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dkurtenbach

Can the Patrol Method Be Revived?

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2 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

... 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.

I worked with a troop that had at least 35+ checklists.  SPL pre-campout planning checklist.  ASPL pre-campout checklists for visiting the patrols to make sure they were filling out their PL pre-campout checklist and submitting them back to the ASPL.  SPL PLC running checklist.  QM pre-campout checklist.  QM inventory-checkout lists.  I swear the troop had at least two and up to five/six checklists for each position in the troop.  IMHO, the scouts earned a mini-MBA by being in the troop.  

One or two templates are useful ... such as for new patrols ... a meal-planning form.  Or for new SPLs to use the existing BSA meeting planning form.  

I'm hesitant on forms because ... in my view ... Scouting is not about teaching how to run processes and procedures.  Scouting is about the human interaction dynamics and how to work with each other.  ... I twinge when I hear giving the scouts a checklist because it seems like we are pushing adult oriented ISO 9000 accounting procedures down to the scout.  Not all checklists are bad ... just most.  :)

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12 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I worked with a troop that had at least 35+ checklists.  SPL pre-campout planning checklist.  ASPL pre-campout checklists for visiting the patrols to make sure they were filling out their PL pre-campout checklist and submitting them back to the ASPL.  SPL PLC running checklist.  QM pre-campout checklist.  QM inventory-checkout lists.  I swear the troop had at least two and up to five/six checklists for each position in the troop.  IMHO, the scouts earned a mini-MBA by being in the troop.  

Putting aside your own negative views about checklists generally, did that troop find them to be an effective tool?

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Putting aside your own negative views about checklists generally, did that troop find them to be an effective tool?

I think the scoutmaster found them effective.  And, it promoted his controlling the troop even without his interacting all the time. it created a very procedures oriented troop.  There was a flow-chart on how to request rank advancement.  Who to get your advancement report from?  Then to review it?  Then to submit the reviewed signed off sheet to the advancement chair.  With the signed off advancement review, the advancement chair would schedule a SMC.  Then the scout brings back the slip from the SMC to the advancement chair so the advancement chair can schedule a BOR.  Then .... 

I think it promoted hit-and-run mgmt.  ASPL interrupting patrol meeting to see if they had their form done ... multiple times.  It promoted proceess / procedure management.  It did not teach leadership.  Scouts did learn human dynamics as they chased forms.  

Edited by fred8033

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I worked with a troop that had at least 35+ checklists.  SPL pre-campout planning checklist.  ASPL pre-campout checklists for visiting the patrols to make sure they were filling out their PL pre-campout checklist and submitting them back to the ASPL.  SPL PLC running checklist.  QM pre-campout checklist.  QM inventory-checkout lists.  I swear the troop had at least two and up to five/six checklists for each position in the troop.  IMHO, the scouts earned a mini-MBA by being in the troop.  

One or two templates are useful ... such as for new patrols ... a meal-planning form.  Or for new SPLs to use the existing BSA meeting planning form.  

I'm hesitant on forms because ... in my view ... Scouting is not about teaching how to run processes and procedures.  Scouting is about the human interaction dynamics and how to work with each other.  ... I twinge when I hear giving the scouts a checklist because it seems like we are pushing adult oriented ISO 9000 accounting procedures down to the scout.  Not all checklists are bad ... just most.  :)

Yes, but all checklist was implied. The scouts will determine what they need, but processes and procedures are to prevent setting scouts up to fail. They have to start somewhere because with nothing is asking them to read our minds. You are making yourself afraid by looking at the extreme. Remember Stosh a few years ago. He preached giving scout total freedom and independence, then he lectured the list on how to direct scouts to success. He tried to SM 3 troops and failed because he didn't understand how much fertle ground is required to start and maintain growth. He watch them fail, then took over. He would then hand it off to them again without tools to watch them fail again, and then takeover again. You can't send scouts into the woods with nothing and expect them to succeed and have fun. The fun wears off when the sun goes down and they are sitting in the middle of the big dark nowhere. As I said, we guide the PLs to show new scouts how to find the latrine at night, and even set a lite in it so they can find their way, until they build the confidence to find it in the dark. Otherwise the Patrol QM finds himself cleaning urine off the tents. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Posted (edited)

 

13 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

... You are making yourself afraid by looking at the extreme....

