Patrol Method

Methods- Patrols

The Patrol is, like the ideals, the foundation of the Troop.  The Patrol is where the Scout learns citizenship, it is where they practice democracy, leadership,  and teamwork.  It is where they find companionship, life long friendships, and a place where they belong.  The Patrol is unit of Scouting.  Whether for work or play, the Patrol is where Scouting happens!
In the Patrol you have democracy on the small-scale.  The boys choose the leader they would like to follow, they plan their own activities and take part in activities planned at the Troop level.  When they plan, they execute those activities together.
In a good Patrol, Scout spirit is steadily at work, prompting the participation of each Scout.  The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters says, “The life in the Patrol creates in its Scouts a strong feeling of comradeship, of obedience to a common cause, and the willingness to help and share so necessary in life.”
The Patrol eats together, camps together, cheers together, and pulls together when the going gets tough.  They share the joy of accomplishment, and put their heads together when they fail.  They learn together and assist one another in their Scoutcraft and other skills.
The Patrol elects its own leadership.  This is an important part of Patrol life.  The decisions the Patrol makes in choosing its leadership is up to them and should not be influenced.  The Patrol Leader grows as a leader and the rest of the Patrol develops strong skills at being good followers.  Soon ever Scout gets his turn, and he will reap the benefits of good followers when he steps up to lead.
The Patrol leader is part of the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC).  They run the Troop.  Using the Patrol Method, the Patrol Leaders Council will make decisions that have the best interest in the Troop in mind.  They will push the Patrols in directions of adventure, service, and committment to the Troop.  The PLC along with help from the Scoutmaster is heart of the Patrol Method.  When Baden Powell spoke of the Patrol Leaders Council he said, “… is not so much to save trouble for the Scoutmaster as to give responsibility to the boy- since this is the very best way of all means of developing character.”
I am a firm believer that the Patrol is the heart beat of the Troop.  Patrols that demonstrate spirit and enthusiasm tend to be great Patrols and have a lot of fun getting the most out of Scouting.
A note on the Patrol method.  There are NO ADULTS in Patrols.  Adults do not participate with Patrols and aside from the Scoutmaster have no say in the Patrol Leaders Council.  The Patrol method is not always pretty.  It takes on many shapes and sizes and the level of struggle will vary from Patrol to Patrol.  It is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to tackle as many of those struggles as possible.  He, after all is the leader that Patrol Leaders look to for the answer.
I have a pet peeve about adults calling themselves a Patrol in the Troop setting (outside of Wood Badge of course).  The Patrol method is to be led, practiced, and perfected by young men.
Give them a chance to run their Troop.  This is an important method, with out the Patrol method you do not have Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, comments, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Scouts, Service, Skills, teamwork, Values | Leave a comment

SMMPodcast # 103 – Talking with Bob

In this show I have a lengthy chat with a fellow Scoutmaster and great Friend Bob Pierce.    Join us as we talk a little bit about everything.  Jamboree, Dutch oven cooking, Troop Guides, JLT, Anuual planning, Parents and Philmont just to cover some of the bases.  It’s what happens Scoutmasters get together and shoot the breeze.  The show was recorded on location at the Annual rendezvous of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Meriwether, so the crashing of waves and other camp sounds fill the background of this nice talk with my buddy Bob.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Please leave some feedback, drop us an email, or leave a comment in the comments section.  Thanks for listening.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Direct Download

Categories: camp skills, Character, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, planning, podcast, stories, training, Webelos to Scout Transition | 2 Comments

1 extra Degree

I always talk with the Scouts about Good not being good enough. There are many examples of how good will only get you good.. and on the other hand.. there are great examples of how doing your absolute best will get you Best results.
Being an Eagle Scout for example, will give you an edge over a non Eagle Scout when everything else is equal in trying to get a Scholarship or a job. Going that extra mile up a hill will get you a better view. Achievement is not easy and shouldn’t be.. if earning those things that in the end mean more was easy they would be meaningless.
Think about the difference between getting a participation ribbon at Camporee and earning the Top Troop award at Camporee. There is a big difference and only those that apply themselves, work hard, and have the right skills win.
I found this great little video on the net the other day.. think it sums it up well.
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Competition, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, teamwork | 1 Comment

