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”

How much are you doing for them?

checklist_200The question came up recently on one of the forums about how different troops handle registration for monthly campouts, and I was intrigued to read the replies.

Many respondents had well thought-out procedures, ranging from e-mailed permission forms to Google documents and the BSA’s new Scoutbook. These systems aim to add some level of reliability and dependability to the process of parents signing their sons up to go camping and to make things easier for them.

It’s great to have a consistent way to reach the parents, to get word back on who is going, and to be able to assign drivers to take Scouts to and from camp. This certainly helps the troop committee members and the Scoutmaster responsible for overseeing the campout.

Most of them, however, miss the point. Continue reading “How much are you doing for them?”

What are you clinging to?

balloons_200Talking with the Cubmaster at a Blue & Gold banquet recently, I found out that her son is crossing into Boy Scouts this spring. In fact, he (and she) have already been on a campout of the troop that he is joining. Among other tales of the adventure that lies across the bridge, I gently advised her to quell the urge to do things that the boys should be doing. She had heard that before – from the Scoutmaster. On the campout, she thought it would be helpful if she’d wipe down the table after the patrol had lunch, whereupon the Scoutmaster reminded her that it was the boys’ job to do that – not the adults’. So she called her son over and told him to do it, and learned the next part – it’s not the adults’ job to direct the Scouts, but that they’re led by their own leaders.

There’s a lot to learn when an adult follows his or her son into a troop. Continue reading “What are you clinging to?”

Scout camping: Three essential elements

tents_at_scouting_camp_250A couple months ago, we wrote about just what constitutes a Scout campout. Scout camping, as you’re aware, is different from ordinary-folks camping because it aims to fulfill a purpose besides recreation and just getting outside. Scout camping is where the values of Scouting come to life and is the end result of a month’s worth of planning and preparation by our Scouts.

In one of his recent podcasts, Clarke Green crystallized the concept of whether a particular activity qualifies as an appropriate Scout campout. Clarke gives three essential elements that must be present in order to be a Scouting activity and not just a weekend in the woods. They are: Continue reading “Scout camping: Three essential elements”