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#1 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 07:47 AM

The boys in my units really don't do much with the SPL/PLC concept and generally just go with a consensus of PL's on inter-patrol or shared activities.  We got up to 4 patrols once and the boys experimented with an SPL for a while and it was viewed as okay, but nothing to write home about.

 

It is my opinion they didn't get excited about it because of their emphasis on the patrol method and the independence of the patrols as they saw how this method played itself out.

 

It has always been "okay" if all the patrols didn't do things together.  I have had some patrols go one way on a weekend and other patrols do something else or at the convenience of their members pick a different weekend to do their activity.  It's bit difficult, but not impossible for the adults to come up with 2-deep, but it always worked out. 

 

So, I'm kinda curious.  With troops using the SPL/PLC model, does the vote on all activities have to be unanimous or are some patrols voted down and are required to go with the troop on the activities?  I ran into this when the interests of the older patrols didn't jive with the experience levels of the younger boys.  They stuck with their patrols and didn't do the ad hoc, temporary contingency, thingy for high adventure, they simply went and did it as a patrol.  Everything they did was as a patrol.  The younger boys like the council camp for summer camp, but the older boys are burned out on it and want to look at other camps in the area.  If that be the case what does the SPL/PLC determine for the troop and if everything boils down to a troop decision, what kind of long term impact does that make on the patrol method.

 

My former troop that was definitely a troop-method troop, right down to a centralized cooking station attached to the troop trailer, did have as many as 6 patrols, but none of them had any autonomy or authority to do anything other than what the adults proposed and PLC agreed on.  It was never my feeling that this was how the patrol method was supposed to look.

 

This was most obvious when we went to a new summer camp half way across the country and upon arriving found that the high adventure program still had a ton of openings.  ALL the older boys, the PL's the honor patrol officers, the troop officers, anyone with FC and above could opt out of the planned events and go with the High Adventure option.  Which they did and it left about half the boys in camp.  None of which were FC.  No leadership, no program, no patrols, and 2 ASM's to babysit them for the week.  The consensus of the boys left behind was that the trip was a total waste of time and money.  Of course all the older boys thought it was fantastic.

 

So what about this tension between the patrol vs. troop dynamics of structure and authority dynamics?


Edited by Stosh, 20 May 2016 - 07:52 AM.

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#2 blw2

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 08:10 AM

Stosh

Mine is a very micro-level experience....

but i'd guess that the vast majority of units could only really answer this question with an N/A.... becasue of at least some adult driven influence or direction

 

Our troop is very Troop centered

although some lip service is given to patrols, it's really more of a sub-group breakout

so the down-vote as you referred to it comes first form the adult.....t hen the SPL is kinda like.... "ahhh, ok..."

Like a lot of units I suspect...


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#3 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 08:16 AM

@blw2

 

So how does one get the BSA patrol method across to units that either have never used it or have adults that refuse to implement it?

 

As a UC, I see what you have described in a lot of units out there that vehemently believe they have a patrol method troop.  They will never change with that mind-set.  What should UC's be doing about this and should it be a big part of the JTE program or some other expectation more clearly outlined by National?


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#4 Krampus

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 08:23 AM

@Stosh, you know how big my troop is. We have six patrols, 75+ guys. We have a high degree of participation across the board for which I am thankful.

 

When you plan our Scout year (Sept-Aug, planned in June-July) we start with a program planning introduction. We talk to ALL the Scouts about what takes place during program planning. We show them what we need from them (ideas for camping, projects, events, fund raising, etc.). When then give a few weeks for the Scouts to research what they want to do, then get together as patrols to combined and submit their ideas. Monthly themes are also part of this effort.

 

After that's done, the PLs bring these forward to the PLC level where we have a consolidation meeting. We get our our calendars, discuss all the ideas, put holidays/training/key dates on the calendar and then plan around those. We categorize the events and such into themes and try to match the themes to months, then apply those to the calendar. Suggestions for everything are voted on by the PLC. Nothing is thrown away.

 

The next step is to ratify it with the troop, done at the patrol level. Unless guys are REALLY against an idea it stays in. Rarely does that happen but it does happen.

 

Once ratified by the unit, we assign service, honor and program patrols. Service patrols set up/take down during events. Honor patrols do colors, presentation. Program patrols are on the hook for developing the meeting plans for that month.

