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Patrol Method Made Simple (for the Real World)

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#21 Eagle94-A1


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Posted 30 July 2016 - 02:15 PM

I'm going to channel @Kudu and pull some quotes he has on his website:


One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction.

--Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918.




And from Green Bar Bill


The Game of Scouting







To an outsider, Scouting must at first appear to be a very complex matter. If it were only possible to swing the gates of Scouting wide open to him and show him from a vantage point in one immense view the full panorama of the Scout Movement! Under the open sky he would see gathered hundreds of thousands of wide awake, red-blooded boys, busily occupied with self-appointed tasks, practices expected and required of real Scouts, ranging from the sending of signals with flags from hill-top to hill-top, to lighting a fire by primitive means—all living, breathing, absorbing Scouting.

The boys swarm around him, and as one of them runs by he asks him: "Tell me, what is Scouting?

As the boy passes, his smile and his answer come back: "Scouting is fun!"

He bends over a boy who seems to have forgotten his surroundings, completely absorbed in preparing a simple outdoor meal, and asks the same question.

And the boy answers as he looks up wonderingly: "Scouting is adventure!"

A bunch of Scouts, led by one of their number, comes running and, as they draw near, their answer sings out: "Scouting is comradeship!"

Thus the boys define their own activity, their game. And GAME—that is the word.

Scouting As a Game

To a boy Scouting is a game, a magnificent game, full of play and full of laughter, keeping him busy, keeping him happy.

That is the strength of Scouting! A boy becomes a Scout for the sheer fun there is in it.

The action in Scouting appeals to the boy’s impulse to be doing something. The meetings, hikes and camps are essentially periods of activity. Even the code of Scout conduct is presented to him in terms of action—"Be Prepared," "Do a Good Turn Daily." In fact, the basic principle in Scouting is "Learning by Doing." There is nothing negative in it. There is no "Go up in the attic and see what Johnny is doing and tell him he mustn’t!" There are no "Don’ts." Scouting does not say "Don’t rob bird’s nests," but "Find out about birds." It does not say "Don’t cut down trees," but instead "Help save the trees." That is talking boy language—stimulating, not prohibiting.

There is adventure in Scouting. There is adventure in tackling a job alone—all by oneself, or with the gang. There is adventure in finding Good Turns to do every day. There is adventure in pioneering, exploring, out-door living.

There is companionship and fellowship in the Patrol, the natural unit in Scouting. There is always present an urge to achieve. A harder task, a higher rank always looms ahead; there is distinction to be gained.

Scouting in a Nutshell

Here, then, is Scouting in a nutshell: A game for boys under the leadership of boys with the wise guidance and counsel of a grown-up who has still the enthusiasm of youth in him. A purposeful game, but a game just the same, a game that develops character by practice, that trains for citizenship—through experience in the out-of-doors.

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"Train 'em. Trust 'em. LET THEM LEAD!" William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt

#22 Stosh


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Posted 30 July 2016 - 02:33 PM

Members of Parliament in the UK do have specific terms but there are situations in which an election can be called sooner. In other words there is an outside limit but no inside limit. My understanding of Stosh's posts have been that in his troops, there is neither an outside nor inside limit. There is only a new election when the boys "decide", however it is they might do that. In my son's troop (I'm going to start calling it that again on here, rather than "my" troop, even though my son hasn't been a member of it for 6 years) all terms, elected and appointed, are for one year. I think our way is better.


Here's where I am coming from with this whole "election/selection" thingy.


Boys hold an election and elect a "popular" boy as their PL.  The kid is interested only in the prestige and patch as a stepping stone to SPL and the stars!  Okay, the boys come to me and say, "We goofed and want a PL that really will be a PL.  Why do we have to suffer for a 6 months/1 year until elections roll around?"  My answer?  Well, I haven't got one.  Their argument makes perfectly good sense to me.  After all, it's their program, why not.  Elect who you want now that you figured out that popularity is not one of the major determining factors when picking a PL.


So then after a term 6 months/1 year, the boys REEEEAAAALLLY like their PL.  He's fantastic and the boys love him and will do anything for him!  He's a natural leader.  So they elect/select him again.... and again..... and again.....And the SM says no, you can't be doing that and the boys ask "Why?" and the SM's answer?  Hmmmmm, does "because I said so." seem to apply here?


The reason we do it this way is not because Mr. Stosh said so, it's because Mr. Stosh doesn't have a good answer as to why they can't have the leadership they want!  My solution?  I stay out of it...and voila! all the hassles with terms and elections, and popularity contests, and all other "stuff", simply goes away.  I'm happy and the boys are happy.


So, am I going to go and implement 6 month/1 year terms for troop officers any time soon?  Nope.

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#23 Hedgehog


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Posted 31 July 2016 - 06:04 AM

It is interesting.  Our Troop has electons on an annual basis.  I see some value in that because the boys grow over the course of the year.  However, I see the value of what Stosh is saying too.  Our Troop elects PLs on a Troop basis and then the SM assigns people to the patrols.  I suspect the results would be different if each patrol elected their own leaders.  I do see the prestige or resume factor in the Troop-wide elections.  I also see the popularity factor in those elections.  I can understand how the process would be substantially different if the patrols would make their own selections when they wanted to.


