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Eagledad

Adult Patrol Coaches

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Leadership development isn't the mission of BSA; it isn't even one of the 3 aims. It is a method, but only one of eight. And, BSA says that all eight are equally important. That means a couple of different things to me. First, that I need to stress uniforming, the outdoor program, advancement, etc., as much as I stress leadership development -- as methods of Scouting. Second, it means that I cannot allow one method (leadership development, in this case) to dominate the program at the expense of the other methods. For example, if some Green Bars are not taking the initiative to know which advancement requirements their Scouts need, or are not documenting their completion of these requirements, I will intervene to ensure that the PLs are properly focused on the advancement needs of their Scouts, and that the Scouts' activities that meet advancement criteria are properly documented, by whatever means necessary, including having ASMs review handbooks and fill in the advancement charts. Again, all methods are of equal importance.

 

Why tell the adults to stay away, not get involved, not help, or not appear to be "interfering"? Isn't adult association one of the methods? Why can't an ASM whisper in the ear of a PL in real time, while there's still a chance to bail out a patrol meeting that's stalled or dysfunctional, instead of waiting until it's over, discover what went wrong and what could have gone right, then go out and do damage control? Which of these two techniques is a better way to ensure personal growth, also one of the 8 methods? What are we afraid of, or why do we think this is improper? I don't assign ASMs as "super PLs" to actually run the patrol with the PL as a mere figurehead. But I do expect them to move among the patrols, offering help and advice if needed or asked, directive coaching if called for, and helping the SPL ensure that rosters are done, menus are made up, patrol record books are getting filled out, dues are collected, etc.

 

Don't get me wrong, I believe in the Scouts having the authority, responsibility, and freedom to carry out their responsibilities, to the extent they're capable of doing so. And, I believe in continuously developing their leadership ability so that they can do these things. But, this isn't like flipping a light switch on. Some are naturals, some get good after doing it for a while, and some never quite catch on. You have to operate on a continuum -- when they need or want help, they're going to get it; when they don't, they won't. And, it's situational and personality-dependent.

 

I don't get to pick the youth leadership team; the Scouts do. With the power to do social engineering, I'd place Scouts where I thought they'd do best, and leave them there longer. But, I can't, so I deal with the continuously changing human dynamics of semi-annual elections, inexperienced new leaders, training and team building, growing pains, misunderstandings, and then team proficiency and harmony, just in time to blow it up and do it all over again. In that kind of environment, you still have to ensure that all the other methods are effectively used, so that the aims are achieved and the mission is accomplished. That's not the SPL or the PLs' responsibility -- it's mine. If my Scouts aren't advancing, or our outdoor program is deficient, or we're coming up short on some other method, I'll never blame that on an SPL or another Green Bar -- it's on my shoulders.

 

Bottom line in my opinion: leadership development is important, but no more important than any of the other methods. And, I'll always maintain a balance of all 8 methods, as best I can.

 

As another SM has said: "There's a difference between boy-run and boy-run-into-the-ground." Know the difference, and don't let one turn into the other.

 

KS

 

 

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KS the conversation grew from the premise that the patrol method is that sphere within which all other methods function. for the Patrol Method to work, leadership development must take place, and adults simply telling scouts what to do does not develop leadership, and scouts telling others what to do is not displaying leadership.

 

To simply blame the followers as a couple posters hav chosen to do, ignores the resonsibility of leaders to lead properly and the scoutmasters role as primary trainer.

 

You cannot effectively reach the aims of scouting without using the methods of scouting. And without the use of good leadership skills you cannot manage the other methods.

 

Should a ASM whisper into the ear of a scout? Depends on the scout and what he is whispering I would think. If he is telling a patrol member that "it's time to do the dishes", then no, I think that is out of line. If it is directed quietly to the PL "what time did you schedule your meal prep to start?" then I think thats fine. You shouldn't telling a scout what to do, but subtly reminding a leader to check and follow the agenda develops a skill.