 

It took a while to build this structure and get it running. After we do our planning -- which normally goes well -- the implementation is usually pretty good. We have our hiccups. We've had patrols forget to do meeting plans, and they've had to take their lumps in front of the troop for screwing up...but they learn.

 

This process has worked for us. Your mileage may vary. ;)


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#5 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 09:17 AM

@Krampus

 

I have my UC hat on when I asked these questions because I'm comfortable with what I have as SM, but as UC, I see a lot of troops that don't seem to be comfortable, do a lot of mix and match when it comes to patrols, have retention problems, etc. and need to know what I can offer the UC corps to help the units out there that are struggling. 

 

With that number of boys I totally understand the amount of organizational structure needed to make it work and to work towards a troop wide consensus.

 

But nibbling around the corners, what happens to the patrol that wishes the kind of autonomy of the old patrol method where they would go off and do patrol specific activities on their own?  It sounds like "everyone's in the game" all the time in the structure you have described.  Maybe that's what's necessary in your case, but how much "wiggle room" is allowed the PL and his patrol to decide that they are going to go to Activity X as a group, but it wasn't part of the overall troop calendar?

 

How much are the patrols in your troop "mixed"?  How much does your larger troop adhere to the BSA's model of New, Regular and Venture patrol concepts? If push came to shove would the boys say their loyalty is more towards the patrol or the troop?

 

@blw2 mentioned that his troop oriented situation's patrol method was more reflective of sub-group break outs than actual independently operational patrols? 

 

Are boys ever "limited" in their opportunities by such things as calendar, PLC votes, mixed ages within a patrol?  I'm sure over time there have been some work arounds on these issues and boys having to settle for certain limitations, but how do the boys ever make their concerns known or is the troop big enough that they have to simply accept it as a way of life?

 

 Lots of questions, I know, but our UC corps is in the process of redefining itself and is on a search on how to be more useful to the units with ideas that actually work.


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#6 Krampus

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 09:39 AM

But nibbling around the corners, what happens to the patrol that wishes the kind of autonomy of the old patrol method where they would go off and do patrol specific activities on their own?  It sounds like "everyone's in the game" all the time in the structure you have described.  Maybe that's what's necessary in your case, but how much "wiggle room" is allowed the PL and his patrol to decide that they are going to go to Activity X as a group, but it wasn't part of the overall troop calendar?


One thing I have noticed in my area is that since these kids are involved in SOOOO many other activities, making time for patrol-based activities that are separate from the troop activities are few and far between. It is simply a matter of bandwidth. The patrols get time on camp outs, service projects and troop meetings to do "their thing". But rarely do you see them doing something on their own outside of the troop events. It's just a consequence of suburban Scouting in the 21st Century. Between school, scouts, sports, religious activities, extra curricular clubs, simply hanging out with friends, etc., there simply isn't time.
 
That said, the PLC goes to great lengths to let the patrols do their own thing. Back in Feb we were at a great state park. Each patrol was allowed to "go explore" or do whatever they wanted. Half went exploring as patrols, one just sat around and "vegged", another had a cooking contest and other worked on SC rank requirements.
 

How much are the patrols in your troop "mixed"?  How much does your larger troop adhere to the BSA's model of New, Regular and Venture patrol concepts? If push came to shove would the boys say their loyalty is more towards the patrol or the troop?


As you know we use a mixed age patrol structure. We tried NSPs a long while back and they failed miserably. Webelos III it was. We went with the older Scout/younger Scout approach after that. Again, a miserable failure which basically segregated the ages groups and lead to older Scout apathy. It decapitated our leadership and lead to a long road back to re-training the whole unit on the Patrol Method. It also saw our retention rate drop significantly. They Eagled and left...at 15 or 16.

The mixed age patrols work FAR better for us. Retention is near 96%, engagement and leadership is (and remains) high. Core skills development and retention remains high as well.
 
There is a sense of patrol spirit, but I think my guys would say they are loyal to both patrol and troop. And why shouldn't they be. It shouldn't have to be either-or.
 

Are boys ever "limited" in their opportunities by such things as calendar, PLC votes, mixed ages within a patrol?  I'm sure over time there have been some work arounds on these issues and boys having to settle for certain limitations, but how do the boys ever make their concerns known or is the troop big enough that they have to simply accept it as a way of life? 

