The patrol method is working when the adult acts as a guide, mentor, and counselor to the youth, helping them by word and example to lead one another, to influence one another, to encourage competition and excitement so that the boys grow as a group and as individuals.
In 1920, Baden-Powel consolidated notes he had assembled on the training of boys through Scouting and published them as Aids to Scoutmastership. He wrote,
The Patrol System
The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organisations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!
The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop.
The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty. An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works. Then, through emulation and competition between Patrols, you produce a Patrol spirit which is eminently satisfactory, since it raises the tone among the boys and develops a higher standard of efficiency all round. Each boy in the Patrol realises that he is in himself a responsible unit and that the honour of his group depends in some degree on his own ability in playing the game.
This is a representative form of government used by Guide / Scouts. It consists of two parts – the patrol and the Court of Honor. The spirit, vitality and welfare of the troop are the main objective of the patrol system.
PATROLS + COURT OF HONOR = PATROL SYSTEM
- The Patrol Leader
- The Assistant Patrol Leader
- Patrol Treasurer
- Patrol Secretary
- Transportation Manager
- Commissary Manager
- Equipment Manager
- Health and Safety Manager
- Court of Honor
- Troop Secretary
- Troop Treasurer
- Installation of Patrol Leaders
The troop is divided into small groups, usually consisting of six to eight Scouts / Guides. Each group is called a patrol. Patrols can have interesting names chosen by the Scouts / Guides. Some names are based on the Scouts / Guides’ interests, the part of the country where they live, etc. A patrol interested in nature lore might be called “Tree Tops”. Patrols often invent an identifying emblem, which they use on a patrol flag and/or on their patrol equipment.
The troop is richer because of the strength and ingenuity of its patrols, all working together on troop plans.
The Patrol Leader
“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
Each patrol has a patrol leader, elected by the Scouts / Guides in her patrol, to serve for a time determined by the troop and the leaders. They vote for her, just as any responsible citizen votes for candidates for public office.
Before voting, read over the duties of the patrol leader, then ask yourself, “Will she do a good job? Is she the kind of Scouts / Guides who is fair or will she be bossy? Will she speak for everyone in our patrol at the Court of Honor? Does she have ideas that are fun and exciting?
These are important questions, for the patrol leader is in charge of seeing that things go well and smoothly. Here are some suggestions for the patrol leader’s duties.
- Conducts regular patrol meetings using agenda made at Court of Honor with the troop leader and other patrol leaders.
- Learns what her patrol wants to do by leading discussions and offering suggestions.
- Represents her patrol at regular Court of Honor meetings by reporting on patrol progress and activities, getting needed assistance and sharing ideas with other patrol leaders.
- Works with her assistant patrol leader and shares some of the leadership of the patrol with her.
- Helps herself and others in her patrol to learn or practice Scouting skills.
- Takes charge of any special assignment given to her patrol
- Assigns duties to patrol members and sees that they are carried out.
- Helps her patrol organize to get jobs done.
- Consults with troop leaders for special help on plans or problems, and keeps them up-to-date on patrol activities.
- Tries to live by the Promise and Law; she needs to set an example for the members of her patrol.
You may say to yourself, “What a lot for one Scouts / Guides to do!” Remember, though, that the patrol leader should have the cooperation of all the Scouts / Guides in her patrol. She can always call on the troop leader for advice, too, so she has help whenever she needs or wants it. Also, remember that a Cadette or Senior patrol leader may be ready to assume more responsibility than a patrol leader in a Junior troop.
The Assistant Patrol Leader
Another Scouts / Guides elected by the patrol members is the assistant patrol leader. She serves for the same time as the patrol leader and her job is to help the patrol leader in every way she can. The assistant patrol leader does these things and others that she may be asked to do:
- Takes over the job of the patrol leader in her absence.
- Carries out leadership responsibilities delegated by the patrol leader – such as making a kaper chart or organizing a flag ceremony.
Every patrol needs a patrol leader and an assistant patrol leader, but a patrol that really gets things done sees that every member has a definite permanent job. This allows it to whirl into action, not confusion, to get the necessary things done quickly and save time for the real heart of a troop or patrol activity – to turn spur-of-the-moment ideas into fun-packed afternoons. Here is one plan for dividing the work of the patrol:
The Patrol Treasurer or Finance Manager is in charge of patrol financial matters.
- Collects troop dues from patrol members, keeps a record of troop dues, and turns them over to Troop Treasurer.
- Handles all money for the patrol.
- Keeps financial record of patrol income and expenses.
The Patrol Secretary or Recorder is in charge of patrol records.
- Attends to patrol correspondence (invitations, thank-you notes).
- Keeps log of patrol programs and attendance.
- Fills in necessary information on permission slips.
- Keeps a written record of each Scouts / Guides’s progress toward awards.
The Transportation Manager is in charge of transportation for patrol events.
- Makes a sure driver receives a thank-you note from secretary.
- Works with Health and Safety Manager to make sure patrol members understand health and safety precautions for travelling by car, bicycle, foot, canoe, etc.
- Finds out about interesting places the patrol can visit, how to get there, and how much it will cost.
The Commissary Manager is in charge of patrol food.
- Arranges for refreshments for special occasions.
- Appoints shoppers for food and sees that it is purchased.
- Sees that food is delivered on time, properly packed and stored.
- Makes sure food is attractively served; works out plan for cleanup.
The Equipment Manager is in charge of patrol equipment.
