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You know that "train them, trust them, let them lead" phrase? What do you do when you have adults who just don't seem willing to follow through on the 2nd and 3rd parts of it?


Background to this question: We had a group of our middle/older scouts form a venture patrol (currently all aged 13-15, ranks 1st Cl-Life). They went on an overnight backpacking hike recently. 8 boys. 6 adults. 4 of the adults had sons participating, the other 2 adults are a former SM who likes hiking and the Venture Patrol advisor. This is pretty typical turnout for their events, both in terms of participants and the adult/youth ratio. On this hike frustration abounded from the sound of it. Granted, one or two of the boys can be handfuls and apparently lived up to their usual reputation. But beyond that, the reports I'm getting are that the boys got frustrated by being forced to travel at the slower pace of the adults and at constantly being told what to do (by any one of 6 adults). From what I hear, the adults were frustrated by the boys' less-than-efficient pace at cooking and camp chores, and constant running ahead of the group while hiking. 2 parents hovered un-necessarily over their sons (which is routine for them). The patrol leader voiced the objection (apparently to all of the adults present, perhaps less-than tactfully) that it was impossible to try to lead with so many people telling them what to do, to which the response was apparently that the boys WEREN'T leading and therefore NEEDED to be told what to do. Sort of a chicken/egg situation, depending on whose perspective you start from.


Hmm. So personally, I have a frustrated teen son who wonders why he's doing this. He's in the venture patrol to get a chance to do more, not to have his hand held by all of these adults. Beyond that, I wonder exactly how you get through to adults who just don't seem willing to let go and trust the boys to actually lead. It isn't that I don't appreciate the time they give to the boys, but there's a point where you have to let them do things quasi-independently too, and I don't see much of that in the troop, or in the venture patrol.

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I see this all the time and occasionally I am guilty of not letting my scouts lead. As for the situation your son finds himself in maybe a reflection with All the parties involved could be a way to clear the air. With a disinterested third party as mediator. Leaders usually hold older scouts to a higher level; more freedoms, more mature judgement, etc... And teenage boys usually have a different idea of what is and what isn't important. If their patrol advisor sat with them before their next outing and explained what is expected, while letting the scouts voice their concerns about leading then maybe common ground can be found. Kind of a Code of Conduct for the trail and camp.


As for the hovering parents the advisor should make it clear in no uncertain terms that the boys are his to correct and teach, not Mom or Dad. As for tact on the part of a the Patrol leader that is something that is learned through experience and even some adults do not exercise it. The ASM/Advisor should have had a little discussion with the patrol to clear things up prior to them getting out of hand and getting to the point that they did.





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A 4:3 ratio is a little overboard. Here are my suggestions.


1) Venture patrol discuss the problem of too many adults at their meeting and bring it to their adviser's attention. That way if the troop isn't youth run, as it sounds, the Venture ASM (is that still a specific POR?), can make bring the problem to the committee and rectify it there. If the troop is youth run, I would also bring it up to the PLC, so that it is noted and rectified properly.


2) When they plan their next activity make a more detailed plan/schedule, including timing and pace if possible. That way if adults do come along, the scouts can complain about the adults not keeping to the schedule if they are too slow. Also the adults can judge of themselves if they can keep the pace or not.


3) Limit the number of adults!!! This is where the Venture ASM needs to take a firm stand if need be. have the youth invite the adults they want, and make sure that the adults understand that they are GUESTS of the Venture patrol and that the PL is in Charge and no one else.


yes it's hard giving them their freedom, but you got to do it or the older ones will lose interest.

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This thread makes the case for allowing a patrol to hike without adults along...as 1st class to Life scouts, they should be capable of taking on and carrying out a patrol activity without any adults there to "lead", "hover" or get in the way of the BOY LEAD end we should be working towards.


Before any pundits bring up G2SS...patrol activities that are SM approved and dont hinder or conflict with troop activities are indeed allowed and should be strongly encouraged...this is Boy Scouts after all...read the strip embroidered over the right pocket...it does NOT say "Adult Scouts of America"....yet

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If the adults noticed any safety issues (the running ahead may count), or are concerned about specific skills (if their cooking/cleaning approach could lead to food poisoning, for example), then they can point them out to the PL. Otherwise, they should back off as per kraut-60.


