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Help! Where is the handbook for the Troop Method

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Your son is not getting any younger.

Your SM is wasting time that doesn't belong to him.

You can't fix the SM just like you can't fix bad parents.

Only a fool fights in a burning house.


Option 1. Help your son move to another troop.

Option 2. Get yourself appointed as COR or CC.

Option 3. Find a CO and start a new unit. (It's actually very easy)

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As far as your stated intent as a MBC, I ask you to reconsider your plans. Your frustration is understandably great, however you need not penalize a scout because his SM is wrong.


At many council summer camps, they have provisional patrols for scouts who do not attend with their unit. If a scout is working on one of those MB's, you could consider his 'patrol' to be whatever group he was working with at that time. Don't punish a youth for an adult mistake.

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Many Troops have only one working patrol. Granted they are usually smaller than 20 Scouts, but still, only 1 patrol. Since there is only one patrol in your son's Troop, all Troop outings are also patrol outings.


Please don't take out your frustration with the SM on the boys. Rather than trying to sink the ship to demonstrate a point, why not work WITH the boys to help them have as good of an experience as they can.


Or find a different Troop that both you and your son can be happy working with.



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My remarks about being a MBC and doing the right thing was meant to bring light to the fact that unintended outcomes will start to occur and the young scouts won't know what to do which will make them rely more on the adults to do the decision making. Which will lead to a possible break down of the boy led concept too. I don't think making the boys DEPENDENT on the adults for their decision making will help them discover what DEPENDABILITY means - trustworthy, loyal, faithfull, honest, etc. It is something they have to discover themselves and they need the right environment to do it. I will take all my concerns to the next Comm. meeting. The outcome of that meeting will determine my next direction. Thanks to all for your helpful and kind suggestions.

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We have had this issue in my troop. The SM sometimes (not always) prefers to do things as a troop instead of in patrols for convenience sake. For example, on one recent camp out, the SM decided they would cook as a troop instead of in patrols. I think this is because we couldn't park close to the camp site and it was raining and it was just inconvenient to haul all of the stuff up a big hill in the rain.


Anyway, at breakfast the boys started out doing the cooking, but the eggs were getting burnt so one of the moms took over cooking the eggs. The adults were happy about the boys doing most of the cooking and didn't see a problem with this. However, if they had been cooking in patrols, the adults could have had their perfect eggs cooked by adults and if the boys burnt theirs then they get to learn from their mistake. By having the adults save them from burning the eggs they get more to eat but don't learn as much.


Some of the older scouts who are now gone from our troop used to say that it was the burnt meals that they remember the most!


Just a small example of the difference between the so-called "troop method" and the patrol method.


I think it is more unusual for a SM to just completely throw out the patrol method. I think this would be a potential reason to leave the troop, but then you have to consider that the grass is always green on the other side of the fence and maybe your son would be happier with the friends he's made where he is.


Another solution, of course, is to offer to take over the SM job, but if you do that don't wimp out on the patrol method when it's inconvenient for you.


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I know of a troop, which happens to have an ad hoc approach to forming groups on monthly outings (when it has them)...but "patrols" aren't usually functioning. Adults buy food, and usually do most of the cooking too.


But here's the kicker: the last three major purchases by the troop were a large carport-type thing, a trailer, and a large 3-burner Camp Chef stove. In other words, the troop is not moving in a direction that supports patrols.


There's another nearby troop (which was formed out of the one I mention above), that I think is kind of Webelos III style. They have one "patrol", which is pretty intact from when it was a single Webelos den. They are very active, but it is pretty much a father-son program. No SPL or PL in that troop -- it is kind of egalitarian. But at least the adults cook separately from the "patrol", but under the same tarp. At a camporee, I did catch a glimpse of their patrol cooking (I was judging a cooking competition, and seeing the process was part of the score). I noticed that while two young scouts were cooking, there was an adult standing about five feet away watching every step they were doing.


I'm hard-pressed to think which one of those two "methods" is better than the other.



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I originally posted this in another thread, but it directly addresses the question at hand, so I'll repeat it here:


There is no such thing as the "troop method" in Scouting. If that is what this "Scoutmaster" wishes to do, then he is giving the boys something other than Scouting, and you should find another troop immediately.


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E-Mtns writes:


My son's leaders will remove opportunities for leadership growth if they eliminate the PL positions, two or three in this case.


The idea that the purpose of a Patrol is to provide a "POR" is how Leadership Development replaced the Patrol Method with the Troop Method.


Before the invention of "opportunities for leadership growth," the purpose of a Patrol was to provide Patrol Adventure. Leadership Development took the necessary specialized training required for Patrol Adventure away from the Patrol Leaders and replaced it with magic formulas like "11 Leadership Skills" and EDGE.


Knot Head writes:


...leadership skills if we try the patrol method. This way two or three scouts get to learn responsibility by planning a menu, purchasing the food, working with patrol mates in setting up and cleaning the cooking gear.


Um, you forgot "Duty Roster," Knot Head :)


Wood Badge "leadership" experts dab the corners of their eyes with Kleenex when they talk about Duty Rosters, as if they are a significant accomplishment that proves the usefulness of "leadership skills."


Oh, and burning the food. Don't forget that either! Leadership experts get all weepy when they pretend that "controlled failures" such as bad cooking teach the importance of magic leadership formulas and Troop Method elections. The point, of course, is that the Troop Method dumbs Scouting down to the Cub Scout level where leadership failure has no real consequences, it is always trivial.


