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New Scouts and the Patrol Method?

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  • New Scouts and the Patrol Method?

    I was recently asked to do a post on my blog, 'Scouting Rediscovered' on the subject of how new Scouts can be taught the Patrol System. So I just published it today and would love to get some feedback on the post from you guys. Do you think I answered the questions accurately? Do you agree with what I said on the Patrol Method? Any feedback would be appreciated!


  • #2
    I read the whole article, well written, well done. I don't have much to add. I never saw this blog before now.

    Keep up the good work,


    • #3
      Interesting that you did not mention Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops.


      • #4
        I agree with Sentinel, well done.

        You lead into the post using new scouts, but the basis of the post is more about a self-sustaining boy run program. New Scouts in the Patrol Method could be another paragraph, but I'm not suggesting any changes because the well written post stands fine as is.

        I knew you understood the subject when you lead into it with the older scouts. The quality of the whole program is directly related to the older scouts, so it was appropriate to start there.

        Well done.

        I love this scouting stuff.



        • #5

          Since you asked...

          The photographs are very good, and I like your use of Green Bar Bill's capitalization of key program elements (Troop, Patrol, Patrol Method, Patrol Leader, etc.).

          Where I part company is your use of Baden-Powell's term "Patrol System" as interchangeable with the BSA's "Patrol Method." In essence you do to the Patrol System what books like Working the Patrol Method and some American "Patrol Method" Websites do:

          Cloak group development theory in the patina of the historical "Real" Patrol Method!

          As for your "five areas of the Patrol Method that are especially important when it comes to teaching new Scouts:"

          1) A Proper Foundation: Baden-Powell's minimum requirement for the Patrol System is Patrols camped 50-100 yards apart, and (in common with Green Bar Bill's "Real" Patrols) regular Patrol Hikes without "adult association." Instead of that significant real-world adventure, you present a new Scout's first experience of the Patrol System as abstract "lessons" to "understand." This is pure cloaking like Scoutmaster Specific Training's "Patrol Method" presentation where the Patrol Leader and any description of a working Patrol were replaced with a lecture on EDGE theory!

          2) The Patrol Leaders Council: The difference between the Patrol Method's PLC and Baden-Powell's "Court of Honour" is that in the Patrol System the Patrol Leaders actually run the Troop. In other words a Court of Honour is a Patrol Leaders' Council without adult-run Scoutmaster Conferences, Boards of Review, Troop Committees, and the ultimate adult control wild-card, "Scout Spirit" Requirements. For instance, check out John Thurman's description of a "Court of Honour in Session." The adult leaders do not decide which Scouts are worthy of advancement. Just the opposite, they are told by the Patrol Leaders which Tenderfoot Scouts are now Second Class:

          3) The Patrol Meeting: The primary purpose of a Patrol Meeting is to work on indoor requirements and plan the next Patrol Hike (as opposed to leadership development's "Troop Method," where advancement is handled by the "Troop" Guide at Troop Meetings and Troop Campouts). According to Green Bar Bill, the minimum requirement to be a "Real" Patrol is regular Patrol Hikes. New Scouts are usually wild about such adventures. Leadership theory? Not so much

          4) P.L. Elections: Simply put, there are no elections in the Patrol System. The Scoutmaster meets with the Patrol to hear their thoughts on the matter, but he and the Court of Honour select the Patrol Leader based on his ability to hike his Patrol into the backwoods without adult supervision. 21st century "leadership" enthusiasts usually treat this as a moral issue, meaning that unsupervised Patrol Outings are replaced with adult-supervised "controlled failure" where the worst that can happen is some burned pancakes. However, in mature backwoods Troop cultures, Patrols can be trusted to elect the most mature leaders. In his third edition of Handbook for Scoutmasters, Green Bar Bill suggests strategies for heading off Patrol election disasters.

