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Bob White

The Patrol Method

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I would like some help in coaching my SPL in preparation for the PLC

 

It seems like we just repeat the meeting right now.

How do I take a SPL and move him from a puppet to a leader?

 

The leader in question has gone to timeberline

 

bear155scout

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Hi Bear155Scout

 

The SM needs to try and train the SPL so well that he the SM is not needed at the meetings. Of course he has to attend some of the meetings to know what is going on and to learn where the SPL is struggling. But an attitude of not having to be there forces the SM to train the SPL to be independently skills to run the meetings. I sometimes give the SPL the impression that I hated the meetings and didnt want to be there. That goes along with my belief that the best SM is a lazy SM.

 

So, start off small, teach him how to write a meeting agenda. I have found that the performance of the troop program is a direct relationship of how the agenda was presented to the PLC. Or not presented if you know what I mean. It seems our SPLs got in a pattern where they would use the agenda for the first two months when they were new at the job and the meetings would follow as well. Then next two months they would ignore a written agenda and go by memory. They would forget things here and there and the meetings started struggling as well. The wise old SM only needs to ask one question after the meeting to get the SPL thinking. It seem like the SPL in his last two months would start using the Agenda to get the program on track.

 

Let the SPL run the meeting. Part of Scout Mastering is allowing the scout to see his failings in leadership skills. IF he can't control the meeting, then let him loose control of the meeting. After the meeting, sit down and ask what happen. Allow him to humble himself into saying he needs more guidance. If he is having trouble controlling misbehaving scouts, then teach him two, at most three ideas to help him deal with the problem. I say two, because really that is all they can remember on the spot. Something like asking the scout once to behave and then to leave the room the second time. Ask him to go speak to the SM and explain what he was doing. Don't raise your voice or act angry. Just ask him to leave. I'm sure there are a lot of other ideas on this forum. Suggest he try these ideas at the next meeting.

 

Give the SPL some room. Leave the room for a few minutes at each meeting allowing the scouts to get use to no adults. Not too much at first, but the better he gets, the longer you stay out of the room. My goals were to not be in the meeting at all in the SPLs last month of leadership unless I had adult announcements or something. Give him the Troop.

 

Take all other adults out of the room and let them listen from the hallway. Adults are intimidating and really change the confidence of the scouts running the meeting. Teach the adults to ask the SPL for permission to be in the room, and then really only to present their subject.

 

Always have a meeting with him before he leaves for home. Ask him how it went first. Allow him to point out the successes and failures. Then ask him some questions that will get him thinking other ideas for the next meeting. Teach him to succeed, allow his performance motivate him to seek more guidance.

 

Finally, the BSA suggests one PLC meeting a month. Our troop moved to a 25 minute meeting each week. I think it's next to impossible to struggle with a meeting, learn a new idea than wait four weeks to try those ideas. You can't develop habits once a month and the agenda is huge. A weekly agenda allows the scouts to keep up with the troop business easier and now you can set weekly goals. The SPL gets to practice with a least 24 meetings in six months instead of only six. The confidence factor increases greatly.

 

OK, that is a lot. Is it too much?

 

Barry

 

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I'm still confused about Venture Patrols.

Our large Troop does a lot of high adventure activities. Some of these trips take extensive planning, 6 months - 1 year. During this time the scouts are part of the Venture patrol. Most all they do is related to either ongoing high adventure activities, or the long term treks being planned.

 

My question is, should these boys be part of regular patrols as well as the venture patrol

There are enough boys for 2-3 venture patrols.

 

I'm having trouble understanding "dual citizenship" How does a boy belong to two patrols? Where is his allegaince?

 

At one time it appeared that the scouts in the Venture patrol(s) were only in those patrols.

However recently we reorganized patrols and now the all the boys are in regular patrols or new scout patrols. A number of boys are in regular patrols and the "venture patrol", thus they belong to two patrols now.

 

My feeling is that boys should only belong to one patrol. The older boys that wish to be part of a Venture patrol should have their own patrol(s).

 

From other comments here, I see looks like this may take the older boys away from the troop, but I think keeping the Venture patrols active in the troop is a separate issue.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Rusty

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Rusty before I can answer your question I have to ask one. Please do not take this wrong I simply need to know how deep an explaination to give.

Do you understand the difference between a Venture Patrol and a Venturing Crew?

 

Bob White

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No offense taken. Correct me if I'm wrong, or mislead. As I understand it a Venture Crew belongs to BSA's Venturing program for 14-21 boys and girls. Whereas a Venture patrol is formed within a Troop of the older boys.

 

It appears that some percieve this mean that a venture patrol is formed for one specific high adventure outing and then disbanded after that outing.

During this time the boys belong to two patrols, their regular patrol and the Venture Patrol. (this is what i have a hard time understanding)

 

My understanding of the Scoutmaster Handbook is that a Troop can have 3 kinds of patrols (New Scout, Regular, and Venture) The Venture Patrols are composed of older boys dedicated to more high adventure activites throughout the year, (not just one major outing).

 

Ideally I would like to see my Troop get into Venturing, but they are very resistant to change.

 

Rusty

 

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Rusty,

This will be easy...

Your understanding of the patrol system is the correct one according to the BSA program.

 

Bob White

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Rusty,

Sorry to muddy the waters, but you can still operate with all of your older guys as part of the regular patrols and still go do separate high adventure activities.

 

Most of the time the guys work in their regular patrols (weekly meetings, campouts, etc.).

The high adventure stuff is worked outside the patrol structure by forming temporary "crews" with a boy "Crew Chief" leader. The guys going on the trip will have some extra meetings to plan and usually some extra activities as "shake downs." Do your best to schedule these so they don't conflict with other troop activities so the guys on crew can continue to support and lead the troop -- they're usually some of your best guys. When they get back from the trip they'll have some exciting tales and new skills to share with the other (mostly younger) guys in the patrol.

