"The best progress is made in those Troops when power and responsibility are really put into the hands of the Patrol Leaders" (Baden-Powell).


Patrol Leaders are the key personnel in Troops.

Leadership is the ability to attract a following, to deserve support and to inspire confidence in ability to make right decisions.

The Patrol Leader, elected by his Patrol, has already fulfilled the first condition. The Patrol has demonstrated that he is the one it is most prepared to follow, which would seem to indicate that he has some inherent leadership ability. The fact that he has been elected is an encouragement and a challenge to him to do his best. Having gained a following, he must now maintain it. It is your job to strengthen his natural ability and to help confirm him in his position. This is much easier to achieve by "doing" than by "talking" and the first step is recognition. He is the leader of a Patrol, he speaks for them - they take their lead from him.


Be sure that his position is respected and nothing is done to undermine his authority. Pass instructions for the Patrol through him - avoid embarrassing him in front of his Patrol.

To deserve support he has to work harder than any of those serving under him. This does not mean that he has to do all the jobs, but rather that he has to work harder than anyone else to help to make his Patrol the best and to see that every member has equal opportunity for advancement, fun and adventure.

His ability to make right decisions will grow with experience, knowing his Patrol and obtaining their views.

The wise leader:

bulletwill always discuss plans with his Patrol and listen to their counsel. He does not have to accept their views but he will be guided by them and may adjust his own decisions accordingly.
bulletdelegates authority to those best suited to assume it for any specific occasion.
bulletdoes not try to bluff his followers by pretending he can do things he knows he cannot. Once his bluff is found out respect and trust fade.
bulletis not bossy. He does not go around complaining but cheerfully tries to encourage.
bulletmust be able to do some things better than anyone else in the Patrol. It is not too important what it is, so long as it is known and valued by the other members.
bulletmust be fair and not play favourites.
bulletmust keep his word. If he promises something, whether it be favour or threat, he must do everything within his power to keep that promise, even though it may be inconvenient. Consequently, it is important that he not promise anything which he is not prepared to back up.
bulletstands by his Patrol through fair or foul, collectively or individually.
bullettries hard to control his emotions, especially his temper. He must try to discover himself through his Patrol and to subdue those habits which they find annoying.
bulletmust at all times do his best - especially in trying to keep the Scout Promise.


A great deal can be done to help a Patrol Leader by discussing his ability with him from time to time, praising those things at which he is good and trying to point out those things which need attention and what he may do to improve them. Similarly, a Patrol Leader may be helped to understand the members of his Patrol by encouraging him to discuss the values of each boy with you in private. Help him to understand the reasons for their behaviour and to decide what approaches might be taken to help them improve.

Your ability to lead will be reflected in your Patrol Leaders.


It is important that every member of a Patrol feel that, in some way or another, he is important to that Patrol. One way to achieve this is to see that each member has a job for which he alone is responsible. It must be a job of value to the Patrol and call for regular effort. The choice of jobs will be decided by the Patrol-in-Council - each member stating  his personal preferences. In some instances, some boys may have more than one responsibility. However, the appointment to any job is not binding on a boy for the rest of his life in the Patrol. Jobs may be changed or rotated at any intervals that suit the Patrol and the individual. It should also be understood that while a job may be a boy's responsibility, it is not his exclusive privilege. For instance, the Patrol Cook does not cook every meal when the Patrol goes to camp. Each boy will take his turn at cooking but may seek advice from the Patrol Cook. The Patrol Cook may be the instructor on Second and First Class cooking, or the one to whom the Patrol Leader delegates the preparation of menus for camp.

Under this system, it is often found that boys develop definite preferences and become specialists in certain fields. The wise Patrol Leader will be aware of this and on occasions will delegate leadership to other boys for certain activities. For example, if on a journey the Patrol finds it has to build a bridge across a gully, the Patrol will have a Patrol-in-Council to decide how it is to set about the job. The Patrol Leader will depend on the Patrol Pioneer for advice and when a decision has been reached, he may well turn the operation over to the Pioneer.

The Patrol Second is in a special category. He is the assistant Patrol Leader and should have the full confidence of the Patrol Leader. The Patrol Leader will consult with his Second about Patrol plans and get his reaction to ideas, possibly before they are placed before the Patrol. The Patrol Leader and Patrol Second must work closely together and complement each other's efforts. The Patrol Leader must provide opportunities for his Second to lead the Patrol on occasions and it must certainly be understood that in the Patrol Leader's absence his Second is in complete charge. The Patrol Leader, by mutual arrangement, should also delegate some specific responsibilities to his Second.


Patrol spirit - esprit de corps - is that intangible quality which unites a team. It is a quality that must be developed by the members of the team in the course of working together.

