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T337SM

How do you use patrol method in a troop thats only as big as a small patrol?

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I am the Scoutmaster of a reorganizing troop.I am not new to scouting just fairly new to being a SM(3 years) but have been all through Tigers to Webelos to Boy Scouts. I am fully trained and was once a scout in a true boy run troop.What I need is ideas and advice on teaching the patrol method to a SMALL TROOP(5 boys).Everyting I read and have been taught is for larger troops.In essence we are starting a new troop,highest rank is almost Star.We have a definite potential to grow with our pack and others.We lost all our older scouts due to reorganizing and attaining the Eagle Rank.We really need to be prepared for New Scouts comming in Feb. Crossover.But teaching JLT to a small group is very difficult.Any help is appreciated.

Scoutmaster Troop 337

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Good question T337SM,

 

Don't let size through you. You can still use the patrol method. Keep in mind what the main points of the patrol method are.

>Elected youth leadership

>boys leading boys

>Adults training the elected and appointed leaders

 

Since you only have one patrol the role of Senior Patrol leader is not needed. Once two patrols are formed include a Senior Patrol Leader position. In the mean time have the patrol elect a patrol leader. have the PL select an assistant. Then have the PL recruit the other 3 boys to be a QM, a scribe, and perhaps a librarian or historian. (don't double up responsibilities, remember they are just learning how to lead to over burden them.

 

Start working with the PL to plan troop meetings and outings. Encourage your scouts tobring in a friend (there is a very sharp new "recruiter" badge available.) I would always give a free pizza coupon to a scout and his new recruit to enjoy together.

 

Recruit an Assistant Scoutmaster to begin working the packs for new recruits in February. When the Webelos join in Feb. make them a New Scout Patrol (or patrols) of 5 to 6 boys (if possible) to match your existing patrol. Now you are on your way. You will be a full troop in no-time.

 

Best of Luck,

Bob White

 

 

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Bob,

Where in BSA Liturature does is say you don't need a Senior Patrol Leader. Page 17 of the Scoutmaster Handbook shows a sample Junior Leader Organizational Chart for a Small Troop which shows a Senior Patrol Leader. Please site your reference on this. Remember, the manuals are always right. We have to give the youth the program from the BSA policies and procedures.

Dancin

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Twice now my troop has contracted from 15 to 4. The contactions a problem but you can still provide good scouting, by taking your troop on the road and joining another troop. I find it's best to join as a separate patrol as this allows for easier returning when your numbers increase. The troop you join can be large or small but if the number of leaders equals the number of scouts, scoutings a breeze. IT's awfully hard to play a successful game with three scouts. Just remember to explain to your parents that it's only tempory and not a merger.

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dancinfox,

Is this really a topic that deserves the anger you are giving it?

 

The SPL's responsibility is to oversee the PLC and to run troop meetings. Troops are the gathering of patrols.

 

This unit only has one patrol. To elect one person to supervise two meetings a month over one person is not the purpose of the Patrol Method. By following the steps I described the unit will operate as a patrol with elected leadership by the boys and every member having a responsibility. That is the Patol Method. (see the Scoutmaster handbook and the Patrol Leaders handbook) once another patrol is added in February, the troop (a gathering of Patrols), can elect an SPL.

 

I hope this clarifies things for you, now take a nap, you seem a bit cranky this morning. :)

 

Bob White

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I agree with Bob White here. I am also a "by the book" kind of guy, but take another look at the example of the small troop, it shows more than one patrol! Not the case here. Sometimes common sense must prevail and you need to take the spirit of the book into account and not the letter. If you have only one patrol, there is no PLC and you really don't have troop meetings, but patrol meetings, therefore, no need for a SPL. We did exactly as Bob White is suggesting in out troop.

 

Also, ian_au has a good suggestion. We too have been trying to do things with other troops and the idea is catching on in my area. Our troop began as T337SM's troop and we were "attached," so to speak, to another troop due to adult leadership issues. This particular relationship didn't work out, but we are planning and doing things with another neighboring troop who also has adult leadership problems. We are also planning to do activities with other small troops in the area.

 

All this is to bring inter-patrol activities as well as inter-troop activities to the boys in an attempt to help them learn and grow.

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I'm not disagreeing with Bob, but in his other postings he always cites the policies and procedures. I do not no of any policy or procedure that says different from the BSA litature. Bob, it is not anger, but conterdiction is not the name of the game. Baden Powell came up with the Patrol method for a reason. Not saying your advice is wrong, because I don't think it is. I just think agknowledgement to the program should be stated.

Dancin,

 

PS: I'm sorry you think that I'm angry.

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Since there is no written policy or procedure for a one patrol troop, those of us that have that situation are left with using the policy and procedures that are in the BSA literature as a guide in how to establish and operate our troops until such a time we can build up to the small troop example you cited. And hopefully we will have enough to fill all the jobs.

 

I know Bob posts the BSA policy, procedures, and literature, but I see it as a good thing.

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dancinfox,

Policies and procedures are cut and dry. Things such as safety, uniforming, advancement, and membership.

 

Methods, such as the patrol method, are program elements that make the BSA program unique among all youth activities. They are both a process and a philosophy. They are structured to the point that without them it is not scouting, but they are flexible to accomodate age levels and group size. They are rigid in the purpose and intent, but they leave a little elbow room to accomodate the individual characteristics of the youth.

 

A good example is the patrol method. Breaking a troop into patrols and assigning leaders is not the patrol method. Boys electing leaders and self governing through those elected leaders is the patrol method.

