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Baden-Powell: A Patrol Leader is Appointed!

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Yu seemed to have dodged my point.


If you are against the "troop method" because as you say, Adults dictate too much, then how can yu be behind a system where the Adults dictate exactly who makes up the program. That would be direclt control over the troop and the patrols.

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Slow down. I am not stating my opinion, I'm only giving observations. If you wish an opinion, it has to be for a specific situation because generaltities seldom work in all cases.


If you wish to have a well organized precise military type of troop, then one has to go more with the dynamics of B-P. Is it right or wrong? or are we judging good or bad? You can do all the right things and still end up with a bad conclusion and you can do all the bad things and end up with a good conclusion. Gotta make sure everything is defined relevantly.


Otherwise if you wish to promote other dynamics which are encouraged by modern BSA, then you go more with the literature of today. Is going by the BSA always the best? Is it always right?


Not everything works best in ever situation. Our NBP gets an appointed PL and APL. The new boys will need some time to know what those positions are supposed to do and a more experienced scout can lead by example right there in their patrol. These new boys don't know what a patrol leader is supposed to be/do but they are expected to vote for one? Usually it's a dump job on someone they think is going to get stuck with all the work and they are generally right. Then their observations of the floundering PL and APL is usually what NOT to do when you're PL. It's a sure remedy for failure for a new boy right out of the blocks. Not a good idea in our estimation.


The appointed NBP PL usually has had some Den Chief, TG or works well with other boys experience and has had other PL/APL responsibilities and has shown he can cover the bases if necessary. He also has to expand his leadership to work cooperatively with others like the Instructor and TG, something usually not necessary with the patrol he came from. Being a NBP PL/APL is a bigger challenge for the boys than being a PL for your buddies. If a boy wants the expaneded challenge to push his growth, this is a good candidate for the job.


The older boys all elect their PL and APL which we find no problem with.


So to say we always do it one way or the other isn't true. Depending on the needs of the patrols, the boys and the troop, we often time do what will work. The troop has to work well enough to actually be a supporting structure for the patrols. Who can the patrols turn to when they have problems and the troop isn't being run very well?


And no, democracies don't always work better than dictatorships. :^)


I also am an advisor for a Venturing Crew.


We are so far out in left-field as far as BSA is concerned they quit looking over our shoulder and now they don't get so upset anymore.


I am the Advisor, but I am also the CO Executive. Scary, huh? I outrank everyone on the Crew Committee except in certain situations where the CC outranks me. That may occur at an event but never at a Crew meeting.


However, in order to teach leadership skills, there are times when one of the boys is dictator for the day and call all the shots as he sees relevant. I step down completely and do not and cannot question his judgment.


We are a Venturing Crew of US History with military emphasis. We reenact mostly American Civil War. Our CO is an adult group of reenactors and we "fall in" with them when we attend the same events. As Captain/President of the CO, my dictatorial command is always just that. My CC is Lt. Colonel of the state umbrella organization over the CO and so at times, he dictates to me and I pass it on to the "boys".


Does it work? Yep. Do the boys complain? Nope. Does BSA really want to knwo what we're up to? Nope. :^)


The nature of the beast dictates the tact we have to take with different situations we find ourselves in. Do I have trouble shifting gears? Nope, I feel very comfortable standing as a Private in the ACW ranks, as Captain of the company or as Adjutant to the Colonel at times. I have never found a problem with being just an ASM in the troop either. I get more time with the boys as an ASM than I would if I were SM.


The SM has to decide what kind of troop, patrols, adult staff he would like to have, have a Committee that supports him and then use the correct tools to maximize the benefits he is seeking. Remember, you can pound a screw in with a hammer, but in the long run a screwdriver will work more efficiently and last a lot longer.



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OldGreyEagle writes:


I agree the above skill is needed in adult life, however the three aims of scouting are Character Development, Personal Fitness and Citizenship.


No, OGE, "Scouting" does not have three aims, only BSA Scouting has three aims.


According to Baden-Powell Scouting has only one (1) Aim: Citizenship. Character development and fitness are means to the end: the one single Aim of Scouting, Citizenship.


Pop Quiz: in which version of Scouting is Citizenship more important, in the BSA model where Citizenship is only one of three Aims, or in Baden-Powell's model where Citizenship is the only Aim of Scouting?


