Scouting Magazine’s Front Line Stuff asks the question:
Our troop’s patrols are organized by age and don’t function well. We
basically have two patrols: the “chaos” patrol of 11- and 12-year old
boys and the “I’m too cool” patrol of older Scouts. How can we create
functional patrols where the older Scouts teach the younger ones?
Encouraging older and younger Scouts to interact with each other is simple when we observe the methods and aims of Scouting. Examine the ‘chaos’ Patrol carefully – what appears to be chaos to an adult may be a highly functioning patrol of 11 and 12 year-olds.
Since the Patrol method is THE method let’s examine how A.S. could apply it to resolve the situation. If there is instruction going on ad it isn’t coming from the older Scouts where is it coming from?
Assure that responsibility for the Patrols and skill development where it belongs – in the hands of youth leadership. Put a moratorium on all adult instruction (except in mentoring leadership) and reduce adult oversight of the patrols to a minimum. The troop may have to step back and do some youth and/or adult leader training to accomplish this.
A.S.’s fellow adult leaders probably have the common concerns we all have had in taking the plunge with such advice. But when we step back the Scouts step up.
Once there is a clear understanding of leadership roles start asking lots of questions of the Youth leadership:
- What are your goals for Troop and Patrol advancement, activities and involvement in the next several weeks or months?
- Does our current Patrol structure lend itself to reaching these goals? (i.e. does having all the younger Scouts in the same Patrol make sense?)
- What do you plan to change about your Troop so to achieve the goals you have set for yourselves?
The Scouts will surprise you. They will work hard once given the latitude to do so. The short answer to any problem or dysfunction within a Scout Troop is asking the leadership (specifically the youth leadership) if they see it as a problem and then guiding them to discover a solution