I want you Patrol Leaders to go on and train your Patrols in future entirely yourselves, because it is possible for you to get hold of each boy in your Patrol and make a good fellow of him (Baden-Powell).
The regular meeting of members of a Patrol under the leadership of their Patrol Leader is one of the most important features of the Patrol System. Patrol meetings provide natural settings for the boy "gang" to operate under its own leader. The more closely the boys in a Patrol are allied, the more natural it will be for them to meet together.
Real Scouting is done in the Patrol - real from the boys' point of view because they are doing it by themselves; and real from the Scouters' point of view because it is through this method that the Movement endeavours to achieve its Aim.
Troop meetings are simply the meeting together of Patrols for combined operations, and it has been said that one well-run Patrol activity is worth two Troop activities.
For Patrol meetings to be successful from the boys' point of view they must be fun, and that usually means doing what the "gang" wants to do at any particular time. Thus, if Patrol meetings are to achieve their immediate purpose, namely helping boys with their personal progress and preparing the Patrol for combined operations at Troop meetings, these two ideas must be combined. If Patrol meetings merely consist of tying knots in a corner or drawing compass cards on pieces of paper, interest will fade very quickly. Patrol Leaders must use their imagination to ensure that Patrol meeting programmes present attractive activities for the boys.
NOTES TO SCOUTMASTER
This is where you will have to give special guidance to your Patrol Leaders. Patrol Leaders will get many ideas from the activities they have with the Arrow Patrol.
Ideally, Patrol meetings should be held once a week and normally last from one to one and a half hours. Where, for some good reason, this cannot be the case, one of the following arrangements should be adopted:
They probably will be held in the Patrol Den, although the type of activity may dictate the place. Apart from an opening and closing ceremony, which each Patrol should be encouraged to develop for itself, the content of the meeting is likely to vary considerably from week to week, although a short period should be set aside at each meeting for Patrol-in-Council to discuss planning. These Patrol meetings should provide opportunities for each member to exercise his special responsibility - and a wise Patrol Leader will see that some of the members contribute something to every programme. Patrols should be encouraged to keep a record of attendance at Patrol meetings and if Patrol dues are collected, proper records must be maintained.
In Troops where, for one reason or another, the boys in a Patrol are not very closely allied, it may be necessary to have rather a special type of Patrol meetings to begin with in order to give them a feeling of belonging and wanting to do things together. For instance, if they all enjoy swimming, it may be a good idea to organize a couple of Patrol swim meetings and perhaps some artificial respiration or lifeline throwing could be included as a related side activity. It is important that the boys develop a team spirit, as Patrol meetings are not likely to be very successful until this happens. The discovery of what they want to do will most likely come as a result of discussion by Patrol-in-Council.
NOTES TO SCOUTMASTER
As Patrol Leader of the Arrow Patrol, you must be sure to provide a variety of types of programme for training meetings, so the Patrol Leaders gain plenty of ideas and an understanding of the different types of meetings possible. It is important to explain that, because of their age and experience, activities at Arrow Patrol meetings will likely take far less time than they will in their own Patrol meetings. Therefore, the programme of an Arrow Patrol meeting will probably provide sufficient material for two or even three ordinary Patrol meetings. Many of the training activities at Arrow Patrol meetings will be in preparation for the future Troop activities. You and your Assistants will prepare and train the Patrol Leaders for these activities and they will work on the skills to attain some measure of efficiency. In the learning process they will gather how to instruct and discover interesting activities involving the skills they are learning. All this they will pass on to their Patrols, tinted with the colour of their own personalities and imaginations, and adapted to the interest of their own Patrols.
Arrow Patrol meetings may be held after Troop meetings and before Court of Honour meetings, say for half an hour - or, one hour every two weeks - or one evening a month, whichever is most convenient. It is the practice in some Troops to train the Patrol Leaders for half an hour during Troop meetings, leaving the Patrols in charge of Seconds. It is not necessary for Arrow Patrol meetings to be as long as ordinary Patrol meetings, and obviously it is important not to be too demanding of Patrol Leaders' time.
The success of Patrol meetings in a Troop will depend almost entirely on the opportunities, training and enthusiasm brought to meetings of the Arrow Patrol by you and your Assistants.
Here are some suggestions for simple Patrol meetings. They are in no way connected and no attempt has been made to provide a time schedule.