The reason the youth of the troop elect their leadership is to learn lessons in democracy....It may take awhile and the youth may have to live with the consequences of a poor choice, but they are living out democracy.


Suffering under the leadership of a bad Patrol Leader is not a "lesson in democracy," it is a lesson in bad democracy and bad Scouting.


Good democracy in Scouting is:


"Program Planning: As a result of a Patrol-in-Council, each Patrol Leader brings the ideas and wishes of his Patrol to the notice of the Court of Honor. These are discussed and those receiving majority votes are put forward as program material. In this way the type of Troop programs are built which the majority of boys want.


This is real democracy. The Patrol Leader has to learn to represent his Patrol and to put their case forward even though he may not agree with it personally. He has to persuade his Patrol to back up loyally any decisions of the Court of Honor, even when they are contrary to their own wishes. He must learn to accept success or defeat with equanimity. " See:




Citizenship is learned better in strong Patrols that meet, hike, and camp independently of adults or the Troop Method mini-adult called the SPL.




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DugNevius writes:


If you are against the "troop method" because as you say Adults dictate too much, then how can you be behind a system where the adults dictate exactly who makes up the program. That would be direct control over the troop and the patrols.


OK, the following 10 question survey should help everyone understand the differences between the BSA's Patrol Method, Baden-Powell's Patrol System, and the "Troop Method."


Answer "Patrol" or "Troop" to the following questions:


1) Do your Patrol Leaders report to the PLC about regular weekly or biweekly Patrol Meetings of at least a 30 minute duration each in which they instruct Tenderfoot through First Class advancement skills and prepare for hikes and campouts, all without any adult supervision; or is such indoor instruction and planning usually undertaken in Troop Meetings?


2) Do your Patrol Leaders report to the PLC about regular Patrol Hikes undertaken without adult supervision on which they test (or continue to practice) Tenderfoot through First Class advancement skills; or are hikes usually undertaken as a Troop with adult supervision?


3) Do your Patrol Leaders report to the PLC about regular Patrol Campouts of at least 24 hours duration undertaken without adult supervision; or are all camping trips undertaken as a Troop with adult supervision?


4) When your Patrols camp as a group, do all of your Patrols camp at least 300 feet from each other and the nearest adult; or do the Patrols in the Troop that you serve camp within the eyesight and earshot of adult supervision?


5) Do your Patrol Leaders test and sign off all of the Tenderfoot through First Class advancement requirements; or are these advancement requirements signed off by a Troop Guide and/or authorized Troop Scouter?


All of the above five practices are still allowed in the BSA, but they were the primary focus of BSA Patrol Leader Training from the late 1930s until 1972. For the details of how to conduct such competency-based Patrol Leader Training, see:




In 1972 the BSA introduced the new "Leadership Development" Method of Scouting, and Patrol Leader Training and Wood Badge were changed from teaching the mechanics and the experience of the Patrol Method to teaching abstract leadership skills.


If you answered "Patrol" to questions 1-5, then by today's standards your Troop practices a very high level of the Patrol Method, and your experiences in achieving that with elected Patrol Leaders should be of interest to every reader!


Now, answer "Patrol" or "Troop" to the following questions:


6) Are your Patrol Leaders in Council (with advice from the Scoutmaster) the final authority on the practice of Scout Law; or is the punishment for bad behavior (after the incident) in the hands of the adult Troop Scouters or adult Troop Committee?


7) Are your Patrol Leaders the final authority on the practice of Scout Law; or are their Scouts subjected to a "Scout Spirit" evaluation by an adult Troop Scouter?


8) Are your Patrol Leaders the final authority on Tenderfoot through First Class Advancement; or are their Scouts subjected to an adult Troop Scoutmaster Conference as a condition of Advancement?


9) Are your Patrol Leaders the final authority on Tenderfoot through First Class Advancement; or are their Scouts subjected to an adult Troop Committee Board of Review as a condition of Advancement?


10) Are your Patrol Leaders in Council the final authority on granting permission to a Scout to contact a Merit Badge Counselor; or are the "Blue Cards" of the Scouts in the Troop that you serve signed by an adult Troop Scouter?


