Every so often we dedicate one Troop meeting to an Inter-Patrol Scoutmaster’s Challenge; an evening of skill, spirit and leadership competition.
These evenings are designed to be very loud, continuously active and, as a result, are tremendously popular with the Scouts. The Scoutmaster must maintain a brisk pace as the evening proceeds to keep up the excitement and to keep the Patrol Leaders on their toes. One of the most important aspects of the challenge is how Patrol leaders prepare and lead their patrols for the event.
The meeting opens as usual and then the Senior Patrol Leader turns the Troop over to the Scoutmaster and his assistants. Depending on the composition of your Troop youth leadership not part of a patrol may be formed into a patrol for the competition (our preference) or assigned to the other patrols.
Events are prepared by the Scoutmaster and his assistants. The basic idea is to limit the events to knowledge and skills related to rank requirements up to First Class. Don’t frustrate your Scouts by aiming the competition over their heads. There are two basic types of events;
- Individual Challenges – A single Scout completes the event against the clock (usually about three minutes) extra credit is awarded for beating the clock. These events are run simultaneously.
- Inter Patrol challenges – One or more members of each patrol compete against each other. These events are run every ten minutes or so with everyone watching.
Here is a sampling of events;
Knot Tying – Scouts choose from one of several index cards (held face down) with the name of a knot on them. He has three minutes to tie the knot successfully.
Map Game – The scout must pace a marker (dimes work well) on a topographic map for each symbol he chooses form a stack of index cards with the name of the symbol on them. He has three minutes and can only choose another card when he has placed a marker for the first.
Match games -Scouts match pictures or specimens of items to the proper name of the item printed on index cards:
- Plant Identification
- Animal Tracks
- Topographic Symbols
- Parts of a compass
Order Games – Scouts must place index cards with one element of the whole in the proper order;
- Scout Law
- Scout oath
- Leave no Trace principles
First Aid Challenges
- Scouts choose from a stack of face down index cards with a first aid case written on it (bee sting, blister, etc.) and than choose the proper first aid materials displayed on a table and demonstrate how they would apply them to the chosen case.
- Scouts choose from a stack of face down index cards with a set of symptoms written on them and must diagnose the situation.
Inter Patrol Challenges
Any number of games can be adapted for use, they need not be Scout
skill related but shoud be able to be completed in three minutes or
For one Patrol representative -
Push ups, situps or crunches – How many can you do in a minute? (Can also be run in a "breakdown", the last scout doing push-ups after the start wins.)
Standing broad jump
Throwing a coil of rope at a target
Pie eating contest
For two or more patrol members:
Knot relay- Each member completes a series of knots in turn.
Lashing race – Lash three staves into a triangle.
Smoke Filled Room Carry
- At the meeting prior to the Challenge Patrol leaders receive a list of
the challenges and any gear that they will need to have on hand for
the next meeting.
- In our meeting place (a good sized room) Patrols are seated in groups of chairs. Only Patrol members competing in an event are allowed out of their chairs and the chairs must remain in their place.
- No member of a Patrol can compete twice before all the patrol members have participated once, nor three times before all have competed twice and so on. (everyone in the Patrol must compete as close to an equal number of times as is possible)
- During any event the participant may refer to the Scout Handbook by returning to their Patrol area and sitting in their seat. They may receive any help at all from their patrol so long as the patrol remains seated.
- Markers are used to score each event (poker chips of different colors assigned different point values). Each patrol maintains keeps their markers in a coffee can. At the end of the evening Patrols count their markers for a final score. Each patrol should be rewarded according to the markers they have earned. A pizza or sacks can be offered for certain numbers of markers.
- One Scoutmaster is assigned to keep things moving and monitor the challenge. They (and only they) may require that the patrol forfeit a marker for violations of the rules. The marker is chosen by the Patrol Leader by closing his eyes and pulling one from the Patrol’s coffee can.
- Scoutmasters running the individual events approach each Patrol in turn and ask for a participant. They ask by saying the name of their event and counting down from ten. If they reach zero before a Scout is assigned from the Patrol they move on to the next Patrol. This requires the Patrol leader to manage the patrol by assigning Scouts to events as they are available. Scoutmasters are not allowed to choose the participant- this must be done by the patrol. (This becomes very interesting when two or more Scoutmasters are counting down to one patrol leader!)