 

We don't break down activities by age. At times, and only when absolutely necessary (age matrix or skill level) would we break out an activity by skill. Canoeing comes to mind.

 

By using the Patrol Method, the individual can bring things to his PL who will being them forward to the PLC. You cannot please everyone whether it is in a troop-centered model or a patrol-centered model. At some point, the dissenters will need to accept what the majority of folks want. That's life. You cannot please everyone. HOWEVER, you can at least set up a process by which the individual can have a voice and express their position.


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#7 Beavah

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:18 AM

Yah, hmmm...

 

I reckon I'm just gettin' a bit befuddled by all your posts about your troop(s), @Stosh.  Do yeh mind providin' a quick summary so we understand da context when you're talkin' about 'em?

 

Somethin' like

 

Troop A, 35 boys, 5 patrols, 1998-2002, ran by troop method with everyone cooking together, I was the ASM in charge of new scouts.

 

Troop B, 2004-2009, I started this troop as Scoutmaster, it grew from 5 crossover boys to 24 boys in five years, 3 patrols, strict StoshScouts patrol method.  This was the troop in da old Scouter.com posts where da committee removed me as SM because they felt I wasn't providin' enough support/guidance for the boys.

 

Troop C, 2011-current, right now it has 12 boys, 2 patrols, etc.  This is the troop that the DE asked me to start up in a new area. 

 

It just helps to understand the context of what you're writing.

 

Beavah


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#8 Beavah

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:45 AM

 

So, I'm kinda curious.  With troops using the SPL/PLC model, does the vote on all activities have to be unanimous or are some patrols voted down and are required to go with the troop on the activities?  I ran into this when the interests of the older patrols didn't jive with the experience levels of the younger boys.  They stuck with their patrols and didn't do the ad hoc, temporary contingency, thingy for high adventure, they simply went and did it as a patrol.  Everything they did was as a patrol.  The younger boys like the council camp for summer camp, but the older boys are burned out on it and want to look at other camps in the area.  If that be the case what does the SPL/PLC determine for the troop and if everything boils down to a troop decision, what kind of long term impact does that make on the patrol method.

 

Yah, there are as many ways of doin' things as there are troops I expect.   There's also a very different dynamic with mixed-age patrols and a PLC and same-age patrols and a PLC.

 

In troops with mixed age patrols and a PLC, generally speakin' there are patrol trips and there are some troop trips that they do together.   Sometimes da PLC sets aside time for patrol trips, sometimes patrols just add 'em on themselves.   Annual planning meetings often have all da patrols contribute ideas and desires and almost always there's consensus, eh?  Lots of boys like da same things in common - adventure!  challenge!    When there's a patrol that wants to specialize a bit in somethin' that other patrols aren't as into (Geocaching!), the patrol runs patrol trips for that... then maybe their PL offers the patrol as Service Patrol to set up orienteering challenges for a troop trip or teach GPS use at a meeting.

 

This works fine for patrol method, eh?  It's da patrol method of Green Bar Bill and Scoutin' for a long time.

 

In troops with same-age patrols da PLC may decide on campsites, eh?  Often troops like this may share a site that has access to different options, but for da duration of a campout they split into program levels for activities.   This is common in very large troops, eh?  So da 2-3 new scout patrols are doin' T-2-1 stuff with their Troop Guides, the 3-4 middle school patrols go off and do stuff with that program level... maybe longer hikes or a patrol competition or whatnot.   The 1-2 patrols of high schoolers go do somethin' different, or hang out if that's what they prefer.  Sometimes one of those patrols is doin' prep for a high adventure trip. The troop comes together for flags, and Saturday campfire, and maybe for some common features like tourin' the military base.

 

This also works fine for patrol method, eh?  Especially if yeh have multiple patrols at each level, yeh can do competitions and other stuff.  Where it's weaker is where all same-age patrols are weaker, eh?  Patrols aren't permanent.  They "reorganize" and consolidate as the boys get older and some leave, and the young patrols really aren't functioning patrols so much as classes for the newbies run by the TG/ASM-NSP.  Sometimes da middle patrols don't get as much love and attention as the newbies and the high adventure kids, and have a bit more attrition.