If you answered "Patrol" to questions 1 - 10, then you practice the Patrol System as it was designed by the inventor of Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell. For the details of this Patrol System and the ruling Court of Honor (PLC), see:






If practice the Patrol System on this high a level and find that elected Patrol Leaders are just as competent in handling these responsibilities as appointed Patrol Leaders then we all have a lot to learn from you!




"To get first-class results from the Patrol System you have to give the leader a real free-handed responsibility. If you only give partial responsibility you will only get partial results (Robert Baden-Powell, Headquarters Gazette, May 1914).


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When I read Scouting For Boys, I see the following about signing off on advancement:


"Tests: To become a second-class scout and gain the motto badge, a boy must satisfy his scout master in the following details...

To become a first-class scout and gain the whole scout's badge, a boy must pass the following test - in addition to those for second-class - before a Court of Honor."


So, what was the definition of a Court of Honor? "A Court of Honor is formed of the scout master and two patrol leaders, or in the case of a single patrol by the patrol leader and the corporal [ADL]. It decides rewards, punishments, and other questions"


According to the text, the SM was involved in testing, rewards and punishments. Doesn't this contradict your last post?


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From which edition of Scouting for Boys are you quoting? The term patrol "corporal" suggests that it was early.


In the later editions the Scoutmaster attends the Court of Honor but does not vote.


In some editions the Court of Honor ensures that a Second Class candidate "is a satisfactory member of your Patrol and the Troop," and the Scoutmaster tests the Scout only on his understanding of the meaning of the Scout Law and Promise, but these were dropped in the final versions of his program.




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Making reference back to historical documents usually indicates a basis of historical context not who's right and who's wrong. Much of what was written historically may or may not be better than what is being practice currently. Often times historical context gives a greater understanding of the current, other times it offers a differing alteration to what is currently practiced.


When we look back on medical practices 200 years ago, we stand in amazement of how anyone could ever survive a doctor's visit. On the other hand, people from the 23rd Century are going to look at us and be amazed how barbaric we are with our medical practices.


B-P put forth a program of scouting which has proven to be very efficient and effective for 100 years. That which we have altered over the years, may or may not offer anything of value to that efficiency and effectiveness. Is it right or wrong? I don't think that is a valid question. Obviously B-P must have been doing something "right" to give a good start to where we are today. Is what we do today that is different than B-P right? wrong? better? worse?


Have fun, but those questions really don't help the program much. Is it effective and is it efficient are two better systems of evaluation.



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Yah, Kudu makes a decent point, eh?


Lots of times, youth leader elections can really be a means of ensuring an adult-run troop. Adults just aren't going to trust a youth leader with independent action if they don't feel he's up to it. And they shouldn't, eh? Not safe. So the result is a lot more adult involvement.


Often better to appoint or at least screen PL's. That way the PL's are ones the adults can trust with independence, and therefore stay out of the way.


I've seen it done both ways, though myself I always did the elected thing. These days, I lean toward appointed or screened, with youth input. Makes for more youth-run in all the other areas.


In terms of citizenship, we have to remember that the Founding Fathers established democracy largely as a way of restraining government - and even they weren't very fond of direct democracy, eh? ;) I'm not sure that we want our PLC's and youth leaders "restrained" in the same way we want government to be.


Use what works for you. And if yeh find that electing poor PL's is costing you in terms of lost youth or more direct adult involvement, then by all means, try something different!




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Kudu, yes, the 1908 edition - the original document, no?


As to which program is "correct," I would argue that answer is self-evident, though Kudu isn't going to like it. If you are running a Troop under the BSA, then you follow the BSA program. If you alter the program, that is your Troop's decision. Just don't tell me I'm wrong for following the BSA program.


There have been lots of thoughts about boy-lead bandied about, with some tied to B-P, some to his writings and quotes, and some not cited. While there is much information on Kudu's page, much of it is not cited, so I can't tell what has basis from B-P and what is personal opinion. I do not mean that as a criticism of Kudu's page, just an observation from a reader.


I guess that is the problem I have with those suggesting methods other than the BSA program, especially when they tell me the BSA program is wrong, not boy-led. I can't tell what has a historical basis, and what is just personal opinion. It may not matter either way to some, but it does to me.

