The Senior Patrol Leader

The Scout led Troop starts with the Senior Patrol leader (SPL). He is the guy that runs the Troop. He is guided by the Scoutmaster and seeks input at the Patrol Leaders Council. He is an elected officer of the Troop and is charged with providing the Troop with Purpose and Direction.

The Boy Scouts of America identifies the Duties and Responsibilities of the SPL as:

1. Runs all the troop meetings, events, activities and the annual program planning conference.
2. Runs the patrol leader’s council meeting.
3. Appoints other troop junior leader with the advice and counsel of the Scoutmaster.
4. Assign duties and responsibilities to junior leaders.
5. Assists the Scoutmaster with junior leader training.
6. Sets a good example.
7. Enthusiastically wears the Scout uniform correctly.
8. Lives by the Scout Oath and Law.
9. Shows Scout spirit.

I want to focus on duties number 1, and 2.
First the SPL runs the Troop meetings, events and activities. Adult leaders like to get their hands in this pie, but restraint is the watch word. The SPL needs to be the guy up front. It is thru this action that the SPL establishes his standing as the leader of the Troop. Now I know that I have been guilty of jumping in and “helping” the SPL, but more times than not, he will get through the meeting.
The Scoutmaster needs to train the SPL. Give him the tools to succeed. Show him how to establish a meeting plan using the Troop meeting plan worksheet. Give the SPL the Troop Program resources book. This is a great tool for the SPL to get him heading in the right direction and will keep the PLC meeting focused and efficient.
The Scoutmaster needs to show confidence in the SPL. Give the SPL clear instruction and guidance and then allow him the flexibility to accomplish the task as he sees fit. Let him learn from his mistakes. Review the process at the completion of a task or at the end of a camp out and have the SPL brief back his feelings on how he did, the unit did, and what he can do better next time.
The Patrol Leaders Council can make or break an SPL’s tenure. If he runs effective PLC meetings, his time in office will be smooth and fun. The SPL needs to encourage the Patrol leaders to take ownership of the Troop. They establish the plan and then are charged with executing their plan. Success is up to them. They get their guidance from the SPL. Like I said, the SPL sets the purpose and direction of the Troop. He owns the plan and needs to do his best to get the PLC on board. Once the PLC owns the plan and has bought into the purpose and direction of the Troop, they will have a fun and successful year.
It all starts with the Senior Patrol Leader. A well trained and motivated SPL can be the difference between a Super Troop and an average Troop. A Scoutmaster that understands his role in working with the SPL sets the troop up for success.

Happy Scouting!

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