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Want my honest opinion?. So many well meaning, but unneeded rules that muck things up. I won't call you a control freak though. I think you mean well.
Nothing should matter with patrols besides making sure Scouts are with their friends. I’ve never seen them follow any other system you could try to force them into. Maybe Basementdweller has figured it out, but my unit has learned that friend based patrol is the way to go. Sometimes they will make age based groups and sometimes they won’t. Allow the Scouts to choose and live with the results. Hopefully tenting will be done by patrols. Most of their friends should end up in their patrols. I wouldn’t sweat it too hard if they don’t, but if most of their friends are in their patrol, it’s logical to assume they will camp as a patrol.
My unit uses New Scout patrols which are helped along by Guides. The Guides are experienced Scouts who enjoy working with younger boys and like to teach. This arrangement works well for us. The new Scouts pick their patrols. Normally this ends up being a den from one pack mashed with another, but if they have friends, that’s what counts here.
For all other Scouts, we let them choose what patrol they want to be with, and who they want to be in it. If the patrols get too large, we ask them to split into two. We’ve found from past experiments that went wrong that this is the only way to run things. It increases patrol spirit and cooperation. They form far more effective teams.
Some Scouts will mentor and train younger ones. Some won't. If you force the ones that don't into patrols with the younger boys, you will get absent older boys and the younger ones left in the lurch.
My unit lets no Scouts tent alone. And what is the difference between a 14 year old in 8th grade and a 15 year old in 9th?
As for the unpopular kid, just don't let the Scouts move on until somebody volunteers to tent buddy with him. Three person tents are PERFECT for this. As then a pair of Scouts can do the right thing without losing tenting with a friend. (Again the friend thing comes up).
The best answer to almost every question in relation to Scouting is "Boy's what do you think?"
desertrat, I do see your point. My troop has never run the patrol method the entire time I was a youth. Now as an adult, I'm pushing the patrol method to anybody who will listen. It's a tough fight, but I think the end result for the boys will be far more enriching experiences and is worth the effort.
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