Scout’s Scrapbook (8-7-12): The Secret of Patrol Leaders

Today’s edition of The Scout’s Scrapbook is a quotation from the founder of Scouting, Baden-Powell, which I found particularly powerful:

In this quote, Baden-Powell is very clear on the importance in which he holds the Patrol Leaders. Since Patrols are real units with real responsibility, the Leaders that they elect are equally real and should be given true responsibility. There are many Troops that have Patrol Leaders who have responsibility in name only. The Troop might be constantly lauded for being a “Boy-led Troop”, but that doesn’t mean anything if the boys are simply leaning on the Scoutmaster for every decision.

In my experience, most Patrol Leaders fall into two categories: those who try to claim as much independence for themselves as they can, and those who prefer to lean on the Scoutmaster or an older Scout to make most of the important decisions. Although both extremes are to be avoided, I have seen Patrol Leaders leaning on the Scoutmaster to be much more common. The Scoutmaster has an extremely important role in Scouting, but so often Patrol Leaders, nervous about their new positions, will instinctively try to lean on the Scoutmaster for everything, without standing on their own two feet. The Scoutmaster, who naturally wants to help the Patrol and Patrol Leader, often lets this happen and ends up making most of the decisions through the Patrol Leader.

I know from personal experience how hard it can be to implement this in a real Troop rather than just on paper. And I recognize that it, like most things, is a process. As Patrol Leaders get elected, serve, and then move on, it will be a lot of constant work for the Scoutmaster to help teach the Patrol Leaders their role and how to handle their responsibility. Following this advice of Baden-Powell is difficult, no doubt, but seeing as how he constantly emphasized the importance of the Patrol System in Scouting, it is worth it to do our best.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this edition of The Scout’s Scrapbook and that it gave you something to think about. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them! If you like this post, please pass it along!

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How long would. PLs mandate typically be? Up to when he leaves the troop? Is there room for, say, reelection every six months!