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I am a Senior Patrol Leader trying to move my troop into the Patrol Method. Any advice?


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I am a 16 year-old Life Scout, working on my Eagle, and I am currently the Senior Patrol Leader for my troop.

About 10 or so years ago my troop was quite large, with about 5 or 6 active patrols at all times. I was a Cub Scout at this time. Then, a whole bunch of drama happened and most of the families left the troop, diminishing the size.

About 5 years later, when I became old enough to be a Boy Scout, I joined the troop. I had done Cub Scouts but not Webelos, my parents pulled me and my brother out of scouting for a few years to focus on our youth group, and partly because my dad was frustrated that he couldn't bring my sisters on outings and to meetings.  Anyway, So I joined and I don't remember all the details, but I remember that there was no real "Patrol System", because there were only enough scouts for one patrol. In all my years as a scout, my troop has only had one patrol, which was every boy in the troop. We tried to recruit more member but had a very hard time, more than half of the few recruits we had dropped out after a few months (partly due to COVID and having to meet on Zoom). There was a time when there were only THREE active scouts in our troop (I always jokingly called us the first triumvirate). 

I was certain that our troop would not be able to recharter at the start of the next year (we had barely squeaked by at the beginning of that year). Then, girls were allowed to join. One of the adults in our troop (our only council member) had a granddaughter-in-law (11 years old) who joined. She started bringing her friends and they started bringing theirs, and now the troop has about a dozen younger scouts in it. 

When I was elected ASPL, the troop had three active scouts. Now, six months later, I'm SPL and the troop has over a dozen young scouts in it. Its been a handful to manage, and I am constantly stressed about planning meetings and outings. To be quite honest, I miss the days were I was younger scouts and could just sit back and relax and go with the flow during meetings. Now, I rarely look forward to meetings, I usually get quite stressed about them, and Wednesday is my new favorite day, because its the day after our weekly Tuesday meetings. I miss being able to enjoy myself at meetings, now I'm constantly trying to move things along and lead the group in our activities. I'm not really considering dropping out; I'm quite close to my Eagle Scout, and one of my older brothers is an Eagle Scout and troop Alumni so I want to live up to that. 

The troop has been doing well, all things considered, parents are quite active and involved, our troop has always been very youth-led. Two of our new scouts have earned the Scout Rank and many more are on track to. We are planning summer camp for this summer, and we have merit badges scheduled to be learned. Most of the younger scouts have a great attendance record

However, as we've been growing, I have noticed that with about a dozen scouts at every meeting, each scout is getting less participation time and seems less engaged. I often see scouts daydreaming or half-falling asleep during meetings (especially PLCs). I think that implementing the Patrol Method is integral to seeing the troop succeed, but I have no idea how to do that! My whole time as a scout my troop has only had one patrol, and I really don't know how to organize and lead the troop into the Patrol Method. How do I implement something that  I am not even familiar with and that I don't know how it works? A few leaders have been talking about it, but nothing has really come of that yet, and there is disagreement in the troop in whether we should have a boys patrol and a girls patrol (which would give us two good sized patrols) or two patrols with boys and girls in each. 

I'm basically asking for help with how I can go about learning about patrols and how they work, implementing patrols, what having two patrols would look like for meetings and outing (are they always doing two separate things? are they planning their own meetings and outings, or is that done all together?) Having a girls troop and boys troop complicates things greatly; our two troops meet at the same place and do everything together, we are basically one big boys and girls troop that do everything together yet are separated by the organizations policies and rules. I don't think we can technically form patrols with both boys and girls in them, but that's what some of the adults in my troop want to do, and I must say that separating them by sex doesn't seem like it would be good for troop morale and spirit, many of the girls and boys are good friends, separating them could damage the troop.

 

I am very confused and intimidated and I am taking everything with scouts one step at a time, just trying to plan and get through the month, implementing patrols seems like a huge undertaking. 

Edited by IrrationalGoat
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Welcome to the forum.

My advice before knowing anything else is no matter where you are on the continuum of patrol method, pick one or two things you want to change first, get both the scouts and one or two adults to agree that those changes would be good, then implement them and run them a couple time until you're really good at them, before you move on to the next items to change.

