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PL for the New Scout Patrol

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Yah, jblake and AvidSM, all I can say is that just like Eagledad, my real, live experience with multiple troops and lots of kids doesn't support da theory. Yeh mostly seem to be just trying to imagine this without actually having any experience with it.


The "treat like slaves" thing tends only to happen in troops where the adults aren't very good at relatin' to kids and teaching the Scout Oath and Law, eh? Has relatively little to do with patrol structure, but it's a bit more prevalent in da troops where the newbies are in the separate, low-prestige group.


The young guys in a mixed patrol know everybody. Why wouldn't they?


With a younger patrol relying on outsiders for support, yeh are essentially breaking the patrol method. Rather than being truly independent, yeh need to insert more adult presence or older-boy-acting-like-adult. With a young PL, yeh have to do it for safety if nothing else.


Yep, in a mixed patrol yeh might have a boy or two who aren't into teaching, but that's OK. Their example and support is still there for learnin' and safety. Just like non-leader followers are valuable, non-teacher leaders are valuable. Remember, there are other ways to learn besides having an adult or TG hold a class. :)





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Well, my experience comes from overseeing the programs of 35 troops - all with differing styles of leadership. The one's in the most trouble get my direct attention and help. Most of which don't use NSP's and are not boy run. That the reality of the situation in my district. Yours may be different.


I am not saying there are no benefits to having mixed patrols - there are. And, I am not saying that there is no downside to NSP's. I am trying to understand what I have been observing as a District Commissioner for over two years now. I used to say that it didn't matter if you used mixed or NSP's. My new perspective has swayed my opinion. In my mind, the balance has tipped away from using mixed patrols as a means of giving the scouts the opportunity to lead, learning to be led and working as a team.


Please understand that I see why certain leaders favor mixed patrols. The subject has come up at our Roundtable discussions and I hear what these leaders are sayinig. These are people are my friends that I have known for many years and I respect their opinions. But they do not have my perspective as a district volunteer.


So, back on the subject of this thread, I would advise my troop leaders to try using NSP's and rotate its PL every month. The reason I would give them is that it maximizes the opportunity for these new scouts to learn to be leaders. It also gives something for the Troop Guide to do - again more opportunity to learn leadership. Some may ignore me and go off and do what they feel like and that is their choice. But, in my mind, I know that these are the troops I need to keep a closer eye on.



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Well, my experience comes from overseeing the programs of 35 troops


Only 35? For only 2 years?


I think yeh need to spend some more time observin' carefully, AvidSM. I think you're probably mixin' up issues of adult leadership with issues of program structure. Of the two, the former are the 800 lb. gorilla, eh? Program only matters in small ways.


I would advise my troop leaders to try using NSP's and rotate its PL every month.


Why would yeh advise 'em to do something completely contrary to the BSA program materials like rotate PLs?


Go back and read "ages and stages", and look at where a 10-11 year old is at.


Then pick up any book about youth and adult leadership. If yeh can find anything anywhere that actually suggests that being rotated through a one-month "leadership" opportunity like what you're talkin' about is a good idea, I'll eat my campaign hat.



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When you rotate every month the PL does not learn to lead, only to boss. Leadership requires trust and that takes time. Rotating a good way to cause a scout to fail. The other scouts will likely react to any unpopular direction from the PL with a, "Whatever, short-timer, I'll be in charge next month". What really happens in the TG or more likely the ASM is really running everything and the scouts learn that the PL is really a powerless figurehead that will be replaced soon. If you use a NSP you should at least allow the PL to be a real Patrol Leader and develop as such. Let the TG be an adviser to the PL but let the PL lead.

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With an older boy at the helm (PL) of the NSP, he can feel free to rotate the boys through the APL position to accomplish the same effect and still mentor and guide each of them through the formative time. TG could be on hand to do assist with that process as well. This way one has boys working with the NSP directly rather than adults who tend to take over and run the show in the NSP.


The adults seem to focus more on advancement than on leadership development because they are leading and it isn't necessary for the boys to do any real leadership at that age. This way, by the time they are FC scouts they have no idea what leadership is and not a problem, the older boys in the troop will show them the ropes, and before you know it, you have 13-15 year old boys with no leadership experience.