 

I am not saying that patrol coaches don't work just that I have never seen a situation where they did. The scout ends up relying on the adult to make the decision, or the adult takes over.

 

I have never seen an observant Scoutmaster and assistants who use the program methods have to hover in order for a patrol to suceed regardless of age.

 

Bob White

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Great Ed! thats a good choice.

Now would you agree that a positive response is better than a negative one?(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Bob,

This style might work in your training classes but I consider it a bit condescending. Cut to the chase, please.

 

Thanks

 

Ed

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If you wish Ed,

 

If we can agree that all leadership gets a reponse, and that a positive reponse is better than a negative reponse, then can we agree that good leadership skills are more likely to get a positive reponse than poor leadership?

 

Still with me Ed?

 

If so, then the logical argument is that a negative response is mostly likey due to poor leadership. Since the scoutmaster is responsible for leadership development, it leads us to... If the patrol is not cooperating it is most likely do to a poor method of leadership and that is the reponsiblity of the PL and SM not the patrol.

 

Now unless you are prepared to argue that this is not the SM responsibility or that poor leadership more often achieves positive response, or that good leadership skills more often achieve a negative response (none of which have any logical basis), then you really have no grounds to disagree with me do you?

 

As far as your second statement"And saying won't follow & can't follow are not the same." I do not see the relevance since I never said they were.

 

 

 

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Allow me to do a bit of bragging. I think I'll get to a point that is on topic near the end...

 

Last night, my youngest son, the Patrol Leader of one of the regular Patrols, was asked by the SPL to have his Patrol be responsible for demonstrating rescue carries and coming up with an activity that includes them. This was in response to an injury one of our Scouts sustained on a repelling campout. The SPL thought it a good idea to bone up on the skill.

 

My son accepted the request (Score point one), and sat down to determine who best in his Patrol to ask. As I have mentioned before, our Troop subscribes to the "See One, Do One, Teach One" methodology of medical schools. He has two boys in his Patrol that have recently been signed off for rescue carries, and thought giving these two guys the chance to teach the skill in order to reinforce it was a good idea (Score point two). He met with a large bit of resistance from the first of the two Patrol members he called. In his last stint as PL, his reaction immediately would have been "You're going to do it because I am the PL and I say so. If you don't or if you screw it up, you'll be doing KP all weekend!". But this time, instead, he used every bit of the training he has had to explain all of the reasons why this boy should accept the challenge. "See One, Do..." "You've learned this the most recently, therefore it's freshest for you. You're the best one to do this", "we have an obligation to the Troop", and probably 6 or 8 more reasons that I missed as he paced into and out of the room where I was watching the ballgame (Score Points Three through Ten). At one point, call waiting rang and my wife used the phone while the other boy was on hold. I asked my son why he just didn't call the Patrol's Assistant Scoutmaster, Or the SPL, to get some backup. He was offended. "Dad, I can can get him to do this. He'll understand sooner or later that he needs to do this. If I ask Mr. X to call him, how will I ever convince anyone to do anything? (Score MAJOR Points for that one!)He spent almost an hour on the phone, but this guy and his buddy will be doing the presentation, and I'll bet it'll be excelent!

 

And that is my point. We use Assistant Scoutmasters who are assigned to specific Patrols. We also have two "at large" ASMs. The number one duty of these ASMs, after assisting the SM in training youth leaders, is to be the adults the Patrol can count on for adult leadership when they plan a Patrol event. It's not to get the adults to make decisions, or enforce the rules or plans. Once in a while (rarely), an ASM has to step in when he sees something truly amiss that the PL isn't going to recognize on his own. These ASMs stay within sight, but rarely within earshot, of the Patrol during their Patrol meetings. That way, if the Patrol needs the resources of an adult, he can be waved over. I'd guess in my son's Patrol, other than asking if one of the ASMs will be available for an outing, they've called an adult over 1/2 dozen times in two years. This certainly isn't what I would classify as meddling. It so much not meddling, that a PL was offended when someone inappropriately suggested he involve the ASM.