But to get any specific advice, first tell us a bit about how your troop operates today.  For instance, describe how your troop decides what they're going to do on a campout:  how and who decides what you're going to eat, who is going to cook, who is going to clean up.  And also how and who decides what you're going to do for the periods between meals.

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@IrrationalGoat welcome to the forum. And thank you so much for writing. You're enthusiastic and are taking ownership. Honestly, your post is one of the best things I've seen lately. I'd certainly like to help out at your troop.

But, to try and answer your questions. First of all, the patrol method is to help you delegate work so you don't burn out, which sounds like an issue. Adults like single patrols because it makes it easier for them. The problem, as you're finding, is that the scouts are getting bored. You're not bored at all, you're getting run ragged. That's because you're owning everything and doing all the planning.

The main idea of patrol method is that each patrol has its own leadership that takes care of planning and running events that bring the program to those scouts. The work they do is work you don't have to do. It's a win for them because it alleviates their boredom from not having anything useful to do and it's a win for you because they do some of the work. So patrols help share work.

Another great use of patrols is enabling fun and scouting has been called fun with a purpose. Competition between patrols can be fun. Patrol skits can make campouts fun. Having a smaller, tighter group of friends that patrols support can be fun.

Notice that I've been real fuzzy about how much the patrols can do on their own. That depends on their maturity as a team and leadership. The more they can handle the less you have to, so it's really important that you develop the patrols and help them learn and grow. Your job is to work yourself out of your job, while caring for all those under you.

Can they handle their own meals on campouts? Can they help their own patrol members advance? Can they create fun events for meetings and campouts? Each of these are hard enough to teach them if they've never done it before, so don't take it all on at once.

I mentioned that patrols need to grow and learn. That applies to you as well. It also applies to the adults in your troop. Everyone needs to get on the same page about what each leader can do, what they need help with and the direction they're growing.

One thing I've intentionally stayed away from is how you form your patrols. There is a way the BSA  wants you to do it. I'll leave it at that.

Good luck.

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No perfect answer.  There is no perfect way to run the troop.  Many of us can see the ideal in our heads.  Then, we easily get very frustrated when our visualized ideal doesn't become reality.  ... So, here's my comments.

  • Celebrate the small successes.
  • Laugh.  Have fun.  Build friendships.
  • Take small steps.  
  • Talk with your SM repeatedly to develop a plan.  
  • If you can,
    • Challenge patrols to do something every month. 
    • Have the PLs report to everyone what their patrol did.  Encourage it being fun.  
    • Our troop encouraged patrols to do an outcoor camping like activity and a fellowship activity every month.  Some, patrols might just say they went to see a movie together and then ate at the food court.  Some might say they went on a hike.  Some might say they 
  • Share the work. 
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Welcome! 

I hear ya brother,  when I was an SPL many was the time that I wished I could go back to the simple life of the Quartermaster.  I suspect that you are making the same mistake I did in the beginning.  Trying to do it all.  That's what makes patrols and patrol leaders essential in a larger troop.  Properly done the PLs do 90% of the work.  

First question  Where does the SM stand on this?  Your're going to have to work together on this.. Does he, or any of the other adults have experience in a multi patrol troop?  I'm not saying he should do your job for you,  but a wise leader uses all the resources he has.   

My  first recommendation would be to go visit some nearby troops with your ASPL.  See how they operate, decide what might work well in your troop.  What won't. What might work with some modifications.   

Edited by Oldscout448
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Welcome!

Here's a plan for your next meeting:

Opening - Scout Oath and Law -SPL

Patrol Meetings - Run by PLs, their choice on activities (have ASPL, SM and ASMs assist and instruct if needed)

Game - SPL

Scoutmasters Minute

Closing - Scoutmaster's Benediction- delegate this to your ASPL

So, really, all you have to do is open and find a good game to play.

https://troopresources.scouting.org/patrol-activities/

Have fun and learn!

 

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The main skill I worked on with my SPLs is delegating. Sometimes I actually stood next to the SPL to keep him from moving to do something. You just haven’t practiced it yet. I know what you’re thinking, the scouts don’t know how to do it. Ok, teach it instead of doing it. It will feel awkward at first, but as the scouts start having fun doing that stuff you were doing, you can stand back and smile.

