Patrols

"The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.'"

—Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting's founder

The Patrol

The patrol is a group of Scouts who belong to a troop. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success. A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be. Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.

The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. To give more youths the opportunity to lead, Troop 58 elects patrol leaders twice a year.

Patrol size depends upon a troop's enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is about eight Scouts.

Types of Patrols

There are three kinds of patrols: new-Scout patrols, regular patrols, and high adventure patrols.

New-Scout patrols are for 11-year-old Scouts who have recently joined the troop and are together for the first several months. An older, experienced Scout often is assigned as a troop guide to help the new-Scout patrol through the challenges of troop membership. An assistant Scoutmaster should also assist the new-Scout patrol to ensure that each Scout has every opportunity to succeed right from the start.

Another method is to add new scouts to existing patrols and have an older scout work with them. Either of these methods work well. It is up to the Scoutmaster as to which way is put to use. (it depends on the amount of scouts coming into the troop at that time)

Regular patrols are made up of experienced Scouts. They have been around Scouting long enough to be comfortable with the patrol and troop operation and are becoming well-versed in camping, cooking, and Scouting's other basic skills.

High Adventure patrol is an optional patrol within the troop made up of older Scouts. These troop members have the maturity and experience to take part in more challenging high-adventure outings. The High Adventure patrol is not a permanent patrol in Troop 58, but organized to  tackle outings that have more challenging components.  High Adventure patrol elects a patrol leader, who works with an adult leader to put the patrol's plans into action.

Patrol Activities

Most patrol activities take place within the framework of the troop. However, patrols may also conduct day hikes and service projects independent of the troop, as long as they follow two rules:

Patrol Spirit

Patrol spirit is the glue that holds the patrol together and keeps it going. Building patrol spirit takes time, because it is shaped by a patrol's experiences—good and bad. Often misadventures such as enduring a thunderstorm or getting lost in the woods will contribute much in pulling a patrol together. Many other elements also will help build patrol spirit. Creating a patrol identity and traditions will help build each patrol member's sense of belonging.

Every patrol needs a good name. Usually, the patrol chooses its name from nature, a plant or animal, or something that makes the patrol unique. A patrol might choose an object for its outstanding quality. For example, sharks are strong swimmers and buffaloes love to roam. The patrol may want to add an adjective to spice up the patrol name, such as the Soaring Hawks or the Rambunctious Raccoons.

A patrol flag is the patrol's trademark, and it should be a good one. Have a competition to see who comes up with the best design and who is the best artist. Make the flag out of a heavy canvas and use permanent markers to decorate it. In addition to the patrol name, the patrol flag should have the troop number on it as well as the names of all the patrol members. Mount the flag on a pole, which also can be decorated. Remember, the patrol flag should go wherever the patrol goes.

Every patrol has a patrol yell, which should be short and snappy. Choose words that fit the patrol's goals.

Your Duties as Patrol Leader

When you accepted the position of patrol leader, you agreed to provide service and leadership to your patrol and troop. No doubt you will take this responsibility seriously, but you will also find it fun and rewarding. As a patrol leader, you are expected to do the following:



 

Ten Tips for Being a Good Patrol Leader

 

1

Keep Your Word. Don't make promises you can't keep.

2

Be Fair to All. A good leader shows no favorites. Don't allow friendships to keep you from being fair to all members of your patrol. Know who likes to do what, and assign duties to patrol members by what they like to do.

3

Be a Good Communicator. You don't need a commanding voice to be a good leader, but you must be willing to step out front with an effective "Let's go." A good leader knows how to get and give information so that everyone understands what's going on.

4

Be Flexible. Everything doesn't always go as planned. Be prepared to shift to "plan B" when "plan A" doesn't work.

5

Be Organized. The time you spend planning will be repaid many times over. At patrol meetings, record who agrees to do each task, and fill out the duty roster before going camping.

6

Delegate. Some leaders assume that the job will not get done unless they do it themselves. Most people like to be challenged with a task. Empower your patrol members to do things they have never tried.

7

Set an Example. The most important thing you can do is lead by example. Whatever you do, your patrol members are likely to do the same. A cheerful attitude can keep everyone's spirits up.

8

Be Consistent. Nothing is more confusing than a leader who is one way one moment and another way a short time later. If your patrol knows what to expect from you, they will more likely respond positively to your leadership.

9

Give Praise. The best way to get credit is to give it away. Often a "Nice job" is all the praise necessary to make a Scout feel he is contributing to the efforts of the patrol.

10

Ask for Help. Don't be embarrassed to ask for help. You have many resources at your disposal. When confronted with a situation you don't know how to handle, ask someone with more experience for some advice and direction.