          5) Individual Responsibility: The idea that "each Patrol is looked at in the light of being an independent and self-sustaining unit" is just abstract group development theory without what Baden-Powell meant by "Real Responsibility:" the ability to navigate a Patrol through Physical Distance without adult supervision!

          Are you still 17 years old? I suggest that if you want to "rediscover" Traditional Scouting, you should find a Troop in which you can start camping your Patrol at Baden-Powell's minimum 150-300 feet away from other Patrols, and lead regular Patrol Hikes without adult supervision, NOW, so you actually experience as a Scout the "Real" Patrol Method to which all of those historical quotations refer.

          When you turn 18, you and another kid your age qualify as "two-deep leadership" on Patrol Overnights, the ultimate Patrol Method. See Green Bar Bill's "Intensive Training in the Green Bar Patrol":

          Yours at 300 feet,



          • #6
            Thank you all for commenting! Sorry I haven't replied sooner; I've been really busy with a new redesign and upgrade to


            Thanks for the encouragement!


            > Interesting that you did not mention Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops.

            While I think the BSA's "Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops" has some great information in it, I think it should only be used as a supplement to Leadership development in the Troop, not relied upon to be complete training.

            First of all, it is too much of a structured classroom-like curriculum. While this is an appropriate venue for some types of teaching, it's draw-backs are obvious. In fact, Scouting was started partially with the intention to get away from the drawbacks of the common mass-instruction.

            Secondly, I think the training of new leaders below the level of Senior Patrol Leader should be the S.P.L.'s responsibility, and the ILST seems to be rather Scoutmaster-centric.

            In summary, while I think ILST is a great resources, I think that it is often used as a complete leadership package and thereby other important aspects of leadership training are neglected.


            Thanks for the encouragement! I think the post was a little disorganized, as I had some trouble organizing my thoughts (a little writer's block, maybe?). Thanks for checking it out!

            -Enoch Heise


            • #7

              I see you are a fan of William Hillcourt; I am too! Baden-Powell, John Thurman, Dan Beard, and William Hillcourt are the top men in Scouting that I wish I could have met before they died. If you read through other posts on my blog, you will see many references and quotes from these great men.

              I think, perhaps you are a bit unfair in making your distinction between the Patrol Method and the Patrol System, although I see where you are coming from. I know that many have called something the "Patrol Method" which is nothing of the kind. But just because the term can be misused doesn't mean that the "Patrol System" cannot. In my mind, both the Patrol Method and the Patrol System and synonymous and stand for the basic principles of the Patrol as organized by Baden-Powell and expounded upon by William Hillcourt and John Thurman.

              I think you misunderstood what I meant in the "laying the foundation" section. As I summarized in the conclusion: "When new Scouts join the Troop, it is very helpful if there is already a proper foundation of the Patrol Method among the older Scouts. One of the Aims of the Patrol Method is that it is actively passed down from the older Scouts to the younger." This by no means insinuates that the Patrol System is only passed down by "abstract lessons". Like I said, much of the learning comes from observing the older Scouts live out the Patrol System as they go through Scouting activities. I definitely agree with you that Scouting is done actively, not through dry lessons. Although I would also say that there is a time and place for more formal instruction in Scouting if done properly.

              I know that this has been a topic of debate for a long time, but I maintain that Patrol Leaders should be elected by the members of their Patrol, never 'appointed'. Appointing Patrol Leaders goes against the Patrol System. Firstly, it is saying that the authority over the leadership of a Patrol does not belong to the Patrol. This isn't in line with the Patrol System as I understand it. Secondly, elections provide a mutual accountability that is very important in the development of the Patrol.

              One more thing: wouldn't a Patrol being an "independent and self-sustaining unit" mean the Patrol can operate with physical distance from an Adult Leader? Being an "independent and self-sustaining unit" is far from just an abstract principle; it is an applied principle, and that makes all the difference!

              Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment on it! I can tell you are passionate about Scouting!

              -Enoch Heise