Barry

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@IrrationalGoat, welcome to the forums. And from this side of the internet you seem like the kind of scout any troop would love to have.

Two pieces of literature to look at if your troop doesn’t already have them:

  • The SPL Handbook
  • The PL handbook

As far as dividing patrols, I’d still segregate them by sex.  It’s not how my European friends would do it, but it’s certainly what my Indonesian friends would do. There is something to be said for complying with an organization’s wishes. The key thing is that doing so guarantees that you’ll have a boy PL and assistant and girl PL and assistant … both sexes will have representation. For some girls, that will be very important.

As far as meetings go, you could have one patrol be responsible for set-up and opening and the other responsible for closing and cleanup. Making sure they have responsibilities that they can take pride in is a good first step.

Being SPL should be fun. Have you picked an ASPL who will help you make it so?

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John Thurman wrote a book on the scout patrol back in the mid 1900's. Here's a snippet on some things he spoke about:

https://scoutmastercg.com/the-court-of-honor/

As well as delegating responsibilities, make sure your boys do something active at meetings and do it often! The reason why they're looking bored or even tired may be they're not doing enough scoutcraft (hands on, outdoors scouting), which is why most youth join in the first place. My oldest is currently a cub scout, and his favorite parts of activities are not sitting at a table being lectured to, but being with his fellow Wolves and running around actively scouting with them. This doesn't change through a scout's entire youth. While formal meetings are necessary for planning, ceremony, etc., they should be few and far between.

I highly recommend reading Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell. This is the original Boy Scouts handbook. It has tons of traditional scouting activities and methods that can bring your Patrols closer together. You can download the whole book for free here:

http://www.thedump.scoutscan.com/s4b.html

The website also contains tons of other traditional scouting material that can prove helpful, including documents on patrols. I'm in a new scouting association for adults (Rover scouts) and am trying to figure out the patrol method myself. I'm not sure how helpful it may be to a boy scout troop, but I developed a document for our Association detailing the workings of a patrol if you need inspiration for specifics. I've attached that file to this post.

Good luck!

The Rover Patrol for R4LA.pdf

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Welcome to the forums, Irratgoat....  First things first.  A Scout is....   Obedient.

That said, here's my list of stuff important.

BSA still gender separates on paper at least.  Female Troop and Patrol(s), Male Troop and Patrol(s). That means gender specific PLs and SPLs. There is no mention of gender specific SM (!) but you need gender specific adult attendance...   That said, there is no reason the Scouts can't meet and activate together.  The SPLs (!S!)  should/must cooperate in their planning and (did I hear that word somewhere? ) delegation of duty and such.  Only a one Patrol Troop? Guess what? That PL is the Troop SPL ! 

A Patrol can be any number of Scouts,  eight is considered traditionally ideal.  I have known Troops that said if only ONE Scout from the Patrol comes on a Campout, that Scout plans and acts as a Patrol, including cooking and cleanup !   Melding Scouts into "Troop Patrol"  can have results that destroy the Patrol idea, deal carefully there. 

I agree with much of the above suggestions and experience cited.   ABOVE ALL....  remember 3/5 of "SCOUT"   is "OUT".    

See you on the trail. 

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22 hours ago, T2Eagle said:

Welcome to the forum.

My advice before knowing anything else is no matter where you are on the continuum of patrol method, pick one or two things you want to change first, get both the scouts and one or two adults to agree that those changes would be good, then implement them and run them a couple time until you're really good at them, before you move on to the next items to change.

But to get any specific advice, first tell us a bit about how your troop operates today.  For instance, describe how your troop decides what they're going to do on a campout:  how and who decides what you're going to eat, who is going to cook, who is going to clean up.  And also how and who decides what you're going to do for the periods between meals.

Regarding specific advice and needing more details, here is an overview of how my troop is structured and what meetings look like.

