Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm NOT Throwing Out the Baby

I finally figured out that I’ve been making the wrong changes. One of my WB tickets is to fully implement the Patrol Method. I thought this meant PL elections, everyone has a “job” to do, they plan the details of their activities, etc., but I kept using the annual Birthday-to-First-Class calendar that I had designed. In short, I have hamstrung myself, trying to make changes while retaining the vestiges of an advancement-based model. I’m going to really emphasize Patrols and Leadership. How?

I’m throwing out the calendar.

No more “Scout School” curriculum-based meetings.

A resounding “Yes” to the 11YO patrol setting their own goals (I’ll guide them toward good, fun ones, like the backpacking trip and a service project) and planning meeting time around practicing the skills they’ll need to succeed. That those skills coincide with advancement requirements is a happy accident ☺.

Scouting is all about learning, through fun activities, how to think through a problem, discipline yourself to achieve an objective and help others to do the same.

So, the boys will be responsible for themselves. There is plenty that they can do on their own time, so we can really focus on learning those basic Scouting skills. By the calendar method, we just glossed over every requirement, said they’d done it and called it good, but when camping, they didn’t really have a grasp on what to do. The (old) Green Book said: “Each boy participating in an overnight outing should have learned and practiced the required skills before the camping experience.” Patrol meeting is where they can learn and practice. I will function as an instructor when they need me to, but my job is to teach them, not Scout skills, but leadership and responsibility. The boys need this time to become proficient before they go on their campouts and other adventures; camping is where it all comes together.

The expected result: First-class young men, not just First Class badges.

The other expected result: caterwauling. Parents and others will be reluctant to make this change, but I honestly believe that by changing the emphasis in Scouting, and even in Aaronic Priesthood quorums (but what would I know about that?), to youth leadership as opposed to advancement and box-checking (no matter how well disguised, see above) we will see incredible changes in our sons. This means following the Scouting methods, because they directly correlate with the Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.

This is the change I should have made to begin with.

Here’s the T-2-1 breakdown by skill group.


Brian Reyman said...

Great post! I've been in my calling 4 years. The best thing I've done recently? Let the boys take charge. There's certainly a balance between how to support them when doing so, but it's the best thing I've ever done.

It may not apply to you as much, but a big helper for me was implementing the Troop Program Features and planning process:

Your circumstances are just a touch different (most of the scouts in the Deacons quorum in our Troop are already First Class), but the basic principles of letting the boys identify, vote and select themes and then to run those nights themselves - is the same. I'd also recommend reaching out to the older scouts in the Ward that are working on Life. One of the requirements is to teach a skill to a younger scout from a list of choices (the skills meet Tenderfoot through First Class requirements). Inviting them to teach would allow them to fulfill their requirements while allowing the 11-year-olds to learn them from other youth - and have positive exposure to older scouts.

Again, great job on the change to this approach.

Eric the Half-bee said...

Thanks! I spoke with our COR yesterday (He's the 2Counselor) about this, and some other changes I feel are necessary to being a "real" Scout troop. It hinges on this: at 12 and First Class, it's a given that the boys are proficient in basic Scout Skills, including youth leadership. Where will they get that proficiency? Why, in their well-run 11YO patrol, of course. I hadn't thought of the higher rank requirements you mentioned, but I have made sure to reach out to the Webelos in the ward, having the Scouts invite them to activities appropriate to their earning the Arrow of Light.