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mich632

patrol size

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Looking for experience on optimum patrol size.

 

It seems when the patrols are too small, I end up with 2 boys from a patrol on a campout.

 

It seems when the patrols are too big, the groups are too big at the meetings and the PL has trouble controlling them.

 

So I would like to take a survey. When you are setting up patrols what size do you shoot for?

 

Thanks.

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Mich,

 

Our PLC recently decided to bump up patrol size to 10-11. I know it's not optimal, but most of our guys are involved in many outside activities, so they are never all present.

 

For what it's worth, if we have at least 2 guys from a patrol going on a campout, they camp as a patrol. We might group them together with another patrol if we're having a competition that would put them at a significant disadvantage, but only for the competition. For everything else, the patrols stay intact.

 

Good luck!

 

-mike

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mich632,

 

The optimum patrol sze is 6-10. I have found 6 to 8 works best. If only two scouts are showing up your problem isn't patrol size it's attendance.

 

That can be caused by a number of issues.

Are your patrol leaders doing a good job of representing the needs of the patrol when they choose dates for outings?

 

Are the families given enough notice to plan for outings? Are the activities exciting enough to get boys to attend?

 

Does every boy in the patrol have a position of responsibility and a purpose for being there?

 

Remember two patrol members can camp as easily as 8, as long as they know there will just be two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For training purposes, 8 is the number. Size and rank mix depends on what works for your troop. In the meantime, I encourage you to have a "this campout only patrol" made up of campout participants. Also, your committee can have an adult patrol and help role model how a patrol works. An adult patrol should have a flag, name, and yell. You can also make up an adult-type new scouter requirements li(This message has been edited by Double Eagle)

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At times we the adults tend to look at The Patrol as a Team or Group that is there for our benefit. Sure it it a good size for administration purposes, great when it comes to games. But it really isn't there to make life easy for the adults.

If we start off with a patrol made up of friends, Lads who like each other. They will over time become a very efficient,effective team. Every time we mess with this we are messing with the development of this team. We do need to work on building up Patrol Pride.

A few days back I posted that the Patrol / Critter thing at Wood Badge was not important to the Wood Badge course. Having given this a little thought I now think that I was wrong.

I still think that what the names are and the order in which they are come in the song is of little or no importance. However If we as adults can take so much pride in belonging to a Wood Badge Patrol, the take home message has got to be "Let's Do This With Our Troop Back Home."

If we accept that our Scouts will have times when there will be doing other activities, which we must accept. We as adults must really look at what being a Patrol Member is really all about. I have to disagree with Mike F and Bob White, 10 is far to big. I think 6 - 8 is the ideal size. Hikes with more then 8 Scouts don't work. I tend to think that most Lads of Scout age don't have 9 or 10 close friends. Cooking meals for more then 6 or 8 becomes a real chore. Patrol meetings are difficult to manage if the group is over-sized.

Everything we do as leaders should be done to strengthen the patrol. We teach and train our Patrol Leaders, we support them and act as a safety net. I don't think a young Scout is ready to lead a group of ten Scouts.

Having said all that if there were a group of ten Webelos Scouts that had crossed over as a den and they were all friends I wouldn't break them up. We do what is in the best interest of the Scout. If there were 12 I would go for two patrols.

Most of the troops in the district that I'm in only have about 22 - 30 Scouts. Very few have more than 36. Large patrols wouldn't offer very many Scouts the chance to benefit from the training that the Scoutmaster does with the Patrol leaders.

As for not having enough Patrol Members to do stuff.The big question is as Bob points out "Why". If only a few Lads are turning up,it would seem that the problem is out there and needs to be found and fixed.

If everything was ideal and working as it should be. I would say that the patrol of six Scouts that are friends would be the best possible size for a Scout Patrol. Still we should do what is in the best interests of the Scout. The Patrol is a method of Scouting. It isn't there for the good of the adults, it is there for the Scouts.

If we could instill in our Scouts the same amount of Patrol pride as the adults that attend Wood Badge seem to come away with, it would be wonderful.

Eamonn.

Have just seen the "Campout only Patrol"

Please, please never ever, ever in a million years allow that to happen.

Mixing Patrols will undo everything that we are trying to do. I' sorry Double Eagle, but you hit on a sore spot. My way of thinking is that the Patrol is the Patrol and nothing ever should break up a Patrol.

If the camp-out has been planned correctly, the information has been communicated correctly. I think that a Patrol that only has two or three show up should camp as a patrol and the SM, the SPL along with the Patrol leader need to meet (I would have this meeting ASAP after the camp-out) to see what went wrong. It could be that nothing went wrong. OJ, is the SPL in his troop. The Troop were attending the District Fall Camporee, this weekend. His School soccer team made it to the play offs. He didn't know this when the Annual plan was made. So he was unable to be there, add to this that we had family who called on Wednesday to say that they would be here on Saturday. There was no way that he was going to make it. So there are the rare occasions when things crop up but these are rare.

Camp-out only Patrols and mixing patrols for games should be avoided at all costs.(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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The use of patrols is a "method" of scouting not just a grouping.

 

Re-arranging or combining patrols, even on a temporary basis, is not how the method works.

 

If the Bears and the Vikings are playing football and all the Bear's QBs get injured they don't borrow one from the other team. (not that it wouldn't be an improvement:))

 

Grouping by mixed ages and ranks is not part of the method either. The BSA program works if you follow the program. Patrols are a group of scouts of similar age, abilities, and interests.

 

They come in three types. New Scout, Experienced (somtimes called regular), and Venture.

