During my first meeting as Senior Patrol Leader I realized something that stopped me dead in my tracks: being a Patrol Leader was a more important job than being Senior Patrol Leader!
Leaving the position made me realize the huge chance the Patrol Leader has to make Scouting into a real-life adventure, not just a cool idea. I understood that the Patrol Leader can take his Patrol on an amazing journey: doing radical things and evolving his group into an unstoppable team! The Patrol Leader has a choice only he can make for the Patrol: to purposefully take this journey or to just ‘get by’ from meeting to meeting and campout to campout.
I’ve always preferred to do things on the spur of the moment; tedious preparation and planning saps the joy out of a project for me. I found out, however, that planning for my Scout Patrol was different. A Patrol’s plan isn’t like a step-by-step cooking recipe; it’s more like a trail map to an epic treasure!
I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of this before:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
But what does this actually mean? Vague quotes like this only go so far… How, exactly, can a plan help your Patrol?
First of all, there isn’t an App for that. There’s no “one size fits all” plan for your Patrol that will instantly achieve magical results. Only you and your Patrol can build a plan that will truly work for your Patrol!
In this series of GreenBar Life articles I am going to show you exactly how to build a plan for your Patrol.
Planning is important because everyone’s time is valuable. Nobody wants to waste time backtracking or going in circles. Imagine how frustrating it would be trying to hike to a campsite without any real idea of where it is! To get from where you are to where you want to be you need a map and some directions.
The map and directions for your Patrol are what I am going to call the ‘Operations Plan’.
The Patrol Operations Plan you create will cover about two month’s of Patrol activities including;
- Times when your Patrol gets together apart from Troop meetings.
- Field Treks
- Service Projects
- Patrol Corners
- Building Intentional Friendships
If you come up with the plan on your own it won’t succeed. It must be the Patrol’s plan. A successful Operations Plan is a shared project. Every Scout’s feedback and suggestions (especially the Assistant Patrol Leader’s) are included in the planning process.
I’ve learned that two months is about the maximum amount of time to plan ahead. Much more than that and you’ll find there are too many unknowns to take into consideration.
Your Operations Plan is just that, a plan, not a set of instructions. Any good plan is adaptable. As you learn new things, gain new experiences, and get better at being a leader, you will add to or take away some elements of the plan. If there’s a way to make it better, change it! Don’t cancel something because it is inconvenient or just too much work, you can’t expect to make much progress doing that.
Have you made plans for your Patrol in the past? Did they work? Why or why not?