Jump to content

Ideas for a Patrol of 17

Recommended Posts

Hi scouts and scouters,


Since it's my first post, I'll give some introduction to myself.


I'm quite... unique for a Scout, demographically speaking. I live in one of the only Republican districts in Southern California (in which my troop is chartered), but am more like minded with the Catholic prep school which I commute to for about half an hour every day during the school year. I'm one of two kids in a troop of only 60 that isn't white, the only scout that is an actual immigrant and, although I was born in Asia (I'll be a bit general here), the only scout that bears Canadian citizenship. English is spoken between 60-70% at home.


Without trying to sound elitist, I feel that I'm more trained for leadership than many of my peers within my troop. My father is an IT professional, and I have permeated from him his decades of experience and knowledge. My mom has her degree in psychology, although I forgot if it was developmental or cognitive. I have studied some sociology and government theory at school (although I wouldn't say at a university level), and, although the school doesn't formally rank, I'm more or less at the top of my class. Me aside, only about 4 other kids in my troop attend private schools, and I'm philosophically/ ethically/ morally/politically/ and etc. differently minded from my scout friends. Being strongly influenced and in favor of the Canadian method of alien integration(the whole mosaic vs melting pot model thing), I'd say that I've had the strength to not melt down and assimilate.


Despite these quirks, though, I'm quite well favored in my troop. I became eligible for and was elected the PL of the troop's largest of its 5 patrols just this last term. I am in charge of 17 scouts, myself included, and am very committed with the program and to my boys.


Given this, I have some unconventional ideas and experiences as a PL that I'd like to keep a sort of anonymous digital journal for, and your input is always appreciated. I feel that I may be overstepping my boundaries as a PL with some of these, doing much of this without informing the PLC (although I have nothing against doing so. If I did, though, I'd be the most high maintenance of the PL's to the ASPL directing patrol managment, since the other PL's don't seem as nearly as active as I am.) My troop with all its boys has a very strong program, although the patrol method is comparatively weak. In the past year there has probably been only 1 patrol outing total within the whole troop.


Anyways, as to the patrol, I plan to have a semi-full leadership team for my patrol itself, which will grow as needed. The PLC to regular scout ratio is about 1 to 5, and 2 to 15 is just unsustainable for my patrol's subPLC. The patrol is made up of 2 demographics of boys, young enthusiastic scouts that bridged recently and older scouts which leave something to be desired with discipline. They gave the former patrol leader quite a headache, but I'm appointing this former PL my second APL, to manage the older boys. My primary APL is an eager younger scout which I plan to develop as a potential successor; I feel that he doesn't have enough influence on the older boys given his age to be effective in controlling them. In addition, I'll have a patrol scribe who keeps records parallel to those of the troop (since the adults are nervous about giving me access to troop records, and doing so would require some hassle).


In addition to its subPLC, I've divided the patrol into 2 sections. The first section includes the younger scouts, who report directly to the first PL and transfer records to the scribe. The second section includes the older scouts, who report records to the 2nd PL or the scribe (so that they can do what's comfortable for them as, being somewhat relaxed teens, they might not report in otherwise.) The boys of my troop have struggled to develop an effective troop bureaucracy for months, and I feel that what the troop has searched for I can give to my patrol. Division, here, is just for ease of general management.


Secondly, with summer camps choices for 2012, as has happened comparatively with historic presidential elections, the popular vote favored summer camp B but, given that every patrol is worth one vote, the represented vote favored summer camp A. My patrol, and the second largest patrol, representing the majority of the boys in the troop, voted against the next 3 smaller patrols for summer camp. I favor summer camp B very strongly. Now, both summer camps are being presented to the parent committee by their supporting parties in a few weeks. I hope to outpresent summer camp A such that the parent committee will be compelled to veto in favor of summer camp B. The presentation of summer camp A is being given by a good scout, an eagle, in fact, but I feel that with enough effort and the right practices I can deliver a very convincing presentation without directly attacking summer camp A. I'm trying to let my parents make their own decision and keep them unbiased towards me in deciding whether or not they should veto. Would you consider my plans unethical and harmful to the democratic process? (I won't explain the summer camps and why I think one is superior, since I want to separate this debate over the idea from whole ends justifying means dilemma.


Given my patrol's size, I'm finding the use of digital documentation increasingly necessary. I'm quite tech savy, being on my school-issue laptop about 8 hours every day for business or pleasure, and am planning to use googledocs or some other such service for patrol records for NHP (since there's no way I'd be granted direct access to troop level records; not even the troop scribe has managed to gain access, although historically troop scribe hasn't been too active a position.)


