A succinct definition of the patrol method:
The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop.
The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.
An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works.
Then, through emulation and competition between Patrols, you produce a Patrol spirit which is eminently satisfactory, since it raises the tone among the boys and develops a higher standard of efficiency all
round. Each boy in the Patrol realises that he is in himself a responsible unit and that the honor of his group depends in some degree on his own ability in playing the game.
– Aids to Scoutmstership by Baden-Powell (translated to update some archaic terms)