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This is spun off from the Adult meals at campouts - Eat with the patrols? thread. Two approaches and more important, with good reasons behind both were presented.


Mike F

1) Our adults always cook for ourselves. As others have said, we usually try to eat really well as an example for the guys.


The SPL and ASPL also will start eating with the adults on the campout this weekend. In the past, we've always had them eat with their old patrol, but are now making the change for several reasons:

a) As SPL and ASPL, they are not members of a patrol.

b) We've noticed that Patrol Leaders have a hard time clearly remaining in charge of their patrol when SPL/ASPL step back into the mix for meals.

c) Meals with SPL/ASPL and SM, etc. will allow for more adult interaction with the boy leaders.

We'll see how it goes.


For the last few months, we've been awarding a Golden Spoon award that's displayed on patrol flag after every event where we cook. Patrols are working hard to earn that award and we haven't seen a hot dog since it started.


Region 7 Voyageur

2)The SPL and ASPL are guests of the patrols. Each patrol is told how many guests to plan for when they are making their menu and purchasing food.


Adults always eat with patrols. Scouts seem to put more effort into their meals when they know that guests will be eating with them.


Adult patrol advisors have a vested interest in observing the menu planning and food preparation if they are going to be eating that food.


We had a campout several years ago (which I was not able to attend) where the adults ate separate from the patrols. The adults had all kinds of gourmet food and reassured each other that they were setting an example for the patrols to emulate. No one paid much attention to the patrols as they cooked. As it turns out one patrol had undercooked pork chops for dinner. Three scouts threw-up during the night.



Now, I've stated that our troop does method 1. I think both methods have valid points. I found that when the adults ate with the youth patrols, the adults (especially the non-Scouters) could not resist "lending a helping hand" and the boys welcomed the adults taking over what they saw as a chore. Also, the Scouters didn't always like macaroni and cheese, Starburst for snacks, etc. but we also did not want to dictate what the boys selected as menu items. However, at our last outing we had way to many Scouts who put on their best "homeless" impersonations and hung out with the adult patrol come meal time. Some of the adults, usually again a non-Scouter, would always be slipping them some food.


Big picture - I think these two styles underline how many of us feel about how to teach leadership. Right or wrong, I tend to fall into the camp of let the patrols figure it out for themselves to some extent. Now does spewing your dinner a health and safety issue? Yes. But I bet those in that patrol are forever making sure the chops are not raw in the future! I always give my raw egg spiel every spring for the benefit of the new Scouts. Where do eggs come from? "Chickens", answer the boys. No, I mean what part of a chicken do eggs come from? Puzzled looks until one answers, "Their butts!" So, do you think it is a good idea to wash your hands and the utensils that touch raw egg shells or eggs? We have not had any food poisoning yet but it is a big concern of mine. Do you lend extra rain gear to those who forgot theirs? What if a patrol forgot to stock their patrol box with matches? What if a Scout forgot their mess kit? I fall into the camp of having them ask their patrol buddies first - not the adults.


Also, the concept of "group responsibility" such as a patrol is foreign to most boys at the ages of 11 - 17. If a boy in their patrol forgot to bring the stove, in my book it is not just that boys fault but the PLs, the patrol quartermaster, possibly the patrol scribe (I like things written down), etc. Other adults don't like this approach. They think the boys are much to young to be given this type of responsibility. I don't know how many adults have approached me on the "fairness" issue of why their Johnny should have to suffer because his patrol mate did not follow through.


What are your thoughts?

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Safety always comes first in my mind. That said, if a bad experience can safely teach the boys a lesson, no problem. We try to train using instruction before they do something, always trying to set a good example and noting poor examples when we observe them, and positive reinforcement when they are successful. However, they are young males and as such, most of them have miserably short memories...tend to repeat errors. I see no alternative but to safely allow them to repeat those poor choices and to remind them that such repeats don't exactly cover them with glory. They will eventually become men...and there will likely be little or no noticable change. We are after all such wretched beasts. Pity the poor women. ;)

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It has been about 6-7 months since I wrote those words. Since this is a work in progress, a few words on status:

SPL/ASPL have continued to eat with adults and it's going great. Gives us a little more time to work with them informally and keeps them out of the way of younger PLs as they lead their patrols.

Competition at campouts to see which patrol wins bragging rights (AKA, "The Golden Spoon") is fierce. Guys are cooking more and having fun. (Most of the time....)

Since SPL/ASPL and SM/ASMs are all judges, we have an excuse to check in on cooking in progress. We are on the lookout for those raw pork chops, but turn a blind eye to the thermonuclear chili. More than culinary skills, we're on the lookout for good examples of teamwork.



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I believe you are doing it correctly not jumping in and solving the patrol problems, they should be working together to overcome any issues. Not going to the SPL or SM for every little mistake they make.

This is a very hard thing to do. But if the adults or SPL solves all of the issues for the patrol what have they learned?

I have had many scouts come up to me and say that they left their rain gear at home, I have asked them if they have any large garbage bags in the chuck box and leave it at that. Some walk around all weekend wet and grumpy, it was their choice, on how they packed and what they did to improve the situation. BUT I carry an extra sleeping bag with me, just in case it turns into an safety issue.


I am surprised that raw pork chops made someone sick? I would be more worried about raw eggs or chicken than pork chops. I wonder if the pork chops where out of cooler to long on in the sun.


The issue with the adults taking over the patrol they are dining with should be an easy issue to overcome. Adults should not be in the patrol area until the food is ready and the patrol has invited them to dine with them. Now the issue becomes are the patrol going to clean the adults and whoever else ate with them (SPL or ASPL) dishes.


These 2 threads have been an excellent read, thanks all.



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Yah, it's good to give kids room to experiment and learn from mistakes, for sure.


But that's not the place to start them learnin'. If we all had to re-invent everything for ourselves, humanity would still be livin' in caves.


Yeh have to begin by teachin' them. Explain how the stove works, why you do what you do. Demonstrate for them how it's done. Guide and coach them for a while as they do it. Let 'em grow at least a few neurons under your helpful, courteous, kind, and cheerful guidance. Then let 'em go and compete and build experience on their own.


Same for your PL's teaching cookin', eh? Explain how to put together a good lesson. Demonstrate how to deliver it. Guide and coach your PL's for a while as they try to teach their patrol-mates. Then let 'em go and compete and build experience on their own.


So which setup yeh choose probably shouldn't depend on your philosophy. It should depend on where your kids are at.


Or at least, dat's my philosophy, eh? ;)


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