The Patrol is, like the ideals, the foundation of the Troop. The Patrol is where the Scout learns citizenship, it is where they practice democracy, leadership, and teamwork. It is where they find companionship, life long friendships, and a place where they belong. The Patrol is unit of Scouting. Whether for work or play, the Patrol is where Scouting happens!
In the Patrol you have democracy on the small-scale. The boys choose the leader they would like to follow, they plan their own activities and take part in activities planned at the Troop level. When they plan, they execute those activities together.
In a good Patrol, Scout spirit is steadily at work, prompting the participation of each Scout. The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters says, “The life in the Patrol creates in its Scouts a strong feeling of comradeship, of obedience to a common cause, and the willingness to help and share so necessary in life.”
The Patrol eats together, camps together, cheers together, and pulls together when the going gets tough. They share the joy of accomplishment, and put their heads together when they fail. They learn together and assist one another in their Scoutcraft and other skills.
The Patrol elects its own leadership. This is an important part of Patrol life. The decisions the Patrol makes in choosing its leadership is up to them and should not be influenced. The Patrol Leader grows as a leader and the rest of the Patrol develops strong skills at being good followers. Soon ever Scout gets his turn, and he will reap the benefits of good followers when he steps up to lead.
The Patrol leader is part of the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC). They run the Troop. Using the Patrol Method, the Patrol Leaders Council will make decisions that have the best interest in the Troop in mind. They will push the Patrols in directions of adventure, service, and committment to the Troop. The PLC along with help from the Scoutmaster is heart of the Patrol Method. When Baden Powell spoke of the Patrol Leaders Council he said, “… is not so much to save trouble for the Scoutmaster as to give responsibility to the boy- since this is the very best way of all means of developing character.”
I am a firm believer that the Patrol is the heart beat of the Troop. Patrols that demonstrate spirit and enthusiasm tend to be great Patrols and have a lot of fun getting the most out of Scouting.
A note on the Patrol method. There are NO ADULTS in Patrols. Adults do not participate with Patrols and aside from the Scoutmaster have no say in the Patrol Leaders Council. The Patrol method is not always pretty. It takes on many shapes and sizes and the level of struggle will vary from Patrol to Patrol. It is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to tackle as many of those struggles as possible. He, after all is the leader that Patrol Leaders look to for the answer.
I have a pet peeve about adults calling themselves a Patrol in the Troop setting (outside of Wood Badge of course). The Patrol method is to be led, practiced, and perfected by young men.
Give them a chance to run their Troop. This is an important method, with out the Patrol method you do not have Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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