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.