Modeling the Expected Behavior

This weekend, our Troop conducted Junior Leader Training.  Because we have so many young Scouts, we decided to do things a little different this year.  This year, wanted to ensure that the leaders clearly understood what was to be expected as a leader.  Instead of the typical classroom environment, we took the training out doors where we do the leading.  An over night camping experience in which the Scouts attending the training committed to doing everything right.  The committment of the Scouts that arrived on Friday evening at Camp Discovery was apparent from the word go.
We built a camp fire and pulled our chairs up close.  The theme for the weekend was Modeling the Expected Behavior.  What that means to the Scouts of our Troop is that as leaders they need to set the very best example that they can.  As examples they model the behaviors that we expect to see from the rest of the Troop.
So this weekend, the leaders learned about the Teaching EDGE, Leading EDGE, Ethical decision-making, Communicating effectively, and Learning to teach.  The leaders shared expectations and demonstrated to one another what “Right looks like”.  This morning after teaching one another how to properly pack gear, leave no trace, and cook a meal, they spent some time on the C.O.P.E course working on team development.
At the end of the training it was time for reflection and reinforcing the theme of the weekend.  Modeling the Expected Behavior.
This theme will be the driving force for the rest of the year.  It is the hope of those that attended the training that they will affect a positive change in the Troop.  They all understand that as they go, so will the rest of the Troop.

In my opinion this was the best Junior Leader Training session I have seen our Troop do.  There was a clear understanding at the end of the training and I too feel that the Troop will better for it.  With so many young Scouts in the Troop and more coming at the end of the month, Scouts that are willing to take responsibility and be the very best example by modeling the expected behavior, will be have a lasting impact on our unit.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Character, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Leave no trace, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Scouts, Skills, teamwork, Values | 2 Comments