 

Every six months we elect a new ASPL, and the current ASPL moves up to SPL. At the new SPL's first PLC (we have a PLC at the first meeting of every month, every scout is expected to attend and as a group we plan out the meetings and outings for that month) they appoint scouts of their choice to the following positions: Quartermaster, Scribe, Historian, Game Master, Troop Guide, Chaplain Aide, and Webmaster. Next, as a group, we plan a monthly theme for each of the six months of the SPLs term. Examples of things we have done include -

Merit Badges (anything from First Aid to Personal Fitness, usually Eagle-required and something that one of our adult leaders is a counselor for. We usually would take a whole month to do a merit badge (3-4 meetings, depending on the month.) Ideally each scout completes the merit badge.) 

Rank Advancement and Merit Badge work time - sometimes we set aside a whole month for rank advancement, often having group lessons and sign-offs as well as individual worktime.

Aquatics - usually done in the summer, we would meet at a local lake to swim for a meeting, maybe meet at our local aquatic center for a meeting, maybe go canoeing or kayaking at another local lake for a meeting.

Outdoors - we would usually go to a park near our meeting location, likely would have a swimming meeting of some sort. Again, usually done during the summer (I think the low point of our troop was when January rolled around and the month's theme had been planned as outdoor things - the only problem? It got dark well before out evening meetings, so there was no real way to do anything outdoors during a weekly meeting 😂😂😂)

Go-kart Building - we once built a go-kart (push powered) as a troop one month, that was lots of fun. Everyone brought some scraps and by the end of the month we managed to have something resembling a go-kart.

 

Ok, so that is what the beginning of a new SPLs term looks like. In my troop, terms last for six months. 

Here is what our standard month looks like - 

 

First meeting of the month - PLC. We have no flag ceremonies at PLC meetings, and we end the meeting when the whole month is planned (usually 30-50 minutes in). We take the monthly theme that we planned at the SPLs first meeting, and plan what we will do at each meeting a how it relates to the theme. For example, if the theme is Citizenship in the Community merit badge, we would plan two or three meetings to go over requirements and fill out worksheets as a group, and then perhaps we would choose one meeting to go to a City Hall meeting (one of the requirements for Citizenship in the Community. We usually also plan one outing. Examples include: snowshoeing at our local mountain in the winter, going on a day hike or biking trip, going on an overnight camping trip. We try to do one or more snow related outings in the winter and from March-November we usually try to do one camping trip or hike per month.

 

Now that I have explained how we plan our months here is an overview of a standard meeting - 

 

Flag Ceremony, with Scout Oath and Law recited, followed by announcements - 5 - 10 minutes

Go to table and begin working on whatever we have planned. If we are doing a merit badge we will have the counselor teach the group and try to get through requirements in a timely and reasonable manner.  50 - 70 minutes

We usually do a game toward the end of the meeting 10 - 15 minutes

Closing flag ceremony and announcements - 5 minutes

 

Here is how we plan a camping trip - 

During the PLC, we will bring up what we want to do for an outing that month. We will decide what weekends are available and whether or not we want to do a day hike, backpacking trip, or camping trip. Then we will decide where we want to go. We will then decide when we want to meet to carpool to our campsite or trailhead (usually on Saturday) and then when we will get back (usually on Sunday).  We would then usually split into two "cooking patrols" of about 3-5 scouts each. Each cooking patrol would have one person (rotating scouts each time) who planned all the meals for their cooking patrol for that camping trip. They would usually fit their menu around a requirement they were trying to meet. Then, the leader of the cooking patrol would divide up the food items to bring between the other members of the cooking patrol, to avoid having one person buy everything a collect money from the other members (this didn't always end with everyone happy, to put it one way). 