You are right.  It is fear.  I fear someone reading our chat / discussion as direction and advice to go create a library of checklists.  I'm okay to use them initially as a tool to teach out to plan a troop meeting or run a PLC or plan a campout meals.  I fear another troop rules book.   I fear permanently using a library of checklists.  I just remember too many times and too many scout leaders that want to write more rules or add forms / checklists instead of providing subtle guidance in the background.   

I've seen many experienced adult and youth scouts work with new scouts and new leaders to learn their new role.  IMHO, it's that interaction that we want.  IMHO, person-to-person strongly over forms.  

Edited by fred8033

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Posted (edited)

There is one checklist: the trail to First Class. Scouts should master each item on it. For example, no scout should ever think that they only need to present their gear to their PL once for rank advancement.This should be routine at each camp-out. Who has what gear, who needs what gear, and how to balance loads is an essential discussion for every hike and camp. Why? Because adults aren't going to be there to bail them out.

Oh, wait, I confused BSA with the European and South American girls and boys who explained to me how their patrols work. Sorry ... Jamboree residual.

Edited by qwazse
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3 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

You are right.  It is fear.  I fear someone reading our chat / discussion as direction and advice to go create a library of checklists.  I'm okay to use them initially as a tool to teach out to plan a troop meeting or run a PLC or plan a campout meals.  I fear another troop rules book.   I fear permanently using a library of checklists.  I just remember too many times and too many scout leaders that want to write more rules or add forms / checklists instead of providing subtle guidance in the background.   

Then speak on letting the scouts make the decisions of the tools they have and the tools they develop. But don't say "no tools". Some tools are very good.

I found in the NYLT that 80% of troops did not use a pre-meeting agenda for their PLC meetings. Have you ever watched an SPL run a meeting without an agenda. Worse, have you ever watched an SPL run a meeting without an agenda and the SM standing behind him? How can the SPL learn to run a meeting if he has to turn to the SM every time he needs move to go to the next item? Even the SPL Handbook encourages meeting agendas. The participants of our JLTC (NYLT then) left the course with eight meeting agendas they personally developed during the course. 

The patrol is real life at a boys size. Real life uses appropriate check list. I'm a pilot, I don't even start the engine of the plane until after using a checklist. Success depends on it. After experiencing the processes, scouts learn what they need and don't need. The trick isn't making them use checklist, the trick is getting them to make decisions on how to use checklists. That is the goal because that is when they are showing growth.

Barry

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I don't think "whether or not checklists" is the right question. That's a question of how to implement something. The question right now is what that something should be. The crux of the problem, from my experience, is how to develop patrol independence. Independence combined with making it fun requires the ability to create a wide range of events. That's really hard for scouts. They can't just do advancement every meeting. It needs to be a mix of new skills, advancement, service, unique projects to build, places to go, and just plain silly fun. If that goal is given to a new patrol they're going to stare at the wall. It would be better to start with a simpler problem. For example, give them limited choices to pick from. Or have the PLC create a list of activities that patrols can choose from. Or they'll need someone to teach them how to do it as they walk them through it (have every patrol do the equivalent of a plc planning session). A troop needs to understand where their patrols are now, where they want them to be, and how to get there.

As an aside, when I was SM we had one week a month for patrols to figure out their own activity. The PLC did create a suggested list of activities to choose from. That was a lot of work for the patrols. It was also a hard sell for the adults. They wanted efficiency and my ideas about patrol method were not convincing enough. A few adults got into it and helped out. Some patrols did great and some struggled. I'd do it differently but I'd still push for more patrol activities. After I stepped down the new SM tossed that idea and made everything troop centric again. Every month had a theme (which I was fine with) but every meeting had no time for patrols. Worse, most themes were wrapped around working on a merit badge. At the last spl election one scout said he wanted to change things back to patrols doing their own thing for one meeting a month. He said all the advancement was getting boring. It made me feel good. Unfortunately he didn't sell it very well and was not elected.