My son has talked about the leadership for his in-the-process-of-forming venturing crew.  He said, we can all sit down and decide who does what.  After a while we can change positions so everyone gets a chance to lead and so everyone shares the workload.  This is coming from someone who understands that servant leadership isn't all ordering people to do things but working hard to support the people you lead.  A servant-leader doesnt seek the position for their own benefit, but so that they can help the organization advance.  If you think of it that way, who needs term limits?

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#24 Eagle94-A1


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Posted 31 July 2016 - 09:34 AM

I admit, I like six month election cycles. Part of that is I think if you elect a poor leader, you do need to deal with the results. After all in the real world, there are very few recall laws on the books. Part of it is that I've seen school extracurriculars happen in cycles, and they tend to be 6 month cycles.


But I really do not like the rule my troop has:you cannot run for reelection except after a 6 month break. Sorry if you can handle the jon for another 6 month term, and your peers vote for you, you should be able to do it.

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"Train 'em. Trust 'em. LET THEM LEAD!" William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt

#25 MattR



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Posted 31 July 2016 - 10:06 PM

Give your pragmatic, practical advice on how to set that up.   Assume a typical troop of, say 22 boys on paper, 15 active includin' three high school aged boys, plus 3 crossovers from one pack and two from another.  Right now they've got patrols on paper only as administrative groups for meetings.


I'll play by your rules, Beavah.


First rule is that all decisions are made in the context of the scout oath and law. It's not about you, it's about others. The biggest problem I see is scouts afraid to make a decision. They should be encouraged to try and as long as they consider the oath an


The point of the patrol is to deliver the promise of scouting: fun, friendship, the outdoors, advancement, adventure, and service. Not the troop, not the adults, the patrol.


The size of the patrol is less than 8 for a reason. That's how many personalities a group can deal with, youth or adult.


Never mix patrols. Scouts need to develop as a patrol and learn about each other. This takes time. Besides, patrols often like just having 4 scouts on a campout. If only one or two scouts from a patrol show up for a campout, they can ask another patrol to be guests.


Let the patrols pick themselves. But remember the oath and law. Make sure this is good for everyone. Also, if the older scouts decide to go on their own then they better act like a super patrol. The expectation should be higher for them. They should be an example, not a dumping ground for slacker scouts. And yet, this can be a good way to get a bunch of older, lazy scouts out of the way. Just sayin.


A patrol is a team. A team works together and helps each other out and looks out for each other.


A leader makes a team happen. A leader has to put the team before himself. A common misconception is that the leader does all the work. His goal is to get his team to work without him being any different from anyone else. That's the ideal anyway. To get there he should be creating experiences of teamwork by keeping everyone busy. He should be giving others opportunities to lead as well. He should be asking them how they want the promise of scouting delivered.


The leader should be more interested in the people than the task at hand. The leader should not make a decision that he doesn't have to. He should be more interested in how the team performs then what they perform. If the patrol votes for hot dogs and he wants brats, he should keep his mouth shut and be glad they made a decision. On the other hand, there are times when a patrol is really struggling and a leader needs to step in and make decisions. It takes experience to figure out when to step in and when to stay out. Anyway, everyone in the patrol needs to understand that the patrol leader needs to be obeyed.


Problems are opportunities to teach problem solving to the leader or the team (especially when a patrol leader over steps his bounds).


Growth is an important idea. As scouts and patrols grow they need less direction. They should always be growing, otherwise they get bored and quit.


Boundaries are important. Boundaries between patrols, between patrols and adults, between patrols and the SPL. A young leader will tend to step back and let someone with more experience step in unless the boundaries are very clear and everyone is trying to keep it that way.


Communication is also important. Without it everyone starts making assumptions.


Adult interaction with the patrols depends on the SPL and the patrols. If you have a really great SPL that understands all of this then let him develop the PLs. His interaction with the PLs should be similar to how the PLs interact with their patrols. He should know his boundaries as well.

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#26 Stosh


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Posted 01 August 2016 - 03:14 PM

I admit, I like six month election cycles. Part of that is I think if you elect a poor leader, you do need to deal with the results. After all in the real world, there are very few recall laws on the books. Part of it is that I've seen school extracurriculars happen in cycles, and they tend to be 6 month cycles.
But I really do not like the rule my troop has:you cannot run for reelection except after a 6 month break. Sorry if you can handle the jon for another 6 month term, and your peers vote for you, you should be able to do it.

Yes, in the real world that is true, but we are not comparing scout elections to real ones. It's more along the line of simply going to a different program that doesn't waste my time. Yes,I don't leave the USA because of who gets elected, but if the BSA program is not beneficial, I can simply leave. Boys do it all the time. We don't need to encourage that by telling them to put up with it for the next 6 months.
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