So, the day of the campout rolls around, we all meet in the designated meeting location and carpool to the campsite (usually at 1 pm ish). We would then unpack and set up tents and set up the camp in general (cooking stoves, garbage bags, coolers, watercoolers, etc.) Once everything was all set up we would usually do an activity together, often a preplanned hike or canoeing trip or somethings. Then, we would usually have maybe an hour of free time to play games or work on rank advancement with leaders individually (following youth protection rules). We might have group rank advancement for an hour or so. Then we would usually start to think about dinner. For dinner, each patrol would prepare, cook, and eat, whatever they planned. Adults brought their own food (my dad would often bring a steak and grill it up in front of everyone else who brought a Mountain house meal or ramen noodles or something 😂😂😂). The two cooking patrols would cook the meals separately and only cook for the members in their patrol, but the two coking patrols would almost always eat together and share laughs and jokes. Then, we would usually play a game after dinner (often German spotlight or some other kind of in-the-dark tag game). After that, we would often have a campfire and a cracker barrel as a troop (when I say troop, keep in mind I'm referring to less than a dozen scouts). We would tell stories, make jokes, and eventually head to our tents to go to bed (scouts would choose who they slept with on their own, we usually had brothers/friends sleep in the same tent and usually had 3-5 tents. Occasionally we would pull out the "Taj Mahal", a 12 or so person tent our troop owns, and all the scouts would sleep in that tent. Scouts and adults never slept in the same tent, except rarely if it was father/son or something like that (the adults would usually find a way to sleep in their minivans or SUVs though). The next morning, we would wake up, usually at separate times but around 6-9 in the morning. Someone would start a fire and slowly more and more people would get up. The leaders of the cooking patrol would start breakfast whenever they decided, often having to go wake the members of their cooking patrols to help them out. We would then have breakfast, in the same structure as dinner, and then usually play a game (frisbee, tag, capture the flag, etc.) for an hour or two afterwards. Then we would start to pack up and and have lunch, and would carpool back to the meeting spot after lunch (usually 1-2 pm). From there, everyone would head home, with a full belly, a fun experience, and hopefully a few new requirements under their belt. and that's a successful outing.

 

Our meeting attendance is usually about 80-90% for most scouts, as we have gotten bigger, some scouts attendance is more like 30% or 50%, but most scouts and adults have good attendance.

 

So that is our troop essentially functions. The thing is, we do all of the planning and activities as a group. Which, as I said, isn't really a problem when we had about 6-10 boys in the troop at any given time. Now we have over a dozen scouts, so I suppose my question is, what would forming two patrols look like. It will likely end up being a girls patrol and boys patrol (seeing as that is how the whole of the organization requires it to be). What will having two SPLs look like? Will the boys and girls patrols do all the PLCs together and have all the same monthly themes? Or will they do PLCs separately and have their own monthly themes? If they do plan meetings and have PLCs together and have the same monthly themes, will they do the same activities together? Because that is basically how our troop functions right now, we have grown a lot and haven't changed our structure in accordance with the new growth. Will we go on the same camping trips? Or separate ones? If we do go to the same camping trip, will we eat together and sit around the same fire and play games together or will we try to be as separate as possible?

 I will likely end up talking to my SM and some of the adults leaders about what the best course of action is, I am mostly looking for ideas and trying to get a better understanding here. Thanks for all the replies, unfortunately I don't have the time to give a good reply to every comment, but I really appreciate it.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, IrrationalGoat said:

Regarding specific advice and needing more details, here is an overview of how my troop is structured and what meetings look like.

 

Every six months we elect a new ASPL, and the current ASPL moves up to SPL. At the new SPL's first PLC (we have a PLC at the first meeting of every month, every scout is expected to attend and as a group we plan out the meetings and outings for that month) they appoint scouts of their choice to the following positions: Quartermaster, Scribe, Historian, Game Master, Troop Guide, Chaplain Aide, and Webmaster. Next, as a group, we plan a monthly theme for each of the six months of the SPLs term. Examples of things we have done include -

Merit Badges (anything from First Aid to Personal Fitness, usually Eagle-required and something that one of our adult leaders is a counselor for. We usually would take a whole month to do a merit badge (3-4 meetings, depending on the month.) Ideally each scout completes the merit badge.) 

Rank Advancement and Merit Badge work time - sometimes we set aside a whole month for rank advancement, often having group lessons and sign-offs as well as individual worktime.

Aquatics - usually done in the summer, we would meet at a local lake to swim for a meeting, maybe meet at our local aquatic center for a meeting, maybe go canoeing or kayaking at another local lake for a meeting.

Outdoors - we would usually go to a park near our meeting location, likely would have a swimming meeting of some sort. Again, usually done during the summer (I think the low point of our troop was when January rolled around and the month's theme had been planned as outdoor things - the only problem? It got dark well before out evening meetings, so there was no real way to do anything outdoors during a weekly meeting 😂😂😂)

Go-kart Building - we once built a go-kart (push powered) as a troop one month, that was lots of fun. Everyone brought some scraps and by the end of the month we managed to have something resembling a go-kart.

