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PL for the New Scout Patrol

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Yah, it's been a while since we talked about this one.


In da parent thread, acco writes for the New Scout Patrol:


Each Scout should get a chance to be patrol leader for 30 days (not elected but rotated).


While that's actually not part of the BSA materials anywhere, that does seem to be a notion that comes up on the forums a fair bit. By contrast, Eagledad suggests not bothering with a new scout as a patrol leader, but instead using an over-15 TG in that role. Then of course there's the BSA materials that suggest the PL should be elected and serve just like any other patrol leader. And probably a few more permutations to boot!


So if yeh use New Scout Patrol(s) in your troop, how do you set up the boy leadership for 'em? And what do yeh find to be the advantages and disadvantages of your approach?




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I think that if you're going to have a NSP, you need to have an active TG, and dispense with Patrol leader. My son's NSP had an elected patrol leader, and it was not a good thing. He was elected because he had been a Boy Scout for a few months before the rest of the NSP crossed over. His Scout skills were probably less than most of the other boys. If I were SM (instead of fairly new Advancement chair), I would redivide the troop. I'm not a big fan of the same aged patrols we have.

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My only point of reference was from when I was a Scout.


In retrospect, the Patrol that I was placed into was the "New Scout Patrol", but it wasn't called that. But it was made up mostly of new scouts. There were about five 6th graders which, at the time, was the normal age for joining. I was the only one who had been in Webelos, so I was still in 5th grade.


One member was a mature 7th grader, who was either First Class or Star at the time. He was the natural leader of the group. I don't know if he had been elected (the patrol was in existence when I joined), but had there been an election, he would have been the obvious choice.


It worked out so well, that I assumed every troop did it that way. After a year or so, we were no longer the "New Scout Patrol". Our Patrol Leader moved on to other things (I think he became SPL), and one of the "new scouts" (me) became the Patrol Leader.


Generally, Scouts were members of Patrols until about 9th Grade. After that, they generally became a member of the "Leadership Corps", which I understand is about the same as the "Venture Patrol" these days.


It worked out pretty well--we were mostly inexperienced, so we mostly had to muddle through things ourselves. But we also had one leader who was very competent and experienced, so we were able to keep the muddling to a minimum.


I think the main reason it worked out so well was that the Scoutmaster had the wisdom to put this particular experienced scout in with the new Tenderfoots. Chances are, most other Scouts, even if they were a couple of years older, wouldn't have done as good a job. But in this case, the chemistry was just right, and it allowed us newbies to develop into competent scouts, and it also gave our Patrol Leader an opportunity to turn into an excellent leader.

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I like the idea of switching NSP PL's once a month. The advantage is it exposes more new scouts to the PL position and how a boy-led troop operates. Yes, there are the organizational disadvantages, like keeping track of who is in charge of that patrol. And every month you have to get the new PL spun up on what he needs to know - but that's the job of the over-15 TG assigned to that NSP.


As I see it, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Having new scout Patrol Leaders with fully functioning Troop Guide maximizes the exposure of the scouts to leadership situations. From my perspective, troops without NSP's are typically not boy-run and have more leadership issues and retention problems. The adult leaders of these troops do not like NSP's because they would be too much work for them. It's much easier to put the new boys in existing patrols with mixed ages and ranks.


The only way a scout can learn how to make the right decisions is to be put in a position of resposibility and then allowed to make decisions - right or wrong. Hopefully with a good TG providing guidance, the mistakes are so big that they spoil the fun.



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When I used New Scout Patrols, I tried to snag my best ex-SPL for the position.


Once I picked our Eagle Scout high school football hero, of whom all the new sixth-grade Scouts already knew by reputation.


Another time the best man for the job was an older "Emo" Scout, a NYLT Staffer whose blond hair was dyed black at the time. The new Scouts already knew of him by reputation as well: For his after-school fights and perennial detention :)


Both were remarkably nurturing leaders, and both would get embarrassed by the younger boys' outspoken admiration.


Yours at 300 Feet,




One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction.





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The Troop I served has tried some of the methods mentioned here (been there, done that, mostly not successful) .... but seems to return to an experienced TG for PL duties for the 1st 4 months (which carries it to Troop elections right after Summer Camp). There's usually at least 2 camp outs before summer camp.. It's a good idea if the TG (usually he's a seasoned 1st Class/Star) goes to camp (I'd like to offer him a Troop discount on camp, but we haven't had the funds). We seem to have the ~14-15+ aged boys going for Camp staff or Council NYLT by then.