But not to worry, the adults have carried that load all along for the boys.



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This way one has boys working with the NSP directly rather than adults who tend to take over and run the show in the NSP.


So instead yeh have the TG/PL take over and run the show. And then rotate an APL through, which as jet describes doesn't accomplish much besides ensure that no boy learns enough to be able to challenge the TG/PL.


How does that develop leadership in the young fellows?


Again, can anybody point me anywhere in da universe that suggests it's possible to learn anything, let alone leadership, by being rotated through a temporary, short-term stint-with-a-title like this? Yeh certainly won't find it in any scoutin' material.

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Boys under 13 do not need "how-to" lessons in leadership.


They learn more from a teenage-hero Patrol Leader who sets the example, than they do from us setting them up for "Controlled Failure."


Words like "leader" and "leadership" have no meaning if the Patrols are not ready to be out on patrol without adult supervision, or at least camping 300 feet apart.


I only used New Scout Patrols whenever a District Commissioner asked me to take over a "Troop in Trouble" (a unit with less than a half-dozen members).


Such Troops are always a mess, so I would go out and recruit 15 new Scouts, put them under the protection of the strongest Scout whom I considered Trustworthy, then pit them against the outnumbered older Scouts in weekly Scoutcraft competitions and dodge ball.


Yours at 300 Feet,






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I got to agree 100% with Kudu's "teenage- hero PL" comment. I will also add Den Chief and SPL to the list.


I know when I joined scouts, the folks I wanted to be like initially was my older Eagle Scout cousin and my Den Chief as a webelos. Then it became my PL, and as a PL it became my SPL. When i came to those positions i would always look to their exampel and think what they about what they did or would do. What's funny is as a leader today I always ask what would my SM do.

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I'll go one futher. I dont think that is productive for a new scout to be a patrol leader, whether on a monthly rotation or a 6 month term. New scouts may like the concept of being designated the "leader", but they didnt join boy scouts to learn to be leaders, they joined to have fun in the outdoors. Putting a lad in a position of being a patrol leader at age 11 for other 11 y.o. scouts provides a dis-incentive to be a leader in the future, when he is ready and able, because the concept of being a leader will be colored with memories of boring PLC meetings and how none of his patrol members listened to him. If thrust upon him too early, it becomes something to be avoided.


Two of the attributes that factor into leadership at that age are age difference and experience. New scouts naturally look up to older boys. They will listen to an older boy when they would not listen a same age peer because they want to be accepted by the older boy, and will tend to follow his lead as a result.


Boys are also more willing to be led by those with more experience than them. They will listen to someone that has had a lot of experience at (insert any activity or skill here) than they will to a same age peer that hasn't had any experience at it.


So right off the bat, the new scout that is designated the leader of the new scout patrol has two huge disadvantages to his leadership activities that would be advantages to a patrol leader in a mixed age patrol.

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I had posted earlier that the PL OR TG could do well with the NSP, but I also added that the QM would work with the boys as would all other boys given the responsibility for troop POR. There would be a lot of hero-mentoring going on, BUT the older boys would be assisting the boys as they took on leadership opportunities and at least had a chance to try it out.


Being in a mixed patrol means those boys would not have an opportunity to try out any leadership until they were well into the program and the older boys aged out leaving leadership voids. By then it is a little late to learn. They should have been learning all along.


As long as the NSP is all under FC rank, why would anyone ever consider putting them out in the field without adults, 300' away from any assistance, and without the tools and experience to even have a remote chance of success. This is why a TG or PL would be necessary to support their efforts and help them develop skills to be able to do just that. So you have this group out on their first campout, the SPL has given them a pep talk, the QM has made sure they have the right equipment, and they head out. They reach camp and the PL says to his newbie APL, "If you were the patrol leader what would be the first thing you need to do?" Okay, then lets get the boys together and do it. Then the PL says, "Okay, what's next?" Okay, then lets get the boys together and do it. etc. I would have the TG there to give assistance to the process and buddy with the PL to make sure they have two-deep mature scouts working with the boys. The PL rotates the boys through the APL position so as to give each one of them a taste of what is necessary to run the patrol. No, they don't run the patrol, but they have two good older boys to refer to and get assistance when they run afoul. By the time they're FC they have some inkling about what it takes to run a patrol. Otherwise, they become champion water-boys and experts in doing dishes, and haven't a clue what it takes to run more than a trip to the pump let alone a patrol as a whole. Whereas they all get a chance to tote water, they also get a chance to run the patrol with the guidance of the two older boys. It's just a more fair playing field for the nurturing of real leadership in my book.


