Re: Question about the BSA Troop Operations Plan
Dr. Steven C. Myers (R1SCM@AKRONVM.BITNET)
Wed, 9 Feb 1994 18:21:07 EST
WARNING - LONG POSTING AND MAJOR SOAPBOX. FEW THINGS GET TO ME
FASTER THAN THE NEW BOY PATROL.
FINAL WARNING - NOTHING NICE WILL BE SAID ABOUT A SYSTEM DESIGNED
On Tue, 8 Feb 1994 15:22:58 -0600 Ronald Oakes said:
>Last Thursday at the Boy Scout Leader's roundtable for Signal Hill
>District ....-- we had an extensive
>discussion about the current "Troop Operation Plan" supported by the Boy
>Scout's of America. I would like to extend this discussion to the larger
Mike Walton is correct when he says that this point has come up many
times, and will again. Thanks for the opportunity to allow me back
on my soapbox. I am opposed to the New Boy Patrol!!! OK, having
said that, and not wishing to rewrite Mike's comments, let me make
an observation of why it (and certainly it "by itself") won't work
IMHO. First, critical to a scout troop is that the program, the
calendar, the events, are boy planned, boy developed, boy led,
boy executed. Second, boys elect their own patrol leader and SPL.
Third, every boy leader receives copious amounts of training and
conseling. Fourth, the adults actually stay out of the way and
let the boys lead (sometimes - regardless of the direction).
Fifth, the adults do not impose their view of how the troop should
look on the boys (note the role of copious counseling).
Sixth, adults must check their expectations at the door and learn
to judge (and praise) progress and process and whether the job
got done, not how the job was done. (Subset here is the familar
praise in public, critize in private).
What all of this has to do with the New Boy Patrol is that
by segregating the boys, giving them "soft and fuzzy" leadership
positions (which end real soon), making another boy (troop guide)
their real leader (but failing to train him), assigning them their
own ASM, by guaranteeing that their desires for program won't
correspond to the older experienced patrols, anD so forth -- you
can not accomplist the points in the list above.
Lastly when in doubt quote Baden Powel: (OK, I can't quote
him, but he said something like the patrol method is the ONLY
method that will work. BUT THE NEW BOY PATROL BY ITS VERY NATURE
IS DOOMED TO FAILURE. A patrol of newbies with all the best
equipment will still be at a loss to pitch the tents, the fly,
know the wisdom of collecting and storing firewood, diging the
low impact firelay, set up a kitchen, get dinner started and
then clean up --- and all of this on Friday night, in the dark,
and with my troop's luck in the rain. Ok, we give them one
older boy and their own ASM. The TG can't train and coordinate
all that on his own. By the time he has them all trained in this
they are experienced scouts and no longer need TG or the new
patrol. My bet is that the TG and the ASM do a terrible lot of
the work and rather than the newbies watching and learning how
to set up camp, they are learning that if I don't or can't do it,
the TG and the ASM will do it for me. SORRY GUYS, the TG and the
ASM aren't your mother! Could this be the patrol wher the ASM
is taking orders for breakfast? Aughhhh! You say they can't cook?
Then let them plan simple menus until they are ready for more
chalenging ones. Cooking for them doesn't get it in this Scoutmaster's
troop. (NB: every patrol box carries jar of peanut butter and a
family size can of emergency soup.)
Now consider the alternative, of the six guys in the Raven patrol,
Ben has 30 days and night of camping and is the patrol leader, Tom
and Jerry have 24 days and nights (all three have been to summer camp.),
but the other three are 3 of the 9 new scouts. The patrol arives at the
church to pack. Joe, Bob and Don (the new scouts) are clueless, but
Tom and Jerry won't carry all of the equipment by themselves - guess
who they ask? Nope wrong answer, no one from another patrol is going
to haul the ravens stuff from the basement. Right, they will ask (tell)
Joe, Bob, and Don. And so it goes as Ben directs, the entire patrol
gets its job done up till the time to close the patrol box and head
to bed. Joe, Bob and Don are no longer clueless and marvel at how much
they got done (Hey and without any adults.) Learning by doing is
the ticket here. The buddy system works wonder when the buddies are
six guys who leave Sunday morning after a weekend on their own.
Now, back to the New Scout Patrol. Sunday afternoon, One of the new
scouts has his Mom ask "How was your weekend?" Billy answers:
Great, Mr. Morgan cooked these great eggs, our troop guide set up
our kitchen and yelled alot. We new guys just hung out and had fun.
Mr. Morgan said one day we could be as good of a cook as him.
Well, I favor today over "one day" and hands on, not hands in pockets.
I commented on this one time before and for your benefit i
include that note starting here (with some minor editing):
While I hold dear every part of the BSA movement and
fully support it in every other way, I think the New Scout
Patrol concept is misguided and bound to fail. I am strongly
opposed to ever introducing it into my troop. At our Woodbadge
course, most of the participants were in agreement that if it
were a boat -- it wouldn't float. The new patrol idea goes against
everything I think the patrol method is designed to do. Mix them into
regular patrols (their choice not yours) and let them choose their
leader, train them and let them lead. You want a troop guide to
keep tabs on the new guys - fine. Want an ASM to be in charge of new
scouts -- better yet, but don't allow the existance of a "Webelos"
patrol in your unit. No offence to Webelos, but Boy Scouting is a
different and more age appropriate program --
don't hold the boys back by extending
their stay in a "Webelos" like atmosphere, or by denying them the need
to make friends with the older scouts. Maybe if your patrols aren't
really acting as independent patrols, but only "skill group" levels, the
new scout patrol will work. However, the new scout "skill group" for
training in troop meetings can always be made as needed. Let them
go to camp and experience the patrol method in a patrol with a full
range of experiences and a good trained patrol leader.
Well I need to get off my soap box, but let me first
soften my comments by adding that the new scout patrol may have some
place in troops "where it will work."
But I believe that is the exception.
Someday I might tell how a patrol of 8 new scouts in a new scout patrol
with troop guide and ASM for new scouts were treated and how from the
"disaster" sprung a solid new troop with the number 1.
Scoutmaster Troop 1
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City