 

There are lots and lots of other permutations, eh?  

 

By the time yeh get up to havin' a bigger troop, even with same-age patrols yeh get mix-and-match when it comes to high adventure, eh?   If yeh have two older boy patrols and one is doin' Seabase and da other Philmont, like as not a few kids can't make da Philmont trip because of basketball camp but they want to go on Seabase, or da Philmont patrol has 3 more spaces it needs to fill so they take boys from da Seabase patrol too.

 

Beavah


Edited by Beavah, 20 May 2016 - 10:48 AM.

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#9 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:16 PM

Yah, hmmm...

 

I reckon I'm just gettin' a bit befuddled by all your posts about your troop(s), @Stosh.  Do yeh mind providin' a quick summary so we understand da context when you're talkin' about 'em?

 

Somethin' like

 

Troop A, 35 boys, 5 patrols, 1998-2002, ran by troop method with everyone cooking together, I was the ASM in charge of new scouts.

 

Troop A - 40-50 boys, 20 active 6 patrols on paper, 1993-2006 Adutl-run, troop method.  I was the ASM in charge of advancement.

 

Troop B, 2004-2009, I started this troop as Scoutmaster, it grew from 5 crossover boys to 24 boys in five years, 3 patrols, strict StoshScouts patrol method.  This was the troop in da old Scouter.com posts where da committee removed me as SM because they felt I wasn't providin' enough support/guidance for the boys.

 

Troop B - 5 boys grew to 28,  four patrols, 2006-2011, Boy led, patrol method.  I was SM and was asked to leave because the boys were expected to do too much leadership.  20% of the boys had NYLT training, all had annual JLT/TLT training, and I was asked to leave in the middle of GBB Patrol Method training.

 

Troop C, 2011-current, right now it has 12 boys, 2 patrols, etc.  This is the troop that the DE asked me to start up in a new area. 

 

Troop C, 2011-current, has 5 scouts only 2 are active and we are teaching AOL training to 9 Boys that will be crossing over in 2 weeks.  This is the troop the COUNCIL asked me to start and the DC signed on as ASM to learn about the  Boy led, patrol method style I use.  At summer camp they will get their S-FC training and TLT training.  Next fall they will begin GBB Leadership training.

 

Crew A - 1998-2012 - 5 grew to 25 crew members, CA left due to political squabbling among the leaders, the crew folded a year later.

 

Crew B - Just starting a regional Venturing Crew in a neighboring District at their request.  I will be CA and the Mrs. will be ACA

 

I run my crews the same way I run my troops.  Small groups, youth led.

 

It just helps to understand the context of what you're writing.

 

Beavah


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#10 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:29 PM

When my 2nd troop was making annual calendar plans as 4 patrols, the "PLC" meeting consisted of the PL's getting together and letting the other three patrols know what they were planning.  If Patrol A was going canoeing in June and hiking in July, maybe Patrol B had it just the opposite.  It was up to them to decide whether to join up and do them together.  If they didn't want to do that, they didn't have to.  Maybe the NSP's canoe trip was a nice paddle down a leisurely flowing river with some sandbar camping along the way and the the Venture patrol wanted whitewater canoeing.  Merging the activity into one would not be a viable option.

 

They also decided what summer camp they wanted to go to and whether or not they both wanted the same week.  Older boy sports conflicts might dictate one week over another whereas the NSP's baseball might dictate a different week at the same camp.  It's up to them to work it out and then publish the calendar for the adults so they can start planning on what it's going to take to make it work for the boys.  It all worked out fine in the end and everyone got pretty much what they wanted.

 

Maybe in a smaller troop this is more easily done than in a large troop like @Krampus  Whatever he has going is working for him.  Mine was working just fine for the boys as well.  Now with only one patrol, a lot of the headache is gone and my job is much easier.  That's why it was a good opportunity to get the Venturing Crew going at this time so by the time both grow, we will have sufficient youth leadership on board to run things on their own.


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#11 KenD500

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:47 PM

My Troop:

12 Scouts, 3 Patrols (5, 4, & 3), roughly aged based but the Scouts broke into the groups they wanted as Patrols.  1 Patrol 14-17 y.o.; 1 Patrol 11-12 y.o.; 1 Patrol 11-13 y.o.  SPL is Patrol Leader of the senior Patrol.

