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Requiring "Virtual" Patrols at District Events

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vmpost wrote Meanwhile, congrats on doing so well at the Klondike Derby. We are hosting one next week, and one of the instructions to the judges is that the teams lose points if the SM (or any adult) helps. Scouts & leaders are told this ahead of time, too. This is one of my pet peeves. (We are also requiring teams to be at least 50% First Class & below.)

"

How does "requiring teams to be at least 50% First Class & below" support the patrol method?

 

The BSA program has 3 patrols - New Scout Patrol(under first class), Regular Patrols and Venture Patrols, by requiring teams to be at least 50% First Class & below you are forcing Troop to use "Virtual Patrols"

 

Shouldn't these types of events have 3 seperate levels, one for each type of patrol, to help reinforces the patrol method instead of forcing Troops to break-up patrols to fit the event requirments?

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Agreed. Our district is changing its format this year to get away from virtual patrols at camporees. One course for NSP's and another one for regular patrols.

 

I have judged events at camporees and have seen these virtual patrols come up to me with at least three different patrol patches on their uniform sleeves. Yeah, right.

 

Different courses for NSP's and regular patrols. That is the best way to build patrol spirit instead of putting the emphasis on winning at all costs.

 

G.B.

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Our Klondike Derby used to require a minimum and maximum (6-8) on a sled. If you had a great turnout (i.e. 9 boys from one patrol) or a poor turnout, you had to adjust your lineup. I always grumbled about this rule as being "anti-patrol method". This year the rule was eliminated. And, a sled with less than six boys did not have to have a "lame dog" (rider). This encouraged more smaller groups to participate. Groups with more than eight could only have seven pushing/pulling the sled. The extras had to run along behind. I'm glad we made that change.

 

Nevertheless, I still know that several groups did the vitual patrol thing. We had one patrol that only had two scouts. So we put one with each of our other two patrols. Another troop combined three patrols into one sled.

 

 

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My observation is that most teams at our Klondike are not patrols, but some other temporary grouping. My further observation is that when these teams include older and younger scouts, the younger ones are doing precious little participating in the events. In an effort to do well, the team lets the best competitors do the lion's share of the tasks, and the younger kids mostly watch.

We have never done this in our troop... It is fun to see how our patrols improve their skills and teamwork from year to year, but it's not unusual for some of these kids to get discouraged because they never win anything. (Of course, if they really wanted to win, they'd practice harder :-)

On a related note, only two troops remained to camp Saturday night and several passed on Friday night as well, electing to make a day trip out of it. Which seems a shame to me also -- what better chance to get in some winter camping than at an event with so much logistics support? If not then, when?

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This whole thing about Virtual Patrols at Klondike, and perhaps Distircts forcing Troops to form them has been sort of an epiphany to me. As I have followed this thread and the one that spawned it, I had a thought in the back of my head, and it was dreading what Kudu might say about allowing the District to regiment outings to the point of doing away with the patrol method, then I thought, but he would be right. Keep them in Patrols, if there are only two, then the two go, and BTW, have events that would attract scouts. If you have the same fire building to burn the string each time, or knot "kims game" or whatever it is, you can expect poor attedance, make the kids WANT to come.

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Since this was triggered by a comment I made, let me explain: We are utilizing teams, not patrols, during part of the Derby. While I understand the problem of virtual patrols: 1) Most do it anyway. 2) Some of the events cannot be done by a team of 2 people. 3) We have typically small troops out here...often a troop only has one patrol. 4) Is it just semantics...team vs. patrol? Maybe. But we even combine boys from different troops. We really are doing the events as teams, not neccesarily patrols. 5) Yes, when patrols are split by age, it is harder to get an older group that fills the 50% requirement. However, IN OUR SITUATION, most of the older boys are helping on staff rather than participating. Partly because many of the older boys are leaving the Derby early due to other committments. (Basketball teams, Winter Royalty, etc.)