JTE revisited


As with many of us we wear multiple hats in Scouting.  First and foremost we wear the Dad (or Mom) hat, then the hat appropriate to our unit, like Scoutmaster or Committee Chair.  Then there often times is some District level hat, whether that is part of the District Training team, a District event, or serving on the District committee.  Some are active within their Order of Arrow Chapters or Lodges, and so another hat is hung there.  And for some, and the numbers narrow here, the Council comes a callin’ and more hats are added to the hat rack of Scouting.  This is all well and good as long as the person wearing all of those hats can A.   balance and manage the time,  B.  give full attention to all the positions that he or she has volunteered for, and finally C.  Remember that this is Scouting and it is still a game with a purpose.
All of that to say… I am putting on my District hat right now for this post.
Thursday night at our District committee meeting I was asked to take on an additional responsibility, that of the District Committee Chair while we are looking to replace our retiring District Committee chairman.  I currently serve as the District Program Chairman, so this was not to far a stretch and so I accepted the interim role.
That is neither here nor there when it comes to the subject of this post, other than to say that in the role of both the District Committee Chairman and the Program Chairman one of the reports that our District Commissioner gave disturbed me to no end and I am looking for solutions.
That report was on the Journey to Excellence status of units within our District.  I’ll jump right in.
In November our Council wraps up it’s rechartering process.  This way all units are good to go heading into the new year.  If done right by the units, this is a nice way to end the year and start their Scouting calendar year off clean.  Maybe it’s because I do not know anything else, but this works well for me.
In November we also close out our now Journey to Excellence (Former Honor unit, Quality unit, Centennial Quality unit) report.  Now of all the programs listed in Parenthesis.. I like Journey to Excellence a lot.  It is a fair way to rank and rate your unit.  It is a good measure of how your program is delivering the promise of Scouting.  In the Thunderbird District we have 129 units that rechartered this November.. well 124 actually turned them in on time.. we are still waiting on 6 of them… which will add to my point here real quick.  Out of the 129 units only 35% of them turned in the paper work for their Journey to Excellence.   That’s only 45 units (Packs, Troops, and Crews).  45!
So the question has to be WHY?  The score card is easy to use, the goals are fair and offer a sliding scale from Bronze to Gold so that units have a way of stepping up their programs with rewards for small and large success’s.  But why would only 45 out of 129 units report how they are offereing up the program?
Is it a lack of knowledge?  A lack of training?  A lack of buy in?  Or does this tell us that the 84 units that did not report are not providing quality programs and do not want to tell that to the District and Council?  I sincerely hope that this is not the case.  I know that there are great Scouters out there in our District and I see the units around doing activities, service projects, and outings.  So why not report.
My thoughts went back to the Good turn for America program.  Our District struggled in getting units to report there also.  We asked a volunteer to chase down units and assist with their reporting.. read.. do it for them.  And amazingly, or not, the numbers went sky rocketing.  Now I am not suggesting that this is all about numbers.  I certainly am not, what I am hoping is that the Promise of Scouting is being delivered in the 84 units that have made the choice not to fill out the form.
In talking with one Scouter, I came to the conclusion that he just did not know how the process worked.  So a lack of training on his part led him to not being able to go through this with his unit.  I call BS on this to a certain degree.  The program is not that tough to just figure out.  He asked about tools that could be used to help with the process.  I told him to go to Scouting.org and look up the Journey to Excellence.  There he would find an easy way to set the goals of the unit, track the progress of the unit, and print the final report.  Along with definitions, Frequently Asked questions, and support.  I also reminded him that the number one function of the District is to support units and he could always call us.
Here is what I like about the JTE program.  If you use the tracker, and I mean break it out monthly and see how you are, as a unit progressing through your program based on your goals.  You will achieve success.  The tracker allows the unit to see potential problems or short falls before they happen.  It allows Troop committees to make adjustments, it is a nice tool for the Patrol Leaders Council to stay on track with their program.  After all the main emphasis of the JTE is in program and participation.  Most of us have a competitive gene in us.  Our Scouts certainly do.  So the Journey to Excellence plays on this part of the game.   There are incentives within the unit to continuously improve.  Better Performance means better Scouting for youth!  Better Performance can earn a higher level of Recognition, and Key requirements are tracked and improvement can be quickly identified so they can see where they are on the field.  It’s kind of like being in a 3rd and long and waiting to punt or 3rd and short and know you can score!
I also like that each year the requirements will change.  Each year,  the requirements will be reconsidered to reflect the improved performance by units.  This is why it is important that ALL units report.  Right now in my District 45 units will set the performance measurement for the rest of the District.  New standards for 2012 are already out.  You can see the Troop score card here.   
So I am looking for solutions to this problem.  If you have any ideas, please leave a comment or drop an email.
Share your Journey to Excellence success’s also in the comments section of this post.
Like I said.  I know that there are good Scouters out there doing the right thing.  But the Journey to Excellence program will help make Scouting better.  Better for the main thing… Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: Advancement, blog, comments, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, planning, Scouting, technology, training | 9 Comments

When did things change?