To encourage scouts, I'm planning to award things like patrol patch accessories, seating priority during line up and editing rights on googledocs with rank advancement, model behavior and scouting achievment. In addition, I'm going to give my subPLC cheap little scribe/insignia pins, since they have their work cut out for them and should have some sort of uniformed recognition for it. Their their jobs rival those of the PL's of smaller troops given the work involved. I'd want all incentivies to be related to the program and not something random like ice cream.


The troop executive board has thought of splitting the patrol for a while. I'm actually quite against this; there's a reason incoming scouts choose this patrol more than any other. I feel that under my guidance I can make the experience for the boys better than that which they would have under other patrol leaders. It's just that, for better or worse, I'm not one to appreciate mediocrity well. I hope that I can teach this to my patrol and become a model patrol for the greater troop to follow.


Thanks, I'd really like your input in my little socio-govermental experiment!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whew! MapleScouter! I just felt like I read your doctorate thesis! If that is a friendly off-the-cuff entry, then I think you should have been one of those who should have skipped through Elementary/HighSchool and completed his master at 15.. How old are you?


Wow! Either you tone it down for your patrol, or you are running a troop of child prodigies..


First off the thought that came to mind was that, yes a patrol of 17 is too large, I got that reactions just reading the title. I was wondering why such a large patrol was allowed, but it sounds like your troop just allows boys to choose their patrols as they come into the troop, with no controls to limit patrol size.. Can you explain that procedure more, and why your patrol is a favorite? (bring it down a notch, pretend like I am one of your patrol members).


Then I see a lot of planning by you for bureaucracy.. (youve got me running off to check my spelling as I dont want to look bad in front of the child genius..) And a high sense of running a perfectly functioning unit.. Sort of how adults might take over a troop to make it run perfect.. But, forgot that the scouts are there for the fun.. You mentioned In the past year there has probably been only 1 patrol outing total within the whole troop. So where there lost of troop outings, and just 1 patrol outing, or only 1 outing in a year for the whole troop? If only one outing That is what should be concentrated on.. If you cant get the troop out, get your patrol out.. Once a month.. Unfortunately for patrol overnights you now need two adult leaders, but with a troop that large surely you can rustle up a couple. For day outings you can take your patrol out without any adult leadership (providing the adults dont squawk)..


Believe me the boys in your patrol will be much more appreciative of plans for fun then plans for making them all into their parents before their time.. Now if you want to work in assigning boys to organize and plan outings, great.. Assign them lead roles for that.. With your gift for planning you can probably come up with some unforgettable outings if you put your ambition and enthusiasm into it.


Also don't look at your patrol as an experiment. They are your friends and you want to have a blast with them.. Enjoy your youth while youre young, you wont get the chance again.

(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

Link to post
Share on other sites

A few observations. 17 is larger than a lot of (dare I say most) troops. There should be 3, or at least, 2 patrols there. It's not about you showing off your organizational and "leadership" skills...it's about a quality experience for everyone, including the opportunity to also have a leadership position. Secondly, tone down your ego and enjoy the journey, and most of all, have fun with your fellow scouts (not "my boys", which comes off as condescending). There's plenty of time ahead of you to be an adult. Good luck and welcome to the forums.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And with a little extra effort on your part, why not find 1 registered leader and another adult and take your patrol to the summer camp of your preference? What's the difference between a group of boys staying home for the summer because they don't like the camp and a group of boys going off for a summer camp week of their choice because they put a bit of effort into it. The troop as a whole will experience no difference with either option. Heck, a "patrol" of 17 is in reality is a 2 or 3 patrol "troop" in most places.


Your mileage may vary,



Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know why/how the political demographics of your area is relevant to the makeup of your troop/patrol. But anyways..


The Troop Committee shouldn't have "veto power" over the decisions of the PLC over something as basic as Camp A/Camp B. Your presentation should be focused on the Patrol Leaders, not on the adults. And if you want more support within the PLC, then break up your monster patrol into 2-3 patrols, and you'll give yourself 1-2 more votes!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome Maple Scout!


You said that there are 2 "mega" patrols in your Troop, and 3 "regular" Patrols. With only one vote per patrol, you complain that all of the boys voices are not being heard. Yet, you state that while the Troop Committee has been talking about splitting your Patrol up, you are against it. Why? You have already split your Patrol. Why not make it official and give more boys the chance at leadership experience, and the chance to have their voice heard?


