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Fat Old Guy

11 year olds leading 11 year olds, what's your experience?

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Be careful what you wish for! When I was an SA, the SM put a "seasoned" scout (Star rank, 1 yr of den chief experience, 1.5 as a Boy Scout) in with a group of new (just crossed over Webelos Scouts) boys. The view of the SM (and 100% of the adult leadership) was that this boys was the best candidate by far to lead the boys in the new patrol. It was obvious to them. When the boys had their election of course, they choose one of their peers and not the outsider that they felt was "thrust upon" them (albeit in a very close election, 4 to 3).

 

What is the goal? To break camp the fastest? To cook the best meals? No, the goals are the aims of Scouting which are best achieved by following the program guidelines. Let the Patrol choose a leader from their peer group.

 

 

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"How did that older more experienced scout become the Patrol Leader Ed?"

 

He was elected by the Patrol, Bob.

 

"Perhaps you are refering to an older more experienced scout being selected by the SPL to be the Troop Guide in a New Scout Patrol?"

 

No I was refering to the Patrol Leader.

 

"That is, if the troop utilizes the New Scout Patrol. Something which I am glad to hear you support."

 

Never said I supported the New Scout Patrol. All I said was the Troop would have to have one for this method to work. And now that I think about it, the Troop wouldn't need to have a New Scout Patrol for this to work. A Patrol leader can be trained from within a Patrol regardless of the Patrol make-up.

 

Ed Mori

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Wow, leave for a few days and....

 

Here is what I have observed and learned. Scouts between the ages of 10 and 13 didn't really join the Troop to be leaders. Oh at first it looks cool, but after the fun has warn off, they would much rather be hanging out with the gang any playing games.

 

I have learned that while 10 the 13 age scouts arent into being leaders, this is the age where they learn most of the leadership skills they use later in their life, at least between the age 14 and 18. So while I personally am in not hurry to give them a lot of leadership responsibility, I trying to ensure they are developing leadership skills by making sure the program is using the eight methods, especially in learning their scout skills and getting some responsibilities in their patrol and surrounded by lots of leadership role models. Anymore than that, and they kind are pretty much dependent on what the boys want. Most want to hang with the other guys and be boys.

 

Now what I teach for adults in troops that have aged based patrols or brand new troops with just 11 year olds is this. Learn and understand the aims and methods. Study the Patrol Leaders Handbook and the SPL Handbook. I also recommend the SM Handbook. But look at the kind of program you want your scouts to have at the age of 14. Now start building habits and activities as if you have 15 year olds in the Troop. Example for our Troop has a 30-minute PLC meeting before the Troop meeting. One and a half hour Troop meeting than a 5-minute post PLC meeting. Most new SMs with 11 year-olds don't spend much time on the PLC meetings and even cut corners on the troop meetings until they feel the Scouts are old enough for those activities. But the problem is its kind of like the shock of jumping in ice water. Just as important, the adults learn a lot about the troop program by doing these mature activities even with 11 year olds. Now I'm sure you're wondering how you get 11 year olds to run the Troop meeting designed for 15 year olds. What I explain is the adults have to let the scouts run the program, but the adult fill in where the scouts maturity and experience are lacking. As the scout gains experience week by week, the adults step back step by step. Example, during the first couple of meetings with the new troop, the scoutmaster calls the PLC together after the meeting for the post PLC meeting. He asks the scouts how the meeting went. Did the scouts have fun? Did the Patrol corners go well? How can we improve or fix the problems. How can it be more fun? Those kinds of questions. But then next time the SM helps the new SPL write down these questions and lets him ask them. Likely the SM still needs to encourage the meeting a couple of times, but within a couple of months, the meeting is basically running like a 15 year old would run it.

 

Now it's important not to have the expectations on this 11 year old that you would expect from a 15 year old. I can tell you 95% of scouts around this age are basically mimicking what they see others doing. They don't do a lot of rationalizing just yet. But when the time comes that they want to take that horse by the reins, the program is there ready for them.

 

What is important for you dealing with 11 year olds in high responsible positions is allow the position to challenge them without overwhelming them. The adult or older scout, if your lucky to have one, should fill in where the scout lacks in maturity. But, the mentors has to step back as the boy grow.

 

Most new troops with only 11 year olds find that their troop is running basically boy run just in a few with the adults almost totally hands off. There will still be challenges until the scouts reach puberty, But when they reach that age, the adults have to really watch out because the program really takes off fast. I have watched the boys basically leave the adults in the dust because they have so much confidence that they just start taking care of all the details. That is fun for the adults, but the scouts get frustrated from the adults holding back. But if the adults see it, they work hard to get out of the way.