Most of the NSP have advanced past Tenderfoot up into 2nd Class.


In the ~4 months, 2 NSP members get to go to the PLC's with the TG at least once or more.


They are now ready for the next Troop JLT and usually there is 1 or 2 wanting to lead by then.






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This is one time where I certainly agree with Kudu.


A friend was doing a start-up troop from the ground, about 7 years ago.


He realized he needed experienced Scouts to be role models for the 20-odd Tenderfeet he was going to absorb. He asked my son to be start-up SPL.


Too bad my sons' mother refused to concede "her night" with my son. Opportunity lost...


The object is what Kudu said: Get experienced Scouts and let the young ones see what's going on. There's nothing wrong in letting TG/NS PL take his Tenderfoot APL to PLC, and have him learn by observing...

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//When I used New Scout Patrols, I tried to snag my best ex-SPL for the position. //


I never had to snag them, they volunteered. I dont know why but ex- SPLs just really enjoyed working with young scouts.




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We have just changed our Patrol's from same age to mixed age groups. With that change we've had to change how our NSP is set up with now distributing boys to the other patrols when their 1st year is up. Here is what we came up with at our ASM meeting on Sunday.


1. We will form a first year patrol or patrols (FYP) as needed 2 ASMs will be assigned to the FYPs

2. These boys will stay in the patrols from the time they join until the 2nd April (approximately 12-14 months) or until they reach the rank of 1st class.

3. At the point of reaching 1st Class they will be moved to an existing patrol or they will be a part of a new patrol formed from the whole of the troop. This admittance to a patrol will be a big deal with the patrol leader receiving this boy into the patrol In front of the troop by presenting him with a patrol patch and the Scout handshake. These boys will be assigned per the SM with the advice of the ASMs particularly the ASMs of the First Year Program.

4. The SM will assign 2 Troop Guides per FYP who will work with this patrol for the approximately first 6 months of the First year, from December or following that when the first boys join the troop from Webeloes until their first summer camp. The SM to select and assign these TGs.

5. The Troop Guides will act as the Patrol leader for the about the first 3 Months or so then they will work as an advisor to the Patrol leader of the First year scouts. (the First year scouts will rotate the patrol leader position monthly for the time that they are in the FYP.



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Now I admit I am not a fan of the NSP's as when my troop did it the first go around officially, it didn't work and we lost 1/3 of the patrol as they were not progressing as when they were mixed in with the other patrol. Then when we unoffically had a new scout patrol, a brand new troop of one patrol of freshly crossed over scouts was meeting and camping with us until they could go out on their own, the same problems occured, and didn't get fixed until we merged together and they were mixed into existing patrols.


That said I do want to hear ideas on how other work it out. So please keep this going and THANK YOU!


Now I do have a few questions, some based upon expereince, some observation.


1) Wouldn't it be better to have the SPL appoint both a PL and APL for the NSP? I know that when I was the PL of the NSP, yes I was the guy who lost 1/3 of his patrol in a year, I had difficulty working with all the scouts? Being boy run, there was no ASM to help, and while I did go to my SPL, and did get assistance from the older scouts, we didn't really have the buddy system used in the mixed age patrol,i.e. pairing an older scout to work with the younger ones.


2) How do you integrate older scouts working with the younger ones? Again we had older patrol members helpign out the younger ones by using the buddy system within the patrol. It allowed the younger scout one-on-one contact and learning, and provided a chance for the "older" scout to develop some teaching and leadership skills, while keeping is scoutcrqft skills up to date, if not improving.


3) How do you keep the NSP up to speed with the rest of the troop? By that I mean I have observed NSPs taking a lot longer to do activities, i.e. setting up camp, cooking, KP, etc, and for some activities the rest of the troop is waiting on them to finish.


4) Now this next part will be reposted in the LA Times on Safety side, so please bear with me. How does having a patrol of inexpereinced, or low expereinced scouts working together imrpove safety? When I did my HA trip in Canada, the troop was divided into 4 mixed age patrols. The patrols were designed so that folks could work with each other, mixing scouts of various skills and abilities so that overall the patrols as a whole were all comparable. No "gung ho" patrol that would race ahead to the next campsite and veg, and no "struggling" patrol that was last to arrive in camp, last to set up, last to eat, and last to leave in the morning. Within the patrol we were buddied up, with the most skilled working with the least skilled on down to both buddies being equal.


