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Is this the Patrol method?

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Our troop attended the District Klondike Derby this weekend. Our oldest Scout is 14 and First Class. We are really beginning to develop Patrol identities in our two patrols.


The theme of the Klondike was basically leadership, focusing on "Patrol Method" as taught in NYLT courses and in TLT. There were no typical Scout skills events, all focused on leadership and team building. It looked like a good opportunity for our young Scouts to explore leadership and working together and to strengthen our patrols. Our adult leadership was pretty excited about the program.


But when our boys went to the opening, they were split up into makeshift patrols created from a mix of boys from all troops. Instant patrols. These makeshift patrols then went from station to station to participate in the events. Apparently the boys in one troop opted not to break up their patrols and dropped out of the Klondike. Our boys wanted to do the same, but we encouraged them to open their minds and give it a try. By lunchtime most of our boys opted out of the program. It appears many of the patrols just disintegrated.


I'm not certain of my own feelings on this experiment. I understand the concept, but my gut feeling is that it was counter to everything we are trying to do in building a patrol. Something like this might be a good concept in NYLT with older, more experienced Scouts. But I don't think my young bunch was in any way ready for this. They were truly disappointed in not working with their own Patrols.


I also will now have to deal with one upset Patrol and Dad who worked for weeks building a sled which was not used. I have never seen a Klondike where sleds were not used. This was a first. Much effort, time, and expense was put into a sled for our newest Patrol. The Klondike program material did not specifically call for a sled, but it also did not say one was not needed. Being a Klondike, I'd say a sled was a safe assumption.


Anyway, before we do Roses and Thorns at our Troop meeting Wednesday night, I'd like to see what some of you have to think about this!

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But when our boys went to the opening, they were split up into makeshift patrols created from a mix of boys from all troops. Instant patrols.


Is this Patrol Method? Why, no. I can already hear Kudu warming up a full-fledged exposition on the inanity of "leadership development" and how it undermines patrol method and the development of patrol leaders. :) Sadly, with district and council events and camps in some areas, the only way to preserve patrol method is not to participate or to do your own thing.


When we do NYLT or WB, or when we put together program for summer camp, we're in a situation where there are no pre-existing patrols. The fellows running COPE or Archery at camp always have a mix of boys from different troops and patrols, eh? So district and council and camp folks are used to either having to create "instant patrols" or provide program that isn't patrol-based. This is an interestin' example of how what we do in NYLT or WB teaches the wrong thing sometimes. Folks get used to making "instant patrols" because they have to in those training environments, but they don't really understand that's not how it's supposed to work IRL.


Yah, I think yeh need to give some pointed feedback to your council folks, eh?




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Narraticong writes:


"Anyway, before we do Roses and Thorns at our Troop meeting Wednesday night, I'd like to see what some of you have to think about this!"


You mean in terms that boys can understand? Beavah accuses me of "hyperbole," but the easiest way to understand the relationship of Leadership Development to the Patrol Method (and to explain it to boys who have been forced to endure business manager training exercises) is to compare the BSA to Little League.


Narraticong writes:


"There were no typical Scout skills events, all focused on leadership and team building.


As I wrote in another thread, the problem with Scouting is that after 1972, "team-building" theory (blindfold exercises, etc.) replaced specialized Patrol Leader Training that taught Patrol Leaders how to use Scout skills to lead a Patrol into the woods. See "Intensive Training in the Green Bar Patrol":




"Teamwork" is one of the three aims of Little League. Would you use the abstract FORMING, STORMING, NORMING, PERFORMING team development theory that replaced Patrol Leader Training to train a Little League pitcher?


Would you use the abstract SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) to help a Little League batter to "set goals that keep him tight and focused," as we do with Patrol Leaders?


The difference between the BSA and Little League is that Little League's Congressional Charter does not give it a monopoly on the word "baseball." Little League must play to its base because unlike the BSA it competes in a free market. Boys can go elsewhere to play baseball if their adult leaders start attending Wood Badge.


Your Scouts did what adults should have the courage to do: JUST SAY "NO" to Leadership Development!


You should be proud of them and your Troop's program.