 

THIS portion of the Derby is NOT promoting patrols. I am sorry if that upsets you. The other portions of the Derby ARE ALL done as patrols. This section did not lend itself to the patrol method. Instead, it is meant to encourage comaraderie between the TROOPS. Novel idea. We are not promoting killer competition either. Another novel idea. We are not giving "prizes"...just attaboys. The boys are being assessed for Scout Spirit. (I know I said they get docked points for adult leaders helping, but then, you don't know anything about the "point system" do you? It is pieces of candy. It does not count towards a prize.)

 

Our own troop consists of only 2 patrols. The New Scout Patrol is the one "competing", with their Troop Guide alongside to encourage them to do the activities. This basic scenerio is true of 95+% of the troops coming. Ideally, yes, there would be activites for all the different levels of ability. This may work just spiffy for those of you who have more boys in your troop than we have for Klondike.

 

Reality check...due to the weather here, we will probably only have about 50 Scouts here for our Derby. What the %*#@! do you expect with this situation? I KNOW HOW THINGS SHOULD BE..."IDEALLY". This is not an ideal world NOR do small groups lend themselves to "ideal" Scouting...we do what we can, then we adapt.

 

Due to the older boys wanting to play some of the games, they will have a chance also. I only posted a very small portion of the whole picture. I'm sorry I added that much.

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Old Grey Eagle says, "have events that would attract scouts. If you have the same fire building to burn the string each time, or knot "kims game" or whatever it is, you can expect poor attedance, make the kids WANT to come."

 

FYI -- we DO have events that attract Scouts. Our entire high school for the entire town is less than 85 students. So...you get the same kids who are on the football, basketball (or wrestling), and track teams; who are also on the Speech team, in the One Act Play, Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, and just about everything else in school. Their teams rely on them. Most of the towns around here are similar.

 

BECAUSE we have fun events, several of the boys show up for the part of the day they can be here for, then leave. We make the activities available to them while they are here... whether they have a "patrol" or not. Make the kids WANT to come? They want to. But they have other obligations, too. Make them choose? Why on earth would we want to do that? Then our Scouting program around here would have only 2 boys per troop max.

 

How about we continue to make it fun & available for them, and accept them however they are? And if the boys make "teams" from different troops, WHO CARES?!? They are bonding with lifelong friends.

 

So...please tell me guys...what IS the perfect plan for a Klondike Derby that a) will get ALL the Scouts here, b) will utilize the patrol method 100%, c) doesn't pit the younger boys against the older boys (which is what we were trying to avoid), d) will get the boys to choose Scouts over their District (State-qualifying) Basketball game or Winter Royalty, and e) be so fun & novel that no-one will want to miss? Especially given the small town sizes I've described, where the kids are very involved. I'd love to sponsor this dream Derby. Please help me.

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One further note...each area has at least six things to do with the requirement that the parts be divided equally among team members. This means that in most cases, each team member will have to do at least one part, and may even get to select the area he is best at. Depending on team size, they may do more than one part. So, the older ones aren't going to be overpowering the younger ones. I am also trying to prevent Troops from "stacking" a virtual patrol, which is what happens when the reward is too tempting, whether we support virtual patrols or not.

 

We actually have Scouts who have recognized they were unfair competition and withdrew themselves from competing against any Scouts. One knew he was unfair competition for ALL the Scouts and most the adults in Pioneering. (He was Pioneering MB counselor at a summer camp for two summers, and was one who made sure the boys did ALL the requirements. He recently competed on a Coast Guard cutter in a friendly competition, and at 18, out-tied everyone except a 30-year-old veteran.) We have many of the Scouts in the District who hold to this standard and take time to help those who don't "get it".

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Our troop ends up combining patrols due to the same reasons that others have mentioned. If older boys try to take over a patrol, that patrol will lose points as they need to show how they can work together. So, we haven't had a problem with a mix of ages in the patrols. My 12 year old son was the patrol leader for his patrol this year and the boys ranged in age from 11-15.