 

Where you see me get frustrated is not with the leaders who want to know what to do, like T337SM, it is with leaders who say "I know what the program and the handbook say, but I don't do that"

 

T337SM brings up a common concern how smalll is too small, or how big is too big to run the patrol method. The patrol method can work with any number of boys as long as you accept what the BSA's definition of "work" is. The effectiveness of the patrol method is not found in how smooth the troop runs, but in the amout of control and decision making done by the boys.

 

Although there is not a too small there is now in BSA's opinion a too big. It is believed that a troop larger than 60 cannot function properly using the patrol method. (I am sure there are some units out there who may be doing just fine so don't barrage me with with examples) The reasoning behind it is this. We know that a young man can naturally function isn a social group of 6 to 8 boys, a basic patrol. but look at what happens to a troop of 65.

 

Lets say that an SPL, an ASPL and 2 instructors and a JASM. That leaves 60 boys with an average of 7 boys to a patrol this you give you at least 8 patrols. So after 65 the PLC gets too large for a boy too handle comfortably. (Remember that the PLC is like a patrol of patrol leaders with the SPL leading it.)

 

A troop that gets over 65 usually ends up with adults doing too much of the work. An ideal size for the scouting methods to be able to fully function and to allow youth leadership and to have enough adult support and resources is 30 to 60 scouts.

 

I am not thrilled that I am percieved as the stickler for rules on the board. I think it has more to do with the occasional inappropriate advice that has been shared by a few posters, where I felt I had to bring things back to the BSA perspective. I quoted the resource books to show this was not my opinion but the BSA program.

 

Thanks for listening Dancinfox,

Bob

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If the singular patrol troop wants to call the effective SPL a PL or SPL it does not matter much in function. However, I would prefer to call one boy (boy elected) an SPL and also have him serve as PL if he has at least one year of service and obtained 1st Class rank (not required, just my preference). I definately would want an SPL in the troop.

 

Also, be careful about "recruiting" an ASM. Ideally, ASMs are not recruited by the SM; the troop committee (which does not include SM or ASMs) should draw up a potential list of ASMs and then ask (recruit) the individuals to see if they would like position. It is not the SM's task to fulfill ASM positions.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Actually acco40, according to the Troop Committee Guidebook and the troop committee training course the Troop Committee Challenge, The Scoutmaster is the program representative to the troop committee and shares adult recruitment responsibilities with the committee. Although the Committee Chair and Charter Organization Rep. or executive officer do the final approvals, the scoutmaster is expected to help recruit other adult leaders. In addition it is the Scoutmasters responsibility ( in coordination with the Committee Chair) to determine the job function for those leaders.

 

So while I would agree that it is not the responsibility of the SM alone, and that others must approve the individuals he recruits, the Scoutmaster plays a key role in recruiting and developing assistants.

 

Bob White

 

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Ok,guys I wasnt trying to cause a debate on the subject.I know all about the policies and regulations of the BSA.I am a by the book scouter if we deviate from the program its no longer Boy Scouting.Its just truly frustrating trying to teach the patrol method to a small troop.I own literally 200 books on scouting and only lack Woodbadge in my training.

I am just looking for common sense ideas to make my job easier.I have already gotten some ideas but the more info I have the better.

If I really wanted to create a stir I would post my views on allowing GAYS into Scouting......NOT!!!!!!To compromise scoutings morals is an issue that makes my skin crawl,just like deviating from scoutings program,policies,or regulations. Which is not in this scouters vocabulary.If you dont like what or how scouting is run find another organization I say.

But What I need are common sense ideas to help me now and in the near future.Keep sending me your input its good to hear from scouters that have there whole heart into our great organization.I will be adding my input on other subjects and look forward to talking to all of you......

No matter how cranky you are,haha!!

T337SM

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T337SM,

 

If you want common sense, then do what Bob White describes above. I have been doing it for a year or so now and it seems to be working fine.

We are teaching the patrol method, not the troop method. If you teach them to be a patrol now, they will teach it to the new scout patrol later. Then when you have two patrols, you can teach them to be a troop.

 

We do our recruiting from 3 small towns and the 3 surrounding townships, I really don't think I will have enough boys for two full patrols, if I ever have enough for two patrols.

 

If we were to do this strictly "by the book" which has no provisions for one patrol troops, then we would not have our troops, would we? I think the book writers are giving us credit for being able to make the adaptations for this situation. As I said earlier, using the spirit of the book, not the letter.

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Bob White, you are absolutely correct about the Scoutmaster's involvement in recruiting ASMs. I guess that I'm just a little sensitive because many times I see the SMs using the Committee as a "rubber stamp" so often I think many forget the real purposes of the Committee. The Scoutmaster is the program representative to the Committee (but not a member) and does share the responsibility of recruiting with the Committee for adult leaders.

 

I like to tell the new parents that I see the SM as a CEO, the ASMs as VPs, the Committee as a Board of Directors and the parents as the Stockholders. What are the boys many ask, the product of course! I know that that sounds simplistic but it gives a flavor to the new parents about the leaders roles.

 

Getting back to the original question at hand, I think that it is important to have a boy, regardless of troop size, as the main youth interface with the SM & ASM(s). I would call this youth the SPL regardless of troop size but if the troop wants to call him a Patrol Leader because the troop only has one patrol, I have no problem with that as long as the youth know that he is the prime interface with the adult uniformed leaders. Kind of like the US Navy, the leader of the ship is called Captain regardless if he is an Ensign, Lieutenant, Lt. Commander, Commander or a real honest to goodness Captain.

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SPL or PL for the leader

 

In a one patrol troop you don't need both.

 

I called him the PL and he acted as SPL when it came to dealing with the SM and ASM('s). To me Senior Patrol leader implies that there are other Patrol Leaders and he is the top dog.

 

Whatever, T337SM's troop wishes to use, it is their choice, and neither is wrong.

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