 

So for your 11-year-old patrol, I would first do a couple of patrol corners and then explain the structure of the meeting and why it helps them work as a team. Then I would help the PL write an agenda, at this age a cheat sheet, to help him with the meeting. Watch one or two meetings to guide him and also guide the other scouts on follow ship. At no time am I telling them what to do, but more the whys based on the Scout Law and Oath. Eventually they find I'm not showing up to meetings anymore. The SM taught, now he is doing the trusting and letting go. After a little experience, the adults can measure the patrol performing going to a meeting. At this age, you want to get them to develop habits that allow them to function and move on to the next struggles. Once the stone starts rolling, it will not stop.

 

This is how we do it in Oklahoma, at least in my troop. Most adults who try this comment that the scouts learn fast and build a lot of confidence and their growth goes really fast. Like I said, faster than the adults. So be ready.

 

Does this approach your question.

 

Barry

 

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Just for clarification Ed,

If the situation you suggest happened in a New Scout Patrol, how did an older more experienced scout get put into that patrol if he is not the Troop Guide?

 

Where is the Troop Guide in your New Scout Patrol? What if the new scouts do not elect the older scout, since they probaly don't know him and have little in common with him? Why offer this scenario if you do not support it?

 

You got me confused on this one.

Bob White

 

 

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Bob,

I never said this situation happend in a New Scout Patrol. You assumed that. And since you assumed this happened in a New Scout Patrol you assumed since I didn't mention it there was no Troop Guide. If there was a new Scout Patrol there would be a Troop Guide. Sorry for my omission.

 

The Scouts always elect their PL.

 

Don't support what?

 

Ed Mori

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"Be careful what you wish for! When I was an SA, the SM put a "seasoned" scout (Star rank, 1 yr of den chief experience, 1.5 as a Boy Scout) in with a group of new (just crossed over Webelos Scouts) boys."

 

That's an obvious pitfall.

 

IMHO, a better system is to have a patrol that has a continuous influx of new members as old member leave. That way the patrol has history and tradition, like a regiment in the Army. That way, the Scouts who have been around longer and have a clue about what's going on are most likely to be elected PL. That way, the new Scouts have role models and mentors and the older Scouts feel needed and adored.

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Oh for Pete's sake Ed. You wrote this didn't you?

 

" I think the idea of having an older Scout who is more familiar with the BSA program be the Patrol Leader with the idea he is training his replacement from this Patrol. And this only works if the Troop utilizes the New Scout Patrol."

 

 

 

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WE had a disastrous result when we attempted to have a NSP of all just crossed over 11 yr olds, and let them elect their own leader.

 

Granted, that the ONLY thing we did correctly (by the book) was to establish the patrol & let them elect their own leader (by popularity, they don't have a clue). Everything else WE screwed up on.

 

We assigned a TG to the patrol - but having never HAD a NSP or TG before, no one had a clue what he was supposed to do, and he acted (sometimes) more like an instructor than a TG. he would step in and 'teach' skills for advancement work, but never got into the 'leadership coaching' aspect. He didn't actulally stay with the patrol much. The TG had never been a PL himself, and no one tried to 'train' him in his job.

 

We were short ASM's and had a new SM as well, and there was no ASM assigned to the NSP.

 

I think the NSP PL is supposed to switch each month, giving everyong a try at it? we didn't do that, either.

 

Our NSP consisted of 3 boys from one pack, 4 from a second pack and 1 from a third. the 4 picked their buddy for PL and all of them ganged up on the single boy and picked on him. This teasing was hidden from the adults, and culminated in a full blown hazing incident at camp, which involved the camp director, our council and district.

 

After the hazing at camp, The SM and committee decided to break up the 11 yr olds, and split them between the two regular patrols - a few boys in the reg. patrols moved up to the venture patrol - so all 3 patrols are now 7 or 8 boys, plus SPL and ASPL. Despite discussion about chosing a PL based on skill and experience, the 'weight' of these 11 yr olds again reared it's head - elections in those two regular patrols were again skewed by the 'majority' of 11 yr olds - 4 in each - who again voted their 'buddies' into PL positions by popularity. so now we have 11 yr/6th grade/tenderfeet leading patrols with some 13/14 yr old/8th grade/1st class, in them. Both patrol leaders are tenderfeet! One chose his older brother as APL (the brother wasn't even there for the election meeting) and the other one chose the 8th grade runner up. As you can guess, the 8th grade APL's are doing the work while the tenderfeet get the title.

 

the 7th/8th graders IN these new patrols are resentfull and uncoopertive, being 'lead' by a boy younger and less experienced.

 

Over and over we have had discussions about leadership, teasing, planning - and the 6th graders are still acting like wild Webelos whose leaders is out for coffee! they are WILD. Cub scouts doesn't do ANYTHING to prepare them for the huge difference between cub scouts and boy scouts - they are totally unprepared to self lead and really have no interest ing 'leading', although some do like to 'boss'!

 

I know that WE, as adult leaders, messed up by not following the plan, and not providing the 11 yr olds with the leadership they needed. but I truly beleive that even if we had, that of this group of boys, not ONE has the ability and maturity to to be even a slightly effective PL.