Before "leadership skills" were invented, Hillcourt's Patrol Method and B-P's Patrol System required real leadership. A Patrol stuck with its best leader because a Patrol Leader had to hold Patrol Meetings without adults to plan Patrol Adventure: Patrol Hikes without adults. If a Patrol Leader was competent enough to get his Patrol out hiking on a regular basis, then the next step was the Patrol Adventure of Patrol Overnights without adults. Likewise, in B-P's Patrol System the minimum distance between Patrols at a Troop campout was 300 feet (as is still the custom in many Wood Badge courses), so as to approximate the experience of Patrol Adventure in a more controlled environment.


By taking Hilcourt's specialized Patrol Leader training away from them, "leadership skills" replaced Patrol Adventure with pretending to use a formula to plan a menu and wash the dishes. News Flash: If you get rid of the Leadership Development Patrol Method, the dishes will still get done!


And Scouts can still pretend to use the EDGE theory on square knots!


Green Bar Bill was perhaps the most popular man in the history of American Scouting (see the site dedication to him on the right side of your computer screen). Scouts stood in line for hours to meet him. Why was he so popular? Because the purpose of the Patrol Method was to provide adventure on the Patrol level, a unit small enough that it does not require helicopter adults. Boys do not stand in line to shake the hand of a man who teaches magical dish washing formulas.


E-Mtns writes:


Adult leaders receive training, soon to be required for re-chartering, but that's not the point of this thread.


You asked "Where is the handbook for the Troop Method," so training is in fact the point of this thread. According to EDGE theory, your Scoutmaster is doing exactly what the "Patrol Method" session taught him. He is "matching his Adult Leadership Style to the Needs of the Group." Again, the Patrol Method session of Scoutmaster training NEVER mentions a Patrol Leader and it does not describe a working Patrol.


E-Mtns writes:


His Scoutmaster is giving the boys the responsibility to choose one or the other method too. He has given them a week to decide. He spoke for maybe five minutes about the how each is different.


You have not told us how he described the two methods. Nor did you tell us where he heard of the "Troop Method" (which one way or another was from me--so I am to blame!). We can't really suggest a way out of this unless we know what he means by the "Troop Method."


E-Mtns writes:


He'll have 12 yr. old boys decide which is better, as if they really understand the differences.


Most trained adults do not understand the difference either. What is the age distribution of your Troop? A 12-year-old can run a BSA "Real Patrol" (one that hikes and camps without adults, for example one of my 12yo Patrol Leaders featured in Scouter Magazine 12 years ago), but it is very rare. If your Troop is mostly 12-year-olds, then most likely they would be pretend Patrols anyway, as in the Troop Method "New Scout Patrol."


The SM has also said he can't wait to do the troop method "so we can have a real democracy where every boy gets a vote".


The Scoutmaster is correct.


In Hillcourt's Patrol Method the Patrol Leaders run the Troop. That means they select the SPL.


Leadership Development took control of the PLC away from the Patrol Leaders and created the Troop popularity contest for SPL on the pretext that the Troop Method is more "democratic."


If you look at the blue PLC square on page 37 of the Patrol Leader Handbook, (page 17 in the SMHB), the SPL has almost complete control of the PLC in the Troop Method because he appoints the Troop Method patronage positions (Troop Guide and Troop ASPL). If he and his Troop Guide can influence the weak New Scout Patrol Leader, he picks up an extra vote. Many Troops have two or three ASPLs, so the SPL has five or six votes in the Troop Method.


Getting rid of the PLC and switching to referendums completes Leadership Development's historic move to the Troop Method: By definition it is now "a real democracy where every boy gets a vote."


Oak Tree writes:


All of the quotes above about the importance of the patrol method are good.


Um, the FAKE Baden-Powell quote that says the purpose of the Patrol Method is to "run a Troop" is the Troop Method, Oak Tree :-)


I've seen troops use the troop method, just as Kudu has.


When I was younger I would ask the District Commissioner for a "Troop In Trouble:" a unit with around four Scouts and in need of a Scoutmaster. I would then recruit 15 Scouts from the local school (See http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting.htm ), figure out who the natural leaders were, and train them using a version of Bill Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training Course:




The Patrol Method is not rocket science, as long as you space the Patrols as far apart as possible (in proportion to each Patrol Leader's competency). So if you have at least one natural leader around 15 years old, you can switch a dying Troop to the Patrol Method in about two months.


When I retired to the rural south I gave that up and just volunteered at the neighborhood Troop (which uses ad hoc Patrols). I joined the District Training Staff and waited for two years before the opportunity presented itself to help our Troop's new Scoutmaster move to a Patrol Method.


I would caution E-Mtns against dragging his son to another Troop if this is where all his friends are. A lot of boys drop out within a year of transferring, and most American Troops use the PMINO anyway (Patrol Method In Name Only).


Yours in the Old School,




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Kudu said;


"You have not told us how he described the two methods. Nor did you tell us where he heard of the "Troop Method" (which one way or another was from me--so I am to blame!). We can't really suggest a way out of this unless we know what he means by the "Troop Method."


He said the difference is the troop method will be like one big family voting on everything together, so everyone has a voice. The patrol leaders council will eliminated and there won't be any patrol leaders. Then he started talking about the patrol method and basically fudged it in front of the boys and asked for help about mid-way through.


I did not step up to explain what I thought the difference between the two methods were because I was warned by the SM beforehand not to say anything that could be seen as favoring one or the other.


It appears the SM is listening to and doing what one younger SA is saying is the better way to run the troop.


We have a troop adult leaders meeting next week, I plan to offer an exercise in discovery by presenting them with the troop self-assessment survey. I will have a SM handbook and other material ready if we need to further discuss any of the specific items. I may also include what a Commissioner does when he checks up on a troop.





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