scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Re: Patrol Method or Not Patrol Method
Jason Cruse (jcruse@SOCKET.NET
Thu May 25 2000 - 12:37:59 CDT
I don't remember the original post, but I will comment on what Lloyd wrote,
based on my troop's experiences
> We have faced the same type of thing, though not to such a degree.
>(yet) In my opinion, there is more than one issue at work.
I think many of these are universal. I would say that troops that don't
have crises of leadership, let's call them, from time to time are in the
> I would strongly advise against taking control of the meetings. It
>might be a good idea to explaing to ALL the scouts that the first and
>foremost duty of any scout, and especially the leadership, is to obey the
>oath & law. Disagreements are fine, but if you aren't courteous, kind,
>helpful, friendly, cheerful, etc., everything else falls apart.
I will explain my reasoning further, but I would put caution on this. If
the youth, such as mine, believe that they are budding WWF stars, and act in
such a fashion (or attempt to), then perhaps it is time for adults to step
in. Although in general I am a vigorous proponent of the patrol method,
there are times when peers cannot, and should not have to, control each
other. Potentially violent behavior, even if the perpetrators think it is
in fun, needs to be handled by adults. We tried to let the boys handle this
one...it failed miserably and several boys left the troop. The bigger
problem is what if the PLC members are part of the problem? Or what if you
have a young troop and no one has been able to go to JLT? Troop training is
a good start, but only that. Sometimes, adults must step in to show the
way, and then step quickly out to let the boys take over.
> The next question I would ask the PLC is: "What do you want to
>I'm talking about troop activities. They may reply "Nothing..." or "I
>dunno..." This may be because they are thinking only in terms of things
>they've already done, and don't like. The PLC should realize that it can
>whatever it wants to, so long as:
> 1. The Oath & Law are followed.
> 2. It's well-organized
Except for money. Many troops don't have unlimited resources. This, of
course, then, requires good coordination with the troop committee on what
resources are available.
> If they want to meet at the mall and play video games, no problem.
>If they want to rent Jet-Skis, no problem. If they want to cook hawaiian
>chicken, no problem.
I ask, at this point, what is scouts then? We allow the boys to plan
whatever they want, as long as it is pertinent to scouting and fiscally
possible. This doesn't mean that they don't have fun--roller skating and
bowling are activities my boys like to plan. But if a PLC plans to go play
video games every week, why bother with scouting? Again, direction from
"above" is good here. Let them do what they want, but give them very broad
parameters in which to do it. For example, we often give our boys the
parameters of "if it is required for a merit badge, you can do it." Hence,
bowling and skating apply...other fun things happen after successful events.
> Caveat: If they want to play paintball, problem. According to
>National, some activities go against the oath & law, and you should be
>prepared to explain that to the scouts.
I don't have my guide to safe scouting in front of me, but I also think that
motocross and four-wheeling is verboten.
> Two additional questions:
>1. How many troop campouts have you had so far this year? I find that the
>patrol method doesn't work as well when the PLC is only in charge of
I find that it doesn't matter, actually. What happens if it is time for
troop elections, and no one runs? Campouts don't cover lack of desire for
>2. Do you have a lot of new webeloes entering your troop on a regular
>basis? I have noticed that new blood is often a good shot-in-the-arm for
>flagging troop leadership.
This can help...or it can also cause new problems if you have unruly boys.
>3. Do you have a high adventure trip planned this year? This is a pretty
>good way to keep older scouts motivated.
Again, it CAN be...we have gone to seabase and were going to go to Virginia
sailing this summer. However, boys' behavior caused us to decide to perhaps
take it away from them, unless they started to show leadership. Their
response was that they didn't care, they didn't want to go anymore if it
meant they had to behave at meetings. We aren't going...
I'm not trying to be a downer here. We have since resolved part of the
problem by separating the older boys and creating a Venturing crew. This
did two things: first, younger boys who wanted leadership have taken it and
done well. Second, it is forced the older boys to decide what they want to
do. Now that they are faced with something new and a program where WWF
isn't acceptable (when the crew was formed, they were told not to attend if
they planned on wrestling), they have dropped the program entirely. Their
interest and support was evidently shallow.
Parents also play a crucial role. For example, I had one set of parents who
refused to believe that little Johnny would ever do anything unprovoked and
refused to discipline him. When little Johnny was told he couldn't come to
meetings any more, the parents threw a fit and said, basically, "you can't
suspend him because we quit!"
Also, what is the culture like where you live? Are teens treated with
suspicion, especially at school? That is the culture here. Therefore,
youth tend to live up...or down...to the expectation. It is difficult to
change those sorts of habits when we as scouting leaders see them once or
twice per week and camp once a month.