 

I, too, don't see why it is so important to keep strictly to true patrols. If our troop had done that, we would have had 2 patrols of 6 boys each, and 2 patrols of 2 boys each. If every troop would have had 4 or more patrols, our Klondike Derby would have been way too crowded with sleds, and it would have taken too long to get all the different teams through all the stations. The number of "teams" we had was just about right, with not too much waiting to get to a station.

 

Also, not one of our boys complained that they weren't in their true patrols. I can tell that the boys enjoy interacting with boys from other patrols. In my mind, this strengthens the whole TROOP, since it encourages the boys to work with older or younger boys, instead of just their same old patrol buddies. Granted, our troop uses the patrol method for everything else, but I actually see benefits for switching boys around (only as needed) for Klondike Derby.

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So if you can't use virtual patrols for District events, how do you incorporate Lone Scouts into the activities? Does he operate as a one-man patrol?

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vmpost-

 

1) Just because everyone is doing doesn't make it right. Shouldn't we be doing what's right?

 

2) As my post implies by requiring that you must have 6 to 8 you are forcing Troops to combine patrols to compete. The combing of patrols is never a good thing. IS there no way to come up with events that can de done by patrols of 2 or patrols of 8?

 

3) What difference does the troops size make? Yes, a smaller troop may have only one patrol, but this forces the Troops that have NSP to compete against reguale patrols or rearrange their patrols to compete.

 

4)Again its just not a good idea to rearrage patrols for any reason. There are many ways to promote Troops working together without dirupting the patrol method. This is done at the National Jamboree without requiring scouts to create new patrols or Teams.

 

You ask what can you do in this situation.? Is there no way to come up with 2 levels for each station? one for NSP's and one for regular patrols. Can't you make the decision, like Greying Beaver, to do events that promote the BSA program?

 

You ask what is the perfect plan to attact all the scouts. I'll agree it will never happen. A Troop with a weak program will not attract all its scouts no matter what you do. But you can offere a program that supports the patrol method.

Even if you only get one or two patrol competing at the NSP level it reinforces the BSA program and sends the meesage that supprots the BSA program.

 

 

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funscout wites:

 

If every troop would have had 4 or more patrols, our Klondike Derby would have been way too crowded with sleds, and it would have taken too long to get all the different teams through all the stations. The number of "teams" we had was just about right, with not too much waiting to get to a station.

 

What would happen next year if twice the number "virtual" patrols show up are you going to tell them they can't compete because it will take too much time?

 

If our troop had done that, we would have had 2 patrols of 6 boys each, and 2 patrols of 2 boys each.

 

As it's been said on these forums many times two kids can compete as a patrol. They can't do it as well as 6 or 8 but they can function as a patrol. It's better to keep the patrol togehter than to combine them into another patrol.

 

I, too, don't see why it is so important to keep strictly to true patrols.

 

It's important to keep strictly to true patrols as it builds patrol spirt and creats better leaders. When you combine patrols you send the message that patrols aren't important and don't mean anything. By keeping kids in their true patrol, even if it only two of them, it demonstrates the patrol is number one.

To understand why combining of patrol is a bad idea, even for one event, you have to study team building concepts. The have been a great deal of studies in the business (and sport) world on the team concept. This concept works if its a sports team, a team to fix a business problem, or a scout patrol.

 

In a nutshell-

Every team progresses through four phases: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

Over time a team moves through these stages in this order and after some time reaches the performing stage.

 

Every time anything is done to disrupt the team, adding or losing a leader, changing leadership or having team members compete on another team, the team starts over and has to go through each stage again. And this does happen even for a one-time event

 

vmpost, even though creating teams from different troops sounds good to "encourage camaraderie between the TROOPS its not a good idea as it disrupts every the patrols in every troop that participates

 

 

The problem with the "virtual" patrol is that the new team has not been together long enough to reach the performing stage and the teams you pulled members from have to restart over and go through each stage again.

If you are mixing patrols for every outing your are not allowing the patrols to ever reach the performing stage.