1 Patrol-in-Council decide plans for Patrol's part in Troop wide game. Patrol Leader and Second teach the Butterfly Knot to other members. Test knots by throwing rope over beam and hauling each boy up in his own loop. Stage an accident - one boy's finger caught between rope and beam - get Patrol to take necessary action; Patrol First Aider sums up. Go out and look at the stars. Find the Pole Star and try to tell the time by the star clock.
2. Work on the Den - make new Patrol Progress Chart
Patrol-in-Council to discuss:
3. Instruction by Dad on how to make Pack Board, explaining type of wood, tools required and how to use the plans. Each boy to prepare wood for the first stage at home and bring to the next meeting for checking and advice on the second stage. Spread a blanket on the floor and do some Indian wrestling. Some instructions on map reading by the Patrol Hikemaster related to the route the Patrol will take on the next Troop hike. Patrol-in-Council to decide other details of the hike.
4. Patrol-in-Council to discuss:
Patrol Leader gives a yarn on courtesy as he feels this is another reason why Patrol is not working well.
Patrol Second thinks Patrol is in poor physical shape and suggests some setting up exercises to be done regularly. While each boy takes his personal measurements - height, chest expansion, bicep, length of span, etc., Second draws up record chart. Members practise exercises and record performance; measurements and records to be checked every two weeks at Patrol meetings.
Play Jenkin's Kim's game; each boy produces a small object in each hand which he shows. After a minute the Patrol Leader calls 'away', hands are clenched and put out of sight. Patrol Leader then calls upon the boy to say what David has in his right hand. If he can give the right answer he asks someone else the next question - and so on.
Perhaps the thought for tonight's prayer could be to ask God to help the Patrol to be more thoughtful of others.
1 Meet at the bridge over the creek.
Float a piece of wood under the bridge, time it and calculate the flow of water. Take samples of water and let settle in the Den for a week then analyze the contents. Go down the creek a little way to the rocky area and have a 'boat race'. Collect signs of spring and prepare report for Troop meeting. Do at least one simple Good Turn.
2. Visit museum and study local Indians in preparation for Troop's display on "Life Here Three Hundred Years Ago". Each boy to sketch an Indian implement or other equipment and make a model of it at home.
Patrol-in-Council in Sam's Snack Bar:
3. To Mr. Walter's cottage for afternoon of water skiing. This will include artificial respiration, mooring a boat and throwing a lifeline as well as the skills and precautions of handling the boat and water skiing.
4. Stalking. The help of a Dad who will be a secret agent will be needed. He passes a chosen spot within agreed short period of time. Patrol's job is to shadow him without being spotted and to discover his ultimate destination. The Patrol is to prepare an accurate description of the man, what he is wearing and what he does. Patrol and agent meet at agreed spot about an hour later. Agent describes who he saw, where, and why his attention was drawn to him. This is good practice in Patrol organization, stalking and tracking.
Patrol-in-Council afterwards to discuss the activity and to note the mistakes they made in organization and stalking and to emphasize the points they have learned.
NOTES TO SCOUTMASTER
A list of Patrol activities may be found on Pages 95 to 99 of The Troop Scouters Handbook. For more, refer to the Patrol Series booklets and devise your own list with the Arrow Patrol-in-Council.
It should be noted that most of the learning in the above programme is achieved through participation in activities and situations meaningful to boys - some of which, on the surface, appear to have little relationship with Scout training.
If a Patrol is to meet regularly, it needs a place of its own in which to meet. Such a haven, to which the Patrol or any member may go practically at any time, is called a Patrol Den and for the boys, is a priceless possession.
The Patrol Den does not have to be a fine room in a building, but can be an old shack in a back yard, a corner of a basement, an old box car or farmhouse building, a small room in the Troop Headquarters or, as a last resort, a corner of the Troop room. In some respect, the more ramshackle it is, the more challenge there will be to the Patrol to make it into a Den worthy of its members. Also, there will be less restriction placed upon them. A room where you cannot knock a nail into the wall without giving the janitor or owner apoplexy is not really suitable for a Patrol Den. Ideally, a Patrol should find its own Den but if this proves too difficult the Group Committee may help.
