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The Patrol is at the heart of the Patrol Method and the Patrol Leaders' Council.

“The object of the patrol method is not so much saving the Scoutmaster trouble as to give responsibility to the boy.”
Robert Baden-Powell


A Patrol is a group of Boy Scouts who belong to the same troop and who are probably similar in age, development, and interests. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success. A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be. Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.

The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as Patrol Leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. To give more youths the opportunity to lead, most troops elect patrol leaders twice a year. Some may have elections more often.

Patrol size depends upon a troop's enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight Scouts. Patrols with fewer than eight Scouts should try to recruit new members to get their patrol size up to the ideal number

...a Troop is not divided into Patrols. A Troop is the sum total of its Patrols.
William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt

The Patrol Method

Patrol Method
The patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it is the ONLY way.
Unless the patrol method is in operation, you don't really have a Boy Scout troop.
Robert Baden-Powell

The Patrol Method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. The patrol, not the adults, make most of the decision including electing the patrol leader. The patrol method places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where members can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through elected representatives.

These patrols are therefore more important than the Troop. Patrols must be kept intact under all circumstances, which means working, tenting, learning, cooking, so surviving together.
Robert Baden-Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership, 1919, page 49

In a Patrol the Scouts learn to work with others, while the Patrol leader learns responsibility for others. Both have to give in a part of their personal interest for this.
Robert Baden-Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership, 1919, page 24

The Patrol is therefore almost independent, while the Troop is run by the Patrol Leaders in the Patrols' Leaders Council and Court of Honour
Robert Baden-Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership, 1919, page 24, 32

One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction.
Robert Baden-Powell, from Are Our Boys Degenerating?, ca. 1918
Typical Boy Scout troop organization chart (click to zoom)
Typical Boy Scout troop organization chart (click to zoom)

Types of Patrols

new-Scout patrol

Some troops may have different "kinds" of patrols, all of which should function using the Patrol Method. The use of these different types of patrols is optional and should be determined by the youth members of the troop and the Patrol Leaders' Council.

  • New-Scout patrols are for 11-year-old Scouts who have recently joined the troop and are together for the first year in the troop. An older, experienced Scout often is assigned as a Troop Guide to help the new-Scout patrol through the challenges of troop membership. An assistant Scoutmaster should also assist the new-Scout patrol to ensure that each Scout has every opportunity to succeed right from the start. The new Scout patrol is sometimes formed from a Webelos Den after bridging into Boy Scouts.
  • "Regular" patrols are made up of Scouts who have completed their First Class rank requirements. They have been around Scouting long enough to be comfortable with the patrol and troop operation and are well-versed in camping, cooking, and Scouting's other basic skills.
  • A Venture patrol is an optional patrol within the troop made up of Scouts age 13 and older. These troop members have the maturity and experience to take part in more challenging high-adventure outings. The Venture patrol elects a Venture Patrol Leader, who works with the Assistant Scoutmaster - Venture to put the patrol's plans into action.

Patrol Meetings

Patrol meetings may be held at any time and place. Many troops set aside a portion of troop meetings for patrol meetings. Others encourage patrols to meet on a different evening at the home of a patrol member. The frequency of patrol meetings is determined by upcoming events and activities that require planning and discussion.

Patrol meetings should be well-planned and businesslike. Typically, the patrol leader calls the meeting to order, the patrol scribe collects dues, and the assistant patrol leader reports on advancement. The patrol leader should report any information from the latest patrol leaders' council meeting. The bulk of the meeting should be devoted to planning upcoming activities, with specific assignments made to each patrol member.

Patrol Activities

Most patrol activities take place within the framework of the troop. However, patrols may also conduct day hikes and service projects independent of the troop, as long as they follow two rules:

  • The Scoutmaster approves the activity.
  • The patrol activity does not interfere with any troop function.

Patrol Spirit

Patrol spirit

Patrol spirit is the glue that holds the patrol together and keeps it going. Building patrol spirit takes time, because it is shaped by a patrol's experiences—good and bad. Often misadventures such as enduring a thunderstorm or getting lost in the woods will contribute much in pulling a patrol together. Many other elements also will help build patrol spirit. Creating a patrol identity and traditions will help build each patrol member's sense of belonging.

Every patrol needs a good name. Usually, the patrol chooses its name from nature, a plant or animal, or something that makes the patrol unique. A patrol might choose an object for its outstanding quality. For example, sharks are strong swimmers and buffaloes love to roam. The patrol may want to add an adjective to spice up the patrol name, such as the Soaring Hawks or the Rambunctious Raccoons.

A patrol flag is the patrol's trademark. In addition to the patrol name, the patrol flag should have the troop number on it as well as the names of all the patrol members. Mount the flag on a pole, which also can be decorated. Remember, the patrol flag should go wherever the patrol goes. The emblem of the patrol, or the patrol emblem may be a patrols emblem may be a standard patch offered by the Boy Scouts or the patrol may design their own. The patrol emblem is worn on the right sleeve under the American Flag.

Every patrol has a patrol yell, which should be short and snappy. Choose words that fit the patrol's goals. Use the yell to announce to other patrols that your patrol is ready to eat or has won a patrol competition. Some patrols also have a patrol song.

Patrols can earn the National Honor Patrol Award by completing specific requirements over a three month period, including having their own meetings, outings, and service projects.

Sample Patrol Membership Record

Similar Groups

A Patrol is a grouping of youth within a unit. Similar groups in other Scouting units are:

See also

External links

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