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tpolly

New Scout Patrol

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Hello All,

Looking for advice.  I am taking over as scoutmaster next year.  We have 16 new Webelos scouts crossing over this year.  My question is How successful has a new scout patrol been?  Our troop has been lacking when it comes to the Patrol Method in my opinion. Ad Hoc patrols are formed whenever we go on trips,  Adults and scouts do not camp far enough away from eachother to have their own identity. Sometimes it feels more like an adventure club than a scout troop. I was thinking on splitting this group up into two patrols of 8 scouts and assigning each a TG. For the next year, they would remain together as a patrol.  Then would be recruited by more experienced patrols whenever we can form solid units. How do you handle the patrol leader position?  Does it rotate?  Or is the Troop guide really the PL? I think the whole first class first year is more of a goal than a reality. I'd really like to institute the patrol method in the troop.  It seems to be the one major thing we are lacking.

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@tpolly, welcome (back?) to the forums.

There are advantages and disadvantages to NSPs, but I feel that when an average troop with undifferentiated patrols gets swamped with crossovers, NSPs become essential.

Dividing crossovers is a challenge. You don't know who's friends with who and who will work well together and (most importantly) who can't stand to be with the other guy. More important than rotating patrols, I would have your TG keep an eye out for crossovers who aren't enjoying themselves. They might need to move to a new patrol.

The NSPs otherwise operate by the book. Each one elects their own PL, who then selects an APL. They work with the TG to determine an agenda (hint, the rank requirements are a handy list of things to choose from). The the TG then helps by teaching those skills and by teaching the PL/APL how to manage their patrol. The PL position does not rotate. If the PL is not doing his job, they may elect a new one. 

If the NSP hangs together, they become an OSP in a year. If not, they can be recruited by other PLs.

Edited by qwazse
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Regarding your final statement ... let me reassure you as calmly as possible:

59 minutes ago, tpolly said:

... I think the whole first class first year is more of a goal than a reality. I'd really like to institute the patrol method in the troop.  It seems to be the one major thing we are lacking. 

First Class First Year is a lie.

Tell your crossovers and their parents the truth: it is hard to obtain First Class rank. The skills therein are difficult to master.

Furthermore, for those crossovers and parents with Eagle in their sights, I remind them that I have not seen a difference in who earns Eagle based on how soon they earn 1st class. A large proportion of 12 y.o. 1st class scouts either quit or take 6 years to get to Life rank. A scout who finally earns 1st class at age 16.5 has accumulated the requisite MBs for the next three ranks and merely needs to develop a little more leadership.

Solid patrols who challenge and teach each other in scout skills, along with older scouts who lean in to their positions of responsibility, continues to be the most reliable way to bring up 1st Class Scouts -- in concept and with the patch.

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Sounds like you have a good feel for how a patrol should work. I have never understood the idea behind ad hoc patrols, in fact if only one scout in a patrol showed up to a campout, he was treated as a patrol.

I am not a fan of NSPs, but agree that when the number of crossovers overwhelm a troop. it's one of the better approaches to getting new scouts up to speed. I am not a fan of new scouts taking on patrol leader duties because they don't have the maturity to learn and grow from the experience. We had better luck with assigning two TGs to a patrol and role modeling how the patrol leaders should work in a patrol. Also, two scouts don't burn out as fast. New scouts are high energy even for older scouts.

I do agree with dividing and never found that to be a problem, we just simply asked the scouts which friends they would like to patrol with. Most have just one or two they really want to be around. If they understand a split is coming and you ask for their help, they usually figure it out.

It's important to note that the BSA looses more scouts during the first 6 months in a troop than any other period of a youth career in scouting. The reason is the sudden culture change from an adult led lifestyle to an independent decision making lifestyle. While the appearance of independence is appealing at first, the sudden realization that their life is not only determined by their personal choices, but also the choices of leaders nearly their age. That means where they sleep, what they eat, and their personal safety in the deep dark scary woods is dependent on that 14 year old SPL, not the adults.

We learned through the humility of loosing large numbers of  new scouts that these young folks need an adult working close with the TGs. The adult is the safety valve for the both the parents and their new scout son. The parents and the new scout are advised to contact the adult (ASM) only when they feel overwhelmed. The ASM will however in most cases guide both the parents and the scout to the TGs. The main purpose of the ASM is to show trust in the scout leaders (TGs) and their decisions so that the parents and the new scout learn to trust the scouts. The ASM checks in on the new scout now and then and sometimes the parents to show they are somewhere in the background. They are always calm, work a smile, and never over reacts. They always seek out the counsel with the youth leaders. The youth leaders are truly the leaders, so just give them a chance. 

We found, and national data also shows, that if a scout makes it past summer camp without quitting, they will likely stay in the program several years. So, the first six months are critical. We found that the scouts were ready to merge into existing patrols after six months. The sooner, the better. NSPs don't have the experience or maturity to push growth in their patrol. Either the adults have to get more involved to push growth (which is counter to the patrol method), or the scouts get bored. They need to be fed with the experience of older scouts.

