We're making the choices that we are because we're trying to accomplish ...."  This was a very good way for the Scoutmaster to educate other adults on just what it is  that we're trying to accomplish in the program.  

My recommendation would be to focus on your goals as a troop.  Discuss that regularly with the committee.  Through regular discussions, they will begin to see just what it is that the Scoutmaster is trying to do.  A big part of that of course is that the Scoutmaster has to have the ability to talk about program in terms of goals.  Yaking on about operational details isn't the point - the committee doesn't need to hear about what game you played at the last troop meeting.  But, talk about the progress of the troop in terms of your big goals.  In the process, bring the committee alongside those goals and help them be parters in their own area of focus.

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On 6/12/2019 at 9:09 PM, RainShine said:

My son crossed over a year ago. I’m on the Committee and attend meetings and outings. It’s a real nice troop, 80 years old, solid reputation in the district. The Scoutmaster is a fine fellow with deep experience. He has forgotten more than I will ever know. The ASM’s are great and I like them personally. 20-some Scouts, we have a meeting once a week and an outing every month. Good retention, advancement is slow perhaps. Everything is fine. But…

I do not see Patrol method. Now, I have no prior Scouting experience so I wouldn’t know any different except I’ve been reading books and this forum. Apparently B-P said patrol method is not a thing, it’s the thing. I read Working the Patrol Method by Four Eagle Scouts, makes it sound like Patrol method is really significant. I’ve listened to podcasts and read the Troop Leader Guide and the Patrol Leader Guide. It’s one of the eight methods. So I think it’s supposed to be, you know, important.

But I just don’t see it in action. When the troops goes camping the Scouts are all mixed together. Until recently they didn’t know the names of their own patrols. They have to refer to a list at the back of the room to see who is in what patrol. I see young guys pursuing Scout rank get stuck on the Patrol requirement because they don’t know a yell or flag or even the name of their patrol. My sons patrol leader rarely attends meetings, never outings. He is never at the PLC. The SPL is a really impressive kid and certainly the Scouts look up to him. But you could hardly call what he is doing leading in any substantive way.

I brought up my concerns in winter and there was a little progress. At a couple campouts the guys cooked and ate and did KP by patrol. But there are no Patrol activities, no Patrol corner in troop meetings, no Patrol spirit.

I’ve observed that they self-select effortlessly into informal groups. It’s not that I’m that an oracle or something, one merely has to look to see it. It’s easy. My son and his friends hang out together (inside Scouting and outside Scouting). The other fellows - older guys - hang out together. No problem. Like at a Court of Honor, my son and his gang all sat at one table, the other guys at another table. At a recent camping event, my son and his gang all camped together, the other guys all camped together. But those gangs are not our Patrols.

I recently brought up concerns again and was told Yes it’s time for elections. The patrols will be reformed. The system is working. Oh. Okay.

So at the most recent PLC, the Scoutmaster says We should talk about xxxx and so we all started talking about that. The ASM goes to the whiteboard and starts sketching out what needs to happen for the next outing. The SPL has barely said a word. As the meeting is winding down I realize nothing is going to happen. So I whisper to the SPL, “what about elections?” He sits up straight and says out loud, “Oh, what about elections?” The ASM, who is still standing at the whiteboard, looks at us, looks at his notes on the whiteboard, then turns back to us and says, “Well it’s not going to happen right now”.  And that was that.

I thought with summer camp coming up now is the time. Reformulate the patrols, have elections, create flags and yells and skits and songs, get patches. Start creating those patrol identities, all that forming and storming and norming stuff. Just in time for camp, yeah let’s do this.

But apparently not. Shoot.

How is it going now?

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Once, one might have said "Not a Boy Scout troop," but given the death of "Boy Scouting" in BSA and constant emphasis on the troop for years and years, it is perhaps more accurate to say something else. "It's a "BSA troop"?

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