- Makes up list of personal equipment needed for program and gives a copy to each Scouts / Guides.
- Makes out list of patrol equipment needed.
- Secures, distributes, packs, and stores patrol equipment.
- Makes sure equipment is labeled and kept in good condition.
- Initiates making of patrol equipment (tin-can stove, cook kits, etc.)
- Returns borrowed equipment.
Health And Safety Manager
Make sure a first aid kit is available at all times.
- Keeps first aid kit stocked, replacing items as necessary.
- Alerts patrol to good health and safety practices.
- Makes sure patrol members know what to do in case off fire, storm, accident, lost person, etc.
- Knows how to reach the nearest doctor or hospital or emergency services number.
- Sets up an emergency call system for patrol.
No matter which plan you use, yours, or the one suggested, make sure you can answer “Yes” to the following questions.
- Does each Scouts / Guides in the patrol have a specific job?
- Does she have a brief description of what she is to do?
- Will she really have an opportunity to do her hob because it is based on actual plans for the troop and the patrol?
- Are copies of each description with the name of the Scouts / Guides who has the hob kept in one place so everyone can see who is responsible for what/
- Is there a plan to evaluate the division after two or three months? Check to see if jobs need to be rearranged; if each Scouts / Guides has the job best suited to her talent; is it working for both the troop and patrol activities? Some troops elect new officers two or three times a year.
COURT OF HONOR (COH)
Every patrol member has a voice in the COH through the patrol leader. The COY is the heart of the troop. The COH consists of all patrol leaders in the troop, the Troop Secretary, The Troop Treasurer, and the troop leader. Each patrol leader represents her patrol faithfully at the COH meetings. If she cannot be there, she makes sure her patrol is represented.
These are some things the COH can do:
- Plan interesting troop programs based on ideas submitted by the patrols
- Make up ideas for activities and submit them to patrols through the patrol leaders.
- Hear reports from patrols given by patrol leaders (and from committee chairmen, when needed).
- Make arrangements for patrol leaders to learn new things to teach their patrol members.
- Sometimes arrange for Scouts / Guides from different patrols to work together on special projects.
The COH can meet before, after, or during any regular troop meeting. These short meetings, ten minutes to half an hour in length, are for quick reports of patrol reactions, reminders of responsibilities for next week, or adjustment of plans.
At special meetings, usually every two or three months, the COH fills in the details of plans for the months ahead, and considers ideas and suggestions from patrols brought to the meetings by patrol leaders.
The COH thinks over the various ideas. Are they good? Will they work? How can we make them work? This is the way ideas are turned into actions for the troop. Even the best ideas need planning and work to make them come true.
The COH usually holds longer meetings at the beginning and end of the troop year. The first meeting is to get things started by deciding how many big events can be fitted into the year’s calendar. (The big events might include camping, trips, Court of Awards, council events, parties, service unit activities, community service projects, etc.) The last meeting is to evaluate how the troop has done.
An open COH meeting may be held so that everyone will know how the system works. All troop members attend as “silent watchers.”
She is the official correspondent and secretary of the entire troop. Here are some suggested duties for the Troop Secretary:
- Takes minutes and notes at Court of Honor and business meetings.
- Answers troop mail.
- Writes invitations and thank-you notes for gifts and services to the troops.
- Keeps troop history up-to-date, such as writing an account of a camping trip.
- If she is kept very busy, she might need an assistant. They need to have neat, clear handwriting, so that their notes are easy for others to read.
The Troop Treasurer is also elected by the entire troop. She may have these duties:
- Keeps an account book, entering all money that is collected by the troop and all that is spent.
- Receives dues from the patrol treasurers, records their payment in the account book, and deposits them in the troop’s bank or gives them to the troop leader for deposit.
- Provides facts and figures to the COH when the troop’s yearly budget is mad and to any group spending troop money (food buyers for camping trip, decorations committee for troop party, etc.)
- Makes financial report to the troop once a month.
- Is prepared to make a report of troop finances at any time when asked.
Lord Baden-Powell started the patrol system with the COH. Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, and Boy Scouts use it all over the world. A Girl Scout troop belongs to all its members. The troop decides what it will do, and every Scouts / Guides helps to carry out the troop’s decisions. Each girl must do her part to make the patrol system a success!
Installation of Patrol Leaders
Leader announces purpose of ceremony
“Please present all patrol leaders to be installed.” (May be presented by former patrol leader.) (With patrol leader on her left, patrol member presents patrol leader, stepping back out of horseshoe, walks outside of horseshoe and stands at open end of horseshoe, introduces patrol leader and takes one step back.)
When all are in place:
“May I present name , the newly elected patrol leader of patrol.” (steps back one step)
“Are you ready to take the patrol leader’s Oath?”
“Repeat after me: As a patrol leader I will try to lead the patrol to the best of my ability; to keep order in my group at all times; that in the Court of Honor, I will speak for my patrol and not just for myself; that I will do my best to live up to the trust of my patrol.
“Members of patrols, repeat after me: As a member of Troop # , I will do my best to be loyal and helpful to my patrol leader.”
As presenters pin on cords, leader says:
“The cord of the patrol leader has two golden circles. The smaller circle represents the patrol you lead and serve. The larger circle in the cord is a symbol of the entire troop you serve in the Court of Honor.”
Leader gives Scouts / Guides Scout Handshake to each patrol leader.
Presenters and patrol leaders return to horseshoe – form a friendship circle and sing taps.