 

 

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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The methods of scouting are guidelines not black or white rules. Yes, in an ideal situation they are optimum but we as scout leaders know the ideal in troops is rarely the case so we adjust to the situation at hand. I agree with using the methods of scouting whenever possible, but you also have to use common sense as well. Being flexible allows you to maximize your efforts as circumstances change. MOST troops do not do everything by the book all the time. Don't let Bobs idea of this way or no way discourage you from doing/trying something different. As long as you are not jeopardizing the safety of the boys and it works for your troop, even if it is not in the guidelines, then go for it. (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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The Methods of scouting are the key ingredients that make the program work. Unless you use the Methods of the program you are not scouting you are just doing 'stuff' in a scout uniform.

 

Ignoring the methods to "adjust to the situation at hand" is just an excuse for not learning or applying the scouting methods and just doing what you want.

 

I welcome any example of real life scouting situation where the methods of scouting cannot be applied. Or a problem situation in pack or troop scouting where straying from the methods was not a cause of the problem.

 

Understanding the Methods allows flexibility but keeps everything you do moving towards accomplishing the aims and mission, there is a purpose to the program and doing 'stuff' that doesn't move the boys toward the aims is not keeping the promise of scouting.

 

"Most troops don't do everything by the book"? You have knowledge of the activities of most troops in the BSA? That is amazing!

 

These are NOT my ideas, they are the programs of the BSA developed over the last 94 years.

 

"As long as you are not jeopardizing the safety of the boys and it works for your troop, even if it is not in the guidelines, then go for it.

 

That in my opinion would be an absolute waste of time and a betrayal of trust of the parents who look to us as scout leaders to help develop young people of value and character.

 

If you allow the scout unit you serve to forfeit that goal and simply be a safe place to play then you have betrayed the boys, the parents and the decades of volunteers who have worked to achieve the aims of the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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The patrol loyalty is good but don't forget they are part of a bigger unit, troop. Each scout has something to gain from others. Sharing info, systems, and experiences with other patrols is not bad. A patrol method of 3 or 4 is a bad thing when it comes to menu, duty roster, equipment responsibility. You're saying it is better to overburden a few for the sake of patrol loyalty?

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Cont. Patrols may only be intact until another election. Councils make National Jamboree troops from throughout the council, it works. I would not have a bit of a problem camping or being in a temp patrol with anyone from my woodbadge troop. We would still have loyalty to our critters, but not abandon each other.(This message has been edited by Double Eagle)

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Cont. OA trail crews come from all over the country to work and scout together. They bond over the event, and don't cast off their lodge, troop, or council. Many of us scouters have been asked to help with council/section stuff and answered the call. I'm sure your base unit was proud of the involvement and didn't see it as being disloyal.(This message has been edited by Double Eagle)

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For BOB, Pro teams do combine to make teams, Probowl? All-star game? Getting "all stars" together for a good cause is like staffing a district, camp, or training team. I've taken provisional scouts to summer camp and they fit in well. Based on your input, they shouldn't have been allowed? They were part of OUR group. My group is the BSA and everyone's welcome.(This message has been edited by Double Eagle)

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Patrols are not designed to change with each election. You need to understand the role that group dynamics play in any group situation. The more you re-arrange patrol groupings the longer it will take for them to learn to function as a team and reach a level of performance. With each re-organization the team must begin again to grow through the 4 stages of group dymnamics, you hurt the performance of the patrol and the troop each time you do this.

 

This is even something you learned about in Wood Badge. Did you re-arrange Wood Badge Patrols every time the patrol leader changed?

 

Also you have to stop looking at the "troop" as the most important group. It's the patrol, it has always been the patrol. The troop is nothing more than a gathering of patrols. Each patrol is a separate self governing entity, independent of other patrols but gathering with other patrols to share resources for the benefit of each.

 

The patrol is as a one State is to the United States.

 

If your patrol of three is overburdened when cooking on a campout, the problem is not the patrol method. the problem is they have not been taught to cook properly for that size group. Do not throw away the patrol method, teach the proper skills.

 

The contigent troops are just that, a troop formed for a special event, not the usaul circumstance. Can you think of a better way to organize 38000 people quickly? You cannot base the local troop or patrol on an event that lasts 10-days every 4-years.

 

 

Do you really want to compare the quality and effort put forth in an allstar game to a regular game?

 

They are the worst games of the season. The results do not matter and the players know it. They don't give full effort because it doesn't help their team regardless of the results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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First off, let's lay off the Bears ok?

 

Next, the Eight Methods of Scouting are just that, they aren't the Eight Suggestions of Scouting, they ARE the methods of scouting, I have never read in any BSA publication that it was ok to pick methods like ordering from a Chinese Restuaruant Menu, taking two from column A and 1 from B. Its all eight all the time.

 

I don't have such a good memory, but I remember a quote from some training session I attended, it ran something like boys come together to form patrols, patrols come to gether to form troops, anybody ever hear that one?

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The Scoutmaster handbook has an interesting discussion about patrols and patrol size. Bottom line is 8 is best, and less than 6 doesn't work.

 

On occasion I've used excuses to deviate from what BSA teaches. "Be flexible", "adjust to the situation", "they're only guidelines", "our troop is special". What I've found is that after numerous failures, we discover that the methods and practices found in the BSA books work best. My advice for new leaders is to not try to re-invent the wheel. Thousands of troops, leaders, and boys have already done that over the last 90+ years.

 

Its like the teenage kid that thinks he knows more than his father. When he gets older he realizes his father actually knew some stuff.

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