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How long do Patrols last?

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That depends on the troop....Some will rearrange every patrol every 6 months....others will keep the same patrols as long as the boys are in the troop.


With the second method it allows the patrols to learn eachothers strengths and weaknesses and get to know everyone really well. I was a member of an older boy patrol (which you became a member of by earning the appropriate rank)...and we won multiple camporrees and stuff like that cause we knew each members strengths and weaknesses and would use them at the appropriate times.


Best way to run it in my opion is to have a younger scout patrol to try and get them up in rank a bit then split that patrol into common patrols. At that point leave these patrols alone until and let em learn teamwork with a consitant team. Then when they reach a certain age or rank put in the older boy partol.



Patrols can Either be structured by rank as stated above. Or you can have all ranks mixed into all patrols. then theres a 3rd option ive never actualy seen used before which is to organize patrols based off the neighborhoods the kids live in.




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Interesting question. I grew up in a troop where patrols lasted indefinitely. Flags were handed down till they were worn and tattered. New youth were divided among them, except for one year when we were swamped with crossovers, and I was asked to start a patrol. Making the flag was serious business because it had to be one that would last!


My sons' troop patrols last a year, roughly. I think it's a shortcoming. There's no investment in flags or yells. They can rename themselves, but they always seem to "forget" their patrol name. They fall into shape for summer camp, because that's our most popular event, but they break down after that. In the fall they'll report as patrol #1, #2, etc ... (And I tease them that dens have numbers, patrols should have names!)


I am trying to get the SM to encourage a little more "esprit-d-corps".


At the same time, if this is our worst dysfunction, I feel we're doing fine.

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Why not let the boys decide on their own patrols?


If they want to hang out for 7 years, so be it.


If one boy has a falling out with his patrol, he can jump to one where he gets along.


I don't see this issue having any adults involved at all.



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Over the last several years my Son's Troop has pretty much stuck to same-age (new Scout Patrol stays together) patrols that lasts as long as the Boys want to stay a Patrol....


The only adult caveat, a Patrol must have an elected PL/APL or pick an existing Patrol to join.


Although, the fault with that is the infusion of older Scouts attracted to our program and integrated into existing patrols is not enough to really keep the older patrol functional.


The variety of activities once the Scout is ~14 (band, sports, camp staff, Venturing Crew, etc..) makes attendance to Troop meetings arduous.


We have about 45+ Scouts now, with large New Scout Patrol, 1st year and 2nd year patrols. The Scouts that have been in the Troop 3+ years have Patrols that while have experienced Leadership and generally occupy Troop leadership roles (SPL, ASPL, TG, etc..) just don't have the numbers.


I wonder if the suggestion to the PLC to create a Leadership

Corp, where each older Scout Patrol (3 year+) "Patrol that enters the Corp", has their Patrol/Name and Flag "semi-retired", but remains displayed as a group until the last member of that original Patrol ages out or leaves the Troop. At that time, that outgoing "Patrol" could be Officially retired and the flag displayed on the Honor Wall.






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We are trying to do "eternal" mixed-age patrols. Mixed results so far. Of the 5, 1 is firing on all cylinders, 2 are so-so, and 2 collapsing on a regular basis. Feed new boys in on an annual basis. Functioning seems directly related to pride.


Our old system we tried doing same age patrols but after 2 years or so they would die out.

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As long as the youth wants.


Growing up, my troop had anywhere form 2-3 mixed age patrols, with the exception, of when we tried a NSP which lasted a year and turned mixed age, and the Leadership Corps.


Our troop had a tradition of "Birds of a feather, flock together" so we had bird names. Hawks, Eagle, Owls, Ravens, etc ( but no CURLEWS :( ). Once you were in a patrol, you were in it until A) you decided to join another patrol (every 6 months you could change patrols) B) you got voted into the Leadership Corps, or C) you got out the troop.


Flags were passed down, patrol leaders tended to stay in the POR until A) they decided to not to run for re-election, B) they lost an election ( never happened in my troop but theoretically it could), C) the got elected into the Leadership Corps, or D) they quit.


I know I was PL for 18 months. I had friends who were PL for 2+ years. And I had friends PL for 1 year.


But overall the patrol remained. We might lose a patrol, usually the Ravens, but we always had the Eagles and the Hawks.