If there are maturity issues involved, or concerns, then send the patrol out with just, say, the former SM and the advisor. Have an explicit "no parents allowed" trip - and make sure it's coming from the Scouts, loud and clear. Then transition to patrol-only treks.


I understand and appreciate parents' wanting to be involved in their sons' activities. Heck, we need more of that! But if the Scouts themselves are saying "Hey, I got this, it's cool" - then the parents and adults would do well to pay attention.

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I'm wondering why the adults felt the need to go?

Maybe they all got new hiking stuff from Santa?


Someone needs to have a chat with the SM.

I'm thinking maybe your son with maybe some support from you.

It would be great if before the meeting if the Venture Patrol got together and had a written plan of an activity that was adult free. (Maybe allowing adults to drop them off and pick them up.

Hit the SM with the plan, menu and as much preplanned stuff as they can think of. Maybe a nice Mom might give the plan a quick look over if it happened to be left out?

If your son explains the frustration that he is feeling, I would hope that the SM would be willing to take on the battle with his ASM's (The Venture Patrol is part of the Troop.)

If the SM is unwilling to allow the activity? I think it is something that the Troop Committee needs to look at and be aware of.

The down side of course is that the "Needy Parents" are not going to let go and very well might not allow their son's to attend. Worse case scenario being that there just isn't enough participation or the activity to happen.

This might be a good time to take a look at the Crews in your area and talking to the youth in these Crews to see what they are doing and how they do it.


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I like the responses that the surplus adults on the trip need to understand that they are there 1) for their own interests 2) for the safety of the youths. This may be clear to frequent users of these forms but to an involved parent who has been on most of the outings they probably have a different perception of their role in the troop. Good luck correcting that one.


With the wisdom of hindsight: I would have separated into two hiking groups. My first choice would be one with just youths hiking and one with just adult hiking. Then pick points on the trail for rendezvous (at the ravine, a trail intersection, campsite). If that ratio didn't work (because the parents cried foul) pick one or two of the faster and quieter adults to go with the youths.


Walkie talkies can smooth out some concerns. But realistically unless we are talking highly technical climbing or cliff walking, being two miles down a footpath in the woods is no great danger.


The scout who spoke up good for him. The other adults saw what he was seeing and did not do enough to stop the overbearing parents. He had to do the adviser's job and it wasn't pretty.






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What totally amazes me with this whole system is how adults are viewing the situation as even remotely boy-led. What LisaBob points out (as well as some of the responses support) indicate that this adult-led patrol is the core of the problem and much of the advise given on the forum deals only with the symptoms and not the problem.


What amazes me is the insight LisaBob makes at the end! It hits it dead-on, identifies the problems, offers and proposes a solution The son is frustrated, envisions quitting, knows the adults interfere, and so what's the point of a venture patrol or even a troop? I totally agree with the boys on this one, they are 100% correct and the adults will eventually insure that the boys won't be able to do anything about it.


6 adults for 8 boys on a patrol activity? especially a venture patrol activity? Unbelievable!!! Before those 14 people got in the car I would have wagered big money things wouldn't work out! 4 parents? Get real! Patrol Advisor!!? The deck is so loaded against these boys it's an unbelievable embarrassment. But it gets better, 1 or 2 boys can be handfuls! So now the adults can justify their need to be along and interfering. The boys lived up to their reputation? Sure, it's still a world of adults telling them what to do. If left alone, boys in their own groupings behave differently! The boys were frustrated throughout the entire activity because of the adults, parents hovered, PL tried to step up to the plate and take the reins and was shot down by the adults.


The answer to the solution is simply quit being an adult-led program. There are so many adult-led clues in this one paragraph it is unbelievable.


What LisaBob needs to do is sit down and explain to their son that although the words coming out of the scout leaders' mouthes say boy-led, there isn't one ounce of truth to it. Once he realizes this he will automatically become less frustrated. Explain to him that having a venture patrol, having leadership positions, etc. are just puppet positions through whom the adults, including stray parents, can run the show.


