Jump to content
AltadenaCraig

COVID-19: Saving grace of the Patrol Method?

Recommended Posts

     Our Troop-level virtual meetings tend toward top-down "presentations" with very little scout interaction even when invited to virtually "raise hands".  Our ASM's, on the other hand, report much more interactive and enjoyable virtual Patrol Meetings.  Even a Community meeting I recently participated in was much more effective during the breakout session than during the "please raise your hand" plenary session.

     Our Council is now hinting at tentatively re-opening "in person scouting" at the small-group level (no more than 10 scouts with exactly 2 adults).  Until further details are available, this would appear to support in-person activities at the Den/Patrol level.

     What are your thoughts?  Might we be seeing a resurgence of emphasis on Patrols and the Patrol Method?  What impact might this have on Scouting long term, post COVID-19?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, AltadenaCraig said:

     Our Troop-level virtual meetings tend toward top-down "presentations" with very little scout interaction even when invited to virtually "raise hands".  Our ASM's, on the other hand, report much more interactive and enjoyable virtual Patrol Meetings.

Well, what is the difference between the troop level virtual meetings and the patrol level virtual meetings?  Top-down presentations to a larger number of individuals versus small group interactions.  Your observations are right on, and those experiences could help shape post-COVID Scouting, *IF* adult leaders and youth leaders in troops are willing to put an end top-down presentations to the whole troop or any segment of a troop that is not a patrol.  But part of the problem is Scouts BSA doctrine strongly favors presentations and skill training at the troop level or in groups based upon skill level, rather than by patrol.  See https://troopleader.scouting.org/troop-meetings/.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

But part of the problem is Scouts BSA doctrine strongly favors presentations and skill training at the troop level or in groups based upon skill level, rather than by patrol.  See https://troopleader.scouting.org/troop-meetings/.

Agreed.  Scoutbook is particularly guilty of troop-centric approvals/permissions.  I'm hoping COVID-19 will spur changes to Scoutbook to allow for (perhaps even promote) Patrol-level management.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My troop did virtual troop meetings for 1-2 months, but I quickly wished I had a chance to train the scouts on how to use the technology to do a virtual meeting. I also realized that scouts spending the entire day doing virtual school, but not want to add another virtual event to their day, so participation on virtual meetings was lower than in person meetings. 

What COVID-19 did to my mindset is to spend less time in meetings and more time doing stuff in the outdoors. My troop even stopped meeting inside for the summer. I think the core scouts in my troop are liking this more. 

Patrol Method...there is nothing better to set a challenge in front of scouts on a campout or camp and watch them work through all the issues they encounter together. This something anything virtual cannot duplicate. Granted, my troop is small enough that only a patrol's worth of scouts show up at each meeting and event. If the SPL is there, he leads. If not, an Patrol leader is elected and leads the group for the activity. 

Long term impact on scouting? I think there will be two factions...one that will try to spend more time outside and another that will try to do everything at home and virtually (like Merit Badge Classes, etc). In my district, COVID-19 has reduced the number of scouts, because scouts cannot meet given adult leadership is struggling with technology, closed meeting spaces,  and cancellation of popular district events. This month, our fall camporee was cancelled, so my troop is headed to the mountains to camp with the bears instead. However, our mindset is in the minority.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This can be the rebirth of the patrol method.

My unit tried 1 Troop zoom meeting. It was a wreck.

We have, however, seen patrols going hiking, fishing, biking, etc. Our SM and SPL have, in effect, "given up" on troop level activities and plan on patrol level events indefinitely (the only exception being a possible Court of Honor).

I say "given up" in quotes because they are looking at this as a really positive thing; you have PLs who have to step up and patrols with weak leadership or shiftless scouts being put on the spot and embarrassed/shamed. Our new unit patrol/crossover AoLs have just dug into this and they look at it as a blessing ("We get to do what we want? Cool! Let's hike!"). The troop guide has just tossed out an idea here and there and the ASM is sitting there slack jawed that these scouts are raring to go and all he has to do is check for permits and double check they are following COVID safety guidance.

Meanwhile, I've got a senior patrol that has basically checked out and it is getting embarrassed because every other patrol has done something and they are sitting there like lumps.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My suggestion - just raise your hand with your fellow ASMs and explore how you can do more patrol oriented activities during meetings.  Zoom isn't the issue and I'm sure it's not a nefarious plot to end patrol based Scouting.  Odds are it's just people who don't really know what to do are guessing.  Honestly, I'd have no idea how to make a virtual troop meeting with 30 people interactive and patrol based.  But I'm guessing that since you're living it, you've got some ideas.

