Friday, April 3, 2009

11-Year Olds and the Patrol Method

I must say, I'm a fan of the patrol method. I believe strongly that a patrol should eat together, work together and play together. I believe in allowing youth to plan and conduct activities. I believe in sending youth leaders to training to make them better leaders. I also believe that patrols in an 11-year old program are too junior to operate in any sort of self-governed manner. They are still 11-year olds, after all.

That having been said, I still believe that 11-year olds should go through the exercise of creating their patrol. I have my 11-year olds re-form their patrol every six months. This is for one very practical reason: the timing of my program. It takes me about six months to run through all of the requirements from brand-new Scout to completion of First Class; excluding campouts. So, I basically run my program on a six month rotation. I always have one of my first couple meetings in the rotation be patrol formation. I know that the requirements are just that the Scouts "know [the] patrol name, give the patrol yell, and describe [the] patrol flag" but I feel that they know these things best if they've had a part in creating them. Plus it gives the Scouts a chance to switch out an unpopular patrol name/flag/yell and gives different Scouts leadership opportunities.

So, we go through the exercise of creating a patrol and electing leaders, but I don't truly expect an 11-year old patrol leader to do a lot of leading. And, I don't even try to have him involved in the planning. I'm typically pleased if the patrol leader acts like slightly less of a maniac than the rest of the Scouts.

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