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dkurtenbach

Can the Patrol Method Be Revived?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

... A troop really interested in pursuing the Patrol Method could go to a schedule of one troop meeting each month that would include interpatrol competitions (not just troop-wide games or ad hoc teams); three weekly patrol gatherings/activities/skill training sessions (Scout practice) each month at times and locations convenient to the patrol members (with, of course, the required two-adult presence); and the monthly troop outing, but at a location where the patrols would be spread out.  ...

I actually think that is a real suggestion.  It mimics Cub Scouts, but if you minimize adults and the patrols keep meeting, then I could see it working and working well.  

I really think patrols are subverted by troop structures and habits.   

Edited by fred8033
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, fred8033 said:

I actually think that is a real suggestion.  It mimics Cub Scouts, but if you minimize adults and the patrols keep meeting, then I could see it working and working well.  

I really think patrols are subverted by troop structures and habits.   

In implementing this suggestion, it would be important that the adults who will be present at patrol gatherings (per current YPT/adult supervision rules) will enable a youth-run patrol.

It is interesting that Cub Scout dens and packs are well-structured for supporting the Patrol Method but don't use it (until maybe Webelos/Arrow of Light), while troop structures and habits, as @fred8033 mentions, are not well-suited for supporting the Patrol Method.  BSA's Troop Meeting Agenda webpages (https://troopleader.scouting.org/troop-meetings/ and linked pages) illustrate "Troop Method":  Skill instruction is generally broken down by proficiency level, not by patrol.  Games can be competitions between patrols, but could also be between teams chosen from the entire troop, or individual games, or games for the entire troop.  And patrol meetings are referred to as "Breakout Groups." ("Mom!  Check out my cool Breakout Group patch!")

Edited by dkurtenbach
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OK, so what are the patrol agendas the other 3 weeks? I'm not criticizing, just wondering. The objective is the give the Patrols as much autonomy as their maturity can handle (and maybe a slight bit more). But from my experience of our patrols scheduling two patrol campouts a year, the challenge is actually coming up with a theme for the activities. I could see a young patrol struggling to have a reason for wanting to attend a weekly meeting. The BSA isn't going to be a help here, and paradigm shifts can end badly without a structure to develop habits.

Barry

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Another idea would be to focus the Scouts first on what they need to accomplish.  As an adult team, gently steer what needs to get done into patrol sized pieces.

I'd focus less on than trying to figure out how to structure patrols or meetings to support patrols.  Instead I'd think about the work the troop needs to get done and structure that work so that patrols can work on it.  Then, focus everything you do to enable that.  

I suspect what you'll find is that the patrols will have more purpose.  There will be a need to work together.  That need to accomplish things as a group will drive camaraderie.

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

... BSA's Troop Meeting Agenda webpages (https://troopleader.scouting.org/troop-meetings/ and linked pages) illustrate "Troop Method":  Skill instruction is generally broken down by proficiency level, not by patrol.  Games can be competitions between patrols, but could also be between teams chosen from the entire troop, or individual games, or games for the entire troop.  And patrol meetings are referred to as "Breakout Groups." ("Mom!  Check out my cool Breakout Group patch!")

I absolutely agree.  From what I see, patrols are meaningless to most of the "troop" meeting.  

 

9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Another idea would be to focus the Scouts first on what they need to accomplish.  As an adult team, gently steer what needs to get done into patrol sized pieces.

I'd focus less on than trying to figure out how to structure patrols or meetings to support patrols.  Instead I'd think about the work the troop needs to get done and structure that work so that patrols can work on it.  Then, focus everything you do to enable that.  

I suspect what you'll find is that the patrols will have more purpose.  There will be a need to work together.  That need to accomplish things as a group will drive camaraderie.

Until a different structure would happen, I agree with your comment.  Focus on what is important to patrols.  From my perspective, it's always the camping.  Food.  Activities.  Ideas.  Future camp / activity planning.  Maybe it's also planning to be the service patrol (flags, setup, etc) or the program patrol (adding games and content).  IMHO, it needs to always include felllowship time.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

OK, so what are the patrol agendas the other 3 weeks? 

 

29 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Another idea would be to focus the Scouts first on what they need to accomplish.  As an adult team, gently steer what needs to get done into patrol sized pieces.

I'd focus less on than trying to figure out how to structure patrols or meetings to support patrols.  Instead I'd think about the work the troop needs to get done and structure that work so that patrols can work on it.  Then, focus everything you do to enable that.  