I have a TF scout right now doing an excellent job as DC. He's he right age, crossed over just before last summer. He's progressing through the ranks, he's holding his own even at age 11. I have another boy, just turned 12, fresh out of the orientation period that wants to take on Instructor, another is OA Rep, etc. They have an idea of what the job entails even though they have all gone through the BSA TLT program. However, they all want to try and they all have an opportunity to give it their best shot. That wouldn't happen in a structured mixed patrol where for the next six months any opportunities that come along are all going to the older boys.


I had a FC scout line up the entire Summer Camp logistics, did a nice job and he doubles as the QM for the troop. When it came time to designate an SPL to go to the Camp's SPL meeting, he just assumed that role and no one said a thing about him not being elected and/or vetted by the SM.


Another FC scout took on "Popcorn Chairman" and this year we grossed 3 times as much popcorn sales than we did last year. Taking ownership of the process meant he needed to take responsibility and eventual leadership.


Another of my boys who asked for OA Rep knows who's eligible for membership, those that were short, he prodded them on to get their requirements finished and has lined up the OA presentation and elections already for this year. No one ever asked him to do any of that.


Another boy has a devotion every meeting at opening flags and a closing prayer at closing flags. No one ever asked him if he wanted to be Chaplain's Aide.


One boy always gets there early and gathers everyone up, does a quick uniform inspection, assigns flags and runs the flag ceremony.


Our Christmas party this year was organized, rooms reserved, etc. was set up by the OA Rep.


Swim outing with BSA swim test was organized by the QM, and the Halloween Haunted House activity was set up by the Popcorn Chairman.


At opening flags, with a new opportunity coming our way, I ask, "Who wants to take point on this project?" Normally about half the hands in the group go up!


Strange thing about this whole process is that except for the TF scout that came in this year and is a DC in a wolf den, and last year's Eagle that doesn't participate much anymore, the boys are ALL THE SAME AGE!, a group that came in from a Webelos cross-over 2 years ago. They are all second year scouts.


I have often wondered whether these boys would have accomplished as much growth and development if there had been a few older scouts influencing their enthusiasm. I wonder if any of these boys would have ever had the opportunity to take the lead on anything if they relied on older boys (or adults) all the time to do it for them. Oh, the OA Rep scout has signed the troop up for Philmont in two years. The council contingents were already taken for next summer.


My biggest problem with this whole system? Sometimes I get left out of the loop and they forget to ask SM permission before they take off on one of their activities, like a backpack trip they planned last summer and they had to scramble to get two adults to go along at the last minute. The ASM and his wife that accompanied them camped off by themselves and had a great weekend while the boys did their own thing in the woods.


As a person who believes in equal opportunity for the boys, one doesn't always get that with a mixed patrol.


Your mileage may vary.



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It is possible to successfully teach scouts skills with a NSP. But is it not a setting to teach leadership. That requires a different environment. That might be a mixed age patrol or a patrol of all the same age. But it comes after, in part as a result of, learning what they need to do as scouts. Once that get that then they can start passing that ability on to others and start developing leadership.


"Being in a mixed patrol means those boys would not have an opportunity to try out any leadership until they were well into the program and the older boys aged out leaving leadership voids."


Why? He might need to wait for a SPL, ASPL, TG or PL position but other than that there are lots of opportunities to lead. Shoot, I have a just turned 13, 7th grader who is leading a mixed age patrol with 6th - 9th graders. He is in that position because he does a good job leading. He broke his collar bone wrestling and did not go camping this last weekend. One of the other young scouts stepped up and took his place. The patrol did fine, not because this young man was trained to be a leader (he has not even been to TLT yet) but because he knew what needed to be done and made sure that the patrol had it all covered.