I think you have a good vision of how to run your troop, but my experience is that you biggest challenge is selling the adults on it. Get tough and firm. Have a good reason for your ideas and then sell them on giving them a try. Fifty percent of Scoutmastering is working with the adults. And 50 percent of working with adults is being a good salesman, especially in patrol method troops. You're a big picture person, most adults are not. So, learn how to color your vision so they can see a picture of great scouts coming from your troop.

I look forward to watching you grow.

Barry

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My son was in a troop that believed that patrols were formed at the time of crossover, and the membership in the patrol only changed if a new kid joined that wasn't previously in cubs, or came from another troop.  So, all your first year kids were a patrol, and they stayed in that patrol until they aged out, or left Scouting.  Patrols were also never merged... so, if after 4 years, only 3 of the original 9 were left, then they were just a patrol of three.  The SM also kept them all together, so in your example if 16 kids crossed over, they became a patrol of 16.  The problems in the philosophy this SM has to me was that patrol method was never really seen as significant- maybe, one or two kids would kind of "get it" about what patrol-method meant, but it wasn't something really being "learned" by all.  That NSP needs help figuring things out, and that meant either too many adults had to be involved in their business, or a cadre of older scout "instructors" had to be involved, that they just never had to actually figure anything out for themselves from the get-go (so why would they need to when they are 14 years old?).  Someone else will do it is pretty much the mindset I saw in most of the kids in the troop, at all ages. 

There are a lot of threads on here you will find that discuss patrol method  and there are many opinions on how to best implement it.  I will just say that what I think many members of this forum will agree on is that there is a great deal of confusion out there today at the unit level on what the patrol method is, and its purpose.  Patrols are the primary learning environment for the Scouts, and it is also their support system, their group of confidants (and partners in crime as well 😀)

And, yes, don't let the parents dictate advancement.  I could count on one hand the number of kids I have encountered that could really, truly, have had the drive and wits to become a First Class Scout in their first year- especially if they were not getting things spoon fed to them.  Let them learn, let them grow, let them figure out what one (or many) things within the Scouting program they like.  The first 6 months are critical, so you want to balance between them doing nothing which leads them to be bored, to doing too much it becomes overwhelming (or "school like" as I've heard kids refer to it).      

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Using New Scout Patrols makes it easy for the troop to comply with the YPT rule that scouts tent with other scouts who are within 2 years of age.

Presuming that scouts who bridge into the troop are about 5th grade age, they will tend to be well within the 2-year range. So they tent together as a patrol.  It becomes harder to have patrols tent together when you assign new scouts to patrols without regard to their ages.

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21 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Using New Scout Patrols makes it easy for the troop to comply with the YPT rule that scouts tent with other scouts who are within 2 years of age.

Presuming that scouts who bridge into the troop are about 5th grade age, they will tend to be well within the 2-year range. So they tent together as a patrol.  It becomes harder to have patrols tent together when you assign new scouts to patrols without regard to their ages.

This has to be watched in todays BSA of course, but I can recall only one situation where two scouts with more than two years difference in mixed age patrols tented together. The one situation was parents asking an older scout (16 years old) to watch their mentally retarded son. 

Barry

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I agree with most of what has been said.

As far as dividing, if you do decide to go with NSPs, let them decide how to group themselves. While it might seem easier to say "two groups of eight". They might prefer a 4-6-6, while not necessarily "ideal by the book", the patrols are not for forever either. Then begins the difficult balance scouts changing patrols vs maintaining patrol culture. This is where adult association mentoring comes in to help scouts "make ethical decisions".

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We put the crossover Scouts in New Scout Patrols, for the first few months.  They work with older Scout Guides on Scout / TF / 2nd Class / 1st Class requirements.  For summer camp they roll into mixed age patrols, helps them get to know all the other Scouts, moves them into the troop.

First meeting of the fall they are rolled into our standing patrols.  As noted we have the mixed age patrols so the new Scouts learn from the current Scouts.

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My thoughts.

 

I. HATE. NEW. SCOUT. PATROLS! 

In 34 years of seeing them used, I have never seen it used successfully. Either the Troop Guide, or Patrol Leader as I was called when my troop was asked to try it out in 1986 before it became the recommendation in 1989, gets overwhelmed working with  bunch of new Scouts by himself, or adults need to intervene so much that it becomes Webelos 3.

 

13 hours ago, qwazse said:

Regarding your final statement ... let me reassure you as calmly as possible:

First Class First Year is a lie.

Tell your crossovers and their parents the truth: it is hard to obtain First Class rank. The skills therein are difficult to master.

Furthermore, for those crossovers and parents with Eagle in their sights, I remind them that I have not seen a difference in who earns Eagle based on how soon they earn 1st class. A large proportion of 12 y.o. 1st class scouts either quit or take 6 years to get to Life rank. A scout who finally earns 1st class at age 16.5 has accumulated the requisite MBs for the next three ranks and merely needs to develop a little more leadership.

Solid patrols who challenge and teach each other in scout skills, along with older scouts who lean in to their positions of responsibility, continues to be the most reliable way to bring up 1st Class Scouts -- in concept and with the patch.