 

On the other hand, we had a New Scout Patrol a couple of years ago that had an ASM assigned to it. The ASM had been the Den Leader of most of these guys in Cub Scouts. We probably should have figured that there would be a possible problem when they chose "Bobcat" for their Patrol name. Because that's what this Patrol ended up being for the 18 months of its existence: A Cub Scout Den, with the ASM playing Den Leader. He's a great guy, and still a part of our program, but none of these guys began to flourish as Boy Scouts until that Patrol was assimilated into existing Patrols, and the ASM assigned as an at large ASM.

 

My points:

1) I'm VERY proud of how my son handled his PL responsiblities. He's been trained well.

2) ASMs assigned to Patrols works for us if...

3) ASMs who are assigned to Patrols understand their role is one of support from afar, not very hands on. Most of the time, it works. Once in a while, it flops.

4) Real leadership doesn't require very much ordering of others. Duty rosters should either be made by a collaborative process, or, when a Patrol becomes really cohesive, the PL can make up the duty roster KNOWING that all his mates understand that someone has to do the work, and they're going to be willing to accept anything asked of them. If we have a leader we feel is trained sufficiently and we observe him resorting to arm twisting (I mean the "Because I said so" routine), we would immediately ask the SPL to do a quick session with the PL, either with our without the SM (at the SPL's prefernece) to remedy the deficiency. That just doesn't happen too much in our Troop.

 

Man, another long one. My apologies.

 

Mark

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Ed,

 

Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don't but the one thing I will always envy is your ability to keep it short!

 

Mark

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I see absolutely no problem with having "Patrol Coaches" assigned to each patrol. (Note: They should not be assigned to only one patrol, as this would be taken as a sign to the others that there's something wrong with that patrol.)

 

The problem is, that those adult leaders (and even older Scouts, in my opinion) need to know how to point the patrol in the right direction, without becoming the Patrol Leader. In my experience, there are two methods that accomplish this.

 

1. Follow the chain of command. Never pass over any youth leaders, if at all possible. Observe the boys in their patrols, but don't address the patrol directly. Call the PL (or SPL) over to you, speak to him, and have him speak to the group. This way, the patrol will recognize him as the one in charge, rather than just as someone with the title of PL.

 

2. Don't tell them anything. Lead from behind. When I was on JLTC staff as a youth, we used to use a method of instruction called "Questions." If a participant came up to a staff member and asked what time lunch was, we were to respond "Where could you find out that information?" The idea is to continue asking questions of the participant until they answer the question themselves. (In the case of lunch, that he should ask his PL what the schedule given at the PLC says.) This can also be used as a method of counseling. If you notice that a PL isn't prepared for a meeting, afterwards call him over and ask him how the meeting went. Keep asking him questions about what he could do better next time, until he suggests planning the next meeting ahead of time and in more detail.

 

By doing this, you can not only train your youth leaders better, but you maintain their position of autority with the other boys. (Obviously, in the case of the duty roster above, the boys did not see their PL as the one in charge. They needed an adult to tell them and give him authority directly.)

 

Tim(This message has been edited by captnkirk)(This message has been edited by captnkirk)

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"Everybody knows that someone needs to do the dishes and that someone needs check the fire buckets, who would like to do that for Staurday's breakfast. We will all take turns." Then the PL or the patrol scribe writes down on the Duty roster who has agreed to do what, and when. "

 

And if no one wants to do the dishes? What then, oh great leader? The Patrol Scribe has nothing to write down.

 

"Solicit ideas and concerns from patrol members so they have input to the planning and operations of the patrol."

 

So? Someone still needs to make the final decision. Just as the President seeks advice from many people, he still makes the final call.

 

By the way, the best leader in the world cannot lead those who are unwilling to be led.

 

"If when you were little you chose a captain who bossed everyone around then you should have picked a different captain."