Within reason, a Patrol should be encouraged to decorate its Den in its own way, and probably it will be furnished with old furniture from members' homes. The Den may also be the storage place for the Patrol's equipment, such as cooking pots and tools. It will certainly be the resting place of the Patrol's log book, Patrol progress charts, hiking and camping records, charts of Scouting activities, knot boards and so on; the Patrol museum containing model bridges, camp gadgets, camp layouts, items of handicraft made at camp or Patrol meetings, plaster casts and trophies collected such as rocks, fossils, arrowheads, etc.; Patrol library of Scouting and adventure books; pictures and photographs; the Roll of Honour of past members and any award won by the Patrol in Troop or District activities.
If the development of the Den is fairly free and it is open to the members of the Patrol, it will become a favourite haunt and will contain other items which reflect the hobbies and interests of its members such as record player, photographic equipment and so on.
Each Scout will have his own particular interest and this will provide areas for responsibility in the Den, e.g., Patrol Librarian, Curator of the Museum, Quartermaster, etc., and some Patrols may even have a Patrol Janitor.
While a Patrol will want to maintain some items of traditional value, it is important that each generation decorate the Den after its own fashion and display the gadgets and trophies it has made. Ideally, a Patrol Den should never be completed, so the incentive to make it their own is with each generation.
The development of Patrol Dens can be stimulated by inter-Patrol rivalry and competition.
NOTES TO SCOUTMASTER
You should visit Dens from time to time and, by arrangement, drop in occasionally at Patrol meetings.
If, as a last resort, corners of a Troop room have to be used as Patrol Dens, then some form of screen or collapsible screening should be made, and a definite period set aside for Patrol meetings.
Patrol Dens are important to the operation of the Patrol System.
NOTES TO SCOUTMASTER
While proper discipline must be maintained and respect shown for property, if you and other adults demonstrate you have faith in the boys' ability to use the Den Property you will not usually be disappointed.
Make good use of the Patrol-in-Council situation in Arrow Patrol meetings. Have a system of rotation of Chairman so that all the Patrol Leaders have the experience and the advantage of learning from the constructive criticism of their fellow Patrol Leaders. The Patrol-inCouncil is simply a discussion group and some useful advice on discussion group leadership may be found in books on this subject in the local library. However, it should be emphasized that the Patrol-in-Council is very often only a brief informal gathering together of the members of a Patrol.
The Patrol-in-Council plays an essential role in the life of a happy Patrol. It is the time when the Patrol gathers to talk things over and every member has an opportunity to speak. Successful activities are the result of concerted planning.
The Patrol-in-Council is usually quite an informal gathering, although minutes may be kept if the Patrol wishes. At Patrol-in-Council the boys discuss what they have done and what they wish to do; ideas are suggested, accepted or rejected, and plans formulated. It is a time to discuss the Patrol's part in Troop activities, to plan hikes, camps and other events in detail. During these discussions, the Patrol Leader gains the feelings, recommendations and ideas of his Patrol for presentation at Court of Honour meetings.
The Patrol Leader must provide firm leadership and not allow discussions to get away from the subject or to degenerate into an argument. At the same time, he must be particularly careful not to impose his own ideas upon the Patrol simply because he is the leader.
Patrol-in-Council may be called at any time the Patrol is confronted with a problem. For instance, if the Patrol is on an obstacle hike and comes to a ravine which they have to bridge, the first thing to do is to call a Patrol-in-Council to decide how it is to be done. In this way, each member knows the agreed plan - who is to do what and how. Also, and perhaps most important of all, because each boy has been consulted, he has a personal interest - in a sense he feels it is his bridge.
The Patrol-in-Council may also be used for disciplinary purposes. The Patrol Leader may consult the Patrol on what should be done about Joe who just won't work on his Second Class, or the Patrol may ask the Patrol Leader what he intends to do about Joe, since he is obviously letting the Patrol down.
Generally speaking, boys do not enjoy keeping records or writing logs - perhaps it savours too much of school work. For this reason it is wise to reduce record keeping to a minimum but to encourage any initiative shown by individuals, e.g., boys taking a Commercial High School course may have a special interest in this sort of work.
The purpose of keeping records is to provide factual information for reference and future use. To be useful they must be accurate and kept up-to-date.
There are many ways in which records may be kept. The choice in any Patrol should be left to the Patrol Leader in consultation with the person keeping any specific records.
Progress charts and other visible evidence of achievement often act as incentives to personal advancement. If they are not kept up-to-date they can have the opposite effect.
A Patrol should maintain at least:
1) a progress chart of each member's advancement;
2) a record of attendance and dues;
3) an inventory of Patrol equipment.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.