I suspect what you'll find is that the patrols will have more purpose.  There will be a need to work together.  That need to accomplish things as a group will drive camaraderie.

Let me suggest the following, which could apply whether you're doing separate patrol meetings or just breaking down the troop's work into patrol-size pieces:

TROOP TYPICAL MONTHLY CYCLE:
Week 1 – Patrol gatherings
Patrol Leaders Council
Week 2 – Patrol gatherings
Week 3 – Patrol gatherings
Monthly Outing
Week 4 – Troop meeting
- Review of the Monthly Outing just held
- Preview of the next Monthly Outing and other upcoming troop activities
- Inter-patrol competitions
Patrol Leaders Council meeting

PATROL TYPICAL MONTHLY CYCLE:
Week 1
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements (meeting dates, times, and locations; next Monthly Outing, other upcoming activities and service projects; next Inter-patrol competitions)
     = Review of last Monthly Outing
     = Review of Inter-patrol competitions
     = Overview of next Monthly Outing, skills emphasis (if any), special gear requirements (if any), tasks assigned to Patrol for the Outing, transportation, attendance check
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Monthly Outing, next Inter-patrol competitions, next Patrol gathering (taking advancement requirement needs into account)
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)


Week 2
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements
     = Status of preparations for next Monthly Outing
     = Approve menu for next Monthly Outing
     = Status of preparations for next Inter-patrol competitions
     = Status of preparations for other upcoming events/activities
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Patrol gathering
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- FIELD TRIP OR SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Field trip usually related to an upcoming troop outing/event or advancement requirements.  Examples:  visit a bike shop to learn about bicycle maintenance; a local park or someone’s back yard for firebuilding practice; a skills session taught by a local outdoor store; a climbing gym; visit a local woodcarving hobbyist; a local park to talk to a Ranger about stream pollution.
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME (skip if on field trip)
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)


Week 3
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements 
     = Status of preparations for next Monthly Outing
     = Status of preparations for next Inter-patrol competitions
     = Status of preparations for other upcoming events/activities
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Patrol gathering
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)
 

 

Edited by dkurtenbach
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Posted (edited)

That's pretty good (impressive actually), but that puts a lot of responsibility on program planning at the troop level. Which might be fine, but because the Patrol Leaders won't be dragged along by the program at weekly Troop meetings, the program agendas will have to be more detailed and specific so they can follow the expectations. 

I don't think this is a bad thing, my troop was sort of this way when I was a scout. But, I remember that our PLs were very very mature (they all had drivers licenses), and we had good adult resources. Eight to ten scouts require more room that many homes can handle. 

It is important to remember that the Patrol Meeting must be fun enough for the scouts to want to attend every week because skipping a patrol meeting is easier than a troop meeting.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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3 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

That's pretty good (impressive actually), but that puts a lot of responsibility on program planning at the troop level. Which might be fine, but because the Patrol Leaders won't be dragged along by the program at weekly Troop meetings, the program agendas will have to be more detailed and specific so they can follow the expectations. 

I don't think this is a bad thing, my troop was sort of this way when I was a scout. But, I remember that our PLs were very very mature (they all had drivers licenses), and we had good adult resources. Eight to ten scouts require more room that many homes can handle. 

It is important to remember that the Patrol Meeting must be fun enough for the scouts to want to attend every week because skipping a patrol meeting is easier than a troop meeting.

Barry

Good insights.  Yes, the annual/semi-annual/quarterly Troop Planning Conference is critical, and the Patrol Leaders Council has a lot of responsibility under this program.  Outings and program need to be worked out months in advance and broken down into very specific assignments for each patrol.  The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters have to be on top of the plan and what every patrol needs to be doing to carry out the program, as well as making reservations and arrangements that the PLC can't.  And the Patrol Leader -- Patrol ASM relationship is where the rubber meets the road.  

And yeah -- it really has to be fun! 

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I can see the Leadership Corp coming back because this program requires mature scouts working the top level of program. They will have a closer working relationship with the adults as they grow with the experience. These are the kind of programs that keep the older scout because the program structure has continued maturity challenges that attract young adults looking for experiences to develop themselves. I like it. 

