Welcome to the continuation of the Patrol Leaders’ Council series 2 of 5. See Part 1 for context. This week we will go over the first main objective of my troop’s PLC: Accountability for the weekly meetings.
Planned scouting skill education of the next 1.5 months of scout meetings
- How will the skills be broken up between the different ranks/ages
- Who will be doing the training
- Review of the previous month’s training
- Start, Stop, Continue for training
There is a lot of programming that goes into weekly meetings. It’s a giant juggling act of keeping the older scouts interested while bringing the younger scouts along while accounting for different rank and age groups with different learning abilities. Tie in the monthly campout/activity, training the trainers, and keeping the events fun are necessary ingredients for a great troop program. Herding cats has nothing on this… 🙂
Like the other posts here on the site, the purpose must be known because the path may be different getting to the goal.
The team must be able to:
- Work together even though they may not agree with everything being done
- Understand everyone plays a role
- Play to each other’s strengths
- Adjust when the situation changes
The idea is for the PLC to set the goals so they have skin in the game and will drive with more enthusiasm to achieve it. The scoutmaster should be there to help identify or sharpen the focus of the goals to make them clear and achievable. Your scouts will work harder when they set the goals rather that the scoutmaster doing it.
When it comes to planning the troop weekly meetings the programming should be decided well in advance. It should be given in module format. That is to say the subject should be about a main topic broken out in one or more weeks. It depends on what the PLC wants to do for that module. This gives the PLC enough time to figure out what needs to happen to get ready with what they want to accomplish for requirement sign-offs, knowledge building, or both. They also need time to gather material and resources. One and a half months usually gives enough time for those giving the the training to practice on the material for the intended audience. There has to be a balance of material for the younger and older scouts to learn rank or merit badge appropriate content so there will be a lot of different learning material. They can come up with their own ideas or they can use Program Features as a guide to build out a particular subject module.
The PLC should review how the previous month’s training went. This is where the Stop, Start, and Continue part comes into play.
This is the real benchmark on progress for the PLC. If done right, the troop weekly programming will steadily improve and you have documented a successful path forward. This keeps the scouts on track for measuring their own success. This also gives you as a leader the ability to point to what they have decided to help measure success. Listen to what they are saying. The PLC may have be under the impression they are doing just fine. Sometimes when you as the leader believe they weren’t successful they will bring up points you may have missed. If there is a gap between the PLC version of events and the scoutmaster version then someone has missed expectations. Fix it here. I’ve gone into a PLC thinking there wasn’t much improvement from the last month and was proven wrong after hearing all the examples of success which was going on. I’ve also questioned some “stretching statements” which keeps them on their toes. That in itself is a balancing act. Remember you are building up a positive environment and you must keep them accountable at the same time. The Stop, Start, Continue task is vital in helping to keep that balance. We will cover more aspects of this task in this series. An example of a Start, Stop, Continue for weekly programming may look like this…
Stop: It was decided that we need to do Patrol Time first rather than after the Training Module. Sometimes we run over and leave very little time for attendance and dues.
Start: It was decided that we should have materials out and ready before the meetings start. The people doing the training should plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before meeting time to do this. For the first aid module it was better to bring in old bed sheets to rip up for bandaging rather than using scout neckerchiefs. We will start posting a sheet in the scout room on who is responsible for coming in the next week to setup early. We should plan on reusing what we have but should take inventory of bandaging at least 1 week prior for the next time we do the first aid module. We need to do better at scheduling the CPR trainer. We need to schedule an entire hour for it next time because of the amount of scouts. We need to finalize the campout schedule 2 weeks out to allow us to get
Continue: We will continue to use the Scout Program Features structure for monthly subjects. The first aid module was a great thing to have. The module provided ideas for the different ranked scouts and everyone had something to do.
See how there was a lot of correction there but 90% of it was in a positive form? Instead of saying they screwed up thinking that scout neckerchiefs would do for what they needed they wanted to start something better. Stops don’t necessarily mean negative things either. In this example, when they document this way they can come back to it next time they want to run the first aid module in the troop. It will be a refresher for them and the scoutmaster. They should also review all the start, stop, continues from the previous month to make sure they are on track for improving the weekly programming in general. With the PLC membership adjusting on average every 6 months, it’s hard to remember what was done a year ago or even last month sometimes. The scouts of today’s PLC will assist the PLC of tomorrow in making the troop programming better as well as being prepared.
Next week we will cover the second major objective of my troop’s PLC: Patrol Accountability. This is major objective for my troop’s PLC because this keeps the patrol leaders accountable to their patrol and that in turn shows what the patrol members should expect of the patrol leader role. It is also a time to ask other patrol leaders for assistance or ask advice on what they are doing in their patrols.
Good luck out there scouters!
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The author, Tony Zizak, is a long time scouter, Eagle Scout, and the scoutmaster of Troop 119 Ellettsville, IN. He has been to scout camps across the country and was a certified Program Director, Aquatics Director and a Scoutcraft Director. As a youth Tony received his Vigil Honor and served as a Lodge Chief for Tseyedin Lodge #65. Reach out to him for any questions you may have on this article.
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Members can download this article here: PLC 2 of 5 (4 downloads)