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time length of transition to Patrol Method

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I'm getting a little stunned here at numbers when reading comments in another thread. Even with so FEW boys, I can expect at least 5 years to transition? Is this with or without revitalization thrown in?


This is currently my Troop numbers:

I have

5- 5th graders

1 - 7th grader (second class rank. SPL is supposed to be star rank)

1 - 10th grader working on his Eagle


Would it maybe be shorter length of time for smaller Troop numbers?

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I think that you could probably jump in a lot faster. Partly because you have so few boys, but mostly because they are all so young. They didn't learn the old adult led way and neither did their parents so you can just start them right in on the correct way to do it.


The older boys are more used to being lead, but if the younger boys start showing that independence they will jump on board. Plus you will only have a couple angry parents who are used to the old way instead of 10+.

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There are a variety of factors that are in play in regards to ho long it takes to go from adult led to youth led. I'll pipe in a few I've seen.


1) Troop culture. If your older scouts and leaders use to doing things one way, it will take time to get them on the page.


2) Parents. Sometimes the biggest challenge is to get the parents to buy into the patrol method. I've already started talking about the differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts with my Bear parents, and some of them still are amazed at the independence the Scouts have. I even had a CM and pack CC freak out that you want the patrol 300' apart from each other and the leaders.


3) Having enough adult leaders on the same page. One troop after 5 years is finally at the stage. Their challenge had been adult leaders and keeping them. One who was committed kept acting the SPL role and eventually left when the other leaders approached him to back off a bit as he was doing the SPL's job. Other challenges included having ASMs stay. It seems as if once the got a decent set of ASMs, something happens and they lose them to moves and moving to venturing.


4) Having enough older scouts. They were a relatively young troop and most of their scouts were in the 10-13yo range. They did have a few transfer in form other troops, but as soon as they got Eagle, they left. The "old" scouts they now have have grown up with the troop and are taking over finally.


5) Support form the Charter Organization. Most COs are not that involved. Some COs are more involved and add rules and regs. That's OK since it is their unit. And some COs are pro Scouting.

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Really Sixe of troop doesn't have as much to do with it as one would think. The transition to boy run toes time because everyone is learning, especially the adults.


Boy run is a lot harder for adults than adult run because adults work with each scout individually instead the group as a whole. It's a lot easier to tell the whole troop to wear the full uniform than mentoring each scout individually the value of making the right decision based on expectations and guidelines.


Truth is that developing the skills to mentor scouts takes a lot of practice and humility. Humility leads to wisdom. It takes years.


Also scout maturity develops only as fast as the adults give the them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from the mistakes. Letting scouts go on their own and then being there to guide their growth is a skill that takes time to develop.





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Of course if the troop is going to be patrol method, boy led, then the SM wouldn't be expected to mentor all the scouts individually. He would work closely with his SPL who would mentor the PL's who in turn would mentor the members of his patrol.


If done correctly, the learning curve will be cut expotentially.



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I think in theory, in Theory, that if there was buy in that it could be done in six months, and the second election could solidify issues. But everyone involved FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP - IH, COR, CC, Committee, SM, ASM's, SPL, PL's and Scouts would all have to actually agree that it should and could be done.


I think that in reality, unless you are starting from scratch, that you have a group or groups of folks to win over and believe you really mean boy-led and not adult led with a different look. The more groups or the more entrenched any one group is... The longer it's going to take.

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Maybe I'm a slow learner?

As a youth I belonged to a Troop that I really believed was using the Patrol Method.

We had the Troop broken down into Patrols.

Patrols had their own gear /equipment.

Patrols camped as Patrols, cooked as Patrols and did just about everything in and as Patrols.

The PLC met once a month.

The SM laid out what we were going to do and the P/L's relayed the information back to the Scouts in the Patrols.

It all worked and worked well.

When I became became SM this is what I did.