Barry

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

Let me suggest the following, which could apply whether you're doing separate patrol meetings or just breaking down the troop's work into patrol-size pieces:

TROOP TYPICAL MONTHLY CYCLE:
Week 1 – Patrol gatherings
Patrol Leaders Council
Week 2 – Patrol gatherings
Week 3 – Patrol gatherings
Monthly Outing
Week 4 – Troop meeting
- Review of the Monthly Outing just held
- Preview of the next Monthly Outing and other upcoming troop activities
- Inter-patrol competitions
Patrol Leaders Council meeting

PATROL TYPICAL MONTHLY CYCLE:
Week 1
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements (meeting dates, times, and locations; next Monthly Outing, other upcoming activities and service projects; next Inter-patrol competitions)
     = Review of last Monthly Outing
     = Review of Inter-patrol competitions
     = Overview of next Monthly Outing, skills emphasis (if any), special gear requirements (if any), tasks assigned to Patrol for the Outing, transportation, attendance check
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Monthly Outing, next Inter-patrol competitions, next Patrol gathering (taking advancement requirement needs into account)
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)


Week 2
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements
     = Status of preparations for next Monthly Outing
     = Approve menu for next Monthly Outing
     = Status of preparations for next Inter-patrol competitions
     = Status of preparations for other upcoming events/activities
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Patrol gathering
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- FIELD TRIP OR SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Field trip usually related to an upcoming troop outing/event or advancement requirements.  Examples:  visit a bike shop to learn about bicycle maintenance; a local park or someone’s back yard for firebuilding practice; a skills session taught by a local outdoor store; a climbing gym; visit a local woodcarving hobbyist; a local park to talk to a Ranger about stream pollution.
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME (skip if on field trip)
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)


Week 3
- OPENING (assigned to a patrol member)
- BUSINESS MEETING
     = Announcements 
     = Status of preparations for next Monthly Outing
     = Status of preparations for next Inter-patrol competitions
     = Status of preparations for other upcoming events/activities
     = Review of patrol member advancement status and needs
     = Assignments for next Patrol gathering
     = Matters for Patrol Leader to take to PLC
- SKILLS PRACTICE
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for next Monthly Outing
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for other upcoming activities
     = Hands-on instruction/review/practice -- skills needed for members’ Scout to First Class rank advancement, and/or merit badge work
- GAME
     = Practice for next Inter-patrol competition
     = Other team-building fun
- CLOSING (assigned to a patrol member)
 

 

Could you just simplify this as?

Patrol meetings

  • Go over items needed for PLC
  • Prepare for events
    • Conduct review of any just completed activity
    • Prepare for monthly camping trip & other upcoming events
    • Prepare for next inter-patrol competition
    • Practice skills needed for upcoming events
  • Work on advancement
  • Set the agenda for next time
  • Play a game

All kinds of planning and structure for patrols is not really needed.  Youth respond when that have to get stuff done.  So, instead of creating some artificial process, just focus the patrols on doing what they need to.  In other word, treat patrol & troop meetings as working meetings where stuff gets done.  Put all this stuff we do in meetings in that context.  Let form follow function.

 

Edited by ParkMan
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24 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Could you just simplify this as?

Patrol meetings

  • Go over items needed for PLC
  • Prepare for events
    • Conduct review of any just completed activity
    • Prepare for monthly camping trip & other upcoming events
    • Prepare for next inter-patrol competition
    • Practice skills needed for upcoming events
  • Work on advancement
  • Set the agenda for next time
  • Play a game

All kinds of planning and structure for patrols is not really needed.  Youth respond when that have to get stuff done.  So, instead of creating some artificial process, just focus the patrols on doing what they need to.  In other word, treat patrol & troop meetings as working meetings where stuff gets done.  Put all this stuff we do in meetings in that context.  Let form follow function.

 

Not really, no, because it isn't about getting stuff done. This is all about planning and structure for the purpose of developing patrol-teams. It is about building the team that (eventually) will learn how to work together to get stuff done. Every month there are new troop projects for the patrol-teams to work on and new tasks they develop for themselves.  Every week there are new decisions, new information, and changes in plan that the patrol-teams have to wrestle with while still working toward their objectives. Every person on the team has responsibilities that are important to success. Detailed agendas and checklists are tools to help carry out the team-building function by keeping their goals, objectives, tasks, decisions, information, glitches, and assignments in front of them.

The suggested three-week agenda is really just an outline.  In actual practice, I'd ask the Patrol Leaders to use a much more detailed checklist that they and their Patrol Scribes fill out with names, dates, times, gear lists, questions to be answered, information to be passed on, decisions already made, and decisions still to be made.  

