Forming new patrols

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Forming new patrols

Postby gwd-scouter » Mon May 25, 2009 5:47 am

We recently jumped from 9 to 24 scouts and right now have two new scout patrols of six each led by a 16 year old troop guide. Our 17 year old is a JASM and the first we've ever had in that position - doing a fantastic job, too. We have a 14 year old SPL who needs a lot of guidance.

Taking those four away that leaves our core group of scouts as a third patrol - the dynamite patrol. It has six members, grades 6-8.

The two new scout patrols are doing marvelously well. The dynamite patrol is something of a disaster. Our three senior scouts have been the driving force of junior leadership in our troop and it's really the first time the middle school guys have had to step up and take some control on their own. Problem is, four of the guys in the dynamite patrol want to be the guy in charge and no one wants to listen to anyone else. Our current SPL is not much help for the patrol leader, often making decisions for him or overruling him. JASM is trying to work with the SPL and help him learn, but SPL doesn't pay much attention.

In just a couple of weeks, the two troop guides will be leaving to work at camp for the summer, leaving the new scout patrols without a leader. Since these patrols seem to working out well, what do you folks think of us dismantling the dynamite patrol and having those guys split up and move into the new scout patrols thus forming two permanent mixed age patrols? This suggestion has been made by a couple of the boys in the dynamite patrol and I think it's a pretty good one. A couple of those guys that are fighting over leadership would actually make good PLs once they had the position, some more training, and got separated.

I do know that there are personality issues involved and a couple of guys I'd like to see in separate patrols. How much control on that kind of thing do you feel is proper for the Scoutmaster? The new guys, for the most part, are hard working and eager and I wouldn't want to destroy the tenuous teamwork they've built so far by adding in a couple of middle schoolers that spend all their time bickering.
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Re: Forming new patrols

Postby Cowboy » Mon May 25, 2009 7:41 am

You will find many different opinions on this issue. None of them will be right, and none of them will be wrong. Mine is:
All patrols should be mixed. Personally I strongly disagree with having an "older" patrol / young patrol situation. The more experienced boys should be teaching and guiding the younger/newer boys. The best way to do this is to have an even split in the patrols. A troop guide is great, but as you are finding out, they often tend to have other things going on (sports, Drivers ED, camp counselor, etc) without them around it will fall on the adults to teach. This is okay, that is why we are there, but it also violates the Boy Led idea. Our Troop tries to go with age/rank based patrols about every 5 years because the boys want that and want to hang with buddies, not the older/younger guys. It is tried, doesn't work, we go back to mixed patrols, things get back on track. Just my two cents worth.
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Re: Forming new patrols

Postby ThunderingWind » Mon May 25, 2009 8:32 am

I have seen the "New Scout" patrol option both work and fail. I have seen mixing the new scouts with olders Scouts work and fail.

For this case however, I would sit the Dynamite Patrol down and let them know that thier behavior is not up to the Scout Oath and Law and that
they need to get over "I am in charge" and work together. Maybe there is other underlying issues that need to be discussed and once cleared up
they will get back on track.

At the same time, I would recruit some very good parents to be ASMs (or even some of the Dynamite Patrol) and work with the Scout Patrols, takign the place of TGs. And if your summer camp has a special First Class/First Year type block of training for these New Scouts, encourage them to take it. Continue to help them learn the leadership skiils they need to truely be boy led.

Use the Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable. Be careful of being the puppet master with the New Scouts but also do not be afraid to step in for those ownderful teachable moments.
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Re: Forming new patrols

Postby smtroop168 » Tue May 26, 2009 9:35 am

I'm not a big fan of New Scout Patrols either but if you go from 9 to 24, it would be harder to intergrate them. I would mix the new guys in sooner than later though. Get some of the 15 new parents involved as ASMs to keep the new guys engaged as Boy Scouts and not Webelos 3's.
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Re: Forming new patrols

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Wed May 27, 2009 3:22 pm

As far as SM "meddling", I prefer to see it as guiding. You have the wisdom that comes from experience; they do not. As an adult, you have SEEN each of their personality types before; they may have not. Sit down with your ASMs and come up with the mix that works best, given the individuals' distinct differences.
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Re: Forming new patrols

Postby wetsmith » Thu May 28, 2009 10:50 am

I would agree with most advice posted here, but with one great exception. It is your role to make adjustments as needed. But keep the adults out of the mix. Lay down the law with your SPL to start paying attention to the advice offered or he will be replaced. You’ve got to get his attention in this matter very fast: it is no way his prerogative to undermine the patrol leader. Very bad precedence and can build great animosity very fast.

I think the idea to disperse TWO of your senior guys is a great one. But do it temporarily, ‘on loan’, if you will, for the summer months until your Troop Guides return or the next election cycle. It will do wonders for these guys, give them a place to practice their leadership they apparently so badly want to do, and separate some guys that apparently need separated. Plus your remaining PL will have a smaller bunch to handle and can hopefully reign them in some – with the SUPPORT of a re-focused SPL….

When and if you should decide to return them back to their prior patrol, I bet they will work together much better. You and the JASM need to keep working with them in this arrangement so that it is successful. But I would do all I can to minimize adult involvement.

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Buckeye Council, Ohio
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