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15 minutes ago, MattR said:

 

As an aside, when I was SM we had one week a month for patrols to figure out their own activity. The PLC did create a suggested list of activities to choose from. That was a lot of work for the patrols. It was also a hard sell for the adults. They wanted efficiency and my ideas about patrol method were not convincing enough. A few adults got into it and helped out. Some patrols did great and some struggled. I'd do it differently but I'd still push for more patrol activities. After I stepped down the new SM tossed that idea and made everything troop centric again. Every month had a theme (which I was fine with) but every meeting had no time for patrols. Worse, most themes were wrapped around working on a merit badge. At the last spl election one scout said he wanted to change things back to patrols doing their own thing for one meeting a month. He said all the advancement was getting boring. It made me feel good. Unfortunately he didn't sell it very well and was not elected.

Great post MattR. You were getting back to the challenges I originally commented on. This type of program requires heavier adult involvement and that is hard for boy run purist who don't understand how to develop growth from independent decisions. But, when the responsibility of planning and process is given to the patrols, more mentoring and resources are required because each patrol functions at a different level of maturity. And, even the best functioning patrols required adult resources for activities that need adult experience and skills.

The challenge for the SM is finding the right adults who give only what the patrols require to function independently and nothing more. I've often said that 50% of scoutmastering is working with the adults. But, it may have been even more.

I like MattRs approach to the Patrol Method program. Sounds like the scouts liked it too. I also understand the frustration handing over the reins to someone with a difference vision. The SM who followed me didn't understand of how the older scouts fit in the whole program. He lost 70% of the older scouts in two years. Teaching the intricacies of the big picture is hard. 

Barry

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2 hours ago, MattR said:

The crux of the problem, from my experience, is how to develop patrol independence.  . . . 

As an aside, when I was SM we had one week a month for patrols to figure out their own activity. The PLC did create a suggested list of activities to choose from. That was a lot of work for the patrols. It was also a hard sell for the adults. They wanted efficiency and my ideas about patrol method were not convincing enough.  (Emphasis added.)

A valiant effort.  But I think the time of real patrols in the Boy Scouts of America has passed.  For most troop adults/parents, the only things that they will every really know about patrols will be the explanations they hear from very young Scouts working on Scout rank requirements 3.a. and 3.b. and Tenderfoot rank requirements 2.a. and 2.c. -- that patrols are about symbols and meals.  Scout rank:   3.a. Explain the patrol method. Describe the types of patrols that are used in your troop.  3.b.  Become familiar with your patrol name, emblem, flag, and yell. Explain how these items create patrol spirit.  Tenderfoot rank:  2.a.  On the campout, assist in preparing one of the meals. Tell why it is important for each patrol member to share in meal preparation and cleanup.  2.c.  Explain the importance of eating together as a patrol.

The writers of the Journey to Excellence Troop Scorecard think Patrol Method is about leadership development rather than team development, even though we have a separate Method of Scouting for Leadership Development (which is also now one of the Aims of Scouting).  #9.  Patrol method: Use the patrol method to develop youth leaders.  Bronze:  The troop has patrols, and each has a patrol leader.  There is an SPL, if more than one patrol. The PLC meets at least four times a year.  Silver:  Achieve Bronze, plus PLC meets at least six times. The troop conducts patrol leader training.  Gold:  Achieve Silver, plus PLC meets at least ten times. At least one Scout has attended an advanced training course, such as NYLT or Order of the Arrow Conference.

And the experts on Troop meetings provide time on their model troop meeting agenda for "Breakout Groups."  Patrols don't even have the dignity of designated Patrol Meetings.

Who knows.  Maybe the powers that be decided that youth get plenty of teamwork training through their sports teams, so teamwork training through patrols just isn't important anymore.  Maybe Patrol Method simply got eclipsed by the popularity of individual achievement in Scouting through Advancement and Leadership/Positions of Responsibility.  Or maybe the advent of the New Scout Patrol (designed to help Scouts advance to First Class more rapidly) and its ripple effect (age-based patrols) was the kiss of death:  Younger patrols without older, experienced Scouts leading and teaching just can't do much on their own or contribute much to troop programs; and most troops have more younger Scouts than older Scouts.

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59 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

A valiant effort.  But I think the time of real patrols in the Boy Scouts of America has passed.

Interesting opinion. In my area the patrol method is alive and kicking. I do my best to make friends with other SMs and have sat in on quite a few of their troop meetings and can say each one does scouting different but they all used the patrol method. 

 

1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

And the experts on Troop meetings provide time on their model troop meeting agenda for "Breakout Groups."  Patrols don't even have the dignity of designated Patrol Meetings.

