Our Troop split up into Patrols for part of our weekly Troop meetings; we called this “Patrol Corners”. Most of the time we did this to “work on rank advancement” and Patrol Leaders would do little more than having everyone read their books a half hour.
A few Scouts tried to take this seriously but, going from one distraction to the next, they didn’t get very far.
I made up my mind that if I was going to make any progress as a Patrol Leader, it was going to be by using the Patrol Corner time wisely.
I tried a lot of things; some worked, some didn’t, but I learned these 5 principles will help you take full advantage of the ‘Patrol Corners’ time at Troop meetings:
Principle 1: Packed with action!
I can’t say this too many times: when your Patrol gets together, they should be active. Scouting is not reading books! Plan way more activities than you think you need; make them short, varied, and both physically and mentally active.
Dodge-ball is physically active, it may be one activity you plan, but include something mentally challenging too.
Principle 2: Communicate!
Remember the Patrol Briefing? Explaining a new game? Don’t turn everyone lose with sketchy directions and expect it to go well, and don’t bog down your directions with so many clarifications and examples that it takes up ten minutes just to explain! Prepare exactly what you want to say, gather the Patrol together, and deliver your message simply and enthusiastically!
During the activities and games, be attentive to what everyone is doing. If a Scout is behaving poorly, take them aside and let them know. If a Scout is doing something well, compliment them in front of everyone!
Principle 3: Challenge other Patrols.
A great way to raise Patrol spirit and proficiency all around is to competing with other Patrols in the Troop. Make a habit of it!
Is your Patrol good at knot tying? Challenge another Patrol to a knotting relay-race. Are you adept at first aid? Tell one of the other Patrols that you can beat them by being quicker and neater in a splint-making competition with the Scoutmaster as judge. Use your creativity and keep those challenges coming! Win, lose, or draw; it’ll give your Patrol something to shoot for!
Principle 4: Bring it!
What can you bring to Troop meetings and turn into an activity of some kind? Can you get a bundle of long, straight branches to build a pioneering tower or stretcher with your Patrol? Have some old tires lying around? Bring them to a meeting and make them part of an obstacle course. Be creative! Get the raw materials to stimulate your own creativity and you’ll wind up encouraging everyone’s initiative.
Principle 5: Each Scout has a specific role.
If the patrol is just ‘your show’, you’ll never get very far. Your Patrol will only become the best it can be when every Scout has a role to play in it’s success. The Patrol Quartermaster can bring gear you need for your activities, the Scribe can read the Patrol record book, the Assistant Patrol leader can plan a special game.
Are your Patrol Corners look boring? What could you do different? Leave a comment below and let me know or join me on the GreenBar Life forum!