When working with your Patrol (whatever size it is) remember - they are not a "little socio-govermental experiment". They are a group of your friends.


I am not sure why you think your Summer Camp presentation might be "unethical and harmful to the democratic process". Your Troop Committee has requested a presentation be made by proponents for both camps, correct? Good luck, I know you will give them a lot to think about.


Happy Scouting!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry if I came across as a bit condescending. I'll admit, I googled Dunning-Kruger, and if the bias is there I hope I'll realize it.


Anyways, new scouts can choose their own patrol upon joining and change at will. The adults have been pushing for the scouts to have more control and be more proactive, and I think allowing open patrols is an example stemming from this. No scouts have openly supported a split. It's just that, given my troop's history of patrol outings, I feel bad to let off some of the scouts into a patrol that hasn't and more likely won't do any patrol outings. In addition, if there hasn't been the will in any scout other than me (don't want to sound egotistical here) to proactively pursue a patrol outing, the will may be even less present in a patrol of maybe half or a third of the population. I could, though, conceive a split after a few of our patrol outings, so that both patrols have an experience and example to try to emulate with their own patrol outings. Yes, the wheel has already been invented, but the car hasn't been rolling along as well as I feel it can, and if enabling it means attaching 2-3 wheels to a single drive shaft for a while, why not?


As to the summer camps and the parent committee, it is the scouts that are supposed to be making the main decisions. The parent committee is just there to keep the PLC in check (from, say, choosing the same summer camp every year), and I'm not comfortable with using a security measure as a way to levy my patrol's will against the standard process of summer camp selection.


Oh, and as to demographics, I apologize if they were irrelevant. The British scouters seemed to have their own perspective on issues like homosexuality, and I thought that throwing in some differences in the way I was raised might alleviate some of the tension I expected in my somewhat abnormal disposition towards the patrol method. My perception of scouting, when I joined this troop a few years ago, was based largely off my grandfather's/uncle's stories and experience from scouting in (insert country here), so I may have gotten off on the wrong foot. The entire second paragraph was entirely unnecessary, though.


Again, I deeply apologize; thanks for your feedback,


(This message has been edited by MapleScouter)(This message has been edited by MapleScouter)

Link to post
Share on other sites

First let me say Its great to see a scout posting here. Ok, Ill admit I didnt read your entire post, but Ill take a stab at your question. Just a small suggestion, whenever communicating its best to stick to the bare minimal facts required to convey your message. A shorter, more direct, post would have gotten more replies.


In as far as the patrol, I agree with your Troop Committee, the patrol needs split. For the patrol method to be effective the group ideally needs to be 6-8 scouts. In as far as getting elected, that decision will mostly be based on the type of scout you have been, and what you have done to date. A brief, and simple, statement on why you would like to be Patrol Leader and what youd like to accomplish is a good idea.


As far as how to run the patrol, thats covered very well in the handbook. Scouting for Boys would also be a good resource, if a bit dated in some respects. In short, the patrol method, as published, it tried and true.


Good luck, it sounds like youre one squared away scout, well on your way to becoming the type of man your parents will be proud of.


Link to post
Share on other sites

MapleScouter writes:


Would you consider my plans unethical and harmful to the democratic process?


Yeah, if you click my "Posts: 1535" number link under "Kudu" (on the left of your screen), you will see why I think parents already have too much power in American Boy Scout Troops. Encouraging your "parent committee" to overrule the PLC is a bad precedent, especially in a Troop where "not even the troop scribe has managed to gain access" to Troop records.


If the majority of the Troop wants to go to summer camp B, have you tried one-on-one negotiations with the three Patrol Leaders who favor summer camp A? Everybody wants something, so the art of the deal is finding out what each "something" is.


Therefore the reasons why different Patrols think different camps are "superior" might be more relevant to your question here in this forum than the abstract "whole ends justifying means dilemma." :)


Also, some large Troops go to two different summer camps every year.


MapleScouter writes:


To encourage scouts, I'm planning to award things like patrol patch accessories...I'm going to give my subPLC cheap little scribe/insignia pins...Their jobs rival those of the PL's of smaller troops given the work involved. I'd want all incentives to be related to the program and not something random like ice cream.


You might consider creative Position of Responsibility (PoR) credits toward advancement. For instance, there is no rule that limits a unit's number of Troop Scribes and Troop Quartermasters. If your Patrol Scribe and Patrol Quartermaster have responsibilities that rival those of a Patrol Leader, then you might work with your Scoutmaster to get them Troop-level PoR credit (and therefore the official patches). Another possibility for PoR credits (but no patches) are "Scoutmaster-assigned leadership projects."