DO NOT be surprised to find that older as time progresses boys in this situation will seek other more enjoyable activities that are conducive to their interests probably outside of scouting. Ever wonder why the boys want to do the computer thingy? Because adults aren't involved. Advise him to get his Eagle asap so that he won't miss out on that. He's never going to get a chance to use that rank until he becomes a SM as an adult.


Obvious clues that this is an adult-led program:


1) 8:6 ratio of boys to adults

2) Majority of adults were hovering parents

3) Venture patrol advisor (as if the boys can't do it without adult help)

4) The setup was "typical".

5) Boys were immediately frustrated (expectations were false)

6) 1 - 2 boys are handfuls so it justifies the adult presence

7) Adults held the boys back by the adult pace, thus the boys' leadership was immediately challenged.

8) Leadership was totally usurped: Told what to do by the adults

9) Boys didn't meet adult standards of camp cleanliness

10) Hovering parents were allowed to take over the program as they saw fit

11) Patrol leader objected by was silenced by the entire adult leadership.

12) Adults made it clear who was really running the show

13) Adults explained these boys were too immature and needed to be told what to do.

14) No chicken/egg thing here, it's all 100% adult-led right from the start.

15) Even the explanation starts from the adult perspective

16) the boys are frustrated and want to quit (and I, 100%, don't blame them! I eventually did!!!)

17) There is no trust being conveyed to the boys by any of the adults

18) Venture patrol is not a venture patrol, just a patrol of older boys that do things that adults can run

19) One does not "get through to the adults" at this point. This is an adult-led program.

20) Youth leadership is not seen in the troop or the venture patrol because it doesn't exist!


This is why after 13 years with my previous troop, I personally had to leave. I saw this scenario being acted out over and over again, boys leaving, and adults making excuses as to the boys' weren't mature enough to stick it out. Sorry I don't buy this program one iota.


Let's look at this from a boy-led perspective.


1) the adults should not have been there in the first place.

2) ...?


Hmmm, I guess that sums it up pretty well. Take the adults out of the matrix and none of the things that LisaBob mentioned would have been a problem.


This troop and patrol must first realize that their problem is not the kids, but the adults! Until that happens, nothing is going to change. I tried for 13 years to make changes, it doesn't work if you're an adult, it truly isn't going to work if your a kid!


It's time for the adults to quit justifying their interference and start working seriously on a boy-led program before it's too late for these boys.






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Our venture patrol did their first no adult backpack late last fall. They had a tremendous time. Gave a troop report at the following meeting. Raised some eyebrows of the young scouts parents. Unfortunately, they haven't planned the next one, but band and sports are keeping them busy. The genesis for the first trip was them grousing about having the little kids and adults at camp outs. I suggested they do their own thing without adults. They said "WHAT? We can do that?" I told them all they needed was a plan and SM approval. They got it done. I hope this spring, they do another one.


Now most of those guys are the core of our venture crew too and we have girls who joined. So the rules change and if the girls go, we need co-ed adult participation at camp outs. If not, they are welcome to trek away without me and my wife.

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One other solution Lisa, is to have the adults work as their own patrol. Hike in the same area, but not at the same time (say 1-2 hours behind) and camp well away from each other (at least 1 mile). Have predefined rendezvous points, like the campsites, in case of an emergency. But during the hike, neither patrol sees the other. Meet back up at the trailhead.


This will give the boys the feeling that they are on their own, and the adults a sense of control they wish not to relinquish.

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>>With the wisdom of hindsight: I would have separated into two hiking groups. My first choice would be one with just youths hiking and one with just adult hiking. Then pick points on the trail for rendezvous (at the ravine, a trail intersection, campsite). If that ratio didn't work (because the parents cried foul) pick one or two of the faster and quieter adults to go with the youths.

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I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive allowing my son to go on the patrol backpack. But I fought back my instincts and kept encouraging him. I knew he could handle it and that the boys he was leading could too. But he's a type one diabetic and its always on your mind that he could have a medical emergency at anytime. But we've trained him to handle it and his buds too. Doesn't eliminate the dangers. Life is full of dangers.


