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Webelos, NSP, Patrol Method

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I'll hold my blue ribbon for a moment on the post. :)


"Onehour, you just described the main problems of Aged Based Patrols. As you found out, if your new scouts are to get anything out of the program, the adults have to jump in and help to make it work. That goes against the advantages of a boy run program. I have never seen an aged based troop that didnt end up the way you described.."


We tend to have age based patrols and if the new scouts "aren't getting anything out of the program" the adults DON'T have to jump in unless their are an adult-led program anyway. If it was a boy-led program, the TG should be stepping in to help make it work. An effective TG would be able to do the same as an adult and yet retain the boy-led method in the troop. Maybe the comment should read: "I have never seen an aged based adult-led troop that didn't end up the way you describe.." A properly run boy-led program would not end up the same way OneHour is experiencing. There is nothing wrong with a TG jumping in, doing his job, and still retaining an effective aged based patrol program.


I guess I'm hearing too much necessity on the part of the adults to interfere, but tend to be more in IM_Kathy's camp.


"Beav, you are correct. Big troop=adults have to help. One boy (SPL) and his underlings cannot handle 86 boys (about to be 100+). I expressed the concerns (and did ask for advices here as well) on how to keep the influx to a decent roar. Right now, we are 60% boy lead and 40% adult help (not leading ... we never stand in front of the boys nor do or tell them what to do ... we simply nudge them with poignant questions. I constantly help my SPL with the planning with again questions and querying."


If the boys are being trained by each other, why would big troops need to have adult "help", aka interfere? One boy, of course, cannot handle 100+ boys. Heck, most adults can't either. That's why big troops need the patrol method rather than the troop method. SENIOR PATROL LEADLER means just that, he is the #1 support for the PL's of the troop. The PL's run their patrols and the SPL and his ASPLs support the PL's in that process. SPL, with all his experience and training, should be passing that on to his PL's. Don't need an adult to do that. PL's should be designing their own program for the patrols. PLC need only concern themselves with organizing inter-patrol considerations.


The CEO of an organization does not need to know what Joe Shmoe is doing in the plant. He has a plant manager to concern himself about his plant supervisors, who in turn worry about the shop foremen, who in turn are responsible for keeping Joe busy. Adult led troop method means that when Joe screws up, the CEO jumps in and makes it better. Just because the NSP is having trouble doesn't mean some ASM needs to step in and start asking questions. It's the TG assigned to that patrol to roll up his sleeves and get to work! The TG's main goal is to teach the NSP's PL how to do leadership for his boys. Again, no adult intervention is needed. If everyone basically did their jobs as they were trained by their predecessors, there would be no need for adult intervention at all, ever! No troop gets to the 100+ size without longevity and if the troop grew up boy-led, patrol-method, the youth leadership would have been trained the first year and passed along as the troop grew over the years. Of course if they weren't taught and the adults maintained the true leadership of the troop, these dynamics would never have developed and constant adult asking questions, prodding, poking and interfering would be necessary to keep the boys on task, i.e. do the leadership for them.


Your mileage may vary.



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>> Maybe the comment should read: "I have never seen an aged based adult-led troop that didn't end up the way you describe.." A properly run boy-led program would not end up the same way OneHour is experiencing. There is nothing wrong with a TG jumping in, doing his job, and still retaining an effective aged based patrol program.


I would agree if I had witness such a program, but I have not. I am not saying that there isnt such a boy run program or that your troop is not boy run, I just personally have never seen it. And I have worked with and observed several programs.


But let me just say I am not defending my observations to the death. I know there are many ways to skin a cat. I enjoy learning knew ideas and the more the better. In fact I feel our program turn out the way it did because we were so open to other ideas. I am just explaining my experience, not my theory. I had to throw out my theory my second year of Scoutmastering. In general, everything we tried the first time failed. We tried six different ideas for new scouts before we found one that worked to our standards. So our experiences are from lessons learned.


The problem Stosh is I dont think a TGs instructing new scouts is enough to achieve the same level of growth as a mixed age patrol. That is why we move our new scouts out of NSPs into the regular patrols a few weeks after summer. New Scouts in NSPs are basically learning from purposeful instruction from, whether its from adults or Troop Guides. Personally I don't think it matters who teaches at the point to be truthful. Boy run is functioning independently, not having a boy tell you what to do. At least to me anyway.


Purposful instruction is OK for the first few weeks to get the scout up to speed quickly on basics like setting up tents and turning on stoves, but the best kind and fastest kind of growth comes from the scouts passively observing and experiencing the skills with someone who already has the experience like a patrol mate. I have found and even proved that a 3rd year scout who comes from a mixed age patrol learned a lot more about leadership simply by observing leadership in his patrol than a scout that came from a same age patrol who went to several session of JLT type training. It makes a big difference. Observing to learn is just our nature.


Also, we found the New Scouts in our NSPs were basically bored after six months because the TG pretty much taught about everything that the scouts felt they needed to be a functional patrol. The scouts in their second six months got in more mischief than any other scouts. They are mature enough to function on their own as a patrol after six months, but dont have any broad experience base from the group to learn new stuff. Many SMs just say send in TGs at the point, but the problem is they have to fail first to know that they dont know. That gets old quickly.


