Have you as a Scoutmaster ever asked your PLC for reports from the patrol leaders only to be met with silence or hesitant thoughts? If the patrol leaders had effective meetings with their patrols, why do they have nothing to share?
I would suggest part of the problem is that scouts believe that ideas at PLC’s need to be delivered in a manner similar to school. They might believe that they should remain silent unless they have a perfect answer. If they are asked to brainstorm, they may believe that they need to start from scratch. They may not have had the concept of serving as a representative from the patrol to the PLC clearly enough or frequently enough repeated to have it fresh in mind at key times.
All of these problems are a philosophical problem. These all need teaching to overcome. An active Scoutmaster sitting in a PLC should encourage his Senior Patrol Leader to use this silence as an opportunity to educate on the philosophy of the PLC. Something like a 30-second reminder would be ideal.
But these patrol leaders often don’t have a philosophical misunderstanding. They just took terrible notes or more typically no notes on the topic at hand. The topic may have been thoroughly debated by the patrol. The patrol leader may struggle to put the range of debate succinctly before the PLC.
Clarke Green of ScoutmasterCG.com has a solution to this problem. He recommends that a Patrol Log Book be maintained. The log book is more than the Patrol Scribe’s Minutes Book. It is a chance for scouts to write their own “roses, thorns, or bud.” The Log Book is passed around the patrol meeting. Each scout is encouraged to offer his own rose, thorn, or bud. He then writes it down in his own words in a short sentence or phrase. Now the Patrol Leader has a series of notes from his patrol to carry into the PLC.
Look at Clarke’s website for a sample PDF to download.
Personally, I prefer the new Scout Leader Guidebook’s vocabulary of “Stop, Start, Continue.” Both methods encourage scouts to look at good, bad, and new ideas. Stop, Start, Continue puts an emphasis on actions and moves away from debates about current status of persons, places, or events.
Whatever your preferred vocabulary, encouraging each scout to speak his voice in the patrol meeting and having a sense that his voice is being accurately represented to the PLC is a powerful method of teaching citizenship and active participation.