I just came home from the High School.  I volunteer to work the concession stand during the JV Football games so the parents of JV players can watch their sons play.  There were a couple other Dads working with me and during the slow periods of the game, we had a chance to watch the game.  The JV player played their collective hearts out, but still came up short when the last tick of the clock passed.
The discussion that I had with the other Dads though was priceless.  The other night at our Troop meeting I talked during my Scoutmaster Minute about having heart… About never giving up and never letting failure get the best of you.
Today, those Dads and I asked each other when things changed.  Not that “when I was a kid” it was harder… but when I was kids giving up was not an option.  And it should never be an option now.  Our Varsity Football team has had a rough couple years, and I can see why there is frustration and bitter feelings, but this year they are 2-2 and have a promising schedule.  So why give up?  They got down in the last game and many of the players just gave up.  Lost cause?  Never.  Going to lose anyway?  Then go down with a fight!
You see failure is something that is easy.  It becomes an attitude and once you fail and do nothing about it.. it is so much easier to allow it again.  The next thing you know it is a habit.  With teenagers this needs to be nipped before it gets out of hand.
Life is hard and the sooner we expect our kids to be winners the better.  Failure is not an option in life.  Winning is everything.
OK…. SEND HATE MAIL NOW.
Or let me explain.
Winning comes in many forms.  The Score is not always the measure of a win.  Follow me here.  The JV team lost the game today 38-34.  They were down with 9 minutes left in the game.  They could have given up.  But they stayed in the game and played until the whistle blew signaling the end of the game.  They had the ball with 14 seconds left and were driving down the field.  One more play and they had a chance to win the game.  They fell short on the score board, but they did not get beat.  They walked into the locker room knowing that they played the game well and in the end… had a chance to win.  This chance will become the building block that will lead them to victories in the future.  The point here is that those players will not go away without learning from a missed tackle, a dropped ball, or a bad throw.  Yes ladies and gentlemen… when you make mistakes you live with the results.  A missed tackle leads to a score for the other team or a much-needed first down that leads to your loss.
That is life.  Not everyone gets a participation ribbon, and not everyone wins every game, but failing to try will lead to failure.
So when did things change?  When did it become ok to quit?  When did it become ok not to give 100%?  When did “Doing your best” not really mean your best?  Think about that… what does BEST mean?  It dies not mean I gave it a shot.. it does not mean I tried, but it got to hard so I quit.  It means BEST.
Here is how Best is defined:
adj. Superlative of good.
1. Surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality; most excellent: the best performer.
2. Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful; most desirable: the best solution; the best time for planting.
3. Greatest; most: He spoke for the best part of an hour.
4. Most highly skilled: the best doctor in town.
adv. Superlative of well2.
1. In a most excellent way; most creditably or advantageously.
2. To the greatest degree or extent; most: “He was certainly the best hated man in the ship” (W. Somerset Maugham).
n.
1. One that surpasses all others.
2. The best part, moment, or value: The best is still to come. Let’s get the best out of life.
3. The optimum condition or quality: look your best. She was at her best in the freestyle competition.
4. One’s nicest or most formal clothing.
5. The supreme effort one can make: doing our best.
6. One’s warmest wishes or regards: Give them my best

I think that it would serve our young people to look at that definition and see if they, when they say they did their best are they at least within the definition?
So I wonder when things changed.  No one would ever dare give up when I played ball in school.  Our team mates were our friends, they were the guys that we knew we could count on, we knew they would never give up.  I don’t see that in all the kids today.  They are more concerned about themselves and not their team mates.  Life lessons missed.  In life they will need to be dependable, they will need to be counted on.  Giving up now will set them up for quitting later.
Maybe it’s just me and those two other Dads in the snack shack today.. but hope was restored watching that JV team.
This is all just as relevant in Scouting.  Quitting on a patrol, giving up when the challenge is to hard, not finishing when you are being counted on.  All of these tests of character beg the question, when did things change?

“I’ll never give up; cause if I do; I give up on the ones beside me; I’ll never give up; cause if I do; I give up on the ones who believe in me; if the person next to me is down; I will pick him up; and he the same; I’ll never give up; I’ll believe in the cause; I’ll fight to the end; and WE WILL WIN!… THIS IS THE RAIDER PROMISE” – 

This is the Raider Promise, they say this before and after ever game, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone made a promise to never give up, to help other people at all times, to live a set of values, to be a good member of a team or patrol.  Wouldn’t it be nice?
And you wonder why I think sports are valuable…

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Competition, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, teamwork, Values | 2 Comments