The troop meeting format is meant to be somewhat flexible and not dictate how you teach in your troop, We interpret the group breakout as a patrol breakout.  We gather as a troop for 10 minutes, then partol does hands on teaching, then inter patrol competition using the skils you learned (this fits perfect in the format).

 

I would love to see the JTE totally re-written to guide to more patrol activities.

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2 hours ago, TMSM said:

Interesting opinion. In my area the patrol method is alive and kicking. I do my best to make friends with other SMs and have sat in on quite a few of their troop meetings and can say each one does scouting different but they all used the patrol method. 

Well, I'm certainly willing to be convinced.  But just so we are clear on the kind of patrol I'm talking about (what I call a Patrol Method patrol, or "real" patrol), here's a description of the patrol experience from the Boy Scout Handbook, Seventh Edition, Third Printing, January 1967, page 93:

--------------------

     "Patrol Doings.  An honest-to-goodness, live-wire patrol does plenty of things on its own.  It always has lots of interesting plans underway, whether patrol meetings, hikes, camps, Good Turns, stunts, making tents, fixing up a patrol den.

     "Patrol meetings are held regularly in the homes of the members, in the patrol's own den, or in the troop meeting room.  The meetings are planned in advance by the patrol leader with the help of the rest of the patrol, and there's something for everyone to do.

     "It is at patrol meetings that you fellows help each other advance in Scoutcraft.  It is here that all the great things you want to do are decided on.  It is here that your friendships grow.

     "The good patrol, under a trained leader, has its own patrol hikes and camps from time to time.  Those hikes and camps are the high spots in the patrol's life.  It is around the fires of the gang that patrol spirit reaches its peak, where each of you comes closest to the heart of Scouting."

--------------------

There's nothing in that 1967 description that could not be done by patrols today (with, of course, the required adult presence).  But are patrols that operate like this still relatively common?  Or is this type of patrol a relic of the past?

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12 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

There's nothing in that 1967 description that could not be done by patrols today (with, of course, the required adult presence).  But are patrols that operate like this still relatively common?  Or is this type of patrol a relic of the past?

With that description the patrol is a relic of the past. The death of activities like pick up games has drastically reduced the number of young leaders that can lead a group to fullfill an idea about an activity. It still happens but most likely not as much as in the past.

To me this is why scouts is so important and why it gives scouts and advantage over non-scouts. Providing the opportunity to lead a group to do some type of activity is better than not even realising that skill is valuable. Some troop do patrols really well and do have patrol campouts and patrol hikes frequently. We still do patrol hikes and yes we thumb our nose at the "rules" and allow them to hike alone but I doubt it iss the same type of hiking as before. We separate patrols by 50 yards or more when possible and they do cook and have fires on their own but I doubt the experience is like camping alone by patrol. We still have some patrols meet at someones house - no way of stopping this but I doubt they have the freedom to do whatever was done in the past.

 

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38 minutes ago, TMSM said:

With that description the patrol is a relic of the past. The death of activities like pick up games has drastically reduced the number of young leaders that can lead a group to fullfill an idea about an activity. It still happens but most likely not as much as in the past.

To me this is why scouts is so important and why it gives scouts and advantage over non-scouts. Providing the opportunity to lead a group to do some type of activity is better than not even realising that skill is valuable. Some troop do patrols really well and do have patrol campouts and patrol hikes frequently. We still do patrol hikes and yes we thumb our nose at the "rules" and allow them to hike alone but I doubt it iss the same type of hiking as before. We separate patrols by 50 yards or more when possible and they do cook and have fires on their own but I doubt the experience is like camping alone by patrol. We still have some patrols meet at someones house - no way of stopping this but I doubt they have the freedom to do whatever was done in the past.

Thanks.  I think there are definitely some societal changes at work, of the kind powering "helicopter" parents, but also of the kind powering our Youth Protection imperative.  @MattRmentioned the adult desire for "efficiency" -- something Baden-Powell encountered and warned against almost from the beginning of the Scouting Movement.  Widely separated patrols, patrols each doing different things at different times, and youth advancing at different speeds are certainly not efficient.  And I think parent competitiveness or ambition on behalf of their children is particularly prominent these days; individual achievement that can be measured and recognized (and noted on school applications and resumes) gets far more attention than growth in character, teamwork, and interpersonal skills that cannot easily be measured. 

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