Re: Age-based vs Mixed-age Patrols
David Ball (ridcully@KAMI.KEBLE.OX.AC.UK)
Sun, 30 Nov 1997 04:44:23 +0000
In my scout group, we have always had mixed-age patrols. This may be
because in Britain, the organisation is far more "Troop Based" then
"Patrol based", ie activities/camps are generally done as a troop,
although each patrol camps separately ie sets up their own site and does
their own cooking etc.
Having been a PL of a fairly large and particularly unruly patrol(!), I
can sympathise with your comments about the patrol splitting itself up
into smaller groups within the patrol. However, I think one of the best
advantages on mixed age patrols is that this is how the younger scouts
learn. If there was a New Scout patrol, as I believe you have in the US,
how do they learn the skills they need? Even if you have age-based
patrols in general, how do the younger ones learn?
The great thing about mixed-age patrols is that, as a younger scout, you
can learn all the camping skills and tricks just by watching the older
scouts, in particular the PL and APL. As a PL, it is always satisfying to
pass on knowledge to the younger members, and hence keep the skills
"inside the troop".
I would be interested to know how your younger age based patrols cope with
learning camping skills - is it the role of the SPL to teach them? In
Britain, most troops do not have an SPL, and they are certainly not as
prominant in the running of the troop as in the US.
Of course, you are perfectly correct when you say that most of the scouts
friends are in their age group, usually from different patrols. However,
since we tend to split up troop activities by age, (or have patrols
competing against each other), this has never caused a problem.
A last note: the troop/patrol structure appears very different in Britain
and the US - I do not really know enough about the US system to comment on
it. The above are just my thoughts on my own experience in mixed-age
Nonsuch Venture Scout Unit, Ewell, England
Oxford University Scout and Guide Group, Oxford, England
Original message (I have snipped parts of it :-) )
On Sat, 29 Nov 1997, Andrew Hagemann wrote:
>We have recently gone away from mixed-age patrols because the
>older Scouts consistently refused to assimilate the younger boys who
>joined their Patrol. They would stand in the same corner of the room
>together during Scout meetings, but that's all. In fact, they split
>into two or three distinct groups even then.
>After years of this we eventually realized that we had natural
>age-stratification occurring despite National's pronouncements to the
>contrary. Accepting what we cannot change (one of the first signs of
>wisdom), we created three aged-based main body patrols. Now our older
>boys camp more regularly and the younger Scouts are happier also.
>In my opinion, using age-based patrols makes it easier for younger boys
>to learn the patrol method since they don't have to compete with the
>older "more experienced" boys who tend to dominate any group they're in
>because of their size and "maturity". My Troop tried hard for years to
>make the mixed-age patrols work, even assigning an adult advisor to each
>main body patrol (contrary to National's wishes) to try and stop the age
>stratification. No amount of encouragement, pleading, or cajoling had
>any effect on this problem. Reminding them that their next advancement
>depended upon showing proper Scout Spirit had no effect either. Our
>children instinctively know that our society has virtually outlawed even
>the use of non-corporal disciplinary measures, and they trade heavily
>upon this fact. I once overheard one of the older boys tell a buddy,
>"Hey, it's the 'nineties. It's a great time to be a bully."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City