Over time I came to understand that while we had what looked like the Patrol Method in action wasn't really the case. What I really had was a group of P/L's who were just being used as carrier pigeons.

Just about everything was coming from the top down and the Scouts (Patrols) Had little or no say in what we were doing and how we went about doing it.

Over the next few years, I became more of a coach.

This worked well, the P/L's were more involved and were taking a more active role.

But when I took a long hard look at things I seen that I was still calling the plays and that there were a lot of areas where I just was unwilling to even try new ideas very often falling back on the idea /fact that we'd always done it such and such a way and it worked, so there was no reason to change.

Handing over the running of the Troop to the PLC was really hard for me, changing things that I had always done was even harder.

There were times when we had a really outstanding PLC. A group of guys who wanted to take the world by the tail and shake the heck out of it.

There were also times when it seemed that nothing was working.

The temptation for me to jump in and take over was really great.

I'll admit that during these times I did step back in and take over the role of the coach. I questioned if I'd done my job of training the P/L's?

When something had gone really wrong I at time found myself brow beating the PLC.

This is never a good idea.

What did work was me taking the time and looking for opportunities to work one on one with individual P/L's. Taking the time to ask questions and maybe plant seeds.

The number of times when things were not going the way that I liked were many.

I think that I have permanent scars on the inside of my cheek from biting it. It would be so easy to take over, sort things out and get the job done Eamonn's way. But I found that me going for a little walk worked out a lot better.

I also found that well ran reflections allowed everyone to see what worked and what didn't and the time taken to do these worked to improve things far better than any ranting and raving I might have done.

As for a set time to get to where you want to be?

I think it's a little like the Oath and Law, just when you think your there either something goes wrong or when you take the time for a long hard and truthful look at what your doing? You see that you can set the bar a little higher.

With such a small group, I kinda think I'd toss all the good books and stuff that is out available out the window.

You have a Troop that is one Patrol.

In my book you don't need a SPL.

What you need more than anything is more members.

I'd start by having each of the Patrol pick a role in the Patrol. Have a P/L a A/P/L

a Scribe, a QM and a Historian. Every six months switch.

Challenge the Scouts to bring a pal.

Work with the Scouts on all the requirements needed for First Class.

Set realistic goals for membership growth.

Right now you have six active younger Scouts. Chances are that you might lose a couple of them? So maybe a goal for the end of the year might be eight active Scouts?

When you get to a number that your comfortable with? Twelve or fourteen split the group into two Patrols.

Have them do things as Patrols. Camp, cook, eat and so on.

Resist any and every temptation to ever let them work as one Patrol.

Sure it might mean that one Patrol camps with five members and the other camps with just two. But keeping and allowing the Patrols to form and be the most important part of the Troop is really vital.

When you get to having four Patrols you might want to think about a SPL?

Your most important role is to pay attention to each individual Scout. Help him to help himself.

We talk a lot about Troop loyalty and all that good stuff, but Scouts are very loyal to people that they know care about them. Use this loyalty to help build the Troop.

Having the group that you have now master and be good at the basic Scout skills will pay dividends in the years to come. But remember all work and no play will lose Scouts faster than anything.

Look for and find out of the box ways of doing things.

A stop watch adds a lot to a knot race.

Finding buried treasure on a hike.

Taking photos on a nature hike.

Finding old log books from back in the day and start adding to them. (The Scouts not you!) It doesn't have to be perfect, in 50 years time when someone looks at them they will be more interested in what you did more then the penmanship.

There is nothing wrong with having the Scouts plan fun trips.

Maybe this summer there is an amusement park close by or a water park.

Maybe there is a Venture Crew that needs younger Scouts that they can teach some of the more adventurous activities.

While you can start thinking and setting the stage for the Patrol Method and this is a good thing. - Right now your bigger problem is having the Scouts to fill the Patrols.

With a fair wind and a lot of good luck I'd guess it's going to take about four or five years to get the numbers up to about twenty-four. Then you can rally start making all the bits that you have in place come together.