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In a traditional scouting setup, patrols last forever. New boys come in, other boys move up the ranks to leadership, old boys move on to the adult ranks. Patrols develop a history, and a character, and a sense of pride. Think Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.


In an age-based patrol setup, patrols typically last until attrition or attendance causes 'em to "merge", typically by high school. Think sports programs, where the middle school rec leagues gradually merge down to one high school varsity team.


In an open-patrol setup, patrols last until the social dynamics which held 'em together change and the boys shuffle about. Think social cliques and Facebook groups.


Which style and variant yeh choose just depends on what yeh want to achieve with your boys. Each approach has a very different dynamic and the lads develop different skills and learn different lessons of character from each. All of 'em have their pluses and minuses, eh? In terms of the outcomes I like to see for boys, my personal preference is for the first, traditional way of thinkin' about patrols.






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  • 1 month later...

Former SM did fruit basket turnover every six months.

That was the first thing I changed. Allowed the bioys to move one last time, and that was it. (they could move if they wanted to, but none never did)


NSPs that lose scouts over time are merged with legacy patrols. They choose, with leadership suggestion and help. (personalities and all)....


It's working for us.

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Our troop is 45+ years old. I know that since I became a part of the troop back in 2005, we've had the same patrols that were there prior to our arrival. We don't move boys around in patrols unless they ask for some reason. Mixed age patrols have always been very effective for us. Older scouts rotate out and new scouts rotate in from the new scout patrols. Moving new scouts into existing patrols is not an exact science. It's a bit subjective and a collaboration of the new scout ASM's, TG's, PLC and SM along with taking the new scout's desire into consideration. We look for a good fit between the existing patrol and the scout joining them.(This message has been edited by sr540beaver)

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How long? As long as the scouts want. Patrols are formed either #1 at the annual cub scout (new scout patrol) transition or #2 when a set of scouts want to create their own patrol.


My first son was in the same patrol with the same scouts for seven years. It was a great experience and they were best of friends. A few scouts popped between patrols. Most didn't. No big deal. Their choice. The patrol got smaller over the years until it was just three scouts when they were 17 years old. That was fine. It was the 7th year and they were pretty independent and helped the troop as a whole.


(different troop) My second son was in a new scout patrol with an assigned older scout because new scouts are too young to lead themselves. Ummm... yeah. Don't agree. Different topic. The net result is he (and his fellow scouts) have been bounced around a fair amount and they don't feel much allegiance to their patrol and no identity as a patrol.


I clearly like the "forever" patrol model.


Shaking up patrols? If you must, let the scouts choose ... preferrably individual scouts by choice ... not be leaders (youth or adult) dictating membership. But then again, that's me and our troop.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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I am understand your position but in our old system the Patrols started petering out at the end of 2 years. Then we ended up with remnant patrols or hyphenated patrols, etc.


We are entering our third "class" of the forever model. The most turbulence was the breaking up of the old single-age Patrols; I think much of that fallout is behind us. The newbies seem eager to join their new mixed-age Patrols with a buddy or two and the majority of the older boys seem to welcome new "draftees" to the team. I was heartened the other night by seeing the older boys explaining to a newbie "this is how "we" (his patrol) pack out patrol box--better than the others"


The biggest resistance seems to be from (a) worried mom's and (b) Scouters who would like to keep "their" boys together.


We do try to seed a Troopguide type boy in each Patrol to help with the newbie transition skills.



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There's no investment in flags or yells.


Is this common?


My son is in a patrol and I asked him about that. He said he didn't know. I asked about and one of the ASMs said, "Well, we really don't do much with that."


To which I replied, "Well isn't it kind of hard for the boys to get their Tenderfoot signed off on if they don't have a patrol yell and a flag?"


It surprised me because call me old fashioned but I'm a literal guy who believes if it's written that you're supposed to know or do something, you're supposed to know or do it.

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Yes, it happens. Our troop is in that "slump."


The patrol will pull together a yell to get their tenderfoots (we don't have many) to advance, but won't use it in competitions in such. It gets worse as the boys get older.


Part of it was a new troop that spun off of ours. Part of that was fed by a line of SMs who "allocated" patrols. So, that's one mess to untangle.


Then we'll have a sit-down with the older boys at summer camp. Maybe discuss how to build in a little tradition. Something that as adults they'll be proud to see in scouts when they return for a visit.


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