Again I am interested in what other do and ideas on how it can work. I'll be honest, you may not convert me over to the NSP idea, but one cartoon use to say "Knowledge is power."


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Our new scouts can decide to do it one of two ways.


1) Select a PL from their ranks and request an older boy of their choosing as their TG to help them in the start up process. Boys are warned that this will reduce their opportunity for leadership development within the patrol members. The TG will help guide the PL in running the patrol. He may not have sufficient natural leadership to be able to progress rank and develop leadership in the APL position at the same time.


2) Select a PL from the older boys of their choosing. The PL then rotates the boys through the APL position whereby they learn leadership from the older PL who leads the patrol and develops the leadership at the same time. No TG is needed.


One of the two methods is selected by the patrol and the patrol can recommend their choice of leadership to the SM who will decide what's best for the boys considering their choice in method.


An older boy PL will need to leave his current patrol and align himself with the new scouts. An older TG will not need to leave the Officer patrol do assist the NSP, but he may have to leave his regular patrol to align himself with the Officer patrol.


The SM needs to evaluate all these factors for assigning leadership to the patrol. If a boy is promoted to PL of the NSP, he will need to leave behind his other responsibilities if he has any to take on the task. Not everyone is open for that. A TG would conceivably move from a patrol to the Officer patrol and operate from that support position. Both may entail leaving behind their buddies in their patrol in order to take on a focused approach to the NSP.


Your mileage may vary.



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How does having a patrol of inexpereinced, or low expereinced scouts working together imrpove safety? When I did my HA trip in Canada, the troop was divided into 4 mixed age patrols.


Yah, this is da main reason why I think NSPs tend to be used only by troops that predominantly do trailer-based car campin'.


If you're doin' harder stuff, yeh can't put 8-10 inexperienced, immature boys together. Even with a good TG or ASM, all it takes is for one or two of 'em to have "issues" that require the ASM's undivided attention and suddenly all the rest are loose and unsupervised/unsupported. Like in the LA Times case, eh? The SM stays at the back with the slowest fellow, and the others get ahead and get into trouble.


Only way to avoid da problem is to run "classes" where all the boys in da patrol sit around while one or two boys try the activity, supervised one-on-one. That's what often happens for cooking, eh?


For troops that don't do as much car/trailer/cabin camping, the mixed-age patrols help ensure that there's enough peer-experience and peer-supervision, and fewer "weak" lads together, so as to be safe.




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1) Why would the NSP be heading out on any activity they are not pre-trained to handle?


2) Why would the NSP be heading out on any advanced activity the are not experienced/trained to handle?


Sounds a bit like cart-before-the-horse kind of attitude on the part of the adult leaders. Surely in the interest of safety, these things would not be allowed in the first place.


I'm thinking allowing the NSP on wilderness survival weekend is a rather stupid idea in the first place. There should be a wee bit of SM approval for the boys to do patrol activities whether it be with or without adults. It's a judgment call the SM needs to be responsible for.


Just because the Webelos boys crossed over on Sunday afternoon, does not mean they are going on the troop outing (car camping or not) the following weekend. Sending a boy out there without some T-FC training is rather irresponsible in terms of safety in my estimation.


Your mileage (and risk level) may vary.




By the way... Even if the troop is using mixed boy patrols, putting young boys out in the field without proper training is irresponsible. At least with NSP's, all the boys of the patrol would be left at home until they were trained, not just a few from each patrol, whereby cutting the effectiveness of all the patrols in the troop.(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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Ok maybe the HA trip example I gave is not the best one I could have used. And obviously you don't take inexpereinced and/or ill prepared scouts on a HA activity.


The point I was trying to make is that by having a mixed age patrol, you can have the more expereinced work with the lesser expereinced on a one-to-one basis. The older scout can help the younger one prepare better for the trip, learn the skills, etc. Also in reference to safety, my opinion, and again this is my opinion, it's better to have a few guys that have mastered the basic scoutcraft skills like first aid in a patrol campsite 300' away from the SM who can provide first aid while the younger guys get help, than a NSP 100' away from with only 1 scout having the basic skills mastered. If something were to happen to him, it would take a little time to get help. Grant you not much, but some.



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