What is a “boy-led” troop? What is the patrol method?
Boy Scouts is different from Cub Scouts in many regards. The most significant difference is the level of involvement that the boys have in determining the direction of the program.
Scouting is designed to develop young boys into adult leaders. Boys learn best by doing. To encourage this leadership development process, scouts hold the officer positions in the troop and are responsible for planning and running the meetings and camp outs. The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters ensure that scouting ideals are upheld and that the program provides variety and a high level of interest.
The patrol method has been a cornerstone of the scouting program for decades. Basically, it means that scouting activities are structured so that boys have the opportunity to exercise leadership in small groups (patrols) rather than simply participating in large group activities. Members of a patrol work together on everything from camp planning and camping itself, to teaching an instructive program to other scouts. Team building is a crucial part of this.
Boy Leadership Opportunities
Troop officers are chosen every six months. The first six-month term of the year will run from February through August; the second term runs from September through January. Holding a leadership position is a requirement for the Star, Life and Eagle ranks.
Officers are selected through a combination of elections and appointments. The entire process is guided by the Scoutmaster to ensure that all boys have a chance to lead and fulfill rank requirements. Generally, the process runs as follows:
- Boys make their interest in various positions known to one of the troop’s adult leaders.
- Candidates for Senior Patrol Leader present their qualification in speeches to the troop.
- Scouts vote for Senior Patrol Leader.
- Newly-elected Senior Patrol Leader, in consultation with the Scoutmaster, selects boys for the following positions: Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders (2), Scribe, Quartermaster, Librarian, Historian, Chaplain Assistant and Bugler.
- Scoutmaster, in consultation with Assistant Scoutmasters, selects boys for the positions of Troop Guide and Instructor.
- Candidates for Patrol Leader present their qualifications in speeches to their patrols.
- Scouts within each patrol vote for their respective Patrol Leader.
- Newly-elected Patrol Leaders each select an Assistant Patrol Leader.
Here are the leadership positions that qualify for rank advancement:
- Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM): Assist the Scoutmaster in all duties, provide a positive role model for the entire troop, mentor all scout officers. Position is reserved for older scouts that have demonstrated a high maturity level. JASM appointment must be confirmed by the Troop Committee.
- Senior Patrol Leader (SPL): Oversees the Patrol Leader Council (PLC) meetings where troop activities are planned, runs troop meetings and camp outs, reports on scheduled activities at the adult committee meetings. Prerequisite: Star rank, 13 years of age, prior service as a Scribe or Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
- Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL): Assists the SPL in all of his duties or stands in when the SPL or other officers are absent and conducts weekly inspections at troop meetings. There are two ASPL’s in the troop. Prerequisite: Star rank, 12 years of age.
- Scribe: Supervises the taking of role at all troop events and stands in for the SPL or ASPL’s if needed. Prerequisite: Star rank, 12 years of age.
- Quartermaster: Maintains the troop’s equipment, organizes the storage cabinet, requests additional supplies, issues gear for camp outs. Prerequisite: First Class rank.
- Librarian: Maintains the troop’s library of merit badge and training pamphlets, organizes the downstairs supply closet, keeps copies of fliers and newsletters. Prerequisite: First Class rank.
- Historian: The Historian must write an article every month (six articles during his term) about troop activities for publication in the newsletter, on the website or by e-mail. Prerequisite: First Class rank.
- Chaplain’s Aide: The Chaplain’s Aide must provide a non-denominational prayer at the beginning of every meeting and camp out. He must also organize and run a brief nondenominational devotional meeting on at least two camp outs. There are scouting reference guides available for these activities. Prerequisite: First Class rank.
- Troop Guide: Assists patrols (usually younger scout patrols) with planning camp outs or training, acts as a mentor and guide, assists the Assistant Scoutmaster assigned to the patrol with any necessary duties. Prerequisite: First Class rank.
- Patrol Leader: Takes role at meetings, keeps his patrol organized and on task during all events, monitors patrol rank advancement. Prerequisite: First Class rank, except in the case of new scout patrols. Assistant Patrol Leader (ASPL) does not qualify for rank advancement.
- Bugler: Play basic bugle calls during troop meetings and camp outs. Prerequisite: Ability to play trumpet or bugle, must learn Reveille, Taps and two other bugle calls during his term.
- Den Chief: The den chief works with the Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, and den leaders in the Cub Scout pack. He also helps Cub Scouts advance through Cub Scout ranks and encourages Cub Scouts to join a Boy Scout troop upon graduation.
Patrol Leader Council
The Patrol Leader Council (PLC) is an important component of the boy-led troop. It is composed of all elected scout leaders. These leaders meet once per month to discuss the program and plan future events. PLC attendance is mandatory for elected leaders.
Here’s a sample PLC agenda:
- Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) reports on topics discussed at the Troop Committee meeting.
- Reflections (what went right, where is there room for improvement?) – at Troop meetings, on the most recent camp out, with Patrol spirit, with other activities, etc.