I tell you though, I think I was more satisfied when the boys returned than they were. I felt as though we really accomplished something on taking the next step to self sufficiency. In my mind, that's the epitome of scouting. Demonstrated self sufficiency, not parlor scouting. I think I've become a Kudu convert.

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LisaBob writes:


"You know that "train them, trust them, let them lead" phrase? What do you do when you have adults who just don't seem willing to follow through on the 2nd and 3rd parts of it?"


Well Lisa, you have gotten lax about prefacing your threads with the disclaimer that you do not want to hear about Scouting when it actually WAS boy-led, so let me point out the OBVIOUS :)


The aphorism "Train em, Trust em, Let em Lead!" is attributed to William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt. When he says "Train 'em" he is talking about HIS training. You know, his PATROL LEADER TRAINING course which was destroyed when Leadership Development was invented in 1972.


So the OBVIOUS answer to your question is that if you limit your Patrol Leaders to the official training, then you have NOT trained your Patrol Leaders to the standard of the man who invented the phrase that you quote.


The first part of the equation is missing!


The GOAL of his "Patrol Leader Training" is to train Patrol Leaders how to take their Patrol on Patrol Hikes WITHOUT adult supervision.


BUT the goal of "Troop Leader Training" is to teach generic "Troop Leaders" how to "make ethical and moral choices."


The METHOD of his "Patrol Leader Training" is to plan a Patrol Hike and then go on a Patrol Hike with the Scoutmaster, plan a Patrol Overnight (an extended Patrol Hike) and then GO on a Patrol Overnight with the Scoutmaster. Then take it home to your Patrol and YOU, the Patrol Leader, act like your Scoutmaster did.


BUT the method of "Troop Leader Training" is to teach junk manager theory like "Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable."


That is why the fake solution to every problem with adults is to "Ask him or her to share a cup of coffee." Scouting sounds complicated only because we have boldly substituted values and abstract ideas for REAL leadership based on SCOUTCRAFT SKILLS.


A Scout should be trained BEFORE you "trust 'em." And I mean trained old-school.


The same goes for adult training, of course. The "PATROL METHOD" SESSION of Scoutmaster & ASM position-specific training does not even MENTION a Patrol Leader, and it never mentions a Patrol without the constant drumbeat that a Patrol is the SAME as a Troop and/or any other group, as in "patrol/troop/group."


So really your question should be, "What do you do when you have adults who just don't seem willing to follow through on the first part of "Train em, Trust em, Let em Lead?"


You COULD start with the Patrol Leader Training Course that the "Train 'em" refers to:




BUT if you don't want to bother spending six months training the disposable Patrol Leaders that you are going to get rid of in six months anyway, then one work-around for making the transition from adult-led to boy-led is:


1) Divide the Patrol or Patrols into pairs of buddies (or in challenging territory, groups of four members), according to their walking speed.


2) The first pair MUST include the Scout with the best SCOUTCRAFT SKILLS (which in an adult-led Troop is usually NOT a Patrol Leader).


3) This lead Scout and his buddy waits at every fork in the trail until the next group arrives before proceeding down the correct trail, then the second group waits for the third before taking off, and so on. Each fork is a good place to have the preceding group challenge the next group to find their actual position on the map and point out the direction they should go.


4) The fastest adults find some way to walk at their own pace BUT stay AWAY from the Scouts on the trail. The slowest adults (like me now in my old age) act as "sweep" and remain 300 feet behind the slowest Scouts.


5) Adults camp separately from the Scouts. Baden-Powell's 300 feet is far enough when making the transition from adult-run to Scout-run.


In challenging deep wilderness areas, we sometimes use radios WITH EAR BUDS, with the admonition to transmit only in an emergency.


Remember that Leadership Development has ALWAYS been the enemy of the skills-based position-specific training of "Train em, Trust em, Let em Lead," as in:


In general, Patrol Leader training should concentrate on leadership skills rather than on Scoutcraft Skills. The Patrol will not rise and fall on the Patrol Leader's ability to cook, follow a map, or do first aid, but it very definitely depends on his leadership skill (Scoutmaster's Handbook [1972], page 155).


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