The Patrol Method

As the father of a new Boy Scout, I’m getting used to the difference the program can make in a young man’s life. As a Cub Scout for 5 years, he’s always been subject to their motto, “Do Your Best.” And, as his dad, that’s all he’s ever going to have to do in order to satisfy me. But as a Boy Scout, he’s learning fast that there’s a great responsibility to “Be Prepared.”

He’s been on two campouts so far. I let him pack for both of them, with no interference, suggestions, or questions. He survived the first one, even though it snowed, which, incidentally, earned him one of the requirements for Eagle Scout, right off the bat. The second time, he packed everything he needed – that included leaving some stuff behind that he’d taken and not needed, and taking some stuff he’d needed but hadn’t packed the first time.

When we camp as Cub Scouts, the adults can very easily end up doing everything. The boys will certainly “Do Their Best” at putting up the tents, but we usually finish it for them. I’ve had my share of Cajun (read: blackened) hot dogs that I’ve taken in trade for one that I’d prepared. I’ve fed every single line, one by one, to a group of boys who assured me they were completely ready to do a campfire skit. And I wouldn’t trade a minute of any of those experiences for the world.

New Boy Scout parents, though, are encouraged to NOT go camping with the troop for the first 6 months or so. This was especially distressing for me, because I LOVE camping. The intent of this policy is, in part, to foster something called The Patrol Method. That means that my 11-year old son is part of a Patrol – a group of 6-8 boys within the Troop –who plan their own meals, set up their own tents, clean their own dirty dishes, and schedule their own activities, while coordinating with the Troop’s Master Schedule for the event. The Patrol leadership (these are teenage boys, mind you) are the ones responsible for showing the newer Scouts how to do all of this. And, to a (young) man, they are doing a superior job. The adult leaders are simply there to make sure nobody loses a finger or toe while chopping firewood. Which, by the way, was the highlight of my son’s weekend.

As these guys bond and gel together as a tighter-knit group, they find, and exploit, each other’s strengths, and use those for the betterment of the Patrol, and, ultimately, the Troop. When you have a team that continually learns from, and teaches, each other, then the whole team begins to live into the life lesson of “Be Prepared.” In a world where the “I Got Mine” message seems to get louder and clearer, I’m proud – and humbled – to be a part of such a fine organization.

As fortunate as I am to be a part of this in Boy Scouts, I get to practice The Patrol Method at EXAIR as well. As knowledgeable as we pride ourselves on being, sometimes the secret to great knowledge is knowing where to find it. And I’m proud to be part of a team that’s not only eager and ready to assist our customers, but is just as eager and ready to assist each other in assisting our customers.

If you’ve got questions about using, or improving your use of, compressed air, give me a call. You not only get the benefit of my knowledge (lucky you), you get that of the entire team.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax

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