Re: SCOUTS-L Digest - 12 Jul 1998 to 13 Jul 1998
Tim Hewitt (thewitt@FAIRCHILDSEMI.COM)
Tue, 14 Jul 1998 10:14:13 -0400
> Dana Young asked
> > What is the best way to handle Patrol & Troop
> > positions [with a troop of five new Webelos crossovers]?
> Dana -
> Start by using the troop organization plan immediately. Have the five boys
> elect a Senior Patrol Leader; let them decide how to select the ASPL (he
> may be the runner-up, or he may be appointed by the SPL). Then let the
> remaining three boys select a PL and APL. Let the boys choose a term of
> office; for new Scouts, I'd recommend two-three months between elections.
I don't know that I agree with this at all. I know that in theroy this is a
Boy Run program, but I'm in this same position now, and quite frankly, the 11
and 12 year old boys are not ready for any significant leadership roles
without senior scouts to look up to and model themselves after.
Here is what we are doing.
I am acting SPL except for formal functions like Camporees, etc where we elect
a TSPL for the event. This temporary SPL attends SPL meetins and acts on
behalf of the Troop in every way an SPL would interact with the event
managers. He does this only for the duration of the event.
We have two patrols of 6 scouts each on paper, some have been in the troop a
year, some are brand new, evenly mixed between the two patrols. All are still
working toward their First Class - we did not push for First Class, First Year
in the first year of the troop. The boys each get a chance to act as Patrol
Leader for a campout or other activity. There is no formal patrol leader in
the patrol at this time. We have a couple of boys who don't come to meetings
any more, and a couple who are away for the summer, but I'm hoping to fix all
that by the time school starts.
The challenges at this point are making the program interesting, keeping the
boys advancing, and teaching them the skills necessary to let them be
effective leaders. There is nothing worse than "teaching" a 12 year old boy to
lead by making him a leader without any training, practice or help. You will
teach him that leading is no fun, he failed at it, and he may just quit the
program. You need to provide examples, and involve the boys in as much of the
planning process as you can, but to think that a program can be boy run with
all new scouts is a recipe for failure. The JLT video and materials are good,
but without any examples, your 12 year old SPL will be very frustrated.
This Fall we will have our first patrol elections and a real patrol leader
will be chosen for 6 months. This fall should also see our first First Class
Scouts as well. All the boys will be invloved with the planning meetings in
August for next year, and I will continue to act as SPL and chief planner - to
make sure that the boy ssee what the program can be like if it's well planned
and run. We will have a monthly PLC meeting with the PLs and APLs to work
through the program detail. Without an example to lead them, or something to
look up to, your boy planned program with 11 and 12 year old boys will be
mostly "man hunt" and "football" in the churchyard...
When our Webelos cross over next year, we will add between 6-12 boys to the
Troop. We will form one or two New Scout patrols, and hold our first Troop
election for SPL and ASPL. The Troop Guide function will go unfilled at first,
and all the older Scouts will train the newer scouts under the direction of
one of the SAs. We should have our first Star scouts at that time. The PLC
meetings will be run by the SPL, and we should have up to 10 boys in
attendance now (4 patrols, SPL, ASPL). We'll revisit the annual plan with the
new patrols and make changes for the second half of the year. Now the program
should have enough momentum to continue on it's own with steerage and not
require the adult leaders to do everything.
Note that this schedule is rough, and in fact we have gone over bumps already
that have put us off track. The troop is 18 months old at this time, and we
have only a few active adults. The secret to making this work is flexability
and a real desire to keep the program alive and interesting, while advancing
the boys and training them to be leaders. You can't simply run the JLT video
and expect results - you have to be prepared to show by example, test and try
our each boy in a leadership role, and work with the cards you have been dealt.
Most of the BSA literature is targetted at mature troops that have
experienced scouts, and not us startup Troops. You need to work within the
guidelines and understand that the books are not written to fit every troop
model, but the ideal model.
This is a really long-winded way to say I think taking 5 boys and carving them
up into SPL, ASPL, PL, APL and "other" is a recipe for disaster. All it does
is give you titles to put on the boys, and in my opinion, this is worse than
doing nothing. Work with the boys to build a program of activities that they
want to do, but you will need to make most of the decisions regarding where to
go, when to go, what to do there, etc. They are simply not ready. Get their
input, yes, but let them plan the program? Not in my experience.
Tim Hewitt, Scoutmaster
Troop 350, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City