Offer to be the person to sort it out for the SM & ASMs.  

Edited by ParkMan
clarified a thought

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our troop started Zoom meetings in March and continued until the end of May. We used a breakout room feature zoom has to put everyone into a patrol meeting after we did virtual flags and announcements and then returned at the end of the period to do a SM minute. 

I have been polling the scouts and they have had enough virtual meetings. They prefer to change the troop meeting day to Sunday afternoon so they can get outside and do some kind of scout skill. Once we have elections next week the PLC will plan out the next 6 months that will include 1 and maybe a maximum of 2 Zooms per week.

Although we are strict patrol method cooking and split into patrols during meetings for skill instruction, I think this our chance to start doing activities by patrol and forget about Troop events for the next 6 months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@CynicalScouter Congratulations on the patrols that are being active and let the jaw-struck ASM know that this is how things are supposed to work.  The senior patrol that isn't doing anything will either get embarrassed and pick things up or not -- if not, it may be the "fumes" that affect so many senior Scouts.  I lost a lot of good Scouts to "fumes" over the years but that's not necessarily a bad thing either; not every Scout has to be an Eagle and there are other ways to be useful contributors to society than working on Scoutcraft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, HICO_Eagle said:

@CynicalScouter Congratulations on the patrols that are being active and let the jaw-struck ASM know that this is how things are supposed to work.

His amazement isn't so much that "this is how things are suppose to work", it is that this was our AoL/crossover patrol that picked up and ran with it right from the start in the middle of a pandemic. THAT is amazing.

  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

His amazement isn't so much that "this is how things are suppose to work", it is that this was our AoL/crossover patrol that picked up and ran with it right from the start in the middle of a pandemic. THAT is amazing.

This is very interesting. I know that new scouts are always very excited when they crossover because they have been told over and over that they will do all this stuff without adults telling them when, where and how. But, troops are structured to start new scouts working on their First Class skills. I don't mean that in a negative way, the structure often is intended to prepare the scouts for camping. But, the program structure tends to hold the scouts back because the troop is doing their typical program. I think this is a case that is showing (reteaching) us how to use Patrol Method.

Barry

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/11/2020 at 9:16 AM, CynicalScouter said:

His amazement isn't so much that "this is how things are suppose to work", it is that this was our AoL/crossover patrol that picked up and ran with it right from the start in the middle of a pandemic. THAT is amazing.

I don't know why people are so amazed by things like this.  Some people -- even kids -- can do a great job organizing things they want to do when they figure out no one else will do it for them.  The pandemic gave them the opportunity -- what the TC needs to do is take advantage of it as an example of the patrol method for the other patrols and support the boys.  Bravo Zulu for those boys.

The troop I grew up in was so small we nicknamed it "the Fun Patrol" -- yeah, the whole troop was basically a large patrol.  All our parents were busy so we had no choice but to organize everything ourselves.  You learn by doing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/1/2020 at 3:19 PM, AltadenaCraig said:

Scoutbook is particularly guilty of troop-centric approvals/permissions.

I found this interesting. What do you mean? Can you elaborate on your observations? I ask to make sure we aren’t falling into a “trap” or habit. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

I found this interesting. What do you mean? Can you elaborate on your observations? I ask to make sure we aren’t falling into a “trap” or habit. 

PL’s cannot sign-off requirements in scoutbook. It is a read-only book to them.

Patrol Method is optimized when the only signatures in a scout’s book are from his/her  PL. That includes the SM conference. At PLC, the SM reports on which scouts he conferenced, and PLs note that in the respective scouts’ books.

Really, the only things that adults are obliged to record are boards of review and advancement for each rank.

Boys having to stop by the advancement chair or SM to have their books updated for every little requirement is an artifact of recent decades.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok! Good points. I agree, those are issues and we have tried to work around them (even though we shouldn't have to). 

What we have done is have the Scouts continue to have PL or a Scout 1 rank above the rank they are working on, sign off in the paper book. The Scout themselves can then go online and mark it complete in Scoutbook.com. Once BOR happens, the BOR chair marks the whole rank complete (in one swoop, not individual requirements) and leader approved in Scoutbook. The system doesn't require, nor does our troop, to have each requirement in Scoutbook.com leader approved if the whole rank is marked approved.

Thanks for the clarity. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...