Our two major concerns with this event were the weather (it was
February in Ohio) and the potential of a Scout or Scouts getting
lost. As for the weather, the troop was camping that particular
weekend at Governor Bebb Park in a cabin that provided warmth
before and after the event. Second, detailed patrol and personal
inspections were conducted at the start of the event. Third,
the Scouts were out of contact with an adult for no more than
10 minutes and the Patrol Leader was required to report the condition
of his patrol at each station. The event would have been shortened
if weather conditions had required it. Fourth, the Scouts were
allowed to stop at each obstacle for no more than 10 minutes and
required about 2-3 miles of hiking. Finally, we were lucky with
a dry but very windy 50 degree (F) night.
The danger of getting lost was controlled again by the patrol
reports at each station, where the "tail
end charlie" was required
to second the patrol leader's
report of "all present."
Second, each patrol was provided with three different maps of
the park. Third, the park was only 174 acres of woods surrounded
by farmland. It would be hard not to notice leaving the park.
Fourth, many of the older Scouts were very familiar with the
park. Finally, patrol discipline was emphasized and graded.
This kept everything working very well. The intense competition
caused the one patrol that did take a wrong turn to quickly discover
and correct its error.
Advance Patrol Preparations and Training
Each patrol was given the following information at a troop meeting prior to the event:
The Patrol Breakdown was given to each patrol about a month before
the event. This gave them some good hints as to what skills would
be required. It allowed all the patrol members to begin getting
involved. The patrol leaders were required submit a duty roster,
filling each position.
The only "new skill"
that the troop provided training for prior to the event was for
Survival Climb obstacle that required the ladder lashing illustrated
in the Nov-Dec 1995 edition of BSA's
SCOUTING magazine. This skill was taught, practiced, and a patrol
competition game was conducted to insure that one or more members
of each patrol were able to build the required ladder. Other
more standard skills, such as first aid, were also practiced during
the preceding weeks.
Each patrol was expected to gather the required equipment prior
to the event and to make the assignments described in the Patrol
Breakdown listing. The patrols were given a simple listing of
all events and each specialist within the patrol was expected
Since all of the troop's
youth members were involved in the event (even the SPL who was
still considered a member of a patrol), all obstacles were run
by adult Scouters who were referred to as "advance
scouts." Binders with
waterproof sleeves were prepared for each advance scout that
contained all the information he required, including maps, trail
guide, a listing of all 11 obstacles, and the "field
orders" that were to
be given to the patrol leader at each obstacle.
The Trail Guide, a simple orienteering course with stops for each
obstacle, was prepared the weekend before the event. This required
a trip to the site for several hours to map out all the details.
Each advance scout was briefed in the weeks prior to the event
and was able to prepared as required. On the night of the event,
each advance scout was given his binder and final preparations
were made just prior to the briefing of the Scouts. While the
patrols were being inspected and issued orders, the advance scouts
proceeded to their posts on the trail.
Judging was not formally structured prior to the event. Most
events were timed to the second and the results were recorded.
Quality factors were also recorded for each event. The patrols
observed and evaluated on their use of the patrol method. After
the event, the results from each station were tabulated and a
consensus was reached by all the advance scouts and Terry Eby,
who had the final say. A special award ceremony was conducted
during the troop campfire the following night.
Briefing and Getting Started
To start the event, the Scoutmaster conducted a relatively serious
reading of B-P's Camp
Fire Yarn No.1, Mafeking Boy Scouts, around the cabin's
large fireplace. This was followed by a briefing by the Terry
Eby, the Assistant Scoutmaster. At the end of the briefing, a
square knot speed tying contest was designed to determine which
patrol goes first. We ended up using the best patrol cheer as
the determining factor instead.
After the briefing the first patrol was given a few minutes to
get everything together and assemble. At that time the patrol
equipment and personal equipment was inspected. The patrol was
then issued a packet that contained:
The patrol then marched off with minimal flashlights and minimal
talking and noise (this was a "Scouting"
adventure after all). The second patrol followed this sequence
15 minutes later.
Terry Eby was not an "advance
scout", but played the
role of "spy"
throughout the event. He roamed the entire course but never revealed
his location to the patrols, even though they walked directly
below him one time when he decided to climb a tree along the trail.
In this way, he was able to keep an eye on the patrols, evaluate
their performance, and coordinate the activities of the adult
This event turned out to be one of the best of the year. When
the Scouts returned to the cabin around 1:00 a.m., they were tired
and chilly but extremely pumped up. It took more than an hour
for them to settle down and go to sleep. The best thing about
it from my perspective was the promotion of the patrol method.
Both patrols worked very well together. This was the closest
that we had come up to that time to the text book patrol method.
The ultimate complement that the Scouts paid the event was to
schedule it again for the following year.
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