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Not the patrol method, just a playground selection of teams without much leadership.


Your scouts were shortchanged on this phony-Klondike, see if you can guide them to correcting this while winter is still here. The Roses and Thorns is a perfect opportunity to get them thinking about doing their own, Klondike the right way with sleds, etc. in the next two or three weeks. Maybe invite another troop.


In the future, shop around and consider events from other Districts and maybe other councils. If other Districts are running better events, consider attending an out-of-district event instead or plan your own.


My 2c, good luck

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We would do this one evening during a week long summer camp. Break up with people from other troops and do some agility contests or such. It was a good way to meet other kids and have a good time. However, once that evening was finished, it was back to regular patrols and our patrol which patrol was the best one :)


I can't imagine doing this for a klondike or weekend camping event. I'm also surprised it came as a surprise, wasn't there a prep meeting or roundtable where the klondike was discussed?


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I have seen and participated in a few Scouting events which have done this. Dividing normal patrols and creating new (camporee competition) patrols within the first few minutes of a weekend event.


I would state there are pro's and con's. But probably more cons, to the concept.


It is an attempt to equalize the playing field. If you have patrols of first year 11 y/o Scouts coming from one side of the council and patrols of 17 y/o's corn-fed mountain men coming from the other side of the council. But even more, it is meant to create new friendship and instantaneous teamwork, which it usually satisfies the friendship part.


As you stated sometimes these adhoc patrols disintegrate, but sometimes they participate throughout the entire weekend and enjoy themselves. (Of course, I've also seen a few normal patrols disintegrate during a camporee and competition).


Then again, I've known a few troops which could care less about the entire weekend. It was all about the post event tug of war, regardless about how much spin the Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters would put on the events and experience of the weekend. For months the boys would spend their school lunch time plotting tug of war strategies against their fellow classmates (but in different troops).


Per Roses and Thorns, or maybe stop, start, continue. Your district and council may ask is this the best way to create friends and equal the playing field? It works sometimes, but not all the time. There are a few other ways for districts and councils to create new friendships across the Scouts, without taking up the entire Saturday. Possibly the similar adhoc patrol events for Friday evening only, or Saturday evening scavenger hunt. And leaving the traditional patrols to compete during the Saturday events.


For the Scouts, did they make any new friends? or could they have used the opportunity to make new friends? Did they pick up any Scouting skills (or even see camping equipment or campsite arrangement) that another troop uses that may benefit your troop?


Hopefully the Roses and Thorns goes well, and if not this time, your patrols and troop, as well as your district and council and prepare themselves better for next years Klondike (or any other camporee).


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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If I were a betting man, I'd put everything I own on the line and say, my boys would not have participated in such a fiasco. They will not combine patrols even within the troop. I have had 2-3 boys participate in the camporee competitions against 8-12 boy patrols, contrived by some SM from another troop. They don't do as well, but they fully understand the patrol method, inside and out and don't need to prove anything to anyone except themselves. I have had two boys in one patrol hanging on now for 6 months waiting to replenish their numbers with the webelos cross overs coming up next month. They have also tried to recruit independent of feeder packs and have now just picked up a third member. They had a few chances to "merge" into another patrol and repeatedly refused.


It takes time to build esprit-de-corps in a patrol and this Klondike thingy is exactly why the boys question the NLYT and TLT programs. If my boys were to have attended this Klondike, they would find it difficult to return to another district event and would surely put one more nail into an almost completed coffin for NYLT in my troop.



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I think the idea of taking "strangers" of boys and tossing them into a patrol would be good for a Junior Leader Training Camp, but not for a campout. The concept is a reality though. We don't get to pick patrols in the real world. You get hired in a job and are put into a group of strangers. Or perhaps you are placed into a work-group or a committee at work. You have to learn to work together or the group fails. Perhaps this is a good idea for the wrong event. Of course I was not there and do not have the vision of the camping committee.


I wouldn't want some of the younger scouts being placed in a group of boys from another troop. Too great of a chance of them getting a bad experience and leaving the troop. I guess I would have to be there to see everything that happened. RD

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