The Patrol Leader




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Chapter VIII

So your Patrol is going to be a gang in the sense that it is going to keep together ; physically by doing all sorts of things as a gang and in other ways by helping each other out of difficulties—in short, by acting as a team.

There are really three ways of leading, two of them poor ways and one very good. One of the poor ways is to have no leadership at all, that is a sort of perpetual muddling through. Nobody ever makes a suggestion, nobody ever makes a decision, and nobody, in fact, does any leading at all. This method is quite hopeless. The Patrol Leader is showing himself quite unwilling and unfit to have any responsibility. This sometimes grows up out of a desire to try to be nice to everybody and every Leader who is worth his salt must realize that it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time. So long as you can please some of the people most of the time that will be all right.

The second poor way is the dictatorship method of leadership, where the Leader never consults anybody, never asks for ideas, makes all the decisions himself, and even when it is obvious that he is wrong persists all the way through, saying in effect: "I am the Leader and you must do what I tell you, right or wrong." It is not a very effective method, because no Patrol or gang is going to follow for very long a leader who never consults anybody. No Patrol is going to last very long if it is constantly led into trouble, and usually, of course, the dictator Leader is not a good type and not the kind of person they want to follow.

The third and best, and perhaps the only way of leading in Scouting and, indeed, in life as a whole, is to lead by consent; that is, you, the Patrol Leader, are leading because your gang accepts you, respects you, and wants to be led by you.

To return for a moment to the matter of consulting other people. In a Patrol of eight it must always be remembered that you have eight different human beings, some of whom will be very good at some things and not very good at others, and even with quite young Scouts you will find that some, for example, show particular ability in cooking, or pioneering, or sailing, or woodcraft. Some will be more observant than others, some will have other senses more acutely developed. Your job as a Leader is to use the talents of your individual Scouts to help the gang as a whole.

Some of you will know the story of the Three Musketeers. They were, in a way, a kind of Patrol. Some of the things they did, perhaps, were not exactly models of what we should copy, but their motto of "One for all and all for one" is the kind of idea that a Patrol might well adopt. You may have heard, this story about the strength of being united.

An old man, who had worked hard all his life and had built up a very fine business as a farmer, fell ill and realized that he would not live very long. He h ad three fine sons who had worked with him and in the main had followed his leadership and example very loyally, but they did not get on very well together, and the old man realized that after he was dead they would probably quarrel and the farm might be broken up and all the strength they had built up would be lost. This naturally worried the old man a great deal, because no one likes to feel that the thing he has worked hard to build is going to be lost. 

So one morning the old man sent for his three sons and they gathered round his bed. He took up from the floor a large bundle of thin sticks tightly tied together, sticks about four feet long and a quarter of an inch to half an inch thick. Now, the sons were very strong men indeed and, in fact, the two oldest were noted in the neighborhood for their feats of strength. The old man handed the bundle of sticks to the youngest son and said: "I know you are not so strong as your brothers, but try to break these sticks." The youngest son took the sticks and tried very hard to break them, but without any success at all. The father handed the sticks to the second son, saying : "You are stronger: you try." The second son struggled and perspired very freely, but the sticks resisted all his efforts. And so to the eldest son, a very strong man indeed and very confident. He took the sticks and put them across his knee; he brought the full weight of his body to bear, but still the sticks resisted. 

The father then took the bundle of sticks and cut the cord which bound the sticks together. He gave a handful to each son and said: "Now break them," and with no bother at all each son broke his sticks. Then said the old man: "You see, my sons, whilst the sticks remained united even your great strength could not break them, but as soon as I cut the cords which bound them together they could no longer resist. I shall not be with you very much longer; make sure that when I am gone the cords of brotherhood remain intact around you. United you will remain strong and will prosper; divided you are no stronger than one of these sticks and will fall."

In Scouting we have a rather unique cord that ought to bind all of us together, and especially the members of a Patrol. This is the Scout Law and Promise carried into action. Think of it as a cord which will strengthen all of us, a cord that we must accept gladly and unselfishly.


A Patrol Box should be light in weight and approximately 24" long x 18" wide x 12" deep with handles to facilitate carrying Patrol equipment from one place to another. Where there are no Patrol Dens or Corners, it serves as a place in which to keep Patrol equipment.

bulletPencils and paper 
bulletPatrol First Aid Kit 
bulletPractice bandages
bulletRopes for knotting and lashing
bulletCarborundum stone
bulletSignaling apparatus (buzzer, flags, lamps, etc.) 
bulletBall and other small games equipment
bulletMap of District 
bulletList of important addresses and telephone numbers, such as doctors, police, etc.
bulletWall charts, 
bulletPatrol progress chart
bulletCards showing the Morse and semaphore codes 
bulletPatrol record book 
bulletPatrol logbook 

Patrol Corner, Den, or Patrol Box

The Patrol System






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
How it All Began ] Patrol Spirit ] Patrol Organization ] Patrol Meetings ] Patrol Advancement & Training ] Court of Honor ] Patrol Out of Doors ] [ The Patrol Leader ] Indoor Patrol Box ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Object of Camping ] Patrol Camping ] Patrol Hikes ] Gilcraft Patrol System ] The Patrol System ] Court of Honor (PLC) ] Gilwell PL Training ] Philipps' Patrol System ] Golden Arrow PL Training ] Patrol Leader's Creed ] PL's Promise Ceremony ] Patrol Competition Awards ] Informal Scout Signals ] Ten Essentials ] Story Telling ] JLT Skits: Leadership ] Master & Commander ] Patrol Activities ] Patrol Motivation ] Troop Meeting Hints ] Troop Meetings ] Patrol Leader Training ] Essays ] Patrol Flags ] Training Patrol Leaders ] Troop Brainstorming ] Menus ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.