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im sorry but you will never convince me that having adults chose who gets to be a PL and therefore who makes the program is in anyway a solid form of "Boy Led" and nothing more then adults micromanaging with little faith in the youth.

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It is interesting to note that both sides of the issue claim they are boy-led while insisting the other side is adult-led.


Both sides indicate there are certain elements of adult involvement, but not enough to keep their side from being anything other than boy-led.


Neither side really wishes to know more about the dynamics of why both might offer valid improvements to the process which will occur regardless of their feelings. i.e. scouting today isn't what it was yesterday and it's not what it's going to be tomorrow.


Therefore we spin our wheels with the he said/she said debate of redundant iterations of each other side's point of view.


We all know that what works for one troop isn't going to work as well, if at all, for another troop. Therefore, if the BSA program of today is touted as the one-size-fits-all, perfect-solution-to-all-situations, then you are basically getting sold a bill of goods.


We tweak our program, try different things, use contemporary and historical resources, to try and find what works for us today. All bets are off for tomorrow, we'll need to go back and start the process all over again for that.


What we have is a program now that the boys and their adult leaders feel is not necessarily ok, but works. Our level of dissatisfaction motivates us to try different things and re-tweak to try and improve. We are currently pushing VERY hard on the patrol-method. We are discussing multiple chuck boxes, more tents, patrol flags instead of generic rag dragged out from the troop trailer to make an ad hoc patrol for some activity.


Just last night the committe questioned the use of patrol neckerchiefs. The Honor Patrol has them, but the other boys should use the troop neckerchief because of their troop identity being emphasized at outings. They didn't forbid the use of patrol neckerchiefs, but they were concerned about the impact. At the camporee this spring however the boys will first have to build a troop gateway before they can put up patrol gateways.


These dynamics don't change over-night, they don't happen over-night, nor do they come without a price.


Some on the committee see this new emphasis on boy-led as a move to destroying the troop and it's identity, other see it as a necessary step to implement the patrol method. The adult leadership is nervous, but they haven't come down with a heavy hand and stopped this "new way" of doing things.


As leaders that have worked together for over 15 years, no one ever says anything is right or wrong, just different.


Our Troop Guide for the NBP was "decided" last night. A boy came up to me and asked if he could be the TG for the NBP. The first thing I asked him was, did the NBP want a TG and if they did did they want you to be it. He didn't know, but he did go over to the part of the room where the NBP was meeting to find out. Eventually the NPB PL came over and said that they wanted a TG and asked if so-and-so could be it. I sent him (the PL) over to the SPL for further discussion. The SPL came to me to ask if that would be ok, and I sent him on to the SM. Eventually the TG patch was found and presented to the boy with everyone's approval all along the way. The only part of the whole process that bothered me was why did everyone feel it necessary to first "check" with me. I didn't need to be part of any of that process. This will be a topic on the next PLC meeting.


Change doesn't come easily and may take a painful amount of time to accomplish. But sometimes it has to be done.



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In regard to adult intervention on camping trips and at meetings, I have code words to let parents and other leaders know they need to back off and let the boys do the work (and they can use them to remind me as well). One is "Where is your hiking stick?" All good Scouters need to keep a hiking stick in their hands, so they keep their hands out of the boys' work! :-) That is what a hiking stick is really for!

The second is to ask if the parent's back belt loop is broken? In training, the question is usually asked, "What is the back belt loop on a new pair of adult Scout pants for?" Answer is, for an experienced Scouter to hook it with their finger and pull the parent/new Scouter back from the boys.


It is still hard for me to understand how one can call a program boy-led when the boys can't vote for their peer leaders. Someone said we don't get to elect our bosses. That is true, but we aren't teaching our Scouts how to be good employees - we are teaching them how to be good citizens. In this country, electing our leaders is one of our most prized rights. I think appointing leaders fails in teaching this lesson, badly. Scouting is not the military.


Stosh and Kudu state the PL should be in charge of signing off on T-FC requirements, and if an adult is involved, it takes the power away from the PL. Since the BSA program, which is used for TLT, states an adult will sign off, I don't see how that can be seen as "emasculating" the PL. If you want the PL involved, have him sign off first and then recommend a Scout to the ASM/SM for testing. That gives the PL the "power" to make sure the Scouts in his patrol have met his standard before they go to the adults.

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