During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
Many Scoutmasters and others did not, at first, recognize the extraordinary value which they could get out of the Patrol system if they liked to use it, but I think that most of them seem to be realizing this more and more. The Patrol system, after all, is merely putting your boys into permanent gangs under the leadership of one of their own number, which is their natural organisation whether bent on mischief or for amusement.
But to get first-class results from this system you have to give the leader a real freehanded responsibility — if you only give partial responsibility you will only get partial results.
By thus using your Leaders as officers you save yourself an infinite amount of the troublesome detail work. At the same time, the main object is not so much saving the Scoutmaster trouble as to give responsibility to the boy, since this is the very best of all means for developing character. It is generally the boy with the most character who rises to be the leader of a mischief gang. If you apply this natural scheme to your own needs it brings the best results.
It is the business of the Scoutmaster to give the aim, and the several Patrols in a Troop vie with each other in attaining it, and thus the standard of keenness and work is raised all round.