I’ve recently taken over as Scoutmaster and we are working on reorganizing patrols.
We have 38 scouts in 3 patrols. One has 11 or 12 scouts, all young and most of them go camping; the second has about 6 active scouts, 2 camp regularly. Patrol 3 is led by a Life Scout that is great with younger Scouts but is “too cool” to ever wear his uniform.
The SPL and ASPL are NYLT trained and very motivated. I think we are moving toward 5 patrols: 1 new scout patrol. 1 venture patrol, and 3 regular patrols. The PLC is going to define the requirements to get into the Venture patrol (I’m guessing it will be boys that are 15 or older). The new scout patrol, by definition, is easy. My concern is creating the 3 regular patrols.
How would you go about having the scouts do this? Any help is much appreciated.
Hello Chuck –
Thanks for writing and congrats on the new post as Scoutmaster.
I have a similar sized Troop and we have three active Patrols and a Venture Patrol.
Personally I never used the new Scout patrol idea (this is where Scouts are in a new Scout patrol for a while and then moved out to ‘real’ patrols’). It’s too much like a third year of Webelos for me. We have our new Scouts choose a patrol when they join the Troop, the SPL helps them figure this out. Sometimes all the new guys stay together sometimes they
split up, but it is their decision so they are usually happy with it.
Let me go on a bit of a rant for a few lines – Assigning boys to new scout patrol has always seemed antithetical to at least two central purposes in Scouting. First keeping Scouts in this kind of ‘practice patrol’ until they are First Class over-emphasizes advancement, I am not a big fan of program elements that incentivize advancement. Secondly it separates younger and older Scouts. I know a perennial complaint is that older Scouts don’t want to work with younger Scouts but how exactly does one do any Scouting if the older Scouts aren’t leading and mentoring younger Scouts? Rant concluded.
We usually reset patrols about once a year. The SPL and PLC ask all the Scouts to write down the names of five or six other Scouts they would like to have in their patrol and then the SPL sits down and charts out the new patrols. He is usually a better judge than I of who gets on with who and the hundred other considerations that go into making such
decisions. I can’t remember having any reason to second guess him on these decisions – it’s remarkable that they usually get this just right.
Our ‘Venture crew’ is the SPL, quartermaster, scribe, ASPL and any JASMS we have at the time. But other than the SPL and his fellow leaders the Scouts stay in heir patrols. We used to move them up and out when they had reached 14 or 15 with the idea that they should get out of the way and let the younger Scouts take over the PL position. We stopped doing
that so the patrols would have a better mix of experience and ages. So far so good.
You’d think that the older guys would complain about having to associate with the younger guys but they don’t because there’s at least one other older Scout in the patrol with them. The other important aspect of this is that the older Scouts are responsible for planning and presenting everything that goes on. This keeps them busy and happy.
In my experience a patrol functions best with a minimum of six Scout and a maximum of nine. Any fewer and there’s liable to be only two or three at any given camp out or meeting, any more and things seem to be too chaotic.
If your SPL and ASPL are really pumped up ask them how they would like to handle the situation. If they don’t have any ideas ask if they’d like to hear yours – then you can share what I’ve written if it works for you. Get them thinking about what their experience was a younger Scout, what they liked or disliked about their patrol, and what they are going
to do to make sure everybody is happy with their new patrol. Then go find something else to do and let them at it – I’ll bet you’ll be leased with the results. I know the Scouts will.
I have a couple of Scouts who are talented leaders and “too cool” for some of the trappings of Scouting. As a matter of fact I’ve a;ways had them around in one form or another for the last 25 years. My advice is to ignore their coolness and work with their talents, don’t try to fix them – they will generally get the idea on their own and fix themselves.
Also – see these resources