 

And you read the SM Handbook exactly right -- a troop "can" have 3 kinds of patrols -- the tiered system is optional. It works well for some, but not for everybody. If your older guys are all really active in high adventure stuff and want to hike 15 miles on a weekend troop campout instead of the 5-miler the rest of the troop is taking (for example), then it probably would be best to split them out into separate Venture patrol(s). If the older guys can satisfy their desire to be around other older guys during outside crew activities and still be happy providing leadership down in the trenches (regular patrols), there are some advantages.

 

Sounds like a great troop program you have going! I'm sure you'll work it out to everyone's best benefit. Keep up the great work!!

 

-mike

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Mike,

 

Your description is almost exactly how our venture activities work. When the older guys get together and decide they want to do something, one guy is elected (although I suspect that the "election" is a very informal activity) as crew chief for that event. If not already trained, that boy is responsible for becoming the expert in whatever they decide to do. For instance, when our guys wanted to do more extreme kayaking, one guy arranged for 5 of the boys and 4 of the adults to go through the complete American Red Cross Kayaking program. With the confidence that comes from "becoming the expert", leading a group like this in making plans, preparations, and execution, high venture events usually come off pretty well.

 

We have a venture Patrol, although events like this are very often attended by the oldest, most mature, able boys in our regular Patrols also. For instance, even though my son is in a regular Patrol, he is the crew chief for the venture Patrol doing a kayaking trip in PA in October. It is likely that the venture Patrol will be inviting my son into their Patrol after the first of the year.

 

This works very well for us. Every once in a while, a crew chief lets his group down by not following through, etc., and although it's sad that the guys don't get to do what was planned, or that it ends up not being the adventure that was hoped, everyone seems to learn a good lesson, and the problem doesn't usually get repeated.

 

Mark

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Thanks for the input.

 

I've found that in BSA frequently the answer is "A Troop can do whatever it wants to do."

 

I was looking for the BSA recommendation, which I think Bob White provided. Certainly lots of things work well with lots of Troops.

 

My question is one of belongingness. If a boy belongs to two patrols, a Regular patrol and a Venture patrol. What patch goes on his uniform? What is his patrol of record? During patrol meetings where does he go? If he goes to the Regular patrol meeting, then the Venture patrol suffers. If he goes to the Venture Patrol meeting, his regular patrol suffers.

 

Leadership another issue. If a Boy is Patrol leader of his Regular patrol, and gets elected as Patrol Leader of the Venture patrol, does he get two votes at the Patrol Leaders Council?

 

In talking with other Scoutmasters and looking at other Troops, I understand how some troops use the "Venture Patrol" as almost an honor group (not a full time patrol) and those boys interested earn their position into the venture patrol, or are invited to join.

I can see how this can work as well, but confusion comes in labeling it a "patrol" and trying to work it into the Troop structure.

 

Certainly it can work with the boys in a Regular patrol and concurrently part of a Venture patrol, many Troops appear to be structured this way.

 

However, I believe it would work better when a boy belongs to only one patrol. His identity is clear, his allegiance is clear.

 

If a Patrol is supposed to be "a group of boys who are more or less similar in age, development, and interests" it seems to make sense to put the older boys with similar interests in high adventure in their own patrol, and consider their patrol a "Venture" patrol.

 

The older boys which are not overly interested in high adventure, could simply be in a "Regular" patrol.

 

This appears to me to be what BSA suggests.

 

Nonetheless, I gather a Troop can do pretty much whatever it wants to. If something works well with your Troop, then stick with what works.

Again, thanks for your input.

 

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At last year's University of Scouting, I attended a class on Venture Patrols. In response to the complain that Venture Patrols suck all of the leaders out of the regular patrols, the instructor put for the proposition that you can petition the Lord with prayer . . . oops, wrong thread.

 

He put forth the idea of the Venture Patrol being an ad hoc patrol. One the forms when needed and picks a new PL for each activity. This way, one PL could be working on the rafting trip and the other could be working on the AT trail hike. This also keeps them in regular patrols where they can be a great asset.

 

 

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Rusty,

Sorry I wasn't more clear. I don't think a boy can (or should) belong to two formal patrols.

 

We basically have two different kinds of high adventure activities:

 

1. Venture Patrol activities (like weekend or Spring Break backpacking trips) that are conducted separate from the rest of the troop. Only Ventures invited. They plan and run these activities just for the older Venture patrol members. (Yes - younger guys want to come along - gives them something to look forward to.) Venture PL (or his delegate) takes the lead for these. Actually, we have 3 Venture Patrols, so Venture ASPL (or his delegate) usually takes lead planning role and the Venture PLs work under him -- just like a troop SPL and PLs when the whole troop involved.

 

2. Big-ticket trips (Philmont, Boundary Waters) that will include a lot of the Ventures, but are also opened up to include older boys from the regular patrols, if there is room. For the purposes of these trips, we call them "Crews" and they have a "Crew Chief." They do have a lot in common with patrols, but each boy only has one patrol. The crew is made up of boys from different patrols. Crew will have special meetings and activities, but those are scheduled to avoid any conflicts with regular troop and patrol responsibilities.

 

Another smaller troop I work with doesn't have Venture patrols at all, but a few times a year the older boys get together and plan something special for the 14+ guys. Again, not conflicting with, but adding to the regular troop program.

 

Bottom Line: You're right - lots of flexibility - use what works for you.

 

Mark9750 -- Sounds like a great program!

 

-mike

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