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New boy scouts: New patrol or mix them in with existing?

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I have a Webelo I who will be crossing over in less than a year. As we look for a boy scout troop with him, we are seeing two approaches to patrols with new scouts:


1) The new scouts form a green patrol and stay together as almost as "Webelo III's"


2) Mix the new scouts with existing patrols within the troop


Any recommendations on the pros and cons of these approaches? The green patrol seems to be much more popular in my area.



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What do the boys want to do?


I would use their preferences in this issue. If they have bonded well and have been together since Tiger Cubs, then breaking them up might not bode well in the long run.


If they are a mixed bag from a couple of different packs, then let them decide what they want to do.


Our only "rule" is: 6-8 members, figure out what you want to do.



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It is different in our area - cub scout dens usually go into different troops and not necessarily the one nearest or most associated with the pack. Why? The troop in our area has had major issues, so every January and February, there is a scamble to find a troop. I took on the search early and as part of our search, there are troops that use the green patrols and others that mix them.

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We also use new scout patrols. As we have several Packs that feed our Troop, we split the new scouts up between the two new scout patrols but keep them separate from the older troop patrols. We find they merge easier with our Troop when they have their own sense of identity and are not being overshadowed by scouts 5 years their senior. Each patrol is assigned a Troop Guide and an Instructor to lead them and assist with their training. An ASM is also assigned to the patrols to make sure there are no problems that arise with their joining (and to help maintain order at times).


Works for us, but we have the luxury of a large influx of new scouts each year that we can make separate patrols out of. After 1 year, they are added to the rest of the patrols. We usually retain about 80% of the boys who join this way, at least through the middle school years. I know smaller troops who do not get as many new scouts and add them directly to their existing patrols. That sems to work as well. In both cases, having senior scouts assigned to work directly with integrating & training the new scouts seems to be key.

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Acid Test,

There are merits to both methods. Much of it depends upon the size and make up, and structure of the rest of the troop (I'll get into that later).


Properly done, an new scout patrol should never be worked like a Webelos III, even in the figurative sense. A NSP should be lead by a scout (sometimes an experienced scout from another patrol) and the NSP patrol leader and the whole patrol should be mentored by an older scout who is dedecated to serving that patrol as a Troop Guide. Many troops assign an ASM to work with that patrol also. This ASM should never act as a Den Leader. He should step back and allow the PL to be in change and support the Troop Guide in his mentoring.


There are some disadvantages to the NSP system, which can be minimized, depending on how a troop implements the system. In a "strict" NSP system, scouts of the same age will theroetically remain together throughout their troop experience. Remember that the Patrol method defines patrols as 6-8 scouts. Getting and maintaining these "ideal" numbers can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances. It also leaves young scouts with a limited number of experienced mentors in their immediate group. Advancement comes at slower pace (not that a troop should measure the speed of advancement as an indication of success), and skills may not be as quickly mastered.


The main (percieved) disadvantage of integrated patrols is that newer scouts do not remain "together." My observation is that this is largely a parental issue, and not a genuire hendrance to a scout's success in the troop. But it can place older scouts in constant contact with new recruits. For the older scouts, this can sometimes be frustrating, especially if they want to hang out with their own peers.


The dynamics of the troop, age and experience wise, can play a major role in how the unit implements these systems.


I believe that blend of the systems holds the greatest promise, and many troops represented here may use a variation of this. Webelos are crossed over into NSPs and they remain there until they complete their Tenderfoot, at which time they are placed in experienced patrols. Now that they have some basic skills, they are more easily integrated into these groups. Likewise, the NSP is only half the program. On the other end of the age spectrum, older scouts are organized into "ventrue" patrols, which often include upper troop leadership, such as Scribe, Quartermaster, Troop Guide, SPL and ASPLs.


There has been much discussion on this topic, so be sure to research other threads on this:









Hope that helps.

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Lots of good systems out there, success dependent on the Troop, its Scouters and its Scouts in key PORs.


My Troop:


We have boys from many Packs coming in. Each Pack effectively feeds an existing Patrol. These keeps the Webelos together, and many look forward to following the older boys from their Pack who are now Patrol Leader. These same Patrols often furnish a Den Chief as well, and host their old Pack on a joint campout.


The Patrol Leader has a Guide from his Patrol who manages the Trail to First Class for the new Scouts, under the guidance of an ASPL.


We have Patrols with 10+ years of history now, and Scouts are eager to carry on their Patrol's traditions.


It works for us, though other systems may work better for others.

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In our case, I and my son very much welcome a completely fresh start even if it means he will have to make all new friends, so having a group carry over isn't leveraging to us as it may be to other packs/troops.

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Yah, Acid Test, I reckon yeh want to look at other things in the troop besides just this one thing, eh? What you're talkin' about are just plain different flavors (chocolate and strawberry?), but how good somethin' tastes depends more on how well the cake is cooked than on the flavor chosen.


So I'd let your son go to the troop that tastes best to him, eh? The one where whichever way they're setting up patrols he likes the kids and the feel.


Loosely speakin', mixed-age patrols are an old thing, eh? A more "traditional" way of running scouting. Probably those troops have a long history, or at least were around before da program change in the 1990 handbook. IMO mixed-age patrol troops tend to be a bit more youth-run. That's mostly good, but it can be bad in cases where da youth run amok. ;) Same-age patrols might be more comfortable to shy lads and families who are used to the den model and are crossin' in a group. Honestly, though, it just depends on how well each one is baked. :)




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A "new scout patrol" is not "Webelos 3", at least it doesn't need to be. With a strong Troop Guide, an NSP is a great way for energetic, excited new scouts to soak in scouting skills, learn how patrols work, and figure out that they're in charge. It's been my experience that after 6 months of having an experienced scout showing them the ropes, they nearly always want to take off on their own, keeping their patrol intact.


Ensuring the troop's program, leadership, and style fits your son's needs is important. http://www.boyscouttrail.com/library/troop_questions.asp has a list of questions to consider asking each troop you consider joining.


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There are pros and cons for both methods and netiher is right or wrong. Depends on size of troop, size of X-over group, how well current patrols are functioning, how strong the PLs are etc. I tend towards aged-based patrols because that is what the boys prefer Its a pretty rare 16 or 17 year-old that wants to be in a patrol with an 11 or 12 year-old. If your existing patrols aren't working well, throwing in a batch of new scouts probably won't help and will likely not be a lot of fun for the new scouts either.


Our NSP get a troop guide who will essentially act as their PL for the first several month and then will mentor guide the PL for the first year. We do a few targeted activities / outings to "orient" the NSP and get them moving while we get the message out that, unlike webelos, they will be advancing base don their own initiative. I don't think first year scouts can really function as PLs effectively so I like them to rotate PL every 2-3 months for the 1st year while being mentored by a TG or an ASM. By the end of their first year, natural leaders will emerge, boys will advance - or not - based on their ineterest level.



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