The Light at the end of the Tunnel

Tonight, under the leadership of the new SPL and a handful of Patrol Leaders and interested Scouts, the Troop finalized its Annual Plan.  This years planning seemed to take a bit longer, but looking back at the last few years, the goal has always been to get it completed by the end of September.  The Committee chair sat in on this years plan, she gave the boys the nod at the end of the plan suggesting that it was all “doable”.  As I guided the new SPL through the process, it became obvious that he is in need of more training.. and that’s a good thing, he is ready, but him and I will be spending some quality time together developing leadership skills.
Having said that the plan is outstanding!  I am really happy with it and look forward to one heck of a year of adventurous Scouting!
Caving at Dead Horse cave, backpacking a section of the new Oregon Coast trail, a kayak float down the McKenzie river, making Pulk sleds and snowshoeing a section of the Historic Barlow trail, a sweet backpack trip up to Table Mountain in the Gorge just to name a few of the trips planned.  By the end of the session the Scouts were on 9 foot hover and ready for the coming year.  It was all I could do to keep them from not getting to deep into the weeds, but the excitement was clear.
We talked a little about our Journey to Excellence and what elements they would be helping with.  Recruiting and retention will not be an issue.  We have put 2 new Scouts in during September and 6 more will be crossing over in November.  This on top of the group that will be crossing in February and March.  We plan on dropping some Scouts that have decided to remain inactive, and we will be moving two young men into Assistant Scoutmaster positions as they are about to turn 18.  I am glad that they are not taking their Eagle and running.
So now its up to the Scouts to work toward their next rank and keep camping.  This will be a great year of Scouting.
With the trip to Philmont just around the corner and all the new Scouts in the Troop, the buzz is contagious, you can feel it in the room.  We have 41 Scouts on the “active” roster and growing.
I suppose tonight the SPL and his PLC saw a light at the end of the planning tunnel.  When they got the idea that what they were producing was going to a fantastic year of Scouting it became less a chore and more like seeing the camp ground after a long day on the trail.
I am real proud of those guys, they put in the work and are seeing the results of their dedication and persistance.
I am sure we will be talking a lot more about this in the coming months.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, Camping, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, planning, Skills, training | Leave a comment

The BigFoot Challenge

As we move into the Fall season Scout Troops everywhere are packing into the woods for great adventures.  Winter will soon be here and so Fall is a great time to reinforce the Leave No Trace Principles with the Scouts (and Adults) of your unit.
No matter what style of camping your Troop does the principles of Leave No Trace apply.
LNT.org is a great resource for you if you are just learning Leave No Trace or just need to brush up or see whats going on in the organization.
One of the cool things that LNT.org has is the Bigfoot Challenge.  Check it out using the link.
The idea of the program is reducing your footprint.
Last year at the National Jamboree I made a commitment to do the Bigfoot challenge and have been teaching, coaching, and mentoring our Scouts to Leave No Trace.  Part of our challenge was to get a Leave No Trace Trainer in the Troop… yes.. the youth position.  The BSA has added a lot of Enhancements to its Leave No Trace Program and every unit should be taking advantage of it.
So back to the Bigfoot challenge…  The challenge simply asks that we do simple acts of environmental activism.. now this does no mean that you have to wear tie die or sandles.. but it does mean, in a Scouting context, that we act responsibly in the outdoors and are good stewards of our environment, particularly the outdoors that we enjoy when we go camping.
Simple little things like teaching our Scouts how to better plan and prepare to reduce the amount of trace we take out into the woods, using the “Bearmuda” triangle when setting up camp to reduce impact and animal issues, better ways to clean up dishes and cookware, using the patrol method to reduce to impact of large groups.
The Bigfoot Challenge also offers the change to win prizes.. and wait for it… Yes there is a patch available at the LNT.org website.
So take the Bigfoot challenge…
Teach a Scout, Be an example, Join Leave No Trace and remember to reduce your footprint.. after all Bigfoot has been doing it for years!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Patrol Method, planning, respect, Skills, training, Values | Leave a comment