Here is an example that any troop can observe with two patrols side by side. One patrol is a NSP, the other is a mixed age patrol with two new scouts that came from the same Webelos group as the new Scouts. After one year, go observe each patrol cooking their Saturday supper. You will likely see the scouts in the NSP cooking the same thing the same way that they learned six months ago. The new scouts in the mixed age patrol are likely are helping older patrol members cooking something they have never prepared before using a cooking technique they may have only used a couple times before, like a dutch oven. The SM and SPL can certainly send a TG back to the patrol to teach a new meal, but the scouts in NSP kind of resents that because that is saying they are still the new guys who cant be trusted to be on their own yet. They would rather eat the same meal over and over than have that feeling of being different from the rest of the troop.


Just about all new scouts hate being the new scout and being treated like the new scout. Scouts in mixed age patrols arent new scouts very long because they become part of that patrol, part of the team. The scouts in the NSP are the new scouts until next year when they finally get a new group of scouts. I remember once talking to a scout in a new patrol requesting to be a Troop Guide for the next group of new scouts because he wanted to make them feel the way he felt about being a new scout. He wasnt talking about being nice.


Its not just the scouts feeling they are being treated like babies, its also more work on the adults and PLC making sure the new guys are getting enough instruction or role modeling to maintain growth. Groth comes naturally with mixed age patrols. Its more artificle in NSPs.


Now I admit some troops may have figured out how to do natural growth in a same age patrol, I just have not seen it yet. I would be excited to vistit anyones troop on this forum so you could brag about your fine program. I love to listen to braggers, no matter how adult run you may be. But I also enjoy learning something new.


Im trying not to over step my bounds here. I am not judging anyones program here, Im just speaking from my experience. My theories that I started with as a scoutmaster dont much match my experience that I reflect back on and I just try to pass those experiences on to folks here. My theorys sucked.




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The CEO of an organization does not need to know what Joe Shmoe is doing in the plant.


Why are we talkin' CEOs?


We're talkin' about a kids' program.


In a CEO-run top-down organization, you're tryin' to produce widgets, not growth in people. Da organizations that produce growth in people tend to be structured flatter.


Jblake, I think yeh have a notion that if a youth TG or SPL sets up a class to teach, or starts directing other "subordinate" youth around that that is youth run. In other words, youth run should look like having youth mimic what adults do in school or business (which always requires adult direction, because youth would never really go there themselves).


In that world, only a few become leaders... leastways, unless yeh do the even more odd thing of "rotating" leadership so that everyone gets a turn.


I agree with yeh, the current BSA program materials push yeh that way, complete with titles, job descriptions, and organization charts.


The more natural way is the "gang" of B-P or Bill Hillcourt. Older and younger fellows all mixed up; young ones trying to earn their stripes, middle ones being good followers and adding experience, older ones steppin' up to responsibility and leadership.


Ironically, the natural way is also the more youth-run and the safer way. Mixed age means the patrol has a lot of experience and strength to rely on, and only a few fellows who need support. In da CEO-style approach, yeh need "policies" and "professional development seminars" and "supervision".




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In my troop as a youth, and actually how it was done at our council's Troop Leadership Training, we had the older boys in a patrol we called the Leadership Corps, usually the PL was the ASPL. Each of these boys was assigned as a patrol counsellor for one of the other patrols. Although the older guys could do their own thing, they had an affinity, and even a responsibility, to the patrols with the younger guys. I always liked the way this worked.

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So this then begs the question of when does a NSP cease being a NSP and begins to operate as a regular patrol? Does it have to be broken up to do this? What about the boys that have been in scouts with their buddies since Tigers, go through AOL, come into the troop only to be split up and farmed out. Could this have anything to do with the huge attrition that the first year boys face? Yeah, ideally it would be great to rub elbows with the big dogs of the troop once in a while, but one will still most likely want to be with his buddies over the long-haul.


So the boys come from Cubs. They stay together for the first year and all obtain FC. Okay why break them up? They are all FC scouts and should be able to function properly as a regular patrol. TG goes back to doing his thing, the boys may or may not have liked their older boy PL assigned for the transition, so he can either stay or leave, but the boys now select their own PL and they are no longer a NSP, but a regular patrol. This could happen at any time in the process. 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, no problem.


I just love it when we teach the boys TF requirement where they are to learn their patrol name and yell, bond as a team, hang with their buddies and then in 6 months scatter them throughout the troop.


Okay, do away with the NSP and move them into regular patrols from the git-go. Out of the 8 buddies that crossed over with you, you can pick only one to go to to hang with people you may or may not know from Adam. There's an incentive there to stay with scouting?


Instead of having a NSP, just call it something else, like the Owls, or the Wolves, or the Beavers, and let them be a patrol, except for the first few months have heavy duty orientation, interaction with the older boys in the troop and given a chance to bond and stay together as a patrol of buddies. Let them pick a TG of their choosing to help them. If they need a PL to show them the ropes, let them pick one from the troop. Whatever it takes to make it happen for the new guys, just don't scatter them to the wind and expect them to make new friends before they decide to quit.


Beavah, It was an example for reference. So I'll put it in terms of scouting... :) The CC doesn't need to know what Johnny is doing in the patrol, unless it's her own kid or the kid that punched her kid. :)


On the other hand the PL needs to know what Johnny and all the members of his patrol are up to.


The SPL needs to be handy to the PL to help him when he needs it.


The SM needs to be handy to the SPL to help him when he needs it.


The CC/Committee needs to be handy to the SM to help him when he needs it.


I'll try to stick with scouting terms that people all seem to have defined a hundred different ways to try and make myself clear in the future. :)


Your mileage may vary.



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