Patrol Competition Awards
By Rick Seymour
Traditional Patrol Competitions were based on point systems. The points were always translated into a graph of some sort to provide a visual representation of where each Patrol stood in relation to the other Patrols. These graphs could be a simple bar graph with a theme, such as those used by non-profit organizations to measure progress in fund raising towards a specific goal.
In the golden era of Scouting, more elaborate "graphs" were devised. One example was the painting of a river landscape at the top of the walls of the Scout Room. Each Patrol was represented by a canoe, and the relative position of each Patrol was measured by their position in a "canoe race" around the tops of the walls of the Scout Room.
With point systems comes the temptation to subtract points for bad behavior. This is not in the spirit of the Patrol Competitions which, since the very beginning of Scouting, has always been about what we now call "positive reinforcement". As William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt wrote in 1936,
The point color chart is based on awarding ribbons rather than points. Attaching ribbons to the Patrol's Flag is better than keeping track through a point system because it reinforces the need for a Patrol Flag, and can provide a rich visual history of the Patrol's triumphs over the years.
The colors in the chart are based on the colors in the assortments of feathers available at craft stores. This allows for more elaborate ribbon award designs, if desired.
Sometimes we also attach an inexpensive small bell (also available at craft stores) to each ribbon earned at a monthly campout. This is helpful if ribbons earned at campouts count more than those earned at weekly meetings.
A Patrol Competition should run for a limited length of time, say a season or less. To make it easier to distinguish one season's competition from the next while counting the ribbons, each season is indicated by the color of the yarn that attaches it to the flag staff, say:
In turn, the year is indicated by a different bead or combination of beads on each piece of yarn.
It is helpful to have a traditional Troop Opening, where the Patrol Leaders are asked to report their Patrol's activities. When the SPL always asks for this report, it encourages the Patrols to meet so as to have something to report! See: Troop Meeting Openings
The basic idea behind Patrol Competitions is to encourage the behavior that you want. The Scoutmaster should take an active role in helping the PLC design the competition the first time, unless the Patrol Method is already firmly established in your Troop. It is up to the Scoutmaster to explain how Scouting works, not to wait around until the Scouts discover the Patrol Method on their own through trial and error.
The system below encourages two kinds of behavior. The first is Traditional Scouting skills, such as introducing new Skits, Songs, and real Scouting Games; teaching a Scoutcraft skill, orderly conduct, and so on.
The second is the actual Patrol Method. The best overview of the Patrol Method can be found in the requirements for the National Honor Patrol Award (formerly the Baden-Powell Award) found on Page 23 of the BSA Handbook.
In the past we have awarded the winning Patrol with a Patrol Campout in which only the winning Patrol goes camping. But it can be very hard to squeeze this into an already crowded calendar. I hope readers might contribute some ideas here for other rewards.
I. Troop Meetings
A. Possible Awards at Opening
|Number wearing full Uniform?|
|Patches in the right places?|
Burgundy — Recent PLC Meeting:
|Patrol representative attended (Should be mentioned in the Patrol Leader’s Report at Troop Opening)|
Light Green — Good Turns:
|PLC-approved Good Turn or Service Project, announced in the Patrol Leader’s Report at Troop Opening.|
Brown — Patrol Meeting
| Patrol organized a Patrol Meeting (summarized in the Patrol Leader’s Report at
Troop Opening) to work on:
Dark Blue — Outdoor Patrol Activities:
|Patrol Hike or other Scouting Event (as reported in the Patrol Leader’s Report at Troop Opening).|
Orange — Attendance
|Percentage of Patrol on time at opening|
|Registration of a new Scout.|
Red — Patrol Spirit:
|Best use of Patrol Call,|
|Patrol Yell, and|
|Patrol Cheer during meeting|
Green — Scoutcraft:
|Patrol Scoutcraft contest winner or|
|Best Prepared (most answers at a Scoutcraft Presentation)|
|Best Scoutcraft Presentation|
|Best and most fun Scoutcraft Skills Instruction (work on this during a Patrol Meeting).|
Purple — NEW Scout Game
|Introduction to Troop of a NEW Scout Game|
Black — Weekly Game Winner
White — Best Scout Conduct:
|Most orderly conduct before and during whole meeting,|
|Quickest silence at "Sign’s Up"|
Light Blue — Best New Song or Skit
|For Council Fire at end of meeting (work on these during a Patrol Meeting).|
Gold — Advancement:
|Patrol Member advances in rank (Ribbon handed out with Rank Badge at Meeting Closing).|
Red — Patrol Spirit:
|Best use of Songs, Patrol Yell, Cheers, and Patrol Call during the day|
|Best use of Patrol design on equipment|
|Improvements to Patrol Flag & Pole|
|Best separate Patrol site with Patrol members tenting with members of their own Patrol.|
Green — Scoutcraft & Scoutcraft Presentation:
|Best and most fun instruction of Outdoor Skills|
|Best tarp structure actually slept in.|
Purple — NEW Night Wide Game
|Introduction to the Troop of the best NEW Night Wide Game|
Black — Night Wide Games Winner
White — Scout Conduct:
|Most orderly conduct during campout,|
|Quickest silence at "Sign’s Up"|
Light Blue — Best OLD Song or Skit
|(From a Weekly Meeting), improved and performed at the Saturday Camp Fire|
Orange — Best Attendance
|Percentage of Patrol at Campout|
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Last modified: August 20, 2012.