Surrey, British Columbia
When my daughter was in guides, I thoroughly enjoyed watching what her Guiders did to help the patrol leader process be the success that it always was.
They ALWAYS went to camp the third weekend in September, every year, without fail. On the first night at guides, the Guiders randomly chose the patrol leaders. Sometimes they had a reason to chose that particular girl - like no way in heck the girls will EVER vote for this girl, sometimes not.
Anyway, they always took the time to sit down with the girls on the first night and explain what the roll of a patrol leader really was, about responsibility and leadership being the key. Not bossiness!
The patrol leaders are patrol leaders for three meetings, plus the camp weekend. Then they come home from camp and have elections.
It was interesting for a couple of the elections to see what happened. Sometimes the girls that the Guiders had chosen worked out fabulously, but others were an experience to watch. After patrol living in close quarters with one another, the girls tend to get to know one another better, right?
One time Kari's patrol leader just yelled and screamed and bossed for the entire weekend. Needless to say, this girl was NOT VOTED as the Robin Patrol Leader for the rest of the year.
This was a lesson to that particular girl which she learned well. The next year she was voted Patrol Leader of her patrol. Most of the time, everyone learns from their MISTAKES. It is the way I learn best for sure!
Ah well, that is life and the learning curve that we are all sometimes forced to follow - ups, downs and up again, or is that down again.......
If we are to accomplish the Mission and Principles of GGC (Aim and Objectives rewritten) we must let the girls make decisions and the earlier they start the better. If the Guider "makes" the patrols and "directs" the choosing of the PLs and the Patrols don't work out then it is the Guiders problem BUT if the girls choose and there are difficulties then it is their problem and they can be a part of the solution. They will have learned some of life's harder lessons - like your best friend may not be the best person for the job. They will discover what it means "to be true to yourself" and oh so many more things. It is always easier to do it ourselves than to let others learn through their mistakes but that certainly doesn't make it right. I believe that girls of all ages are far more capable than we allow them to be.
It is important to allow the girls the chance to say that something is working so perhaps you could suggest three month trials and then have an evaluation with the girls. Done at the Guide level this would give them a taste of the evaluating process used in pathfinders. Simple questions such as : What worked well? What didn't work so well? How could it be better?