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Only one AOL - how to "practice patrol method"?

We have one lone 5th grader in a sea of 4th graders this year. He’s brand new to scouts, so generally pretty happy learning whatever the 4th graders are, but I’m trying to coordinate with the troop to help him complete whatever requirements we don’t have on our own agenda.
Looking at Scouting Adventure, it looks like they’re supposed to attend a troop meeting, learn about the patrol method, then try it out for a month in their den meetings, and use it to plan an activity.
Does anyone have any insight into how to make this work for a single AOL? We could call our den the “patrol” but if he’s the only one who has learned about the patrol method, I’m not sure how well that will work. Would you have all the Webelos visit the troop, too, so they understand what the goal is?
4th grade sounds plenty old enough to me - but then I look at them and they seem so little still!

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I have the same situation.

I had the fourth and fifth graders hold a patrol leader election. They chose the fifth grader. They all chose a name and made a flag together. The lone fifth grader has his own den leader and usually does not participate in the den meetings with the fourth graders. I involve them only to the extent necessary to provide him with a patrol experience.

When he camps with the troop, they will treat him as a member of a patrol. So, I don’t have to worry about it on that side. We have a district Scouts BSA camporee coming up this weekend, and only fifth graders are allowed to participate.

I’m not having the fourth graders visit troop meetings yet. But they will be invited to an overnight event in February with the troop, So, I may have them start making visits in January,


I agree that he could do it with either the 4th graders or even attend a months worth of troop meetings to do it with the troop.


Doing it with the troop is an idea I hadn’t considered.

Since he joined the pack this fall, he won’t have his 6 months completed until mid-late March which may be after kids from the other pack in town cross over. If we saved this requirement to the very end, it might make a lot of sense for him to begin attending troop meetings when they cross over, use that to finish up this one last task, then officially become a member of the troop at the end of the month.

It can happen that a 5th grader spends a lot of time “visiting” before they join.

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@ChristyDryden, My suggestion is that the whole Webelos Den work on and earn the Scouting Adventure at the same time. You did not indicate how many Scouts are in the “sea of 4th graders,” but I am guessing you have enough.

We have about a dozen active 4th graders.
Having them all do Scouting Adventure, or at least start on it, seemed at first like the obvious way to handle it, but the local troop doesn’t seem to want anything to do with 4th graders, so I think we would need to find a different group to work with if we wanted to go that route. To be fair, they’re also providing a lot of support to their sister troop while they are developing their own skills and leadership, so having another dozen kids show up to a meeting might be tough. But one 5th grader seems within their comfort zone.

This one is really easy. They do their best to meet the requirements. At the end of the day the goal is to learn about being in a patrol.

Guide to Advancement item

This is a good example of a set of requirements that seems well thought out, unless you’re a really small pack. There’s a lot of great teamwork aspects of Scouting where crossing ages is important for small packs that the program doesn’t support as well as it could.

You could have the 5th grader join a patrol with the 4th graders more like the old two year webelos program and treat it more seamless for the 4th graders.

I would treat the 4th graders like Webelos and have them form a patrol each year. The only requirement you can’t do on your own in the 5th grade is this one.

The rest the 5th grader could do on their own at meetings. There’s nothing wrong with them sharing a meeting night, the electives can be worked on together.

My son was in a den where he was the only active AOL. He spent many weeks “Visiting” his future troop. It confused his future patrol members why he couldn’t run for patrol leader initially but they dealt with it. My son had a great time and never realized that his situation was in any way unusual.

This is pretty much how we’re handing things within our den. He’s brand new to scouting this year, so he’s doing many of the required Webelos adventures, too, simply because they are foundational, and with his required 6-month tenure period not starting until mid-Sept, he’s got more than enough time to work on the AOL things - one elective, one homework (duty to God), one with the Troop, one that we’ll all be covering anyway when we go camping, and then our 4th graders will get a head start on Building a Better World.

This month we’ve also got the 2nd graders with us while we figure out their leader situation. Between Running with the Pack and Paws of Skill, pretty much everything we’re working on in our fitness adventure also applies to Wolves, and the one thing that we’d miss in the Wolf beltloop is nutrition, which will lead into the Cast Iron Chef that Webelos have coming up next!
So, we’re definitely on that “crossing ages in a small pack” thing, but if the Troop can take some of that off our plate by letting him be part of a patrol there, I’m all for it.

Pairing the AOL scout up with the Webelos den is probably the best option here given the situation. However, another option might be to have this scout buddy up with an AOL den from another pack in the area. I have done this with great success in my pack, especially for activities where one, two, or three scouts is just too small for the given activity.

I had about 20 Webelos in my son’s Den and I split them up into 2 Patrols, complete with Patrol Leaders, APLs and changed the Scout’s who held those positions monthly. This was sort of like we did with Denners as Bears. I had them camp as Patrols, play games as Patrols, work on Activity Pins as Patrols. This really prepared them for crossing over into the Troop.

I would like to second the idea of having the scout participate with a troop. Especially in light of the scout’s needing time to get AOL. And… I wouldn’t leave it until the end. Talk to the SM about the scout. The SM might be happy to help him complete his AOL.

The simple fact is that the sooner the scout plugs into and gets to know a troop, the more likely he will be in scouting at recharter Jan 2021.

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