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thriftyscout

Avoiding Ad Hoc Patrols

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I am looking for ideas on how to minimize Ad Hoc Patrols. Too often we have only 2 or 3 Scouts from each patrol and it turns into a Troop method outing.

 

The Troop I serve (SM) is composed of mostly age based patrols with a VP made up of High School aged Scouts. Total size 51 youth with 12 in VP, 2 regular patrols of 7 and 9 each, and 3 NSP with about 22.

 

I have some ideas and am discussing it with the SPL and some of the more experienced Scouts. I would like to hear what has worked for others.

 

Thank you.

 

 

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Have you tried mixed age patrols? Another option would be to let the two folks set up asnormal and try to do the events or activities still.

 

The several discussions are bringing back memories of when my troop tired NSPs, aka an age based patrol. If memory serves, usually when there was a school conflict, i.e. school concert, game, etc. then those members of the patrol involved in the activity were gone. I think that's one reason why it didn't work in my troop: when you did go to a campout you might be a 2 or 3 man patrol.

 

Actually I now remember an event where I was the only one that showed up b/c the entire patrol was involved in a school activity, and everyone was in the same grade at the same school, except me.

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I don't see mixed age patrols necessarily fixing this issue.

 

You are going to have scheduling issues these days no matter how you make your patrols. In our area the biggest recurring issue is school band events which can often wipe out half of a troop, and not just those in one particular grade.

 

About the only thing that would cut this down, is if you can group your patrols on the basis of likely scheduling conflict. In a large troop this might work. You could have your band guys in one patrol, your basketball players in another, etc. I don't know, it's just a theory.

 

The only method I have known of that works for ensuring attendance is the model of requiring total commitment from your Scouts to the exclusion of anything else. I know of a Scoutmaster that works on the expectation that everyone will be at the outings, meetings, PLC (if a leader), etc and basically lets the Scouts know they can either be in Scouting or not, but that he isn't interested in being Scoutmaster and committing the time required to do that if the youth aren't also actually interested in Scouting and willing to make a commitment. It works in that attendance is high by percentage, but his membership is rather low. Yet, many other activities take this exact line. Sports require you to be at practices, games, tournaments, etc. Band requires you to be at practice, the parades, concerts, band competitions, sporting events, etc. I don't like that model, because I think there can be some sort of via media between the demands of different activities, but the truth is many other activities and programs do take an all or nothing approach.

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We are in the second year of switching to mixed aged patrols after being age based since the inception of the troop. We now have 4 patrols of about 10 boys (on paper) with about 6-7 active. We have been making a concerted effort to make campouts more patrol based, (with some kicking and screaming) At times if there ends up being just one or two boys from a patrol on a campout, I will encourage them to take advantage of the situation and practice doing some things on their own. Or they can have the option of joining up with another patrol. When this happens I let them work out the logistics themselves.

 

Every once in a while we will have an outing where we will operate as a Troop instead of patrols. The scouts appreciate the change of pace and it allows them to spend time with other friends not in their patrols.

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PE,

Don't remind me about scheduling and school calendars. Try doing your yearly planning session and having to deal with 10+ calendars as you have scouts in both the public ES, MS and HS and in a bunch of private and parochial ES and HS ! Good news is that after 3 or 4 years, we pretty much knew exactly what weekends were available, and just plugged in trips.

 

I think this brings up a point: Different troops have different circumstances they have to deal with, hence they need to adapt, improvise and overcome.

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ThriftyScout,

 

A few thoughts:

 

First, as others have said, if there are at least 2 scouts, they should camp as a patrol. Menu will be simple and they might need some help, but they are a patrol.

 

My other thoughts are more along the line of increasing attendance.

 

- Conflicts. There are always conflicts. Boys are pulled in many directions and they make conscious or unconscious value choices for the best use of their time and energy.

 

- It is possible a program review would be appropriate.

-- Are the campouts in a rut same places, same things?

-- Whats the overall spirit in the troop? Encouraging and excited, or negative and critical?

-- Are campouts a mix of learning and fun? (Boys are in school all week and dont come to scouts for more school even if it is outdoors. Perhaps you can find more exciting/challenging ways to conduct the training so its not same old. Include some patrol competitions and some rewards.

-- Consider some outrageous new activities to catch their imagination and get them excited.

--- After dinner on Saturday night, lay out a scenario which requires them to follow this map and compass course to a site which requires a signal fire burning in exactly 2 hours. Ready, start, GO!

--- Night orienteering

--- Raft building competition with emphasis on good knots and lashings.

 

Boys often get stuck in a rut literally following the exact path theyve seen before and its hard to come up with new ideas. You may have to get them started with some ideas to discuss and decide upon.

 

Others have mentioned it and I have to also. Read some of the other threads about patrol age groupings. In my experience, when the older boys have direct responsibility for growing the younger ones, they also take more interest in actively running the troop. Too often the Venture Patrol just wants to hang out with buddies and dream about high adventure, etc. When these potentially valuable leaders are in the patrols, they are more likely to work harder to grow in capability so they can eventually move up to senior staff (SPL/ASPL) where they get to hang out with their buddies, but only because they are also running the troop.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

Cheers!

 

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I agree with others who have said that a Patrol of 2 or more does just fine on a camping trip or other activity. This has proved much more successful than when we created a "camping patrol" composed of Scouts from different Patrols. If there is only one Scout, then he joins another Patrol with Scouts near his age.

