Patrol Leaders

To Patrol Leaders, or any one who would like some tips on running their organisation or business.

“The Patrol System is not one method in which Scouting can be carried on. It is the only method”

Lord Baden-Powell, Founder of the Scout Movement

A Patrol is a group of Scouts who belong to a Troop, are similar in age, development and interests. The Patrol system allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger Troop, working together as a team, and sharing the responsibility of making their Patrol a success. Patrol size depends on a Troop’s membership, the ideal being a maximum of eight Scouts.
Patrol spirit is the glue that holds the patrol together and keeps it going. Building patrol spirit takes time, because it is shaped by the patrol’s experiences – good or bad. Often misadventures, like getting lost on a night hike, will contribute much in pulling a patrol together. The weekend it rained and flooded your camp is the one you will never forget. Some patrols build up traditions, and these help build each patrol member’s sense of belonging.

In planning and carrying out the Scout programme by patrols, your Scouts get valuable practice in group discussions and group debates. ”It is up to the Patrol Leader to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each Scout in his patrol. It sounds like a big order, but in practice it works.”

Keep your patrol members informed.
Give each member some specific task whenever possible.
Represent your patrol at Troop Leaders’ Forum.
Prepare the patrol to participate in all Troop activities.
Work with other Leaders to make your troop run well.
Know the abilities of each of your members.
Set a good example.
Wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
Be guided by the Scout Promise & Law.

When you accept the position of a Patrol Leader, you agree to provide service and leadership to your patrol and the Troop. Take this responsibility seriously, but you will also find it fun and rewarding. As a Patrol Leader you are expected to do the following:
Patrol meetings may be held at any time and place, but not too often. Many patrols set aside a portion of some evening meetings for its patrol to sit together and talk. Others encourage patrols to meet on a different evening, possibly at the home of a patrol member. Meetings should be well planned and businesslike. Assistant patrol leaders bring the meeting to order, and the PL reports on the issues discussed at the Patrol Leaders Council, now called the Troop Leaders Forum.
Decisions reached at these meetings should be brought to the attention of the Scout Leader, whose responsibility it is, together with Assistants and PLs to make up a suitable programme.
“An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual.”

Tips for Being a Good Patrol Leader,

Keep your word. Don’t make promises you cannot keep.

Be Fair to All. A good leader shows no favourites. Do not allow friendships to keep you from being fair to all members of your patrol. Find out who likes to do what, and assign duties to patrol members by what they like to do best.
Be a Good Communicator. You do not need a loud voice to be a good leader, but you must be willing to step out in front with an effective ‘Let’s go for it!’ A good leader knows how to get and give information so that everyone understands what is going on. No-one can read your mind.
Be Flexible. Not everything goes as planned. Be prepared to shift to ‘Plan B’ when ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work.
Be Organised. The time you spend planning will be repaid many times over. Take notes; keep records.
Delegate. Some leaders assume that a job will not get done if they don’t do it themselves. Wrong! Most people like to be challenged with a new task. Get your patrol to try things they have never done before. Do not try to do everything yourself. Sharing jobs and fun is a much more rewarding way.
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. “Laugh, and the world laughs with you….”
Be Consistent. Nothing is more confusing to a young Scout than a leader who stands on his/her feet one day, and on his/her head the next. If your patrol knows what to expect from you, they will be more likely to respond positively to your leadership.
Give Praise. The best way to get credit is to give it away. Often a “Nice job” remark is all the praise necessary to make a Scout feel he/she is contribution to the efforts of the patrol.
Ask for Help. Never 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 guidance. They too will learn much from you.

Some Words of Wisdom from Robert Baden-Powell:
“The real way to gain happiness is to give it to others”

“We must change children from the ‘what can I get’ to the ‘what can I give’ attitude.”

“It is risky to order a child NOT to do something. It immediately opens to him the adventure of doing it.”

“A week of camp life is worth six months of theoritical teaching in the Scout hut.”

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