 

Ok, so that is what the beginning of a new SPLs term looks like. In my troop, terms last for six months. 

Here is what our standard month looks like - 

 

First meeting of the month - PLC. We have no flag ceremonies at PLC meetings, and we end the meeting when the whole month is planned (usually 30-50 minutes in). We take the monthly theme that we planned at the SPLs first meeting, and plan what we will do at each meeting a how it relates to the theme. For example, if the theme is Citizenship in the Community merit badge, we would plan two or three meetings to go over requirements and fill out worksheets as a group, and then perhaps we would choose one meeting to go to a City Hall meeting (one of the requirements for Citizenship in the Community. We usually also plan one outing. Examples include: snowshoeing at our local mountain in the winter, going on a day hike or biking trip, going on an overnight camping trip. We try to do one or more snow related outings in the winter and from March-November we usually try to do one camping trip or hike per month.

 

Now that I have explained how we plan our months here is an overview of a standard meeting - 

 

Flag Ceremony, with Scout Oath and Law recited, followed by announcements - 5 - 10 minutes

Go to table and begin working on whatever we have planned. If we are doing a merit badge we will have the counselor teach the group and try to get through requirements in a timely and reasonable manner.  50 - 70 minutes

We usually do a game toward the end of the meeting 10 - 15 minutes

Closing flag ceremony and announcements - 5 minutes

 

Here is how we plan a camping trip - 

During the PLC, we will bring up what we want to do for an outing that month. We will decide what weekends are available and whether or not we want to do a day hike, backpacking trip, or camping trip. Then we will decide where we want to go. We will then decide when we want to meet to carpool to our campsite or trailhead (usually on Saturday) and then when we will get back (usually on Sunday).  We would then usually split into two "cooking patrols" of about 3-5 scouts each. Each cooking patrol would have one person (rotating scouts each time) who planned all the meals for their cooking patrol for that camping trip. They would usually fit their menu around a requirement they were trying to meet. Then, the leader of the cooking patrol would divide up the food items to bring between the other members of the cooking patrol, to avoid having one person buy everything a collect money from the other members (this didn't always end with everyone happy, to put it one way). 

So, the day of the campout rolls around, we all meet in the designated meeting location and carpool to the campsite (usually at 1 pm ish). We would then unpack and set up tents and set up the camp in general (cooking stoves, garbage bags, coolers, watercoolers, etc.) Once everything was all set up we would usually do an activity together, often a preplanned hike or canoeing trip or somethings. Then, we would usually have maybe an hour of free time to play games or work on rank advancement with leaders individually (following youth protection rules). We might have group rank advancement for an hour or so. Then we would usually start to think about dinner. For dinner, each patrol would prepare, cook, and eat, whatever they planned. Adults brought their own food (my dad would often bring a steak and grill it up in front of everyone else who brought a Mountain house meal or ramen noodles or something 😂😂😂). The two cooking patrols would cook the meals separately and only cook for the members in their patrol, but the two coking patrols would almost always eat together and share laughs and jokes. Then, we would usually play a game after dinner (often German spotlight or some other kind of in-the-dark tag game). After that, we would often have a campfire and a cracker barrel as a troop (when I say troop, keep in mind I'm referring to less than a dozen scouts). We would tell stories, make jokes, and eventually head to our tents to go to bed (scouts would choose who they slept with on their own, we usually had brothers/friends sleep in the same tent and usually had 3-5 tents. Occasionally we would pull out the "Taj Mahal", a 12 or so person tent our troop owns, and all the scouts would sleep in that tent. Scouts and adults never slept in the same tent, except rarely if it was father/son or something like that (the adults would usually find a way to sleep in their minivans or SUVs though). The next morning, we would wake up, usually at separate times but around 6-9 in the morning. Someone would start a fire and slowly more and more people would get up. The leaders of the cooking patrol would start breakfast whenever they decided, often having to go wake the members of their cooking patrols to help them out. We would then have breakfast, in the same structure as dinner, and then usually play a game (frisbee, tag, capture the flag, etc.) for an hour or two afterwards. Then we would start to pack up and and have lunch, and would carpool back to the meeting spot after lunch (usually 1-2 pm). From there, everyone would head home, with a full belly, a fun experience, and hopefully a few new requirements under their belt. and that's a successful outing.