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:) It is always interesting how everyone dances around everyone else's schedule, but no one else dances around scouts. In the end the boy will choose by interest level, how to prioritize his activities. He's in school band and the band director says he has to be at a concert the weekend you had an outing? But it's school, he has to be there for the band! Of course not! I know a ton of kids who went through school and never took band. Well Johnny is on the basketball team and they have playoffs on camporee weekend. Coach won't let him off. Too bad Scouts! Nope, There were more kids that did NOT play basketball in my school than did. All of these are Humpty Dumpty solutions to an already done deal.

 

Maybe scouting should have gotten it's hand in the game BEFORE the others came along. Oh?! We've been in the game since first grade? Obviously we have done a poor job and competitive activities have drawn our numbers away. Well, in the prioritizing scheme of things, does one have a program good enough to compete?

 

One or two boys will be left behind to anchor the patrol. Is it because they have nothing else to do that weekend? or is it because they are hooked on Scouting.

 

Sure there are going to be a few things that get in the way, but for the most part my boys are doing things that they choose to do and set the level of competition accordingly. Why would the boys schedule a big canoe outing on the weekend of the big band concert? They don't. Adults do, however, unless the look at a ton of calendars accordingly and then take all the left over opportunities where there is no competition.

 

It's not an issue of scheduling conflicts, it's an issue of the boys prioritizing their interests. Get in the game and have the boys design activities that they feel are important to rank higher on their to-do list than other things out there. Same-old, same-old doesn't cut it in today's competitive atmosphere.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

Stosh

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Stosh,

 

I think you are dead on with "everyone dances around everyone else's schedule, but no one else dances around scouts". School sports are the biggest problem. Our district, which is not particularly large, has a full-time athletic director who manages these schedules to minimize conflict.

 

I am considering creating a mixed age Kudu style patrol made up of Scouts for whom Scouting is their primary activity. In a sports analogy they would be our first string Scouts and we would give them as much independence as they can manage. Hopefully they would be an example of what Scouting should and can be to the other Scouts.

 

Our Troop is large enough that I think we could try this and see where it leads. Does anyone see pitfalls to this type of approach?

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Stosh,

Some very good points. In reference to school activities sometimes these activities are mandatory and a grade is based upon it. I know band is the best example, but I went to a school that used sports for PE credit. Practices and games during the season counted towards the grade, and they had a "free period" in order to do homework. Then when the season was over, they had to take a normal PE class. So if you missed practice, or missed a game, your grade was affected. Kinda hard to compete with a school activity when a grade is on the line.

 

As for scheduling, it can be a PITA, esp. in the situation my troop was in as described above. There was no way to get 100% attendance. But if your scouts take the time, they can a schedule created that will not constantly force one group of people to miss every single activity. Trust me, our planning session was a day long one to cover the 10+ calanders. But we realized that the schools had a pattern to their callendars, so we were basically able to predict what dates would cause which scouts not to attend.

 

 

 

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Interestin' notion, thriftyscout.

 

I know of one troop that talked about doin' something like that (even more aggressive, in fact). There was a lot of interest in patrol(s) where scouting was their "sport" and they played to a higher level. If I recall correctly, the problem was enough adult commitment. It's hard for volunteer adults to give the same time as paid professional coaches and band directors.

 

Give it a whirl and let us know how it goes, eh?!

 

Beavah

 

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first thing I would do is pass out a questionnaire to each Scout. example: what did you do instead that weekend? Do you find the troop outings totally boring? What would you do to improve things? and so on. Any group needs constant feedback

It may be that, during sports seasons, outings need to start at dawn on Saturday instead of on Friday after school

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For the 73 Nat. Jambo there was Eastern US event and Western US event and a Troop could attend as a unit.

 

My Troop did this and the Troop split into patrols that were made up of Scouts wanting to go to Jambo and patrols for Scouts that did not want to go to Jambo.

 

If I remember there were 2 patrols of each.

 

I dont think it was intentional but by the time Jambo came around the 2 Patrols made up of the Scouts who didnt want to go ended up quitting the Troop.

 

I know that these patrols were invited to attend everything but since the 2 patrols going to Jambo were the super scouts they planned and ran everything.

 

Everyone had the chance to attend summer camp the same year as Jambo but the only Scouts in our Troop that went to summer camp also went to Jambo.

 

I cant say if they felt left out or found other interests as the Scouts in these patrols were pretty sporadic in attending anyways but it pretty much cut the Troop size almost in half.

 

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CNYScouter,

 

Could it possibly be the fact that the resuffling of patrols prior to Jambo have something to do with it? They had their cliques (patrols) and now they didn't. One has the Jambo and the not Jambo groups. All new dynamics being played out and with the attrition rate you experienced, maybe it didn't set well with the boys.

 

However, on a smaller scale isn't this what a lot of troops do on a regular basis. They show up at camporee with half-sized patrols, force them together to get some numbers and then the boys aren't happy. Why not just leave them alone and let them feel the pinch and when it hurts enough, they'll apply the peer pressure on their buddies to show up.

 

Boomerscout has maybe a fairly good solution, but I would have put the questionnaire out to the boys PRIOR to the shuffling. Okay, we have some boys going to Jambo, they are going to focus their time and energy on that, what do the rest of you who aren't going want to do instead? Philmont?, BWCA?, something of their own choosing???? Yes, it will split the focus on the troop and impose a lot of hassles to run two troops within a troop for a while, but at least you won't be losing them.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

Stosh

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