Sunday, 26 February 2012

Why Scout Camp Is Important Part 3

I realize that many of you would think that I have gone overboard about the subject of "Why Scout Camp is Important" but I still have covered this topic in its entirety. Basically what I am doing is that I am trying to give you as Scout Leaders, Youth Leaders, or parents enough information in order to fully be able to explain as many reasons as possible about the importance of Summer Camp. I know that using all the information from all these posts about the importance of Scout Camp would overwhelm the average person but the purpose behind this much information is to give you as much information as possible to be able to have variety, meet the of the different levels of understanding, and finally its to show that Scout Camp is one of the MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF THE BOY SCOUT EXPERIENCE!!!!!

So now that we got that problem out of the way lets take a moment to mention what has already been covered in this series of posts. For our first post we focused on the common excuses that parents use to explain why they aren't going to let their son go or theirs already a complication in the family's plans. Also the other major point we covered in the first post was the one statistic that is almost always pretty much guaranteed to make the parents pay attention or even possibly cause them to rethink their decision about whether or not their son is going to camp. During the second post we moved on to explaining the purpose behind Scout Camp is. The one thing I have noticed about one of the very common mistakes people make about their understanding of Scout Camp is the real purpose of what Scout Camp is about. After defining the purpose we showed how the purpose relates to the three Aims of Scouting. Again those Aims include Character Development, Citizenship Training, and finally Personal Fitness.

Now this is the place where the post really begins to cover new material. So for this post we are going to briefly describe the Patrol Method and then instill in you how Scout Camp is one of the best times to see the Patrol Method in action as it was meant to be seen. For those of you who are not aware or for those leaders that have taken training recently that have been with the program for a while now is that the PATROL METHOD IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN A BOY SCOUT TROOP. Plain and simple failure to use the Patrol Method means that you are not using the Scouting Model for Boy Scouts as it was  originally designed when the Scouting Movement was just beginning to take shape.

Well before I give the brief introduction to the Patrol Method I would just like to say that in order to truly even begin to explain and develop the method laid out in the Patrol Method would take at least ten plus posts to develop this method even to a basic level of understanding. A Troop that truly uses the Patrol Method is the Troop that to the best of its ability gives the majority of the leadership responsibility to the youth leaders in the Troop. All direct contact adult leaders which include the Scoutmaster and the Troop's Assistant Scoutmaster's. These adults are their to ensure the safety of the youth and then their role is to be a guide and a enabler of the youth leadership in the Troop. The other group of leadership in regards to adults is that of members of the Troop Committee. The only job of the Troop Committee is to support the Scoutmaster in covering certain support aspects of the Troop that require attention of adults in order to be completed. Any other adults left over are only given assignments by the Troop Committee, the Scoutmaster, or Assistant Scoutmaster's on a as needed basis.

So thats pretty much it that needs to be covered in regards to the roles of adults in the Patrol Method, now we will focus on the roles of the youth leaders. Youth leaders in the Troop should be given as much responsibility as the adults feel comfortable with. This level of trust for the majority of adults is unnerving and does not seem like a appropriate thing to do. That just isn't true because it has been proven again and again that if the youth are given the opportunity without the adults watching every move over their back they will step up to the challenge. When stepping up to the challenge they will take their new level of responsibility to a new level. For youth overall the Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader plus a few other youth that has leadership responsibility in regards to the covering the entire Troop make up the Senior leadership core. These other youths usually include the Scribe, Troop Guides, the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, and possibly the Instructors for the Troop. Beyond that the other youth leadership positions that have Troop level responsibility usually are put into Patrols but the youth that are part of the Senior leadership team usually are divided among the different Patrols or possibly even form their own patrols. Below the SPL and the ASPL's their are the other Troop Youth Leaders and the Patrol Leaders. Patrol leaders cover a subunit of the Troop known as the Patrol which usually includes between six and nine Scouts. 

Well before we get a too long post or bore you to death with a off subject topic we should probably show why the Patrol Method is the best developed through the Scout Camp experience. Scout Camp is one of the best times to see the development of the Patrol Method besides weekend campouts. Basically the major reasons why development works the best during this even includes one to several of the following reasons:

  1. Length of Scout Camp: Since camp is a five to seven day plus event where a group of Scouts that come together and live, eat, work, hangout, and sleep in close quarters. Developing and learning about leadership is best done in long term events. Learning about leadership requires skills to be repeated on a regular basis because of the fact that these are not just physical skills but are skills that require great mental effort. 
  2. Raised Level of Leadership Responsibility: During Scout Camp there's a expectation that the youth leaders step up and take on more responsibility. This increase in responsibility leads to more opportunities to learn various leadership skills. These skills are complicated to develop because a skill that works for that situation has a high likely-hood of not working in a situation that is very similar in nature.  
  3. Living Together: Putting a group of teenage boys together in close quarters even if they are best friends is bound to cause relationship issues. Learning to overcome and resolve these issues isn't something that will be resolved after just one incident they tend to take multiple issues before the parties involve can understand the root of the problem. For Summer Camp after the first couple of days when Scouts are reaching the low point in the Scout Camp Experience good leaders tend to notice the beginning of relationship issues. Since that is only just the middle of Scout Camp the problem can go in two directions. First which is the worse possible outcome is that the relationship issue won't be resolved and the activities and meetings in the future will become more intense and either explode or will eventually be resolved but the damage to the relationship will be harder to fix as time goes on. Second the other outcome is that the Scout's resolve the issue at camp. Learning how to deal with these relationship issues will benefit the Scout because in life there will always be issues like these no matter how close the parties are to each other.

Well even though some of the reasons listed above may not seem directly related to the Patrol Method they really are related to each other. Without spending further time explaining what, how, and why the Patrol Method works the way it does these connections probably won't totally make sense. But the basically it comes down to the fact that the Patrol Method is all about developing leadership and learning to use your skills to deal with the various types of relationships you will need to learn to deal with.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1316, Troop 1616(aka 669), Troop 125
Tustumena District/ Denali District/ Eklutna District, Great Alaska Council
NSJ '05 Youth Participant NSJ '10 Subcamp 7 Youth Staff NSJ '13 Subcamp Staff
WSJ '07 Youth Participant WSJ '11 International Service Team(IST)
Eagle Scout OA Brotherhood Honor Big Horn Denver Area Council NYLT QM
Philmont AA '08

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a professional. If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to do Scouting, then you are called a Scouter.

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