The part-time patrol method

half_patrolsAs a unit commissioner and Friends of Scouting presenter, I have the opportunity to visit many troops and packs and get insight into how they operate. We commissioners also talk among ourselves about problems and issues in our units.

One of the troops had an observation about a recent campout:

…the boys were separated by patrols… more boys seemed to be engaged cooking and cleaning…younger Scouts did well…we should continue this method.

While on one hand I’m happy that the troop conducted a successful patrol-method campout and has seen its benefits, I was disappointed to hear that most of their monthly “campouts” tend to be group activities: a ski trip, a merit badge clinic, a museum weekend, and so on.

This troop seems to be employing the patrol method on a part-time basis, Continue reading “The part-time patrol method”

Boys or Scouts?

BoyScoutsWe sometimes use the terms interchangeably. We have a boy-led troop with boy-led patrols. They read Boys’ Life. “Never do anything a boy can do” is a key piece of advice, and Baden-Powell made frequent references such as “The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play by doing so himself” and “The boy is not governed by don’t, but is led by do.”

It is the Boy Scouts of America, after all. Our constituency is overwhelmingly young men – boys – and we frequently think of them as such. However, when it comes to dealing with them in the context of Scouting, it helps to think of them with higher expectations than merely “boy”. Continue reading “Boys or Scouts?”

A Scout(master) is Brave

The Scout LawThe tenth point of the Scout Law, A Scout is Brave, is often explained as

He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.

We frequently have conversations with our Scouts about the Scout Law and advise them to live the values in the Oath and Law in their everyday lives as well as when within a Scouting context.

The same applies to Scouters, of course, but top leaders (including both the Scoutmaster and committee chair) should take this one to heart.

We often get tossed around by parents (and sometimes other leaders) who think they may know of ways to “improve” the Scouting program. Continue reading “A Scout(master) is Brave”

How do I quell a parent revolt?

angry_parents_200Has this ever happened to you?

The following question was posted on one of the Scouting forums in the last few weeks. I thought it was an interesting conundrum and offered my comments. Since it’s unfortunately not an uncommon situation, maybe you can relate. I’ll paraphrase:

Last month at the troop committee meeting, I [a Scoutmaster] was told that “this boy-led thing” was not working. I was hurt and disappointed in the boys. The parents thought the boys chose their leaders poorly at the previous election, and they want a major overhaul. I’m not sure we did the right thing, but we had two boys express interest in being senior patrol leader. The assistant Scoutmasters and I picked between the two and chose a tenth grader as the new SPL.. We let him pick his staff down to the patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders. The boy we chose believes in the patrol method and wants to continue to develop it. I think.he has chosen a good staff, but the parents are still calling for changes. What do you do to quell a parent revolt?

Continue reading “How do I quell a parent revolt?”

Whose advancement is it, anyway?

firstclass+calendar_200A friend in a nearby troop sent me the following:

I was talking with a former Scoutmaster of our troop about how we have some Second-Class and Tenderfoot Scouts who would like to take part in a high adventure activity offered by our council which permits only First-Class Scouts and above. He mentioned:

“If we move the younger Scouts to First Class, they can go on the hike as crew members. In the past, the assistant Scoutmasters and I kept a list of the requirements each boy needed so when we met with the PLC we could help them decide what skills the troop should focus on in meetings and campouts. The boys didn’t know about the list, but it was helpful because of our aim to help the Scouts make First Class in the first year.”

This sounds like a good idea. It would help get them to First Class faster and let them experience our high adventure trek. What do you think?

Continue reading “Whose advancement is it, anyway?”