Such things as Patrol name, Patrol colours and Patrol call are aids towards developing Patrol spirit, but they must have real meaning to the boys in the Patrol. If they are not interested in their Patrol name, they should change to one which has more meaning to them and in which they can discover a common bond. Patrol colours become a symbol of ownership and membership in the Patrol and the Patrol flag becomes a banner to follow through fair and foul. The Patrol slogan, yell or song, especially one developed as the result of an incident, will do much to build Patrol spirit and to develop Patrol history and tradition.

There is no substitute for doing things together to build Patrol spirit, and the second part of the Law has particular implications here.


Perhaps the most essential requirement for the maintenance of good discipline is the creation of group interest. If boys are interested, they will want to participate and achieve their objective. Interest can be more easily achieved in the Patrol if all members participate in planning (see Patrol-in-Council). Before this can be effected, the Patrol Leader must understand that he is a leader and not a driver or dictator. There is an obvious tendency for Scouts elected as Patrol Leaders to feel they are "the boss" - but boys soon get tired of being bossed around.

Most boys respond to reason and will follow a positive lead if wisdom dictates its necessity or if it represents the wishes of the majority. A weak lead by a hesitant Patrol Leader who can't make up his mind is likely to cause internal conflict, a falling off in morale and eventually the complete breakdown of Patrol discipline. The Patrol Leader must see that there is a fair division of work and pleasure within the Patrol and that everyone gets his share of chores.

When a Patrol Leader delegates authority to a member of his Patrol, he should leave him alone to get on with the job and not interfere with the way it is being done. If more speed or effort is required, it should be suggested by way of encouragement and not by needling or grumbling. This is sometimes a very difficult lesson to learn, especially as boys seldom do a job in exactly the same way. Although a job may be delegated, the responsibility for it still rests with the Patrol Leader, just as a Captain is always responsible for his ship, no matter who is on the bridge. When delegating authority, the Patrol Leader should be reasonably sure that the person delegated is competent to fulfil the task requested of him and that instructions for carrying it out are clear.


it is particularly important to impress Patrol Leaders with the need to think out instructions clearly and methodically before issuing them. Lack of clear direction causes mistakes and creates confusion.

Scouts are still boys learning self-control and they must be expected to kick over the traces occasionally. It is very important for a Patrol Leader to understand that encouragement is often much more effective than punishment, when dealing with someone who has been disobedient. He should always ask himself how much of an effort the culprit is making to "do his best". When a boy is continually disobedient, or causing trouble in the Patrol, try to find the cause. Where it is necessary for a Patrol Leader to discipline a member of his Patrol, the punishment preferably should take the form of loss of privilege. Avoid physical punishment and delegation to do additional chores.

Occasionally, feeling may run high between two boys and develop into a fight. In such a situation, provided the boys are fairly matched, it may be best to let them fight it out in a supervised wrestling or boxing match. If the pair are not fairly matched, then some other contest may be devised. While this may release tension, it may not solve the problem which caused the fight in the first place - and this must be resolved if further outbursts are to be avoided. Do not allow bullying or display of spite. The Patrol Leader must be prepared to follow through with any disciplinary action he has threatened if necessary. He must be careful, therefore, not to threaten anything he might not wish or be able to carry out.

It is important that a Patrol Leader try to settle all disciplinary actions within his own Patrol. If he cannot, he should bring his problem to you for advice. He may also seek the advice of the Court of Honour, but in doing so, it is usually better not to mention names. The Court of Honour should not normally take disciplinary action upon itself except at the request of a Patrol Leader or in the event of the honour of the Troop being at stake.

Patrol Leaders should exchange ideas on getting co-operation and discipline from their Patrols at Court of Honour meetings. In this way, they learn from each other.


In order to maintain the respect of the members of his Patrol, a Patrol Leader must make steady progress with his Scouting. It is not necessary that he be the highest qualified boy in the Patrol, but he must be ahead of the other members in some skills or knowledge, and certainly be making an all out effort in personal advancement.

It is the responsibility of a Patrol Leader to see that each member of his Patrol makes personal progress. He will keep his eye on the progress chart and work out with individual boys the targets at which they should aim. He will see that each boy has a training programme and someone to help him.

A Patrol Leader must try to be sure that advancement is not merely a desire to fulfil requirements in order to have them ticked off on a chart, but that the boys are learning by doing and enjoying the fun of the activities in which they participate. Fulfilling requirements has very little value unless a challenge has been met to personal satisfaction and some competence in the subject has been attained. Only in this way will the Scout programme have meaning.

Each Patrol Leader must be prepared to qualify the work of the Scouts in his Patrol. The progress of members of a Patrol should be reviewed once a month at Patrol-in-Council and by the Patrol Leader at Court of Honour meetings (See The Troop Scouters Handbook pps. 38-49).

It is very important that Patrol progress charts and any other records be maintained up-to-date. Records are of no use unless made to work.

Golden Arrow Patrol Leader Training