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SubSM

New Scout Patrol vs Mixed Age Patrols (YPT)

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All,

I have read many discussions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of having a New Scout Patrol. I am curious what everyone's thoughts are in regards to the two year age limit for tenting. It makes more sense to keep the scouts in patrols more closely aligned to their ages in order to keep from having several of the scouts tenting alone.

How are the troops with mixed age patrols handling campouts?

Mike

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19 minutes ago, SubSM said:

I am curious what everyone's thoughts are in regards to the two year age limit for tenting. 

I think it is ridiculous. 

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We compete with other activities and we're a smaller troop.  I've had many activities where we had to make improvised patrols and age is a consideration.

Some years we've had enough new scouts to make a new scout patrol.  This coming year, we won't.

If there's an odd man out situation due to the stupid age thing, then you have to mix things up with another patrol.

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Posted (edited)

I have never seen scouts with more than a two year difference want to tent with each other. Most usually have at least one friend close to same age. 

That being said, we have four-man tents, so odd number ages aren't usually a problem because that usually solves the odd man out situation.

Keep in mind that the outdoors at night can be quite intimidating (scary) at night for scouts new to camping. Which is why I encourage troops to not let a new scouts tent by themselves. We learned to  coach the PLs on showing new scouts the paths to the latrines (bathrooms) and to put a light near the entrance. We have found urine stains on tents more than once.

Barry 

Edited by Eagledad

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Most of our Scouts hammock, so it's not an issue.  We have mixed age patrols.  That being said when we have 6 patrols on an outing, they function for cooking, setup, etc as a patrol; but still hang out with friends for camping.  

As a side note, my observation over the years has been that Scouts that are inseparable in 5th grade may have drifted apart by 8th grade.  Have Scouts function as patrols, but also let them associate as they like.  

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

I have never seen scouts with more than a two year difference want to tent with each other.

My troop has a 30-month age spread.  The scouts go to different schools and they are not so aware of the exact ages of the other scouts.  They all seem to get along well with each other.  I have definitely had scouts request to tent together for summer camp who were more than 24 months apart in age (probably without being aware of the exact age difference).   It would be *much* simpler for us if the allowable age difference were 2.5 years or 3 years. 

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2 hours ago, SubSM said:

How are the troops with mixed age patrols handling campouts?

On some camping trips the tent arrangments have been almost completely determined by (1) the 2-year rule and (2) the desire to separate sisters so that they have more of a chance to get to know the other scouts.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SubSM said:

... It makes more sense to keep the scouts ...

Youth protection:  I have never ever been comfortable with a 16 year old sharing a tent with an 11 year old.  When my son joined the troop 15 years ago, the SM encouraged close-age tenting.  SM used subtle hints to drive this.  Almost always, it just occurs naturally.  No extra work.  No extra planning.  No big discussions.  It was just common sense and subtle guidance.  ... Also, it was easier as we started with new-scout patrols and the patrol tented together.  Then, those patrols tended to stay together.  The exceptions tended to be near same age.

Patrols:  My experience leans more and more into letting the individual scouts figure out their patrols.  Not the adults.  Not the PLC.  Then, let the patrols figure out the age thing ... with subtle adult guidance.  ... Yes, we do start the scouts in a new-scout patrol.  But it's more because they are all in the same situation.  After, if they have a good experience, they stick together.  But then again, if a scout wants to go to another patrol, we'd let them.  

IMHO, patrols design is less about same age/mixed age and more about associations.  IMHO, the scouts should tent, camp, cook, game, swim, canoe, (... etc ...) by who they normally associate.  That association is a patrol.

So ... How are the troops with mixed age patrols handling campouts? ... We let the scouts figure it out on their own.  If there is an obvious age difference, we will provide subtle guidance.  

 

Edited by fred8033
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@SubSM the participation by the Scouts in our mixed age patrols has been sufficient enough that finding a tenting partner within the age range has not been an issue. That said, half of the Scouts would prefer the hammock over the tent.

Ad hoc patrols, perhaps?

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50 minutes ago, Chadamus said:

Ad hoc patrols, perhaps?

That is what we have to do on most campouts, due to the lack of scouts. I am trying to figure out how to build patrol spirit when every campout is another ad-hoc patrol here and there.

 

Mike

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21 minutes ago, SubSM said:

That is what we have to do on most campouts, due to the lack of scouts. I am trying to figure out how to build patrol spirit when every campout is another ad-hoc patrol here and there.

Sadly, the Patrol Method and the notion of patrol spirit are largely extinct.  BSA is totally oriented to the troop as the basic operational unit of ScoutsBSA, and has been for decades.  Patrols in ScoutsBSA are for administration (collecting and distributing information and resources) and a nod to tradition, but not for operations -- by which I mean planning, preparing for, and carrying out campouts, hikes, service projects, etc.  A big factor contributing to the near abandonment of the patrol as the basic operational unit in ScoutsBSA is modern society, in which families have a wide variety of youth activities to choose from and participate in, on top of family and school events.  This leads to schedule conflicts and widely variable attendance by patrol members at meetings, outings, and events.  The Patrol Method is based on shared responsibility, and patrol spirit is based on shared experiences.  They can only develop when most of the patrol members are in attendance at most activities.   

All of which is to say:  Under today's Troop Method, in which patrols have diminished significance, it is perfectly acceptable to adapt to circumstances, bypass patrol membership obstacles, and do what is best for the Scouts on the campout, within the rules.

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

So ... How are the troops with mixed age patrols handling campouts? ... We let the scouts figure it out on their own.  If there is an obvious age difference, we will provide subtle guidance.  

 

1 hour ago, Chadamus said:

That would make a good one for Eagledad's A Scouter's Motto thread. 

Yep, replace this situation with just about any situation confronting the Patrols and the advice is the same. "provide subtle guidance".

54 minutes ago, Chadamus said:

Ad hoc patrols, perhaps?

Never! Integrity of a patrol method program is based on each patrol functioning as a team, even if only one scout in each patrol shows up to a troop activity. I admit such a situation would be challenging, but Patrol Spirit and can only flourish in the fertile ground of pride for being a member of a patrol. Personally I think a troop of scouts with only one member representing each patrol would be fun challenge because nobody does it. Have them figure it out. The members of High adventure crews often do their own cooking and tenting. How can they cook, sleep and do the activities as a patrol when only one member of each shows up? Might require some subtle guidance. Honestly, I envy the SM willing to give it a try. Exciting!

Barry

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Posted (edited)

Great points, Barry. Definitely a challenge for the lone (and lonely!) Scout who would be at least 100 yards from any other Patrol or adult. Wilderness Survival MB comes to mind...

I'd hesitate to say "never" as that word negates all opportunity for growth and learning.

Edited by Chadamus
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5 minutes ago, Chadamus said:

I'd hesitate to say "never" as that word negates all opportunity for growth and learning.

😎

Ah, I again find myself the student.

Barry

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