- Reports – Scribe, Quartermaster, Librarian, Historian, Chaplain Assistant & ASPL’s
- Troop Program Planning – Outings, next five meetings in detail & long range
The Scoutmaster is the adult leader responsible for the image and program of the troop. The Scoutmaster and his assistant Scoutmasters work directly with the Scouts. The importance of the Scoutmaster’s job is reflected in the fact that the quality of his guidance will affect every youth and adult involved in the troop.
The Scoutmaster can be male or female, but must be at least 21 years old. The Scoutmaster is appointed by the head of the chartered organization.
The Scoutmaster’s duties include:
- General – train and guide boy leaders, work with other responsible adults to bring Scouting to boys & use the methods of Scouting to achieve the aims of Scouting.
- Meetings – meet regularly with the patrol leaders council for training and coordination in planning troop activities, attend all troop meetings or, when necessary, arrange for a qualified adult substitute, attend troop committee meetings, conduct periodic parents sessions to share the program and encourage parent participation and cooperation & take part in annual membership inventory and uniform inspection, charter review meeting, and charter presentation.
- Guidance – conduct Scoutmaster conferences for all rank advancements, provide a systematic recruiting plan for new members and see that they are promptly registered, delegate responsibility to other adults and groups (assistants, troop committee) so that they have a real part in troop operations & supervise troop elections for the Order of the Arrow.
- Activities – make it possible for each Scout to experience at least 10 days and nights of camping each year, participate in council and district events, build a strong program by using proven methods presented in Scouting literature & conduct all activities under qualified leadership, safe conditions, and the policies of the chartered organization and the Boy Scouts of America.
To fulfill his obligation to the troop, the Scoutmaster, with the assistance of the troop committee, recruits Assistant Scoutmasters to help operate the troop. Each assistant Scoutmaster is assigned specific program duties and reports to the Scoutmaster. They also provide the required two-deep leadership standards set by the Boy Scouts of America (there must be at least two adults present at any Boy Scout activity). An assistant Scoutmaster may be 18 years old, but at least one in each troop should be 21 or older, so he or she can serve in the Scoutmaster’s absence. A troop should recruit as many assistant Scoutmasters as possible. It has been found that many successful troops have three or more. If you are interested in participating as an assistant Scoutmaster, please contact the Scoutmaster.
Troop Committee Chair
The Troop Committee Chair (CC) is selected by the Charter Organization Representative (COR) to organize the Troop Committee. Serves at the satisfaction of the COR and Troop Committee and reports to the Charter Organization Representative. Duties include:
- Organize the Troop Committee to see that all functions are delegated, coordinated, and completed.
- Maintain a close relationship with the Chartered Organization Representative and the Scoutmaster.
- Interpret national and local policies to the troop.
- Ensure the troop adheres to the policies of the Chartered Organization and the Boy Scouts of America.
- Prepare troop committee meeting agendas.
- Call, preside over, and promote attendance at monthly troop committee meetings and any special meetings that may be called.
- Ensure troop representation at monthly district Roundtable.
- Recruit top-notch, individuals for adult leadership.
- Become trained for position to include Troop Committee Training and Scoutmaster Fundamentals.
- Encourage adult leaders to get trained.
- Arrange for charter review, re-charter annually and plan charter presentation
The Scoutmaster is appointed by the Troop Committee and reports to the committee (composed of parents and volunteers). While the Scoutmaster is responsible for the day-to-day running of the troop, the board is responsible for such things as fundraiser, setting budgets and ensuring that the bylaws are being followed. Troop Committee positions include Committee Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Advancement Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, Equipment Coordinator, Outdoor/Activities Coordinator, and Training Coordinator.
Every month the Troop Committee meets to discuss the functioning of the troop. These meetings are noted on our calendar. All parents are invited to attend the committee meetings. In fact, all parents are invited to join the committee. This is an excellent way for parents who don’t camp to get involved in the running of the troop.
Here is an example committee meeting agenda:
- Eagle Scout Service Project Review (if needed)
- Program / schedule review
- Scoutmaster Report
- Committee Member Reports
- Old business
- New business
The Troop Committee meetings are held of the first Tuesday of every month (see the Troop Calendar for details) at the Church. We start at 6pm and hold the meeting to an hour or less while the boys work on their merit badge.
Merit Badge Counselor
Another way an adult can participate with the troop is to teach a merit badge. Merit badges give the boys an opportunity to “try out” new hobbies and learn new skills. The hope is that one or more of these new “skills” will turn a boy toward a career or hobby. There are literally hundreds of badges to choose from. To be a merit badge counselor, you must be a registered adult.
If you are interested in teaching a merit badge, please contact the Scoutmaster or Committee Chair.
The Committee Chair or Scoutmaster can provide more information on these positions. You may rest assured, however, that your assistance is needed and any volunteers who are willing to provide service to the troop will be welcomed. Every parent should plan to be involved in some way with the troop.