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As long as the NSP is all under FC rank, why would anyone ever consider putting them out in the field without adults, 300' away from any assistance.


So we all agree that a NSP is not a "real" patrol, because those are things that a real patrol would do. A NSP is a Webelos 3 den, with an adult Den Leader (ASM-NSP) and a more active Den Chief (TG). :p


Being in a mixed patrol means those boys would not have an opportunity to try out any leadership until they were well into the program ... They should have been learning all along.


I just don't get da "rotate" and "try out leadership" bit. Leadership is somethin' that develops with practice.


For those who actually have experience with mixed age patrols, yeh recognize that the middlin' age boys really do develop and practice increasing levels of leadership all throughout their time in scouting. They're the ones as second-year scouts who are showin' the first year scouts how to set up a tent or givin' 'em tips on the side about how to keep their gear dry. As a third-year scout they're the ones who take a new fellow under their wing as sous-chef at dinner, teachin' dutch oven technique or how to do stir fry without makin' a mess. As a fourth-year APL they're the ones takin' lead on hikes while the PL takes sweep, and helpin' the PL out in his planning and PLC duties. They don't have to wait until they're eventually chosen as a TG to start leadin' and teachin'.


Meanwhile, in da same-age setup, the lad is sitting around waiting for his eventual turn at leadership. His same-age buddies don't need his help. If there's a strong (or just more popular) same-age PL who likes the job, the lad might never get to lead unless the adults force a leadership "rotation"... or push da SPL to create a token job like Librarian in a digital age. If eventually he does rotate into a position, he's either tryin' to lead peers, which is hard, or to lead younger guys without having built up experience workin' with younger guys, which is hard.


Granted, this is less of a problem for a small unit like jblake's than for a larger troop.


The PL rotates the boys through the APL position so as to give each one of them a taste of what is necessary to run the patrol.


This quote I think is da difference in a nutshell.


In an adult-directed troop, the adults are all about giving kids "tastes" and "experiences". That was a great experience! A MB should be a "taste" of a discipline.


In a youth-run, patrol-method troop, it's all about the kids becoming experienced. Look what I can do, on my own! A MB should demonstrate proficiency, not just be a taste, because that's what's required to be on their own.


Gettin' the boys to be experienced takes a lot more time and practice, eh? It needs to be a longer-term Patrol Leader Development project, not a 3-hour TLT where yeh give 'em job descriptions and a taste of da structure. And a lot of that is about observation, not instruction. Yeh learn a lot more effectively that way.


And that's uncomfortable for most adults. We feel more comfortable being the teacher or the Wizard of Oz. The PL whispers to the APL "what should we do next"... the SPL whispers to the PL "what should we do next"... the SM whispers to the SPL "what should we do next?". Whisper from behind the curtain and let your mouthpiece youth "leader" talk. Yeh can seemingly do a lot that way, eh? The youth are up front, but we're still instructing.


Now jblake describes a fine unit, eh? What I would call a strong scouting program, youth led, and patrol method in many things. I expect his kids really do become experienced at some things, eh? Still adult directed (but youth run) in others. One in which the adults and older scouts teach classes and instruct to bring up the younger fellows in a troop-method style, and then the (older) patrols can camp patrol-method style.


That's the big point, eh? The troop provides the instruction and resources that the young fellows need, not the patrol. The patrol can eventually be on its own for some things, like camping.... but it can't be on its own for training or being responsible for new members. That's something restricted to adults and adult mouthpieces. Those "patrol yells" and identities don't get passed down by one patrol member to another.


Often times such patrols even when they hit high adventure are still in the "have experiences" rather than "become experienced" mode, eh? High adventure is really just another way for the adults to stay in charge of instruction, to whisper "what's next?" in da ear of the PL.


Fine program, great kids. One I would recommend. But I'd gently encourage 'em to consider moving beyond troop method for instruction as well as activity.


[Edited to add: Doubled with Eagledad's post. Hee hee, wasn't meanin' to be discourteous. Probably should have just smiled and moved on, eh? :) I'm just passionate about this scoutin' stuff, and want so much to help people see somethin' new. Downright stubborn about it, I am. My bad!](This message has been edited by Beavah)

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