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

Not really, no, because it isn't about getting stuff done. This is all about planning and structure for the purpose of developing patrol-teams. It is about building the team that (eventually) will learn how to work together to get stuff done. Every month there are new troop projects for the patrol-teams to work on and new tasks they develop for themselves.  Every week there are new decisions, new information, and changes in plan that the patrol-teams have to wrestle with while still working toward their objectives. Every person on the team has responsibilities that are important to success. Detailed agendas and checklists are tools to help carry out the team-building function by keeping their goals, objectives, tasks, decisions, information, glitches, and assignments in front of them. 

I re-read the thread.  Looking back over it, I get the impression that your premise is that we need to create structures to force the patrol method.  I disagree.  You want to have patrol method, then have patrol method.  You don't need plans like this - you just need patrol with things that they need to get done.

Young adults are eminently pragmatic people.  They look around and process and say "why do I need to do that?"  I think that creating complex structures that you hope Scouts will adopt will simply lead to frustration.   As the expression goes "No plan survives contact with the enemy."  What happens when Scouts ignore the elaborate structure?  What happens when there's a school break and the sequence gets out of order?

1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

The suggested three-week agenda is really just an outline.  In actual practice, I'd ask the Patrol Leaders to use a much more detailed checklist that they and their Patrol Scribes fill out with names, dates, times, gear lists, questions to be answered, information to be passed on, decisions already made, and decisions still to be made.  

Why do you need this?  Scouts know how to plan for a camping trip.  What are you accomplishing by having checklists for all of this?  We have zero checklists and it works fine.   

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11 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

We have zero checklists and it works fine.   

I also prefer not pushing checklists on the scouts.  

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6 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I get the impression that your premise is that we need to create structures to force the patrol method. 

No, my premise is that in the current troop-centric program in ScoutsBSA, patrols have very little to do as organizational units within the troop, and maintaining patrol integrity is not important.  This makes it difficult for true teamwork and team responsibility -- the object of the Patrol Method -- to develop.  To really develop Patrol Method, we need a Scouting environment in which each patrol has a lot of things to do that matter to them (fun and exciting program, learning skills, advancement), the patrol has to face challenges getting them done, and the patrol has to spend a lot of time together doing them -- away from the rest of the troop.  

6 hours ago, ParkMan said:

You want to have patrol method, then have patrol method.

Just click my heels together?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ6VT7ciR1o

 

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12 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Could you just simplify this as?

Patrol meetings

  • Go over items needed for PLC
  • Prepare for events
    • Conduct review of any just completed activity
    • Prepare for monthly camping trip & other upcoming events
    • Prepare for next inter-patrol competition
    • Practice skills needed for upcoming events
  • Work on advancement
  • Set the agenda for next time
  • Play a game

All kinds of planning and structure for patrols is not really needed.  Youth respond when that have to get stuff done.  So, instead of creating some artificial process, just focus the patrols on doing what they need to.  In other word, treat patrol & troop meetings as working meetings where stuff gets done.  Put all this stuff we do in meetings in that context.  Let form follow function.

 

Personally I'm lost here. "Stuff" is from planning. "Prepare for events, Work on advancement, Set the Agenda, and Play a game" is a fixed structure AND a Process. Artificial? The Troop has given the patrols the structure and expectations from some planning SOMEWHERE. So, I am missing something. Semantics maybe?

I guess since I came from a similar program, it's a little clearer to me. But, I'm reminded that in Badon Powell's scouts, the SM was more hands on in building a structure (or lack of it if that is what you want to call it) and set an agenda. The Patrol Leader (selected permanently by the SM) builds the patrol experience from the Structure and Planning (expectations) from the SM. As the PLs mature and grow, they will get more involved with the SM in the planning and structure. But, there is certainly planning and structure.

As for checklist, I grow tired of leaders today downplaying checklist. Why? If a scout has the ability to complete a process without a checklist, fine. But most of us aren't that good. The patrol is the real world scaled down to a boy's (youths) size. The real world relies on checklist. Add to that that boys like structure. You see that every time a new group of crossovers move in. Boys hate chaos. Checklist is a simple tool that helps working toward goals. If the scouts don't need a checklist, fine. But don't deny them a tool because they are boys. Adult deserve the tools of real life. The scouts will decide if they need them of not.

Barry

 

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