Patrol Method

Read a great book last summer called “Working the Patrol Method A Scout Leader’s Guide to Youth Leadership Training”.

I’ve been telling people all along that I’m kind of making things up as I go along.  This is tongue in cheek of course.  I read everything I can get my hands on from BSA to understand the program, but the fact is, I was never in Scouting as a youth and there are tons of things that aren’t clearly explained, in my opinion, by the official documents.  You’d think that it would be easy to find a mentor that I could latch on to that would help explain the program and what things mean and why we do things, but all to often, I find that people are doing things because that’s what the last guy did.  And all too often, what is being done contradicts the general guidelines, aims or methods of Scouting.

So I come across this book…  and found it awesome.  It explains in a clear and concise way what is only referred to in the Scout Handbook, Patrol Leaders Handbook, Scoutmaster’s Handbook, etc.  It explains the why, it explains the how, it gives examples and describes success and failure.  Furthermore, they base it on current and historical official Boy Scout documents and training including detailed information on Baden Powell’s original Brown Sea Island experiment.

The problem with this book, however, is that I’ve now tried to implement the ideas.  Remember the whole “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing” idea from Woodbadge / NYLT?  Well, we can’t seem to get out of Storming.

There is a core group of very vocal people that won’t let go of the idea that our troop was fine the way it was…  even though it was Adult Led using the Troop Method.  The kids had a great time being shuttled around, told what to do, where and when to do it and how to do it.  On a weekly basis the kids were given a regimen of classes to attend, meetings to hold, forms to fill out and then were told where they were camping, who was driving them, what they would do when they were there with printed agendas to pour over and adhere to. The boys were consulted during the decision making process, but only for feedback or input.  The youth leaders were given instructions, which the regurgitated back to the troop.

Don’t get me wrong, the adults leading this were very well meaning, tireless volunteers that suffered through unappreciation, deprivation and all of that…  and I’m sure this description will be considered hurtful and mean, but it’s not meant to be, it’s just how I see it.  I don’t want to minimize their devotion to the cause.  Their effort was monumental and what they achieved was significant, they grew the troop to a well funded, well organized, well attended organization of more than 30 kids…  but after reading that book, I can’t seem to think of it as scouts.  It was more like day camp.

So anyhow, over the last year, we’ve made some changes…  and now, maybe I’m thinking too much too fast… We had a lot of success with some scouts since putting the program onto the boys, they have really stepped up.  A few patrols are reaching for National Honor Patrol. But we had too many scouts that were never adequately trained to make an exciting program.  We had too many scouts that think that “It’s up to them” means camping is now sitting around playing cards at the campsite.

So this year, we are going to strive for more.  In deference to the EDGE method, we have been explaining, now we are going to try to combine a little of the way it was with the way it should be…  let them taste success, showing them the why and the how and stepping back…

All because of that book.

By the way, you can find the book here: ….  Be Careful!

One thought on “Patrol Method

  1. I have a PowerPoint used at Baden-Powell Institute that explains the Patrol Method. Send me an email address and Ill send you a copy.

    I share your frustration in the journey from troop method to Patrol Method. I joined a troop that had not had a PLC meeting in twelve years. Even so-called “Patrol Leaders” did not know what patrol they were listed as belonging to.

    Patience, of course, and the reinforcement of seeing at least some progress.

    As for Stages of Team Development, Professor Tuckman says BSA does not understand. His”stages” come in no particular order and groups often get stuck. He suggests group-forming activities (tons on Internet) to get out of Storming.

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