Talking with my SPL

Troop 664 after the Polar Bear Swim

Last week at Summer camp, my SPL and I had the chance to sit in a row-boat together for 1 hour and 12 minutes.  During that time we talked about the week, leadership, attitudes, and his future.  It was one of the best hours I have ever spent in my life.  During that hour I met a new young man.. up until then, he was just another Scout that stepped up to meet the leadership challenge.  He has always been active and one of those guys that you can always count on.. some would call his type the core of the Troop.
I appreciated the fact that he was very open with the discussion and his sense of humor really came out.
I recorded our conversation and invite you to listen in.  SMMPodcast #93 is all us and a few guys swimming their mile swim.
I hope you enjoy the time spent with James, my SPL, as much as I did.
LISTEN HERE

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Just fun, Leadership, Patrol Method, podcast, Summer Camp | 3 Comments

You have got to be kidding me???

Ok.. so fair warning.. I am going to rant in this post.  I know that I try to keep this blog positive.. but this is something that I must get off my chest.  Why you may be asking?  Well its because what I am about rant about is a fundamental part of Scoutmastership.   And when I hear what I heard while at Summer camp, well it flat out worries me that there are Scoutmasters out there that are failing their Scouts.
Let me explain…
BEGIN RANT
While at Summer Camp last week all of the Scoutmasters met daily at the program cabin.  Each day the staff would give the Scoutmasters a run down of the days events and take any questions or concerns that we may have.  On Tuesday night the Scouts would have to cook dinner in camp, so on Monday night, the commissioners gave the SPLs a meal order form.  This form had all the basics on it, the SPL was to scratch off the items that they would not need, sign the form, have the Scoutmaster initial it, and then turn it in on Tuesday morning.  Pretty simple.
So on Tuesday at the Scoutmaster meeting, the staff reminded us that the SPLs would be turning these forms in.  As soon as the staff made the comment three Scoutmasters (well we will call them Scoutmasters.. after all they have the patch on their uniforms) began to laugh.  The program director asked what was funny.  The Scoutmaster in question stated “Not sure you can trust an SPL to get it done..hahaha”  One of the other Scoutmasters suggested that he never saw the form and that the staff should had given the form to the Scoutmaster.. after all, he would be the one doing the cooking.
My jaw hit the deck and smoke began to appear from my ears.  I told myself to just shut up and let it go.  And then the following statement came ooozing out of this Scoutmasters mouth.  “You can’t trust a boy to this stuff”.  WHAT?
I looked at this dude and asked him if he ever heard of Youth Leadership?  He looked at me and said.. uh yeah.
I asked him if he was embarrased?  He said what for?  I asked him if he ever trained the SPL.. I mean after all.. it is the Scoutmasters job to train the Senior Patrol Leader.. right?  He replied its hopeless.. he’s just a kid.  I asked again if he was embarrassed.  Again he said what for?  I shared with him that I would be embarrassed if I would have said something like that, especially on a deck full of Scoutmasters.  He told me that I would not understand.  I asked him to help me understand why he would not train a Scout to lead, I asked him to explain to me why he had no faith in the Scout.   I asked him to share with me what he thought his responsibility was as a Scoutmaster when it came to training, coaching, and teaching the SPL.  He looked at me with a puzzled look.. that was all could take.  The staff at that point stepped in and said they would take care of it.
So there it is… This saddened me.  I was dumbfounded at the lack of training this Adult offered his Scouts.  I am saddened that the Scouts of his unit will not get opportunities or the trust of an adult allowing them to be successful.  It is tragic that the Scouts of his unit are getting the benefit of the full Scouting program.  I can only imagine how the rest of the program in that Troop is lacking.  At the end of the day, it’s the Scouts that will suffer.. but then again.. what they don’t know.. well, yes it will hurt them in the long run.
They do not have a leader willing to Train them, Trust them, and let them lead.
An hour in the middle of the lake in a row-boat made me feel much better.
END OF RANT.

I apologize for the negative post.  I try not to do this, but this one has been on my mind since Monday of last week and I could not let it go another day.
Please everyone.. Be a good Scoutmaster!  Train them, Trust them, and Let the Boys lead!

Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, Summer Camp | 5 Comments

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