 

Also, not one of our boys complained that they weren't in their true patrols. I can tell that the boys enjoy interacting with boys from other patrols. In my mind, this strengthens the whole TROOP, since it encourages the boys to work with older or younger boys, instead of just their same old patrol buddies.

 

If kids don't mind to switch patrols then you are not really using the patrol method. The BSA program is built around the patrol as the primary unit, not the Troop.

You should be doing everything to reinforce the patrol not the Troop.

This is what the thread "The Troop method" is about, doing things as a Troop instead of doing things as patrols ans why is not a good idea.

 

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OK,

 

At first I was going to respond to "Again its just not a good idea to rearrage patrols for any reason." as being a little dogmatic. While I'm not in favor of the concept of virtual patrols, I'm also not in favor of extremes that take situational considertions out of the picture. Things like never, always, mandatory, etc. as there is almost always(there I go contradicting myself) a situation where some flexibility is beneficial to a hard dogmatic adherence to a particular procedure or rule.

 

However, I then read,:"As it's been said on these forums many times two kids can compete as a patrol. They can't do it as well as 6 or 8 but they can function as a patrol. It's better to keep the patrol togehter than to combine them into another patrol. " And started to think that this just doesn't make sense. How can you ask a patrol to effectively compete against a patrol of 6-8? I mean you would take a soccer team of 4 players and expect them to compete and enjoy themselves in a tournament where all the other teams have 11 players.

 

But I thought some more, and came up with the idea of using a point system based on a per/scout basis rather than a per/patrol basis. Sure in any given event the 2 scout patrol would be at a disadvantage and maybe earn fewer points than an 8 scout patrol, but on a per scout basis they could actually win the event.

 

Example: An 8 Scout patrol performs an event fairly well and is awarded at total of 42 points out of 50 for the event or 7pts./scout. The 2 scout patrol struggles to reach a result that is not nearly as good but demonstrates teamwork and effort. They are awared only 16 points. But that is 8pts/scout and in that instance would be quite competitive.

 

So, I think if we put our mind to it, a system could be fashioned that would allow a 2 scout patrol to be competitive with an 8 scout patrol.

 

FYI,

 

We will be going to the Valley Forge encampment this weekend with a crew of 4 scouts. We don't use virtual patrols anymore. The crew leader is the ranking scout from one of the regular patrols, and three other scouts from the NSP. This was an added trip that conflicts with many family vacation plans and the holiday weekend hence a small turnout. They had a crew meeting last night to prepare for the trip. I suppose we could have had the one scout from the regular patrol eat and sleep on his own to maintain patrols though.

 

Next month we'll have our regularly scheduled outing and the scouts will participate in there normal patrols.

 

I agree though I would not be in favor of Distict or Council events that artificially forced reallignment of patrols to meet the administrative needs of the adults. To the exent feasible, the events should encourage participation by standing patrols.

 

SA

 

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One thing that our district did at a Combined District Camporee was instead of changing events so that it was easier for the younger scouts, to give an award to the best patrol made totally up of new scouts. This allowed them to do the same events as all the other scouts, but with the expectation that they were competing more against scouts of their own age group and experience. I thought it worked out very well.

 

Sue M.

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scoutingagain-

 

I have to stand corrected.

You are right.

There are some situation that do warrent creating a patrol.

 

When you have Council Contingency Troops created for National or World Jamborees, or high adventure trips to Philmont, Seabase or the Northern Tier Canoe Base.

 

I do agree that in a Troop setting you may have a special Trip that does require forming a new patrol.

However, these special circumstances are something that is done on a rare occasion of maybe one or twice a year at the most for a Troop and are not done on a regular basis.

 

You are right that a patrol of 2 cannot compete against a patrol of 8.

 

But, doesnt that teach the scouts something about patrols and teamwork.

To have an effective patrol everyone in the patrol must be there and partisipate

perhaps next time to encourage more of the patrol to show.

 

Only having 2 scouts in a patrol at an event and talking about how they did and how to next time they could do better would make a great reflection topic for the next PLC or a good SM minute.

 

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