 

I can understand the 'idea' of a NSP - having them all work on advancements together, etc - concentrating their first year on advancement - but in practice, you MUST have well trained and mature boy leadership to guide them, AND and exactly the right adult(s) ASM (s) to assist.

 

Our troop, having just struggled to return to boy lead and STILL struggling with it - was not prepared to use the NSP effectively. Instead, it set our troop backwards from our goal of being boy lead - because of the camp fiasco, many of the boys families would have taken them out of the troop, had we NOT dissolved the NSP. As it is, our troop is still somewhat shaky from scars that incident left behind.

 

If you have a well established, well trained, boy lead troop, With enough older TG's, etc to help the new patrol along - then it probably works great. If not - all you get is webelos without an adult leader - total chaos!

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Yes I did, Bob. But I never said I support using teh New Scout Patrol. That is your interpretation of my post. Plus, if you read on in other posts, I recanted that statement.

 

Who's Pete?

 

Ed Mori(This message has been edited by evmori)

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In between all of this sniping are a few pearls, albeit singed around the edges - be nice to see the signal to noise ratio improve a bit. Just because the actions of 11 year old Scouts are the topic of discussion doesn't mean that we're required to emulate their behavior. Thanks again to those that care enough to stay on the topic...

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I am relatively new to these forums. I have been reading off and on for a few weeks, but I just joined. I am curious about a few things.

 

Has anyone managed to make the new scout patrol idea actually work? If so what size troop did this happen in?

 

If you do not use the NSP, how do you handle new member orientation and what not?

 

I come from a background where my troop was relatively small, and usually functioned more as a single large patrol rather than seperate, distinct patrols. The new scout patrol seems like a great idea in a "model" troop that has enough members to form multiple full strenght patrols and gains enough new members each year to form a seperate patrol. However, I can't see how this would work in a troop with say 9 members when it gets 3 new members. Actually, it is difficult to see how the patrol method can really work in any troop with less than a dozen active members. The only solution I have seen is to simply have the troop function as a single patrol, but even that doesn't work because then there are too many scouts if they all show up (like that ever really happens).

 

p.s. What started the running argument between FOG and BW ? Those two argue like a married cupple. The only value their arguments seem to have is that they can be somewhat amusing.

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"What started the running argument between FOG and BW ?"

 

BW is a pedantic, arrogant, close minded book-thumper who parrots anything that comes out of Irving, TX.

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"If you do not use the NSP, how do you handle new member orientation and what not?"

 

We integrate new members into existing Patrols.

 

Ed Mori

 

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We have used NSPs and have not used them. It depends to a large extent on the number of boys crossing over. This year, we only had three boys. We don't see the value in a NSP for three boys. Last year, we had 14 cross, and we had two NSPs. As has Laura, we've met with a fair amount of failure, but also a number of major triumphs, too.

 

As to the original question, every one of the times we have had an 11 year old PL (going back 9 years since I've been with the Troop) has been a tremendous success. Almost never successful in the manner I suspect FOG and Ed might hope: An 11 year old finds his feet quickly, manages a group of boys well and gets them to do what is expected of them without being prodded by adults. No, we've not seen an 11 year old like that. As a matter of fact, not all of our 15 - 17 year old SPLs do that well.

 

But every time is a sucess. Why? Because every time, the boy that is elected learns and matures, and every time, those he is trying to lead see his successes and his failures and learn something, too.

 

How you view this is based, IMVHO, on your expectations of the program. If you want a group of boys who can camp well, and do it with minimal adult interference, then 11 year old PLs probably will always disappoint. If your desired outcome is men of character, men who can respond to most any challenge thrown at them when they become adults, than 11 year old PLs is a great first stepping stone.

 

Bob and Fog,

 

Your banter back and forth used to be humorous and entertaining. I've got to say, it is growing tiresome. BOTH of you guys are acting like children. It's obvious you guys will never be best friends. But can't you guys either decide to be polite or just ignore each other?

 

Mark

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I happen to have an 11-year-old, and I was excited to learn of something that he has been doing in the troop. He is teaching knots and the use of the handbook to all new boys; there's a tendency for new boys of varying ages to join year round. He is in a new boy patrol (all same age--our patrol system is under construction for older and older new boys), and he still is young enough and new enough to want and look up to the older boys for actual leadership positions. However, he is learning leadership skills by working in one particular area: that of helping new boys, some older than him, with knots and with learning to use their books. I think we need to be wise enough to notice the strengths all the boys have and to give them opportunities to help and train in small ways which can then grow into larger and broader leadership positions. It's a process, and unless I'm very much mistaken, this seems to be what the BSA provides our boys: the process of growing into young men of strong character. To answer the original question directly: the patrols of 11-year-olds have not been led by an 11-year-old. The patrol leader was chosen for this patrol before the boys bridged, but the goal is to have them chose their own leader eventually.

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