MapleScouter writes:


Without trying to sound elitist, I feel that I'm more trained for leadership than many of my peers within my troop....I hope that I can teach this to my patrol and become a model patrol for the greater troop to follow.


If you dig too far into my past posts you will find that I believe that leadership theory destroyed Scouting in the United States. Business management Wood Badge took away training for what Green Bar Bill called the "Real" Patrol Method, and replaced it with the "Troop Method" in which the primary unit of Scouting is the Troop (and therefore familiar to adults who work in office cubicles all day).


Given my perspective I can't help but see the same process at work in your mega-Patrol with your "subPLC" and your "plan to have a semi-full leadership team," etc. So I agree with Moosetracker's suggestion "That is what should be concentrated on...get your patrol out.. Once a month...For day outings you can take your patrol out without any adult leadership (providing the adults dont squawk)."


In other words if you want to make a meaningful impact on the lives of your younger Scouts, place less emphasis on "I'm quite tech savvy, being on my school-issue laptop about 8 hours every day for business or pleasure, and am planning to use googledocs..." and get your Patrol outdoors for a backwoods Patrol Adventure at least once a month, preferably without any adult supervision.


The best "how to" reference for that is the old two-volume third edition of the Handbook for Scoutmasters, available for about $20 per volume. See:




If money is a consideration, the "Real" Patrol Method (including Patrol Outings) is explained in great detail in Volume 1.


A much cheaper alternative is a copy of Green Bar Bill's Patrol Leader Handbook published PRIOR to 1970 (the Patrol Method was destroyed in 1972):




But given your intellectual nature, you might find the adult Scoutmaster version more challenging.


In the meantime your Patrol is big enough to hold your own "Wide Games" on Patrol Outings. See my Website:




Finally (as you have already experienced), given your unorthodox style you will be subjected to all kinds of personal attacks in Scouting forums. It is the only way that some adult leaders know how to respond to views that contradict their Wood Badge training.


In fact the last time that I included here on Scouter.Com the URL for the Wikipedia reference on ad hominem, somebody actually edited the Wikipedia article to say that ad hominem attacks are a good thing! :)


So try not to be intimated...


Yours at 300 feet,





Edited to Add: Don't cut your Patrol in half just because "trained" adults tell you to. A big Patrol can have its own advantages, not the least of which is more fun.


Oh, and in the summer some Patrols even arrange weekly outings (just don't burn out).


If it is too hot during the day, consider Night Games:



(This message has been edited by kudu)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Morning MapleScouter - (knowing you are from California and have a 3 hour difference then us on the east coast.)


Actually you didn't put me off.. Impressed me to the max.. Sort of reminded me of my son (who soon will be 21, and hopefully will relax a bit).. He isn't the writer you are, couldn't impress me with his writing, but that drive & determination to be an adult NOW.. was there when he was 5 years old and building ever since.. I always thought I was raising an odd duck.. But, I am told that is really very common now in younger folks..


But, you impress me that not only do you have the drive, but the vocabulary and the writting style of an adult. Just I can't see your talking like a PhD graduate as the best way to talk to your patrol.. I figure you don't or they would not have voted for you. Your patrol who knows you personally have utmost confidence in you..


Trying to move to eventually split the group is a great thing to do.. Empower the other youth of your troop, then set them free..

I am sure you know that :

1) The reason for patrols size of 6-8 is that it is harder to lead larger groups.

2) Though you may give them jobs in the patrol, the only patrol job that goes to advancement will be yours.. So your APL's will also need to hussle up a troop job or project to get to advancement.. With a troop of 60 I am sure that it is hard to find positions for everyone wishing to advance.

3) Your ability to empower others to take lead will make you shine much more brightly then your ability to lead 17 scouts..


So bottom line all this organization to your patrol is to get them out on adventures.. Correct?.. Good..


Still would like to know "Why" everyone flocks to your patrol, since you just became PL, what makes your patrol unique must be something that has been going on for a while now..

Also so that some of our forum members can get excited about your activities, do you have any ideas on what type of patrol outings you would like to take?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, LOL. ScoutSalute, MapleScouter! And welcome to da forums, eh?


