New Scout Patrol
Bob Taschler (bob_taschler@PUBLICITAS-USA.COM)
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 12:44:42 -0500
I used to hate the idea of the New Scout Patrol, but then I learned a
thing or two from our boys, and well, maybe I was wrong:
1. Age & maturity.
There is a really good reason why most educational systems have a
Junior High School for 10, 11 & 12 year olds. The maturity difference
is astounding in those few years. Attention span, physical strength,
and organizational skills naturally improve during this period.
Scouting is an educational system too and may benefit from a similar
separation in age groups.
If the incoming Webelos are kept as a New Scout Patrol, and we use
Troop Guides, Junior Assistant Scoutmasters, and Assistant
Scoutmasters to their best effectiveness within the NSP, and we rotate
patrol leadership within the NSP, in one year the young boys will
integrate much more easily than if they are thrown in raw and probably
advance a bit further because too.
Since we try to be a boy run troop, we asked the opinions of our
current boys during last summer camp: should we integrate the incoming
Webelos in September or use the NSP method? To a scout, they all
wanted to integrate. When we asked why, they pointed out that when
they came in they were integrated. The older boys bossed them around
and made them do the scut work. Now it was their turn. Hmmm? So much
for the nobility of mankind.
We chose the NSP method and used it for 5 months. In January, the PLC
decided to realign the patrols and integrate the younger boys. They
chose well since each boy had gone on camping trips and they became
more familiar with each other. So far it is working out fairly well.
2. First Class in a year fallacy.
The often quoted statistic that boys who make First Class in a year
stay in Scouting longer or are more likely to make Eagle contains an
inherent logical flaw. The better way to express it would be to say
that boys who have already developed the interest in Scouting
activities and ideals by the time they are 11 and who are destined to
stay in Scouting longer or are likely to make Eagle, usually make
First Class in a year. In essence, the cause and effect are reversed.
It is similar to saying that Mozart started playing piano at age
three, so teach your child how to play the piano by three and he will
become another Mozart. This is obviously false. What will happen is
either you will find out if your child is a musical prodigy, which is
unlikely, or you will have totally annoyed your child to the point
they hate music, music lessons, and possibly you. The same example
goes for sports, academics, or any other youth oriented activity.
Champions are born and nurtured, they can not be made from scratch.
3. KISMIF Violation! (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun, NOT!)
We have always bemoaned to ourselves that older boys drop out at 15,
16, or 17. We blame sports, band, cars, after school jobs/activities,
girls, etc. This is a copout. The program as it is structured isn't
fun for them anymore. What awed an 11 year old is ho hum to a 13 year
old and a dead bore to a 15 year old.
I would suggest that too much focus of our programs are placed on the
younger boys entering the troop and reaching First Class. As my 13
year old son puts it, "Same old, same old.", (which now seems to have
replaced "Been there, done that." if you follow the hip and cool
expressions of the day.) He is BORED with white water rafting because
the Troop goes to the same location each year. When he was 11 and went
for the first time it was awesome even thought the water was low and
much paddling was required. Last year it was way cool when he was 12
and the water was 12 feet higher and ran 5 times faster. But now, he
asks if we can go some where different? And he is only 13!
Conclusion (I know, finally I'm getting to the point!)
If the NSP is used properly to run a fun, age appropriate program so
that a scout stays in for a year or two to learn the necessary basic
skills AND we run a fun, age appropriate program for the older boys
(such as planning to go to Philmont or Sea Base or other high
adventure program which takes 14 year olds and up), then we can get
the best of both worlds. It takes more planning and work on the part
of the adults but it might be worth it.
As always, your mileage may vary. But then again, I may be entirely
wrong about this whole subject.
Private responses always welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Taschler, SA Troop 88
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City