 

Hmmm. . . in my little world, it was the captain's job to tell people where to play, it wasn't a committe decision.

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MK9750

That's great!

 

Captain,

You have very good points, I have just never seen a unit be able to sustain that behavior for any meaningful length of time. In addition the Scoutmaster gets bogged down with evaluating and training adults to the exclusion of evaluating and training scouts.

 

FOG

If the SM followed the program in setting up the patrol of friends wanting to be together, and they were allowed to choose their own leader and a good leadership example was set, the situation you describe would not happen. The patrol you use as an example only exists because of adults who did't follow the program.

 

"Hmmm. . . in my little world, it was the captain's job to tell people where to play, it wasn't a committe decision"

 

What a shame. In my big world friends worked together. I guess that explains the vast differences in our approaches. I had friends and scout leaders who respected me and I them. Sorry you missed out on that.

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Mark,

Sometimes brevity is a good thing. However, that time is not now.

 

Poor leadership usually gets poor results but the results can be good. Good leadership usually gets good results but the results can be bad. A PL with poor leadership skills can be taught to have good leadership skills & the opposite is also true. Now just because a PL has good leadership skills doesn't guarantee his patrol will follow his lead. Why? They might be too young to understand his style? They might not understand what he wants to accomplish? Maybe when he was a Patrol member he didn't listen to his PL & his Patrol members think why should we!

 

I had a SPL who was "out there". What I mean was the way he dressed, he had piercings, was a little out of control. But the Scouts followed him like he was gonna give them a million bucks! They would do anything for him! And he didn't have the textbook "leadership skills". I have also had SPL's who have had textbook "leadership skills" who were poor leaders! Nothing is an exact science.

 

Ed Mori

 

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The text book skills are not for the boys Ed, They are for you, YOU are supposed to teach them how to make them work. If a boy has poor skills Ed that speaks more about a problem with the scoutmaster's leadership not the scout's, and not the boys he leads. The buck stops with you as the scoutmaster. Do you really not understand that?

 

Bob White

 

 

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Bob White's pick-up game of baseball:

 

"Okay, Bob and Jim are captains and pick teams."

 

Bob says, "I'll take Ralph."

 

Jim says, "You can't have Ralph, he's the best fielder."

 

Bob says, "Okay, everyone who thinks that I should get Ralph, raise your hand."

 

Bob says, "Okay, I'll take Freddy. Freddy, you'll play right field."

 

Freddy says, "I don't want to field, I want to pitch."

 

Freddy sucks at pitching but Bob says, "Okay, you can pitch and we'll support you in your efforts and help you suceed."

 

Bob then selects Timmy who is a good pitcher.

 

Timmy says, "I'm a good pitcher, why can't I pitch."

 

Bob says, "We need to support Freddy in his efforts to learn to pitch. It may be hard for us and we may lose the game but we'll be better for the effort."

 

Timmy says, "Bob, you're the captain, you need to put the players in the positions where they'll do the best good for the team."

 

Bob responds, "No as captain, my job is to lead the team in a cooperative effort so that each player has a chance to grow and play the position that they want to play."

 

Interestingly, we had Junior Leader Training today and one of the points that was brought up was that the PL needs to assign the jobs that suck on a rotating basis so that everyone shares.

 

I guess in Bob's troop, the PLs say, "Who wants the sucky jobs?" and the Scouts all clamor for them because they like to function in a spirit of cooperation. Since everyone wants a job that sucks, the PL has to force them to take the fun jobs.

 

Life must be interesting in Bobland.

 

Oh yeah, once again Bob White shows that the Scout Law is only words.

 

 

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" Maybe when he was a Patrol member he didn't listen to his PL & his Patrol members think why should we!"

 

Maybe none of them want to be there because they are missing the Harry Potter premier. Maybe no one wants to listen to him because they don't like him but he was the only Scout who wanted to run for PL. Maybe they don't want to listen to him because they'd rather be playing frisbee and not setting up tents.

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