Sure by all means use us as a runnin' blog of your adventures in scoutin' and in leadership. Just be prepared for all kinds of opinions, thoughts, criticism, humor yeh can't figure out, and otherwise odd or obnoxious adult behavior. ;)


I had da same thought about a patrol of 17, but yeh seem to have it in hand, runnin' a sort of youth-run troop within a troop so to speak. That's good experience for yeh, and can be lots of fun, work, and pride for your patrol members. Eventually, perhaps, it will set yeh up for being SPL and perhaps thinkin' a bit differently about the structure, and that's OK. Or maybe everyone else will eventually join one of your sub-patrols and your patrol will become da troop. Resistance is futile... they will be assimilated. ;)


I'm with jblake on da summer camp notion, and I think it's an opportunity for creative leadership on your part. Propose that the two patrols who want camp B go to camp B, and da three who want A go to A. Volunteer your patrol to take on da coordination and signups for the Camp B guys. If you're really intrepid, have signups and commitments done (includin' two adults willing to go) so you can present the idea fully baked and shovel-ready. Adults tend as a group to think kids are too dumb to do anything on their own, especially here in da states. So just do it and present it, with some backup support from a "friendly" adult (preferably your SM). Gettin' people on board with your idea is part of da skills of leadership, and takes some figurin' out of each person.


For the rest, proceed! Try stuff out, drop what doesn't work, keep what does. That's what scoutin' is about.


I'd suggest addin' two things to your program, though. First, add in a feedback mechanism. Your patrol members need to have "safe" ways to give you feedback and criticism that you get to hear that isn't behind your back. You'll learn the most about leadership from that, if you can find a safe way to do it. Anonymous submissions on a website, askin' your sub-PLs for their honest opinion and respecting it no matter what they say, "Roses & Thorns" debriefs where yeh build a culture that encourages everyone to speak their mind.


Second, add in an outside ideas pool. We can help, but I'd also consider findin' another troop or two in the area to visit occasionally or another scout at your school who is with a different troop or a friend in da Order of the Arrow who can give yeh ideas and perspective from outside your own troop and patrol. Troops are very different here in da U.S., and so yeh can learn a lot and get great ideas from just talkin' with or seeing other programs.


Have, fun, keep us posted, and lest yeh get caught on the SAT take a moment to look up da definition and proper use of "permeated" ;).




Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that you have some fantastic ideas- and I applaud your for your devotion to Scouting- but I want to post a few questions/comments:


-Given that an "ideal" patrol is eight Scouts, why are you trying to run a patrol of more than twice that number? You seem eager to delegate authority to your "sub-PLC" so why not split your patrol into three patrols? That would create two new PL slots and two new APL slots and give the Scouts in your troop more opportunities to practice their own leadership abilities.


-If you have rowdy older Scouts, why haven't they been split off into a Venture Patrol? Venture Patrols are designed to give older Scouts new high-adventure experiences so they aren't stuck doing the "same old, same old" at every meeting.


-Why is your tag "MapleScouter?" I'm under the impression that you are under 18 so that would make you a Scout. Revel in that and serve as PL of a patrol that receives an NHP award. After that, you can serve as SPL and JASM. You could also ask your SM to let you help with the troop's annual Troop Leadership Training. Leading TLT would help cultivate the leaders that you want to see in your troop and would also give you another chance to develop your leadership abilities.


-This one is just a comment: you sound almost paternalistic in your post. The way I read your post, it sounds like you feel that your fellow Scouts are unable to lead themselves and, thus, need you to step in to manage them. Scouting enables Scouts to succeed but also gives them a place to try and fail.


Don't think I am trying to crush all of your dreams and please do not think I hold your academic abilities against you. I do caution you, though, against discounting Scouts simply because they do not attend your school or share some other quality you deem important. You say you do not tolerate mediocrity and to this I ask, what made you the arbiter of what is mediocre? Boy Scouts is a program where Scouts can choose different paths and, if you want to make more of your experience, options are available. You can pursue NYLT/NAYLE or work at "Summer Camp B" as a CIT or a counselor. You can also pick both options.


The reason I have answered your treatise with my own really just boils down to one thing though: You appear to have a very solid understanding for Scouting and a great passion for the program. However, it seems you are trying to run a program that differs from Scouting because "you know better." I have seen this attitude manifested in adults many times- often to the detriment of Scouts- so I want to leave some questions and feedback for you to consider before you go too far in this direction. Ultimately, there is one Scouting program and we need to follow it. You seem like the kind of leader that could help deliver a fantastic program, so I would encourage you to do everything you can to ensure that happens. Good luck!(This message has been edited by Eagle707)(This message has been edited by Eagle707)

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...