OPERATION FIRST CLASS, as the idea was originally called in 1989, is based on skewed data. More on that later

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New scout patrols:  Webelos III at best.  Usually a demotivator for new scouts.  Some troops avoid these issues by providing outstanding leadership to the new scout patrols; most troops do not.

Operation First Class:  when this was first announced in '89, I was an ASM.  My SM and I wrote a letter to National expressing our concerns and disapproval.  We made a conscious effort to be polite.   We received back a rather dismissive reply from an exec.  The exec's opening sentence, if I recall correctly, ran thus:  "I find it interesting when people complain about things they aren't really informed about."  Dude, we were briefed at district round table!  So he told us to stop complaining, that everything would work out because he said so. 

The key selling point was "stats show that if a scout makes it to first class, he'll stay in scouting longer."  National never considered the quality of programming at the unit level that motivated these scouts to stay.  Instead, they just compressed the time line to make first class quicker.  Which is not the same thing.

Edited by desertrat77
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On 2/27/2020 at 9:46 PM, desertrat77 said:

selling point was "stats show that if a scout makes it to first class, he'll stay in scouting longer."  National never considered the quality of programming at the unit level that motivated these scouts to stay.  Instead, they just compressed the time line to make first class quicker.  Which is not the same thing.

This^^^

Edited by MattR
videos or media not pertaining to topic not allowed. -MattR
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A Scout patrol is to be a largely self-selected team.  Adult's may influence, but the decision should be by the team members collectively.

Even-sized patrols is an adult fascination unrelated to kids. 

The Troop Guide is a coach/adviser/resource, not the Patrol leader, who is, of course, elected by the patrol members and no one else whatsoever.

If patrol members are not going on campouts, the program is not likely attractive to those "customers." One might ask them why.  Will the PLC agree to what they want?  Can the patrol or troop supply what they expect?  Once we reached 2/3 of all Scout-age boys at least for some time.  Now, it's under 5%.  Only so much can be done.  However, if we fail, it would be nice if we at least tried Scouting.  Few troops do these days.

If they are not interested in Scouting, as can be the case, they are not customers. Was it their idea to join or the parents?  If the latter, the odds were always against active participation for very long, if ever.  (They WILL escape if it's not their idea: "Dad,  I'd like to go but I have math homework I really, really need to do.")

Adults'primary responsibility, beyond safety, is training youth to lead.  Get outside help if, as is often the case given average tenure, you need it.  The Patrol Leaders are critical to keeping the patrol teams together.  If a PL is a total disaster after trying everything available to help him or her do better, the PLC should be counselled to consider a new election.  Election of a leader is not a mutual suicide pact.

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On 2/29/2020 at 1:00 AM, TAHAWK said:

A Scout patrol is to be a largely self-selected team.  Adult's may influence, but the decision should be by the team members collectively.

Even-sized patrols is an adult fascination unrelated to kids. 

And NSPs are an adult organizational concept. In one trop I was in with that used NSPs, scouts from 4 different packs were put into a NSP. Some of those Scouts joined with the intent of being with friends, who happened to be in different patrols. It was not a good year in the troop.

 

On 2/29/2020 at 1:00 AM, TAHAWK said:

The Troop Guide is a coach/adviser/resource, not the Patrol leader, who is, of course, elected by the patrol members and no one else whatsoever.

One of the complaints, among many, we had back in 1986-87 when we were the guinea pigs trying out the NSP concept.

 

On 2/29/2020 at 1:00 AM, TAHAWK said:

If patrol members are not going on campouts, the program is not likely attractive to those "customers." One might ask them why.  Will the PLC agree to what they want?  Can the patrol or troop supply what they expect?  Once we reached 2/3 of all Scout-age boys at least for some time.  Now, it's under 5%.  Only so much can be done.  However, if we fail, it would be nice if we at least tried Scouting.  Few troops do these days.

While not everyone will be a Scout, if you deliver the promise, the outdoors, they will come. If you have a true youth led program, instead of adults conctantly overruling and contradicting the youth leaders, it will be successful. Troop I am currently with has 2 Scouts were never in Cubs.

 

On 2/29/2020 at 1:00 AM, TAHAWK said:

If they are not interested in Scouting, as can be the case, they are not customers. Was it their idea to join or the parents?  If the latter, the odds were always against active participation for very long, if ever.  (They WILL escape if it's not their idea: "Dad,  I'd like to go but I have math homework I really, really need to do.")

Agree, if it is no the Scout's idea to be in the unit, they will come up with any excuse. Worse, they will cause major problems that affect the other Scouts.

 

On 2/29/2020 at 1:00 AM, TAHAWK said:

Adults'primary responsibility, beyond safety, is training youth to lead.  Get outside help if, as is often the case given average tenure, you need it.  The Patrol Leaders are critical to keeping the patrol teams together.  If a PL is a total disaster after trying everything available to help him or her do better, the PLC should be counselled to consider a new election.  Election of a leader is not a mutual suicide pact.

THIS!

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