Jump to content

Forming New Scout Patrols

Recommended Posts

I'm frustrated, so my apologies if this devolves into a rant.


13 new Scouts crossed over from Webelos last month. We intentionally let them hang as a group for a few weeks before forming patrols. We're camping this weekend so at last week's troop meeting we asked the boys to form themselves into to patrols.


We explained the new Scout patrol system, that it's not like being in different Cub dens and only seeing your buddies at pack meetings, that for instruction and activities much of the time they'll all be in one big group, that the patrols mainly tent and cook together on campouts, there's plenty of time to hang with your mates regardless of what patrol they're in, etc., etc., etc., yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah.


So we asked the Scouts to divide themselves into two groups of 7 and 6 Scouts. Dumb looks, no movement. The Troop Guides looked at me and shrugged.


So I stepped in (normally I would not have, but the TGs are rookies and the ASPL in charge was out sick) and told all boys to buddy-up with the guy they wanted to tent with and hold hands over their heads. Of course there would be one group of three, but that's okay since each patrol has at least one three-man tent for just such a purpose. That worked.


I then asked each set of buddies to join with two more sets to form the patrols. That worked too.


Then I told the boys, these are your two patrols. "Is everyone okay with this? (Nods) Now is your chance to make a change. Everyone has their buddy in the patrol patrol with them, right? (More nods). Because I dont' want to get phone calls from your moms this week that you didn't get in the patrol you wanted to. Everyone is happy, right, because this is your last chance....."


Next I walked around the corner to where the CC was meeting with the new scout parents. I explained to them the process we had been through. And I specifically told them not to call me complaining about the patrol assignments because the boys made their own decisions and had every opportunity to make changes if they wanted. Everyone chuckled and smiled.


Well I don't have to tell you what was in my inbox this morning. In part, "these boys have been together since kindergarten, they hang out together and live in the same neighborhood. (He) felt squeezed out from his friends in the way the patrols were formed because of who he was standing next to and felt it would not be appropriate to speak out because he would hurt the others feelings. (He) is disappointed he will not be camping with his buddies for an entire year.... I would suggest a closer look be made at the patrols."




In the past, I've created the patrols myself and had complaints.


We've let the PLC and/or Troop Guides create the patrols and had complaints.


We've let the old Webelos den leaders create the patrols and had complaints.


We've let the parents have input into the patrols and that was a bloody mess.


Now we've gone old school and let the boys decide and we still get the same results.


Six weeks from now, no one will care. Once everyone settles into the patrols it will be fine. Through all the different methods of forming patrols, it's always worked out in the long run.


I'm just sick of going through this crap every spring.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you didn't exactly get a phone call, so that part was OK.

I liked your method. The only change I would make is to tell them when they crossed over that they would eventually be forming two patrols - one of 7 and one of 6. Give it time to simmer, so to speak.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Boomer -- we've been preaching this since November when we took the Webelos camping. Mostly with the parents. And not just "heads up, here's what's coming" but really trying to explain the NSP program and why this shouldn't be a big issues. Clearly, this is just helicopter parent angst.


I've even started working with the Webelos I DL for next year. I sat down with him in January to talk about how the troop and den could work together to on the transition. I was thinking in terms of den chiefs, joint meetings and activities and maybe an extra campout. Guess what he wanted to talk about? "You know these boys have been together since Tigers and all the parents are really worried about them getting split up into different patrols when they join the troop."





Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps an email response something like:


"I understand your concern. Moving from a cub scout pack to a boy scout troop is both exciting and scary. What we have found is that our troop is a place where boys make new friends and learn through both successes and failures. We have a dedcated group of leaders, including both older scouts and adults, that have seen this before, and our experience is that the boys are able to work these things out, and in short order are very comfortable with the selections that they have made."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tell 'em that if traumatized son wants to bring up the issue, he'll have potentially 6 SM conferences and BORs to do so. If scars are too deep, he may remind us of them in his speech at his Eagle ceremony.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You did great with the scouts. You were not proactive enough with the parents. I learned through the same floggings from parents to inform what you are going to do and why before you do it. For example, when the scouts first join and you have all the parents together, you explain that the troop program cant possibly have one patrol of 13 new scouts because in your experience, it doesnt work well. Their sons will not enjoy it because everyone is running over each other. However, you have found that new scouts do very well in separate patrols provided they have a couple of friends with them. In fact, they will grow from the experience because they get to compare and compete with each other, something boys enjoy doing with their friends.


I would never ask the Scouts to do anything or not do something just so that you dont get calls from their parents.


One, it sets in their minds that its you against their parents and you dont want that. They must trust that you and the parents are a team that work together. You will need that trust down the road.


Two, parent calls are red flags for you that something probably needs to change. I got calls every night my first years as a SM, I rarely got calls during my last year because I changed the way we did a few things and I learned how to be a proactive with the parents while being reactive with scouts.


Keep up the great work 2cub, your scouts are lucky to have you.




Link to post
Share on other sites

We have 7 Webelos crossing over in April. They will be joining two established Patrols - 3 will join the Dragons, 4 will join the Cobras.


Who decides who goes in which Patrol? Not the Scouts, Leaders, or Parents. The Sorting Hat decides.


The Sorting Hat was instituted and became popular back in the days of the first couple books of Harry Potter, and has now become an established part of the Troop culture.


At their first Troop meeting, I'll put 7 slips of paper in the hat, 3 labeled Dragon & 4 labeled Cobra.


The Scouts come forward before the Troop, a slip is pulled from the hat, and off they go while the Patrol they are joining goes wild yelling and clapping.


How can anyone complain when it was clearly the hat that made the decision?!


Link to post
Share on other sites

To take another tack here as a former ASM and SM for two different troops NSP's never really worked well for us for the reasons expressed here and many others, we lost many of them in the first six months. When we converted to putting new boys into exsisting patrols they seemed to thrive and we retained them for years. The patrols took it upon themselves to get these new boys up to speed and advancing much quicker, and made them feel part of the troop much faster then when they were in NSP's. If any troop is having problems with NSP's I strongly suggest the alternative, based on my own successful experiences.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...