 

Annual planning starts with Patrol brain-storming.  The PL's lead that and gather the ideas to bring to PLC.  The different Patrols have different abilities; therefore, they set up camp outs with different difficulties.  Example- backpacking.  Sr Patrol started on the trail Friday night and had a longer route than the others.  The others (only 2 Patrols at that time) went a shorter route and met the Sr Patrol at a camp site for Saturday night.  Sunday we hiked out together.

 

As far as "voting down" - it hasn't happened yet.  The PLC comes up with compromises.

 

I think I answered the questions but I won't guarantee it. 


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#12 Eagledad

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 03:53 PM

I enjoy discussions like this because there is a lot to learn from the different experiences. But some of the contributors aren't being honest in describing there experiences. Beaver and I have been on this forum for a long time, so we have some memories of what many members have posted here over the years. Is it possible to ask for an honest discussion with being disrespectful to posters who who push to be the smartest scouters in the room? I don't know, but it is a bit frustrating.

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#13 Beavah

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:08 PM

Yah, thanks for da info @Stosh.   Context does help.

 

Small troop startups are their own special version of fun, eh? 

 

Wonderin' why 3 out of your five scouts aren't active though.   Did somethin' happen?

 

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#14 Stosh

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:15 PM

Competition with sports and other programs,  One boy went 4-H.  Wasn't really the outdoors type, but he tried.  He didn't go to summer camp and that's always a bad sign.  Another boy had a falling out with his patrol members and was replaced from the PL position in the patrol.  He then went to a different troop.  The other boy chose the sports route.

 

The other two boys are doing just fine and with the influx of the new boys, we'll survive.


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#15 qwazse

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 11:21 AM

In general, we have not seen boys all that conflicted. We've varied over the years between 1 and 4 patrols. Looks like we'll be up to five.
The troop's activity schedule is not so jam-packed that a patrol or two couldn't make plans for their special interests.
If older boys want to do something off the troop's beaten path, they are encouraged to coordinate with the crew. This forces them to take ownership of what they're doing and give them a chance to bring their peers along side the activity.
The SPL mainly is responsible for getting PLs in the same room so they coordinate those details.

This summer we are doing the two-camp thing because 30 boys want Seven Ranges, and 8 want Heritage Reservation. Two of the latter of those are crossovers, so it's not the younger vs. older divide that we expected it to be. I expect after camp, we'll ask those boys if hey want to stick together as a patrol.

Regardless of the patch on their sleeve, our older boys tend to be cheerleaders
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#16 BadenP

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 11:09 PM

Stosh

 

With the troop at my church the leaders tried a variety of methods, PLC, no PLC, SPL, no SPL, but what really seemed to be the issue was the way the program direction being controlled by the adult leaders instead of the boys. So a suggestion was made to the troop adult leaders to let the boys have the control and the boys decided to try a 1910 original BP style campout. It was a great success and the boys even left all their electronics in their packs. Mother Nature was the star and the boys had a ball fishing, rafting, and mountain climbing.


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#17 Stosh

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 05:31 AM

It's always a surprise to the adults to find out that THEIR ideas of what the boys want and what the boys REALLY want are often times miles apart.

 

 

Stosh

 

With the troop at my church the leaders tried a variety of methods, PLC, no PLC, SPL, no SPL, but what really seemed to be the issue was the way the program direction being controlled by the adult leaders instead of the boys. So a suggestion was made to the troop adult leaders to let the boys have the control and the boys decided to try a 1910 original BP style campout. It was a great success and the boys even left all their electronics in their packs. Mother Nature was the star and the boys had a ball fishing, rafting, and mountain climbing.

 

WHAT?!!?  No program?  No schedule?  No structure? No S.T.E.M.?  No competitions?  No bling awards? No learning?  You had Climb on Safety, right?  Everyone had passed the swim test, right?  You had your ASM's there with clipboards and pens in case someone did a requirement, right?  MB counselors, duly registered to cover the fishing, swimming and climbing?  Did they have trailers and gas stoves back in 1910?  All that and the boys still had a blast?  Really?  I find that hard to believe!

 

Well done, @BadenP, congrats to your adults, and welcome to the fun side of scouting.


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