Making your Patrol a successful one is mostly a matter of organization and having the right people to handle the jobs involved.
The well organized Patrol gets more done, has more fun and gets farthest ahead.
Three basic things are involved in Patrol organization.
The Size Of The Patrol
What's the right size of a Patrol? That depends.
When we discuss Patrol method in general, we often talk about eight boys as a suitable number for a Patrol; Patrol Leader, Second and six other Scouts.
That number is not necessarily ideal. It is more important for a Patrol to be a really co-operative gang.
Six might be just the right size for your outfit. As a matter of fact, if you start looking around at other Troops you will probably find more good Patrols of six boys than of eight. So you see, it is impossible to lay down any hard and fast rule.
Generally speaking the best number seems to be between six and eight. Fewer than six makes it tough for the gang to keep up with the other Patrols in games and projects and at Camp. A gang larger than eight may be too large.
The Boys in The Patrol
What kind of fellows are they? You need to know what makes them tick to make them an effective Patrol.
There are many different kinds of boys as you will have found out. In most cases you will find that if you follow these few simple rules you can handle most of your boys most of the time:
Time and time again you'll get impatient in your Patrol job. Things don't move fast enough to suit you! Well, you won't get anywhere by pushing or by yelling. That will only put the boys on the defensive and do the opposite of what you wish to accomplish.
"Slowly, slowly catchee monkey"! was one of Baden-Powell's slogans. Take it easy, and you'll eventually have everyone cooperating to the best of his ability.
Cooperation, working together, everyone doing his part. That's the thing to aim for in the Patrol. There is quite a difference between discipline and cooperation. Discipline is getting work done by outside pressure, cooperation is getting it done because each fellow is willing to do his share.
If you can get your gang to the point where they do the right thing in the Patrol, not because you make them do it, but because they want to do it and see the sense of doing it, you have taken an important step towards successful leadership!
By explaining the "why" of a situation or of a job that needs to be done, you'll eliminate difficulties before they start. If your boys don't know what is expected of them, you'll soon be pestered with questions and excuses.
A wise Patrol Leader takes his boys into his confidence and in turn, earns theirs.
Keep Them Busy
Keeping your boys busy is simply a matter of planning—of lining up things to do in which they are interested. The boys joined your Patrol to get Scouting. So give it to them! But let them in on the plan from start to finish.
Give Them Responsibilities
A Patrol organization that divides the duties and gives each boy a job to do will mean a lot in creating real Patrol spirit. Running a Patrol is not a one man job. You won't get far if you try to do everything yourself. But it is not only for the Patrol's sake and your own that you need to share your leadership. By giving each Scout an opportunity to do something in the Patrol, you give all of your fellows a chance to grow in leadership and all-around ability—and that's one of the things we want to accomplish through Scouting.
Lining Up The Jobs
When it comes to applying a plan of jobs in your Patrol don't be in too much of a hurry. You may not need to get all the things done from the very start. Also, it would be better to wait and decide upon the jobs and the boys for them after you have worked with the fellows for a month or more. By that time you know each boy's special abilities.
To have a basis for our organization plan, let's assume that you have eight Scouts in your Patrol. If it's smaller, you'll simply combine two of the jobs and assign both of them to one boy or perhaps delete one of the jobs.
Patrol Leader: well that's your job.
Second: he's your right hand man and a fellow who knows almost as much as you do about the things that make a Patrol hum and can take over the Leadership in your absence.
Treasurer: he collects dues and keeps the Patrols accounts.
Scribe: he handles Patrol reports and Log Book.
Quartermaster: takes care of your equipment.
Hikemaster: arranges for hikes and camps.
Chief Cook: lines up menus and purchases food.
First Aider: looks after first aid equipment and takes care of all first aid on hikes and camps.
These responsibilities will vary according to individual choice and ability and they may be changed and varied as often as is thought necessary. A few other suggestions which may fit into your Patrol are Naturalist, Engineer, Artist and so on. A smart Patrol Leader will see that opportunities are frequently provided for each boy to play an active role according to his specialty. In this way, even the newest member may feel that he is a useful part of a Patrol and occasionally may have the opportunity to take the lead. These special responsibilities are not the exclusive privilege of the boys concerned, for example the Patrol Cook doesn't do all the cooking—each boy will take his turn, but will seek the advice of the Patrol Cook in the preparation of certain dishes.
Fitting A Scout To A Job
Now to put each boy into the job for which he is best suited. That will require some study and thought. Watch how your Scouts react to things that come up. Find out something of their interests.
It might be as well to say a word about the Patrol Second at this point. It is the most important post in the Patrol next to your own. Your Second should not just wear his stripe. He should definitely be your assistant. He assists in everything you do in the Patrol.
To do this, he needs to have your complete trust and to know why you do things the way you do them. Unless he understands you and your particular way of leading he won't be able to take your place when you are prevented from being present, nor will there be the right kind of cooperation between you. So consider your choice of a Second carefully. Your Second should have all the qualifications of a full fledged Patrol Leader—be a good all-around Scout, and have a certain amount of leadership ability. He must work well with you, and must, like yourself, have the confidence of the rest of the Patrol. Your Second is your main helper in planning the Patrol's work and in training the boys. In your absence he takes over the Patrol at Troop activities, runs Patrol meetings and hikes, represents you at Court of Honor meetings.
But he can only perform if he knows what is expected of him. You have to give him a chance to learn and to practice leadership by having him lead the whole Patrol regularly, even when you are present. Let your Second relieve you of a lot of detail work, give him a chance to show his ability. Let him really assist in the leadership of the Patrol.
All For One, One For All
Well, there's the set up. There you have a type of organization that will get the work done, even the most ambitious plans of which you can think.
Take another quick look at the various jobs, and you will see that they fit together like the wheels of a watch. You're the main spring that starts the works. Then, as one wheel starts moving, the rest of them move too.
Take It Easy
Don't get the idea that you have to follow to the letter this type of organization. There are lots of other ways of doing it. In any event some organization is necessary to get things done. Follow the outline if you want to—then develop your own system to fit your special needs.
Whatever you do, you'll naturally begin on a small scale, with the most important jobs filled first. Even these jobs, in the beginning, will be much simpler than suggested. It will takes weeks and months to get everything to work out the way you expect it to.
The whole secret in getting the Patrol organized is simply to ask certain boys to do certain tasks, then assign the same tasks to the same fellows the next time they come up. Then one day the boys will be doing the jobs without being asked—and you're well on your way to having an organization established.
Now remember that the big idea of having the Patrol organized is to give every boy an opportunity to share in the work in the leadership of the gang. When everyone moves ahead, each Scout doing his job effectively and cheerfully, you have proven yourself a Leader: Your Patrol has become a team!
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Last modified: August 20, 2012.