 

Our meeting attendance is usually about 80-90% for most scouts, as we have gotten bigger, some scouts attendance is more like 30% or 50%, but most scouts and adults have good attendance.

 

So that is our troop essentially functions. The thing is, we do all of the planning and activities as a group. Which, as I said, isn't really a problem when we had about 6-10 boys in the troop at any given time. Now we have over a dozen scouts, so I suppose my question is, what would forming two patrols look like. It will likely end up being a girls patrol and boys patrol (seeing as that is how the whole of the organization requires it to be). What will having two SPLs look like? Will the boys and girls patrols do all the PLCs together and have all the same monthly themes? Or will they do PLCs separately and have their own monthly themes? If they do plan meetings and have PLCs together and have the same monthly themes, will they do the same activities together? Because that is basically how our troop functions right now, we have grown a lot and haven't changed our structure in accordance with the new growth. Will we go on the same camping trips? Or separate ones? If we do go to the same camping trip, will we eat together and sit around the same fire and play games together or will we try to be as separate as possible?

 I will likely end up talking to my SM and some of the adults leaders about what the best course of action is, I am mostly looking for ideas and trying to get a better understanding here. Thanks for all the replies, unfortunately I don't have the time to give a good reply to every comment, but I really appreciate it.

 

 

Sounds like things are on a good track... except for one thing...

The Committee and adults should not have put you in the position of having to figure out what to do with the girl troop/patrol.  They are supposed to be entirely separate, and choose and run their own program.  But, as you have found, the reality can be quite different.

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Let’s just assume that both both girls and boys like having you as SPL and elect their own PLs. And, they don’t see much point in two SPLs considering how tightly you all operate. You’ll wind up picking an assistant SPL to fill in for you.  (Sticklers to current rules will say their should be two SPLs. Fine. Determine who will make your best female counterpart and run with that. Some would say you need two PLCs. Fine. You’ll be two PLCs who work together. But, if you all are really that tight, you’ll be effectively one PLC. ) You, the ASPL, the two PLs and the two APLs will form a PLC.  Whoever’s scribe will also sit in on meetings and take notes. Your mission is to keep those PLs talking to one another and deciding how they will implement your troop’s program (which sounds like fun,).

Each of those PLs should should help their scouts make patrol-specific plans. This would include the meals for their patrol, what equipment they need, what they will do as a patrol to contribute to the activity. This will impact your meetings as your patrols will need more time to plan stuff and have less time during meetings to work on merit badges.

It’s up to your PLC to decide what parts of an activity they will do as a troop, what will be each patrol’s responsibility, and what things will be patrol competitions.

You’ll learn as you go. But, one thing that will help is how you all set up camp. If you have a big field, a good set-up is with each patrol camp 300 feet apart from each other and the adults. You might meet in the middle as a troop to raise a flag and have troop announcements, but patrols would separate to set up camp, cook, plan a skit or game, etc…

The exact distance doesn’t matter, and safety standards usually mean you should at least be within viewing distance. But the way to imbue patrol spirit is to give them the space to be their own groups. Do this, and you’ll see a lot of the other things come together.

Keep it simple, Have fun!

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On 12/31/2021 at 1:57 PM, IrrationalGoat said:

However, as we've been growing, I have noticed that with about a dozen scouts at every meeting, each scout is getting less participation time and seems less engaged. I often see scouts daydreaming or half-falling asleep during meetings (especially PLCs). I think that implementing the Patrol Method is integral to seeing the troop succeed, but I have no idea how to do that!

One thing that you didn't describe in your description of how your troop operates is how the plc evaluates how much fun the scouts really had. Something I've noticed in my troop is that the plc gets so focused on organizing an event that their definition of success is just having an event run. Whether half the scouts were bored to tears is not noticed. Getting an honest opinion from the scouts isn't as easy as one might hope. One patrol or two, you need honest feedback. 

Boring meetings or campouts usually stem from scouts passively sitting around during the event. Lecturing to teach skills will do that. Making a game of the skill will make it more fun. That takes a lot of effort.

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