Patrol spirit doesn’t spring up like a mushroom overnight. It can’t be made to order. But it can be developed in the same way that a small tree can be helped along by giving it rich soil in which to grow, by tending it faithfully, by letting plenty of sun and air get to it, by pulling up the weeds that threaten to choke it.
Many little and big things go into the making of Patrol spirit. It grows from the way you, as a Patrol Leader, welcome the new boy into the Patrol. How you get to know him and keep in touch with him between meetings and help him along in the first few weeks of his membership in your Patrol.
Patrol spirit grows in the things that distinguish your Patrol from the others in the Troop; your Patrol name, your Patrol Flag, your emblem, your call, your song and yell. Patrol spirit grows in the things that you make for your Patrol: your Patrol corner or Den, your Log Book, your camping equipment, your Patrol Box, the unique way that you decorate your Patrol flag and staves. Patrol spirit grows by the things that you do together: your Patrol meetings and hikes and camps and your taking part as a unit in the activities of your Troop.
How many Patrols actually have and use a flag, call, song and yell? Are these ideas too anachronistic for today’s Scouts? How about a patrol tee-shirt, ringtone and facebook page? The important thing is that Patrol develop an identity that the Scouts can rally around.
The Patrol Leader is the key man in the Patrol, so it naturally follows that the first steps to acquire Patrol spirit must come from him. He should have absolute belief in his Patrol in spite of occasional disappointments. The good Patrol Leader will work towards having a well controlled, self-controlled Patrol—every fellow in the Patrol doing the right thing because he wants to do it, not because the Patrol Leader makes him do it.
One of the best ways to promote Patrol spirit is to conduct Patrol meetings. These will be dealt with later, but keep in mind that there is no better way to get your fellows working together as a team.
Center interest on your Patrol corner as much as possible. For instance you might have a Patrol notice board, and notices of Troop activities could be posted there; Patrol Progress chart, interesting charts and pictures. In small ways like this, the Scout life of the fellows in your Patrol will center in your Patrol corner and this is all to the good.