Posted 07 April 2017 - 09:09 AM
As the local patrol method activist, I have always blamed National's lack of training for the lack of patrol method in the districts. But the problem is worse than that, Patrol method is just not part of National's concept for a successful scout program.
When we humans have to provide activities with little or no guidance, we develop those activities using reasoning based from our own personal knowledge and life experiences. I used to teach boy run and many adults just wouldn't, or couldn't, comprehend the idea of developing character by giving boys the independence to make choices for how they participated in their small community we call patrol. Adults are driven by ambition and the ambitions of parents is giving their kids the best advantages. Everyone here will probably agree that the first question about your troop by visiting parents is something to do with advancement. That is not typically the first order of priority on their son's list. But don't misunderstand, parents are being normal, it's the patrol method program that doesn't fit in the normal way of things.
The only way to push a trend is to provide overwhelming information to sway adults away from their personal Instincts on the subject. For that to happen, direction has to come from the top and and have support all the way don't to the program users. I don't see National showing that kind of support for patrol method.
Our troop started at its inception a very traditional patrol method program only because the two main adult leaders who started the troop had traditional patrol method experiences as youths. There was no support at the district or council levels for our out-of-norm program. They did, however, start to show an interest when membership grew from 16 to 60 in three years. However, outsiders looking in still had a hard time believing in the simple concept of patrol method. We kept getting pressure to conform to Nationals 3 patrol structure (NSP, Regular Patrols, Venture Patrols) AND also divide off the oldest Scouts into an adventure crew. Being open minded, we tested the waters of some of the suggestions, only revert back when they didn't prove out.
We helped and guided anyone who wanted a program like ours, but that is a rough road for any unit without district or council support. Especially when the adults don't have any patrol method experience as a foundation for their decisions. Without experiences and knowledge, adults tend to fall back on their parental instincts of giving their kids a program that apeals to adults. Advancement based.
I'm not saying it's hopeless, but patrol method is a lot of work. Of course the rewards are worth it, but looking back, I realize a patrol method program requires some passion to maintain positive momentum.
I believe scouting forums can be a great source of support for adults who want a patrol method troop, but im seeing more and more skepticism and resistance these days from even experienced Scoutmasters. The traditional patrol method program is becoming more rare every day. I often wonder if my sons are the last generation to experience it. That being said, I hope to be a source for patrol method for a good while. I still have the passion, and I guess that's why of love this scouting stuff.
"Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first, then the lesson."