Every few months you need to take the time to look at where you are how you are doing, be honest. Look at your goals both long term and short term.

When your feeling down in the dumps, it's worth thinking in percentages.

A Troop of sixty Scouts has an event with thirty Scouts turning up. Thats fifty percent.

You have an event with six? That's one hundred percent.

Back when I joined Boy Scouts as a little fellow in England one of the Scout Laws was "A Scout smiles and whistles through all difficulties."

It's impossible to smile and whistle at the same time. I know that but here I am some forty odd years later -Still trying.

I think much the same thing can be said about the Patrol Method.

You might never get to be exactly where you think it should be or where the books say you ought to be, but it's a lot of fun trying.


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Maybe I've missed something, but where is it written that an SPL should be Star or above?


Also, at your size, forget about even having an SPL. You need a PL, and then several patrols, before you even think about an SPL.


DeafScouter, don't take those estimates as gospel. They're rough figures based on others' experience. Your unit could become completely boy-run in a year if the boys want to and work at it, and if you're there to encourage and support them. The most important thing you can do is ask questions - turn it back on them - while backing their decisions up and not letting other adults trample them underfoot.


Never do anything that a boy can do himself.(This message has been edited by Shortridge)

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PM happens when you train boys to rig a large, comfortable meeting tarp the month before. Then at next month's camporee you bring the tarp and rope as planned (so you can demonstrate your youths' resourcefulness), and they leave the tarp folded on the ground, and use the rope to climb a tree by the latrine and leave enough lag in it that another patrol comes by and decoratively braids it around the latrine post.


At least you have the tarp to crawl under if you are too lazy to set up your tent when it rains on night two ... not that I'm bitter or anything ;)


P.S. - Okay, it was venturing, but a PM group will have these unexpected results that require an adult to bite his/her tongue. If you are ready for that, dive in. If not, keep in mind that sometimes the pool isn't any warmer no matter how long you stand at the edge. :)

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Qwazse.. cute humor and advice understood. I'm biting and going in.. *laughing


Short.. something I need to practice.. questions back


Eamonn.. I wouldn't throw those books out the window.. *laughing

The key is I'm Deaf and I've already learned that while I READ everything others don't.. *smiles Those books, links and the forum have been an eyeopener.


Gunny.. yep on the people factor. Wasn't it you that mentioned on another forum that 'wording' is important as well. Leaders meaning the youth scouts and Adults meaning the adult leadership that is suppose to be mentors back 300 feet not doing a thing if the leaders (youth scouts) can do it. See I'm already having problems with words when its really mentality thinking. That's another post.. *grins


Stosh.. good point!!... *smiles


Barry.. Yep its harder on Adults. I already see the mentality gears I have to shift and re-shift as I realize I'm my own worse enemy... *grins


TwoCubDad... I see the point in that ol' Scouters advice. It was quite a shock to read the time length on the boards and try align that with the picture in my head. But its important factor to know as it shifts how one does things and shift us goal driven people into 'real reality' and not reminders to remember things like FUN, activity purpose away from numbers. Numbers are important but won't come if there is no FUN.

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One also must take into consideration that a transition that goes too quickly can be a problem as well.


I took over a strongly adult-led program and turn it completely around in less than 2 years. I was eventually removed because, (in the words of the CC who dismissed me) the "boys were expected to do too much leadership in the troop". The boys had all gone through TLT, they ran their own program, completely. They were in total charge of where, when and what summer camp to attend. They did all the planning and registration. They ran their own popcorn sales with no adult involvement except to sign for the popcorn. I was in the middle of going through the Green Bar Bill training with the boys when I was asked to leave.


The rub came from the parents of the boys who didn't want to work. For the most part they only wanted to show up and be entertained and were tired of being expected by their peers to participate in the work.


The ASM took over the troop and took it back to an adult-led program.



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